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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Arnulf of Lisieux

The Dilemma of Arnulf of Lisieux

Once in a while I like to remind some of you that under this "Civil War author" persona lies an old medievalist.  In 2012 Indiana University Press offered to return to me all the publishing rights for my very first book: The Dilemma of Arnulf of Lisieux: New Ideas versus Old Ideals, originally published in 1990.  At first, I couldn't imagine that anyone would care about a 25-year-old doctoral dissertation that had been out of print for some time.  And then I got one of those wild hairs of an idea that sent me off in a new direction.

No one's ever heard of Arnulf, but he's a neat, quirky old geezer with some important lessons to teach us even today. And today's new publishing ventures just might be quirky enough to make room for him. So, after a couple of deep breaths (what the medieval world would call "girding my loins"), I sent the book off to CreateSpace, a print-on-demand publisher with the ability to photograph an old book and recreate an exact copy of the original -- except in a trade paper edition and a Kindle edition -- and at  such a reasonable printing rate that the book can now be offered for a fraction of what it cost originally. 

Will it interest any of you? I'm guessing that it might.  You see, despite the fact that Arnulf was a churchman living in France in the heart of the 12th-century, he had to deal with many of the same problems we face today.  He was educated in traditional monastic environment, indoctrinated with the belief that the word of God should govern his life, a conservative who took joy in the way things had been done in the past.  And he lived in the middle of a renaissance--a period of revolution, if  you will, when new learning from the east clashed with the inherited truths of the west, new architectural styles took buildings soaring to unimaginable heights, and kings seemed bound and determined to fight with popes. If Arnulf came back to visit today, he would immediately understand the ideological differences currently stirring up controversies.

So once again I'm going to introduce you to the cantankerous little man who fought with both sides because he couldn't get a foothold in either camp. You may even come to like him, as I did all those years ago. For the coming week, starting around midnight tonight, March 13, and running until midnight on Friday, March 18, the Kindle edition of Arnulf's story will be offered for FREE. Just click on the book cover above to order  your free copy.

Update! Bishop Arnulf just moved up a notch to #2.

Welcome to Cyber Monday, All!  Wonderful deals are happening all over the internet, but please don't forget about the ones that Kazenhaus Books has running here.  (See post below for full links.) The best news is that  "The Dilemma of Arnulf of Lisieux" has moved into second place in Free Bestsellers in Religious Studies--Church and State. I'm still aiming to break into that #1 spot, just for today, so keep the downloads coming.

Is a book about the 12th century still relevant?  Well, judging from the company the book is keeping (see chart, recorded at 7:00 this morning) , we haven't managed to answer the  questions it raises about the role of religion in politics. Perhaps it will lend a bit of perspective to the heat of current arguments.


Changes Are Coming, and Bringing Bargains with Them

Yesterday, would-be readers found nothing on this site but this small logo announcing construction. Hey, it was the closest I could come to Tennessee's famous orange barrels! Anyway, I'm back --sort -of -- and you'll notice some small changes in the design of the blog header.  I'm plugging away at re-organizing the rest of the website, so it probably will be a mess for the next few days. Bear with me.  I'm trying to make it easier to find my books.

For now, I have just a couple of "heads up" to pass along to you.  First, I want to let my medievalist friends know that The Dilemma of Arnulf of Lisieux is now available for the first time in a Kindle edition. What's even more amazing: all the endnotes, diagrams, and photographs from the original hardback are fully functional in this electronic edition -- no easy feat.  I won't be issuing it in any other format; the logistics are simply too complicated.  But those of you who read e-books know that there are Kindle apps available for all your other readers, so you'll still be able to read it if you like, even on your desk computer.  And since it will only be available in a Kindle edition, I've listed it with the Kindle Select program. Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free, if you're just curious. Order here.

Also, for the academics whom might be considering using it as a reading assignment for advanced undergraduates or graduate students, it's a real bargain.  And if you let me know that you want it for classroom use, I can arrange some special pricing for you.  Just send me an e-mail or leave a comment here.

And for the old-timers among you -- if you remember this book from 1990, when I was a brash new PhD with my first book and it was being discussed and sold at medieval conferences, I'd appreciate a brief comment left on its Amazon website.  I've posted little blurbs from the major historical journals, but nothing helps a book more than having somebody say, "Hey, this is a good book.  I remember it when . . . .. . ."

The other bargain concerns The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: How to Avoid the Traps of Self-Publishing. I'm running a special promotion on it during the month of September because it has been nominated by the Military Writers Society of America as one of the best "How-To/Business books of the year. The awards will be announced on September 29th at their annual banquet, so until then, you can get an e-book free or the Kindle version for just $0.99.

Right now you can order a free copy of the e-book in any format from Smashwords.com. Just click here.  If you'd prefer to get a free Kindle edition, please let Amazon know by going to the book's page and clicking on the link at the bottom that tells them you found the book for a lower price at Smashwords. Thanks.


If and When It Rains, It Will Be Pouring Books

Things are happening really quickly around here this week. 

First, the reprint of The Dilemma of Arnulf of Lisieux arrived on my doorstep, followed almost immediately by the appearance of the book on Amazon. Find it at: http://www.amazon.com/Dilemma-Arnulf-Lisieux-versus-Ideals/dp/1478298693  This is the soft cover (trade paper) edition of the original, which was published by Indiana University Press in 1990.  (I was going to say that it felt like I was talking about an earlier century.  Then I realized it WAS an earlier century!)

Anyway, one of the benefits of being a medievalist is that our subject matter doesn't really get "out of date" very quickly. So I'm hoping that people who are still interested in the "long 12th century" will still find much of interest and usefulness in this historical monograph.  For academics, it comes with full endnotes, extensive bibliography, four original maps and sixteen architectural photos of the early Gothic cathedral that Arnulf commissioned in the small town of Lisieux in Normandy.

For the layman (non-historian) and recreational reader, it's a story of crusades, warfare, and clashes between church and state, along with elements of incest, adultery, murder, embezzlement, family power struggles, evil popes, sinful kings, and a queen who outsmarts them all. What more could you ask?

The Kindle version will appear in due course. And speaking of courses, both versions should be available by the time you academics have to order books for spring semester. Electronic publication may take a little while because of all the illustrations, but the timing is out of my hands.  I'll announce it when I can.

At the same time, I've been putting the final touches on my big fall release of The Road to Frogmore. The manuscript has survived its final edit, and is now (im)patiently waiting for the arrival of its one and only crucial photograph of Laura Towne herself.  Once that arrives, the project will be on its way to the layout team for final design elements. Full book production usually takes four to six weeks, so I'm projecting publication sometime in October.

Can't wait? Well, here's a teaser of what's in store:

You need Flash Player in order to view this.
Carolyn P. Schriber's The Road to Frogmore ~ Book Trailer
Book trailer for 'The Road to Frogmore' by Carolyn P. SchriberWhat Could Possibly Go Wrong?Laura Towne and her lifelong friend, Ellen Murray, joined the Port Royal Experiment in 1862 to test t...

In Politics, It Can Be Dangerous To Chose Sides

A quick look, today, at the role Arnulf played in the English Civil War.  From the beginning, Arnulf followed the example  of the bishops of Normandy in supporting King Stephen against the claims of Matilda. Stephen was, of course, a Frenchman, but then too, so was Matilda's husband Geoffrey of Anjou. Arnulf, hoping to become a bishop himself, knew he needed the support of the ruler of Normandy, and he followed the guidance of his uncle, John of Lisieux.

In 1139, the two claimants to the English throne brought their case before the pope at the Second Lateran Council.  Because of his growing reputation as an attack dog, Arnulf was asked to argue the case against Matilda.  There is no record of what he said, but letters from those who were there make it pretty clear.

Arnulf called Matilda a royal bastard, just like her 22 other illegitimate siblings.  Why? Well, he said, Henry I found his wife, Maud, in a nunnery . But since he needed a wife with Anglo-Saxon blood, he forced her to leave and marry him.  She had taken final vows as a nun, Arnulf assured his listeners.  Therefore, the marriage was illegal and Matilda, the only child of that union, was not Henry's legal heir. Was it true? Historians still argue the case. For Arnulf, it didn't matter.  The charge was simply a rhetorical trick that allowed him to use church teachings against a political foe. (Does any of that sound familiar today?)

Pope Innocent did not rule in favor of one or the other side but simply dismissed them, but he later gave tacit approval to Stephen by recognizing his occupation of England. Did that mean Arnulf had chosen the right side?  Not so fast! In Normandy, Geoffrey of Anjou laid liege to the city of Lisieux.  Bishop John set fire to the city rather than surrender to Geoffrey, but his defiance did little good.  When John died in 1141, Arnulf was in line for the bishopric, but Geoffrey prevented him from taking his seat until he paid a huge fine. 

And then, of course, the two sides found a way to settle their own dispute, in a way that left Matilda's son Henry as the lawful king of England and ruler of Normandy. You might guess that the young Henry II was not amused by the bishop who had publicly called his mother a bastard.