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  • Life in the Middle Ages.
  • Premier Icon hammy7272
    Free Member

    Hi

    Not sure why really but I keep getting drawn to our history in Britain, specifically the Middle Ages. I’m looking for a book that will provide an interesting insight into life during this period.

    Happy to have any tips on some interesting books on this time period or Tudor perhaps.

    Thanks in advance

    Premier Icon avdave2
    Free Member

    You really don’t need a book, give it 6 months and you’ll know exactly what it was like.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    Honestly…It’s a massive subject. Why not start with a particular event? The 100 Years War, or Black Death ..they’re two well known subjects of the “age” there’s lots of popular history, lots of research, lots of fiction written. It’ll give you an easy route into other areas.

    Premier Icon mogrim
    Full Member

    Honestly…It’s a massive subject.

    This, it runs for nearly a 1000 years and covers a huge amount of land. That said, “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England” is an excellent social history and probably what you’re looking for, and you could also do worse than frequent the excellent https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/ (their FAQ should keep you busy for a while 🙂 )

    Edit: book link

    Premier Icon gobuchul
    Free Member

    I really enjoyed this one about the Black Death.

    Black-Death-Personal-History

    Premier Icon mogrim
    Full Member

    That one’s available with a slightly different title too, which threw me for a second:

    (Edit: I’m pretty sure it’s the same book, and I also enjoyed it)

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    God, I knew someone would suggest that book.

    There are a great many books that Ian Mortimer has written about the late medieval period that are perhaps a bit better than that one. There are quite a few books that blend historical fact with something approaching fiction* thrown in; AD500 by Simon Young, or John Hatcher’s Black Death…I get the impression Mortimer was asked to do something similar, and it turned out like an adult Horrible History. (There’s quite a bit about shit)

    *Fiction is the wrong word, These are historic books written in the present tense. they incorporate the techniques at least, of modern fiction writing.

    Premier Icon mogrim
    Full Member

    God, I knew someone would suggest that book.

    Because it’s very readable, and a decent introduction to the subject?

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    It’s sort of readable in parts…decent introduction…not so sure

    Premier Icon mogrim
    Full Member

    It’s sort of readable in parts

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree, it’s clear the style of the book isn’t your thing, while I liked it. As an introduction to life in England in the Middle Ages I’d say it’s pretty good, although as its title implies it’s never going to be a great introduction to the Middle Ages as a whole.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree

    👍

    Premier Icon yetidave
    Free Member

    Horrible Histories is about my level, but really fascinating as well. (they may be aimed at children)

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree

    i I think you shouldn’t. I think you should settle the matter in a trial by combat. You guys rustle up some rusty swords I’ll go find a baying mob and a cart load of rotten turnips to throw at the loser.

    Premier Icon supernova
    Full Member

    For a fictional account try Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

    Premier Icon mooman
    Free Member

    Just as it was promising to be a nerd-fight too!

    Premier Icon razorrazoo
    Free Member

    I was going to post that first book Mogrim posted, I enjoyed it and have also read the Elizabethan one.

    In terms of historical fiction interlaced with history of the time, I enjoyed this series:

    The Archers Story

    Theres also the Bernard Cornwell Grail Quest series and the stand alone Agincourt, which are typical Cornwell (ie a good fun read with various historical liberties to suit the story thrown in (which to be fair he tend to call out in the notes)).

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Full Member

    Got a copy of the Ian Mortimer Time Traveller’s Guide book in my pile of stuff for the charity shops when they reopen. A bit dog eared from being a holiday plane and poolside read, but showing no symptoms of the Black Death or COVID19. If you get an address to me I’ll bung it in the post.

    Premier Icon BillMC
    Full Member

    The Time Travellers book is terrific. I’m currently on Moffat’s Genetic History of Britain and that’s filling in loads of gaps around the dark and middle ages. Both books extremely well written and well researched.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Full Member

    OP, do you want something more narrative? Or more detail/idea oriented? If the latter, I can offer you a number of suggestions.

    At the same time, if you’re interested in medieval life across Europe (instead of Britain alone), there is an illustrated books published by Barrons, entitled simply ‘The Middle Ages’ which is absolutely superb. It is ostensibly made for young people, but I often assign it to adult students as I have never come across a better book at providing a survey of life at the time, and accurately (and beautifully) illustrating it.

    Oh, and good for you for being interested. The middle ages are often caricatured and more often misunderstood. In fact, the thousand years from AD 500 to AD 1500 are, as you might imagine, pivotal for civilisation, and by far and away some of the most fascinating to study.

    Premier Icon Caher
    Full Member

    Terry Jones’ ‘Medieval Lives’ is also a good read if you like a little humour amongst the tragedy.

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    “Pillars of the Earth” and “<i>World Without End”</i> byt Ken Follett are set in medieval times, detailing the building of a cathedral.

    Give good detail of medieval life and its brutality – and are recognised for their historical accuracy. Ripping yarns too.

    Premier Icon dazh
    Full Member

    Come on be honest, you’re just interested in the horror..

    https://allthatsinteresting.com/medieval-torture-devices

    Premier Icon CountZero
    Full Member

    Just the period from about 7-800ad to 1066 is fascinating, basically from a series of smallish kingdoms to the formation of the first proper unified Kingdom of Wessex following Alfred’s defeat of the Vikings at Eddington, about twelve miles from where I am, up to the invasion at Hastings. I’m particularly interested in this period because a lot of it takes place in my part of the world, some local names have the word forest in them, as they were Royal hunting reserves, which is where the term comes from, and they were King Alfred’s, he had a hunting lodge in town where the registry office and museum are now located.

    Premier Icon hammy7272
    Free Member

    Thanks all and sorry for the late reply. Those recommendations seem perfect. I suppose I’m looking for a bit more narrative with an insight into years gone by.

    Thanks again, it is appreciated.

    Premier Icon M Wyer
    Free Member

    Try ‘How to be a Tudor’ by Ruth Goodman. She’s a brilliant historian because she doesn’t just research but experiments as well. For example, she goes as far as researching how they made beds, making them and sleeping in them to find out how comfortable and practical they are.

    It takes you through the course of a day, showing you what they ate for each meal, how they worked, and what they did in their leisure time.

    Secrets of the Castle is a brilliant TV series so look out for it being repeated. It shows a medieval castle being recreated/built in France and examines how the stone masons worked, how the weapons were made and how the workers lived. I found it one of the best things ever shown on TV.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Free Member

    there is an illustrated books published by Barrons, entitled simply ‘The Middle Ages’

    Got an ISBN for this?

    Premier Icon rydster
    Free Member

    Experience the middle ages yourself by wearing the same set of clothes for a year before taking your annual bath without soap.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Full Member

    @molgrips:

    Book i

    ISBN

    Premier Icon YoKaiser
    Full Member

    “Pillars of the Earth” and “<i>World Without End”</i> byt Ken Follett are set in medieval times, detailing the building of a cathedral.

    Give good detail of medieval life and its brutality – and are recognised for their historical accuracy. Ripping yarns too

    Seconded, never thought I’d enjoy reading about the building of cathedral but it was fantastic. Read the other two as well.

    And as an aside I really enjoyed the Century trilogy he wrote too.

    Premier Icon slackboy
    Full Member

    There was a BBC series called in search of the dark ages, presented by Michael Wood. The book that accompanied it was pretty interesting.

    Also, maybe a bit too late, the Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks is a great novel about the eyam plague village

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