The Medieval Natural World by Richard Jones (review)

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This slim and attractive book condenses significant knowledge and erudition into an accessible, useful introduction, aimed at undergraduate students. Its primary audience is composed of history students. However, it fits well into the current wider interest, across the humanities, in topics connected with eco-criticism, environmental history, theories of space and place, and animal studies. It will thus prove useful for undergraduates in a number of different disciplines. The volume is in textbook format. Those features which make it so, marginal glosses, a separate section for primary source documents, short suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter, also make it user-friendly for its primary audience. They are entirely appropriate in an introductory guide, or ‘primer’ as Jones describes it (9). The marginal glosses allow the author to use technical terminology and discuss potentially unfamiliar concepts and people without interrupting the main narrative, making it easier for a beginner. The glosses are gathered together in a list in the front matter for ease of reference after the first mention, and cover a variety of terms and concepts such as ‘Cathars’, ‘cryptozoological’, ‘pedology’ and ‘PreSocratic philosophy’. The front matter also includes a chronology of major relevant works of medieval scholarship and a ‘who’s who’ of key scholars from the period. There are ten colour plates in the centre as well as a number of black-and-white figures throughout the text. The production values are high, especially given the accessible price-point.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-264
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Medieval natural world


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