When was the last time you had a first time.....?

The People's Queen, By Vanora Bennett

Anya Seton's 1950s classic, Katherine, set the benchmark in high-medieval romance, and few have matched her since. But recently two relative newcomers to the genre, Emma Campion and Vanora Bennett, have both revisited the court of Edward III - not to reprise Katherine Swynford's story, but that of another royal mistress, Alice Perrers.

The Left Hand of God, By Paul Hoffman

A legend is born in Thomas Cale, the teenage hero in this first instalment of Paul Hoffman's fantasy adventure. Set in an alternative medieval Europe of relentless injustice and prolific violence, Cale is raised among the Redeemers, zealots bent on pursuing their own unholy agenda. By dint of an accident, Cale can anticipate blows and is therefore able to subvert them. By the age of 14, he is an accomplished assassin and redoubtable strategist in military matters. He is an attractive boy to boot, his patchwork of scars a tribute to the thrashings he has overcome. Pity and devotion stir the hearts of the few women who cross Cale's path: dove and swan-like images of feminine charm.

Grave reveals grim lives of Cromwell's men

Rare evidence of the harsh lives and squalid deaths of soldiers fighting for what was to become Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army has been unearthed in a series of mass graves.

The English Marriage, By Maureen Waller

This scholarly but highly readable work of social history traces the evolution of the English marriage from the late Middle Ages to the present day.

Ten things you didn’t know about the Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessmen Unmasked exhibition in Edinburgh brings together the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland’s collections of the Lewis Chessmen – a set of medieval gaming pieces, originating most likely from Trondheim in the 12th or 13th century, which were discovered on the Hebridean island of Lewis sometime between 1780 and 1831.

Protesters heckle returning troops

Protesters heckled soldiers and brandished placards opposing the war in Afghanistan during a homecoming parade for troops today.

Black Death (15)

The horror director Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance) gets medieval on our ass with this flawed but intriguing morality tale.

In Great Waters, By Kit Whitfield

This is an original synthesis of fantasy and historical novel. In an alternate Middle Ages, there's a species of merpeople who are sufficiently closely related to the landsmen to be able to interbreed. The infant Whistle, a sea-dwelling outcome of such a union, is turfed out of his tribe by his mother, washed up on the shore and taken in by a landsman who renames him Henry.

Minster's medieval window saved from fire

An "irreplaceable" medieval stained glass window has been saved after fire broke out at York Minster's stone yard, police said today.

Album: Huelgas Ensemble, A Secret Labyrinth – A Celebration of Music from the Middle Ages to Renaissance (Sony Classical)

This 15-CD set by the Huelgas Ensemble of singers under the direction of Paul Van Nevel is well-named, offering as it does access to the choral works which dominated European musical development for 400 years. It's a labyrinthine world of psalms, motets and shifting polyphonies in which the repeated lyric motifs of "Agnes Dei", "Dixit Dominus", "Sanctus", etc, recur in myriad forms. Alas, the accompanying booklet does not annotate the differences separating ,say, 13th-century arrangements from the 15th-century works, so mysteries remain.

Album: Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, Into This World This Day Did Come: Carols Contemporary & Medieval (Delphian)

Geoffrey Webber's approach to seasonal repertoire with the Gonville & Caius College Choir favours an austere, classical beauty to illuminate the connections between older medieval carols and new material, as in contrast between the 15th-century "Nowell Sing We" and Gabriel Jackson's more dynamic setting of the same text; both the 13th-century "Edi beo thu" and Stuart MacRae's contemporary carol "Adam lay y-bounden" employ a similar Middle English dialect.

How the battle of Bosworth was lost

The history books on one of Britain’s most important battles will have to be re-written. The bad news for scholars is that the Battle of Bosworth Field, which marked the end of medieval England, didn’t take place where historians thought it did. But the good news is that the mistake has saved the battlefield from being looted and destroyed by metal detectorists.

The Ring of Words, By P Gilliver, J Marshall & E Weiner

It is unlikely that a minor participant in the Oxford English Dictionary would merit a study of his entries – including wallop, walnut, walrus and others under "W" – if he had not gone on to write The Lord of the Rings.

Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens, By Lisa Hilton

Probably the most notorious of England's medieval queens was Isabella of France, the wife of Edward II – few of us don't know about the red-hot poker murder that ended his life, a grisly death meant also to signify Edward's homosexual practices. Isabella, who was considered responsible for the murder and the manner of it, largely escaped punishment even though she was, as Hilton notes, a queen who "had managed to do something practically unthinkable: to depose an anointed king". She also dispels another myth: the red-hot poker story may have inspired Derek Jarman and Christopher Marlowe, but it probably wasn't true.

The Assassin's Song, By MG Vassanji

When he is a little boy, all the protagonist wants to be is ordinary. But ordinariness is far from his reach, for he is heir to Pirbaag, the shrine of the Wanderer, a medieval sufi in his village of Haripir. Pirbaag is "calm and cold as infinity", home to the mausoleum of the sufi, who wandered into Gujarat centuries ago and became guide and guru. Now the shrine lies in ruins, a victim of the violence gripping the state. Our narrator assumes the role he once spurned to tell the shrine's story.

Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 12 March 2015
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss