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The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
Author: Ian Mortimer
Publisher: Published October 2nd 2008 by The Bodley Head (first published January 1st 2008)
ISBN: 9780224079945
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the 14th century. This text sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking the reader to the Middle Ages, and showing everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture.

30 review for The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

  1. 5 out of 5

    LeeAnne

    A very fun, entertaining book! Here are a few things I learned: The Landscape: There are almost no conifer or evergreen trees in the middle ages so the winter skyline is particularly bleak. There are no grey squirrels, only red ones. The grey variety has yet to reach Britain. Cattle and sheep are smaller than their modern counterparts: much smaller. There are no wolves. The last English wolf was killed in North Lancashire in the 14th century. The People: Half of the entire population are under the A very fun, entertaining book! Here are a few things I learned: The Landscape: There are almost no conifer or evergreen trees in the middle ages so the winter skyline is particularly bleak. There are no grey squirrels, only red ones. The grey variety has yet to reach Britain. Cattle and sheep are smaller than their modern counterparts: much smaller. There are no wolves. The last English wolf was killed in North Lancashire in the 14th century. The People: Half of the entire population are under the age of 21 so everyone is inexperienced and immature. Imagine a nation being run by a bunch of hormonal teenage boys. People marry at age 14. Many commanders in the Army are still in their teens. A woman who is 30 years old is considered to be in the winter of her life. Women are blamed for all intellectual and moral weaknesses in society and are basically viewed as deformed men. The avg medieval person is considerably shorter than their counterparts of today, although nobility are about the same height as today. This disparity in height is due to genetic selection as well as difference in diet. The extra height gives a nobleman a considerable advantage in a fight. Speaking of fighting, it is not unusual to come across men who have lost eyes, ears and limbs in wars. A surprisingly large amount of men have to hobble around without a leg or with foot injuries that never healed correctly. Food: The main staple of food is bread & something called "pottage" a thick stew of oats or peas (green pottage) or leeks (white pottage) that has been boiled into a mush for several hours over a fire. If you have a garden, you will throw in some herbs, garlic and cabbage. Add left over bread crumbs as thickener and that's your daily meal when you are not eating plain bread. Most peasants have very few opportunities to eat meat, dairy or even fish. Pickled and salted herring is the only kind of fish they usually eat. If you have a well kept fruit orchard you are very lucky and can make preserves from apples, pears, berries, plums and grapes. A Medieval Street in York, England The Language: In 1300 the nobility speak French, not English! If you can't speak French, you can't command any respect. Only the lowly poor peons speak English. Nobody commissions any literature in English. Not until 1350 when King Edward the III, who speaks English, expresses pride in the English language, do aristocrats begin to speak English as well as French. Hygiene: People rarely bathed or did laundry but did wash their hands before each meal. A peasant usually had only one set of clothes. Health: In the Great Plague, 35%-45% of the entire population is wiped out in just 9 months. Thousands of villages are left empty. If you are lucky enough to avoid catching the plague, don't relax too much, leprosy or tuberculosis might still get you. If you do get sick, and are wealthy enough to pay a physician, he will not need to see you in person to treat you because diagnosis are based on astronomy. You will also be diagnosed by the color and smell of your urine and the taste of your blood. There is so much more in this book, but I can't tell you everything! Please read it! It's really good!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Most of us who read history or historical fiction set in Medieval (or even Tudor) England, can agree on one thing: we can’t understand the ways of life “back then” properly because we tend to apply modern morals and standards to history. However, with the “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”, readers can finally understand Medieval times. I guarantee you will never look at a history book the same again… Divided into main sections such as the landscape, people, medieval character, what Most of us who read history or historical fiction set in Medieval (or even Tudor) England, can agree on one thing: we can’t understand the ways of life “back then” properly because we tend to apply modern morals and standards to history. However, with the “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”, readers can finally understand Medieval times. I guarantee you will never look at a history book the same again… Divided into main sections such as the landscape, people, medieval character, what to eat/drink, etc; Ian Mortimer dives deep into medieval life. His depth of information is staggering (but never boring or overwhelming) and allows the reader to fully understand medieval life which extends beyond knights and jousts. Consider it a ‘Medieval Times 101’ crash course, as Mortimer focuses on the macro view of life versus individual kings or events (although he does touch upon specifics) as we are used to reading. Although academic in topic, Mortimer’s writing style is anything but; as it is easy to understand, descriptive, and witty. The Time Traveler’s Guide cleared up so much information in my mind which has been swimming around from the countless history books I have figuratively consumed. The ranks of clergy, description of the privy seal (and other seals), and even “fun” factoids such as the inception of “acres”, the defining term “o’clock”, and even surnames (John Ilbertson used to be John, son of Ilbert) are included and explained in a clear and rational way. The reader truly feels like he or she is visiting the past (sort of like Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Past), observing life and almost being apart of it. Mortimer is rich, colorful, and very informative. There ARE some moments of overwhelming presentations, but that is due to the lack of standardization in England during that time and not due to Mortimer’s writing style or expertise. My favorite realization? I FINALLY understood the differences between pennies, shillings, marks, and pounds. In the past, my eyes have always glazed over during money talks in other history books. One qualm was the constant references to Chaucer and “The Canterbury Tales”. Although Mortimer used a medium amount of sources for the book; Chaucer is readily quoted and referred to. If Chaucer was a brand and this book was a TV show, it would scream, “product placement”. Also, the chapter regarding laws and court systems was confusing, but admittedly, I’m not even interested in those topics in modern times so perhaps it just wasn’t my cup of tea, personally. Overall, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England is an absolutely terrific book: one of those works which you are sad to see end. The crux of it all is Mortimer’s passion for history. There is no escaping it and it bleeds through his work. More importantly, he views history in a different manner than the average person passing this ardor onto the reader, who will never view history or Medieval England the same again. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England should be used as the sourcebook for every subsequent medieval-themed historical fiction book, play, TV show, commercial, etc. Where was this book over 15 years ago when I was a school child partaking in our school’s “Medieval Faire”? Perhaps, I should travel back into that time...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    As a history book, this is an interesting format and it's reasonably engaging, though by the end I was starting to get worn down by the sheer level of detail. But what bothered me was that apparently, if you want to time travel, you'd better be male: there's some lip service paid to actually discussing women's role in society, with some references to the kind of work women did (mostly: make ale, I gather), and quite a lot of reference to the kind of clothes women wore, and how likely women were As a history book, this is an interesting format and it's reasonably engaging, though by the end I was starting to get worn down by the sheer level of detail. But what bothered me was that apparently, if you want to time travel, you'd better be male: there's some lip service paid to actually discussing women's role in society, with some references to the kind of work women did (mostly: make ale, I gather), and quite a lot of reference to the kind of clothes women wore, and how likely women were to be assaulted and raped, but. We hear about monks and not about nuns, about merchants and not about their wives, about farmers and not their daughters. And don't give me the excuse about that not being interesting to read about: nor is intricate detail about what a monk can eat on which days, for most people. In summary: to time travel, apparently you have to be male. And only men are interesting. Slightly disappointed I paid for this book right now.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cait • A Page with a View

    It's nonfiction written like fiction, which made it super fascinating to read. This book covers all of the details of what life would be like in medieval England, except it walks you through each section like you're really there experiencing it. There were some really amazing facts and I actually learned a lot (like what types of squirrels were present at this time).

  5. 5 out of 5

    abby

    "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." -- L. P. Hartley Take this book along on your next trip to Medieval England to help ensure your travel experience is a smooth one. Some things you might need to know for your journey: -- If you are from Australia, you might be impressed that even in the 1300s people have some vague concept of existence of the continent. However, you should keep in mind it's considered much too hot for man to inhabit, and instead is the home of crea "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." -- L. P. Hartley Take this book along on your next trip to Medieval England to help ensure your travel experience is a smooth one. Some things you might need to know for your journey: -- If you are from Australia, you might be impressed that even in the 1300s people have some vague concept of existence of the continent. However, you should keep in mind it's considered much too hot for man to inhabit, and instead is the home of creatures that hop around on a floppy, oversized foot that they use to shade themselves. -- Don't eat meat on Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday. The Church forbids it. Seafood is permitted, but good luck finding some outside the nobility. Water loving species like badgers and puffins count as seafood (but please don't eat puffins!). -- Hospitals are for the sick, but also travelers. If you stay there you might have the fun experience of sleeping in the same bed as someone with leprosy. -- Speaking of lepers, try not to come down with a rash of any sort in the 1300s or you might be declared one and forced to wear a bell around your neck (ask your cat about how this can damage your self esteem). -- You might notice more blind horses wondering around than you'd expect (which would probably be no blind horses at all). Blinding horses was the Medieval equivalent of scratching off vin numbers, meant to insure stolen beasts didn't make their way back home. This book is the slice-of-life history study I've been searching for. It's everything I'd hoped Ruth Goodwin's How To Be a Tudor would be but wasn't. I've never had a strong interest in Medieval times or English history, but that's not required to enjoy this fast paced and fun book. If I had one critique it would be to add more information about the Church and the Plague, both of which dominated 14th century life but were absent throughout most of the book. Highly recommended for history fans.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    I have long found this period of history the most fascinating to read about. What compels my interest is not the fierce battles or matters of court, but more the running of the day-to-day life of the common people, during this time. For that reason, it was like this book was penned with my particular desires in mind. Unlike many other non-fiction books, this was not set out in the typical chronological format. Instead, this was split into sections that focused on one particular area of interest - I have long found this period of history the most fascinating to read about. What compels my interest is not the fierce battles or matters of court, but more the running of the day-to-day life of the common people, during this time. For that reason, it was like this book was penned with my particular desires in mind. Unlike many other non-fiction books, this was not set out in the typical chronological format. Instead, this was split into sections that focused on one particular area of interest - such as clothing, food, and housing. Battles, the Black Plague, and other areas of historic interest were noted but little space was given over to dwelling on those subjects. This is more of an overview of how an average day would look like to an average citizen. I also adored how this book was penned, which fitted well with the structure of this book. With the minimum of dryness and a sprinkle of humour all information was relayed. It was neither sensational nor overly-academic, but instead a steady mixture of them both. As the title suggests, this book is written as if it were to be used as an actual guide for an actual future time-traveller, assisting them on how best to fit in if they were to return to an average day from this period of history. Average seems to be the word to best sum up this book's ultimate focus, but certainly not how I would describe how it delivered what many would perceive these rather banal facts.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    Obviously, A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England was a title calculated to gain my attention. The premise: a different take on presenting an overview of a period of time, using the format of a travel guide – something of a Fodor's England 1320 that might be found in the TARDIS. Exploring the experience of all the senses, this should be a gem of a resource to the writer of historical fiction or fantasy. From the introduction: We might eat differently, be taller, and live longer, and we mig Obviously, A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England was a title calculated to gain my attention. The premise: a different take on presenting an overview of a period of time, using the format of a travel guide – something of a Fodor's England 1320 that might be found in the TARDIS. Exploring the experience of all the senses, this should be a gem of a resource to the writer of historical fiction or fantasy. From the introduction: We might eat differently, be taller, and live longer, and we might look at jousting as being unspeakably dangerous and not at all a sport, but we know what grief is, and what love, fear, pain, ambition, enmity, and hunger are. We should always remember that what we have in common with the past is just as important – real and essential to our lives as those things which make us different. Er. Almost lost me there. "Be taller" I can let pass with a chuckle – I'd probably fit right in, heightwise, in 1320, tall only amongst hobbits (oh: actually, I'd still be short – women average 5'2") – but I strenuously object to the remarks about jousting. Dangerous? Yes, and so are auto racing and football. Not at all a sport? Pfft. Say that to Justin Lewis or Justin Ray Thompson's face, I dare you. (And before anyone can chime in, yes I'm aware that the jousting of today bears about the same resemblance to 14th century joust as today's sword fighting resembles theirs. But it's still a sport.) "W.H. Auden once suggested that to understand your own country, you need to have lived in at least two others. One can say something similar for periods of time. To understand your own century, you need to have come to terms with at least two others." I like it. If nothing else, one wonderful thing about looking at another time period in this sort of format is as in the introduction, the oft-repeated, but necessarily so, axiom that people never change. There are some shifts in perception and tolerance – bear- and bull-baiting are no longer remotely acceptable in much of the world, and the education of children no longer relies heavily on the rod, and it's no longer considered a hilarious lark to set a trap to string someone up by the ankle … but it's taken centuries to shift such things out of the norm into the abnormal, and the behaviors or the desires toward them do still linger. One point carried through this book is that, fundamentally, a medieval man or woman is not so very different from someone you'd meet on the street right now. (Particularly if "right now" you're walking down a path at a Renaissance Faire, but that's a whole 'nother post.) I rather enjoy how almost point for point this book contradicts A World Lit Only By Fire. As described there, the medieval period was dark ("lit only by fire") and filthy and pest-ridden, and the peasantry slogged their way through a short and grinding existence until they died of something which could probably be cured or prevented now. In which there is some truth, of course – but Ian Mortimer points out that a medieval man had no 21st-century standard by which to judge his own surroundings. If it was by our standards filthy, that only means our cleaning methods include chemicals, ready-made tools, and easily accessed fresh water; the average housewife did quite well with what she had. No one expected to live to see their nineties, and while the average day in the life might have been filled with drudgery, the sun shone just as bright as it does now, and it was also filled with laughter and song every chance there was. Otherwise, there were surprisingly few surprises here for a reader of a great many medieval-set books; whatever can be said of some, I have always had the greatest faith that Edith Pargeter's books could be relied on as largely accurate. But it is the handful of surprises, and the much more generous concentration of detail, that make this a terrific reference. How far can someone expect to travel on medieval roads, on foot or by horse or otherwise? It's in here. There is some excellent information here, entertainingly presented. I do wish some parts had been expanded, though. Sumptuary laws are touched on, the origins and some detail given – but I think if a time traveller had to rely purely on this book as regards to what he is and is not allowed to wear he might end up in trouble: color, for example, was dictated as well as material. A great many of the dictates were moot, as crimson velvet or any material dyed purple was too expensive for most, but on the off chance a time traveller missed this and transgressed he could be subject to fine. Another thing that surprised me was the failure to explain small surprising things … for example, the mention of a brown scarlet item of clothing. Apparently, I find after a little research, the word (from mid 13th century French) originally meant fine fabric, of whatever color: "a kind of rich cloth". (1200–50; Middle English < Old French escarlate < Medieval Latin scarlata, scarletum, perhaps < Arabic saqirlāṭ, siqillāṭ < Medieval Greek sigillátos < Latin sigillātus decorated with patterns in relief; see sigillate). The author is very good about most such things, which makes this sort of omission strange. I am unreasonably delighted the licenses required to build castles or fortifications. James Bond can keep his license to kill – I want a license to crenelate. Also, in the section called "Organized Crime", suddenly Robin Hood comes up … and there came a tiny little light bulb over my head. Of course Robin Hood and his men were organized crime. As with the crenelating, I am insupportably tickled about this. On the whole, while this was a lovely idea, well-written and well-read, and very enjoyable, for me there just wasn't quite the depth of information I hoped for. This was a very nice overview, dipping down here and there for a closer look. But I still love the idea of the Fodor's Medieval England; I'd love to see that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    Description: Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the 14th century. This text sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking the reader to the Middle Ages, and showing everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture. As Susanna mentions in her review, the clothing section was very interesting: knitting was not known in 14C. Fully recommended. 3.5* The Time Traveller's Guide to Eliz Description: Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the 14th century. This text sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking the reader to the Middle Ages, and showing everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture. As Susanna mentions in her review, the clothing section was very interesting: knitting was not known in 14C. Fully recommended. 3.5* The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England 4.5* The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    This book was super interesting and informative if you’re looking to understand what life was like back in 14th century England. Plenty of statistics, but also the author worked hard to tell about life in an interesting narrative way that kept things from getting too dry. I found all the little tidbits about trade and buildings and the daily life of an Englishman very informative as well as statistics about percentages of the population that was literate, what sort of life you could expect if yo This book was super interesting and informative if you’re looking to understand what life was like back in 14th century England. Plenty of statistics, but also the author worked hard to tell about life in an interesting narrative way that kept things from getting too dry. I found all the little tidbits about trade and buildings and the daily life of an Englishman very informative as well as statistics about percentages of the population that was literate, what sort of life you could expect if you were born into a household that worked for a landowner, etc. 5/5 stars.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    What a fantastic way to consume an overview of an historical period. Ian Mortimer's decision to create a guide for tourism shifts the focus of history from the "Great People of History" to the "People You'll Meet while Walking by Shitbrook," and that turns out to be far more fascinating -- at least to me. Want to know how to avoid prosecution for murder in case you slip up during your travels? Mortimer lets you know. Want to know what sports you can expect to enjoy? They're all here. Want to kno What a fantastic way to consume an overview of an historical period. Ian Mortimer's decision to create a guide for tourism shifts the focus of history from the "Great People of History" to the "People You'll Meet while Walking by Shitbrook," and that turns out to be far more fascinating -- at least to me. Want to know how to avoid prosecution for murder in case you slip up during your travels? Mortimer lets you know. Want to know what sports you can expect to enjoy? They're all here. Want to know what drinks to avoid, what to look for in foods, what roads to take, what protection you'll need while travelling, what to wear, what to read, what to carry with you? Look no further than this fantastic guide. I'll be leaving for London 1362 tomorrow, just after one of the outbursts of plague has cleared up. That way I can take advantage of the decreased and depressed population, and hopefully avoid the buboes. See you when I get back.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen Brooks

    Historian Ian Mortimer does something really interesting with this book: he sets out to recreate the period (the Fourteenth Century) as if he were writing a travel book for tourists as opposed to researching and explaining a forgotten time. In other words, he places the reader in the moment, advising you where to go, what to see, how to behave, speak, dress and what to expect should you happen to have the good fortune to be transported back to not-so-merry old England in the 1300s. After my seco Historian Ian Mortimer does something really interesting with this book: he sets out to recreate the period (the Fourteenth Century) as if he were writing a travel book for tourists as opposed to researching and explaining a forgotten time. In other words, he places the reader in the moment, advising you where to go, what to see, how to behave, speak, dress and what to expect should you happen to have the good fortune to be transported back to not-so-merry old England in the 1300s. After my second reading of this book in less than a year, I wish I had access to Dr Who’s Tardis because, with Mortimer’s well-thumbed book under my arm, I would head straight for Exeter, where the book opens, prepared for the ordure of the aptly named, Shitbrook, the breath-taking sight of the cathedral, avert my eyes from the remains of criminals clinging to the gallows, and be careful not to stare at the bright and strange clothes the people are wearing, while tripping along the cobbles, one hand firmly on my money so a cut-purse does not take it. Like many contemporary historians, Mortimer believes in social history, reconstructing the past in order to understand how it was lived and not simply by kings, queens, monks, lawyers and nobles, those who have left records of their deeds and desires for us to absorb and through which we judge them. Instead, Mortimer turns to all classes and all experiences and takes the reader on a magnificent and fascinating journey back to a character-filled society with its own delights and dangers. It was so good the first time, I did it again and liked it even better. Explaining where to stay, how to tell the time, greet people (Eg. “fellow or friend, ye be welcome”), about the sumptuary laws, what certain coins look like and what you might be able to buy and where, what diseases we might succumb to if we’re not careful, what we might be served and how to eat it whether it be in an inn, a peasant’s house or a king’s castle (all of which are thoroughly described as if you’re on a guided tour), Mortimer runs the gamut of class and place in this vivid recreation that is at once hugely informative and always vastly entertaining. Even how to avoid running foul of the law and what punishment might be meted out is made clear as well as the significance of religious observances. Medieval humour is also explored as well as, for those so inclined, where you might find the best er hum, sexual services (Southwark, the Stews, in London, in case you wanted to know). He also discusses how to entertain ourselves while we’re there (the Stews aside) and who, among the great figures known to us now, we might expect to encounter on our journey – Geoffrey Chaucer anyone? He has rooms above Aldgate. Just when you think you’ve stepped back into the present, Mortimer will remind you to take a deep breath and stop. Listen, he advises. What do we hear? Very little. Maybe some bells, the sounds of birds and animals and, above all, the chatter and clutter of people should we be near a town or city. Or, if present at a joust, the thunder of hooves. The medieval world is a very quiet place, something I hadn’t considered, along with many of the other preconceptions and yes, prejudices I had about this period and which Mortimer’s grandest of tours manages to overturn. If you’re looking for a book that will literally transport you to another time and place, than I cannot recommend this one highly enough. A fabulous read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    An exciting and compelling way to engage with the past The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century is a wonderful concept. History told in the form of a living guide - up close and personal. It's brilliant. Ian Mortimer shows us the food, the customs, the language, the clothes, the games, the laws, the risks, the illnesses, medicine, the poor, the aristocrats, the merchants, the soldiers, writers, poets, religion, the criminals, and so on. He An exciting and compelling way to engage with the past The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century is a wonderful concept. History told in the form of a living guide - up close and personal. It's brilliant. Ian Mortimer shows us the food, the customs, the language, the clothes, the games, the laws, the risks, the illnesses, medicine, the poor, the aristocrats, the merchants, the soldiers, writers, poets, religion, the criminals, and so on. He also brings alive the sights, the smells, the landscape, cities, towns, markets and hamlets. Every few pages there are insightful facts and lightbulb moments that connect the 14th century to our lives in the early 21st century. The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century really brings the era to life. Take, for example, his section on the Black Death. You may already know that it wiped out a third of Europe's population (dwarfing the First World War) but until you walk through devastated communities watching rats and wild pigs eating corpses or see a man sobbing as he tells you he has buried five sons, I don't think you've probably fully got to grips with the implications of such extraordinary loss of life. The entire book is consistently vivid and instructive. Ian Mortimer uses the second person and the present tense throughout. So, you travel into the city or you sit down at a table, making it an effective technique for fully engaging the reader. This approach may not be for everyone but I found it compelling and involving. I notice Ian Mortimer has taken the same approach in two other books - The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England and The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain: Life in the Age of Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton and The Great Fire of London. I intend to read them too. 5/5

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    Huh - I either never posted this review, or it vanished. Yay for beginning-of-the-year cleanup. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~ A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England was a title calculated to gain my attention. The premise: a different take on presenting an overview of a period of time, using the format of a travel guide – something of a Fodor's England 1320 that might be found in the TARDIS. Exploring the experience of all the senses, this should be a gem of a resource to the writer of historical fiction o Huh - I either never posted this review, or it vanished. Yay for beginning-of-the-year cleanup. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~ A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England was a title calculated to gain my attention. The premise: a different take on presenting an overview of a period of time, using the format of a travel guide – something of a Fodor's England 1320 that might be found in the TARDIS. Exploring the experience of all the senses, this should be a gem of a resource to the writer of historical fiction or fantasy. From the introduction: We might eat differently, be taller, and live longer, and we might look at jousting as being unspeakably dangerous and not at all a sport, but we know what grief is, and what love, fear, pain, ambition, enmity, and hunger are. We should always remember that what we have in common with the past is just as important – real and essential to our lives as those things which make us different. Er. Almost lost me there. "Be taller" I can let pass with a chuckle – I'd probably fit right in, heightwise, in 1320, tall only amongst hobbits (oh: actually, I'd still be short – women averaged 5'2") – but I strenuously object to the remarks about jousting. Dangerous? Yes, and so are auto racing and football. Not at all a sport? Pfft. Say that to former NYRF jousters Justin Lewis or Justin Ray Thompson's face, I dare you. (And before anyone can chime in, yes I'm aware that the jousting of today bears about the same resemblance to 14th century joust as today's sword fighting resembles theirs. But it's still a sport. It had its own reality show for a minute there.) "W.H. Auden once suggested that to understand your own country, you need to have lived in at least two others. One can say something similar for periods of time. To understand your own century, you need to have come to terms with at least two others." I like it. If nothing else, one wonderful thing about looking at another time period in this sort of format is as in the introduction, the oft-repeated, but necessarily so, axiom that people never change. There are some shifts in perception and tolerance – bear- and bull-baiting are no longer remotely acceptable in much of the world, and the education of children no longer relies heavily on the rod, and it's no longer considered a hilarious lark to set a trap to string someone up by the ankle … but it's taken centuries to shift such things out of the norm into the abnormal, and the behaviors or the desires toward them do still linger. One point carried through this book is that, fundamentally, a medieval man or woman is not so very different from someone you'd meet on the street right now. (Particularly if "right now" you're walking down a path at a Renaissance Faire, but that's a whole 'nother post.) I rather enjoy how almost point for point this book contradicts A World Lit Only By Fire. As described there, the medieval period was dark ("lit only by fire") and filthy and pest-ridden, and the peasantry slogged their way through a short and grinding existence until they died of something which could probably be cured or prevented now. In which there is some truth, of course – but Ian Mortimer points out that a medieval man had no 21st-century standard by which to judge his own surroundings. If it was by our standards filthy, that only means our cleaning methods include chemicals, ready-made tools, and easily accessed fresh water; the average housewife did quite well with what she had. No one expected to live to see their nineties, and while the average day in the life might have been filled with drudgery, the sun shone just as bright as it does now, and it was also filled with laughter and song every chance there was. Otherwise, there were surprisingly few surprises here for a reader of a great many medieval-set books; whatever can be said of some, I have always had the greatest faith that Edith Pargeter's books could be relied on as largely accurate. But it is the handful of surprises, and the much more generous concentration of detail, that make this a terrific reference. How far can someone expect to travel on medieval roads, on foot or by horse or otherwise? It's in here. There is some excellent information here, entertainingly presented. I do wish some parts had been expanded, though. Sumptuary laws are touched on, the origins, and some detail given – but I think if a time traveller had to rely purely on this book as regards to what he is and is not allowed to wear he might end up in trouble: color, for example, was dictated as well as material. A great many of the dictates were moot, as crimson velvet or any material dyed purple was too expensive for most, but on the off chance a time traveller missed this and just wore the most accurate things she had for the Renaissance Faire, she could be subject to fine. Another thing that surprised me was the failure to explain small surprising things … for example, the mention of a brown scarlet item of clothing. Apparently, I find after a little research, "scarlet" (from mid 13th century French) originally meant fine fabric, of whatever color: "a kind of rich cloth". (1200–50; Middle English < Old French escarlate < Medieval Latin scarlata, scarletum, perhaps < Arabic saqirlāṭ, siqillāṭ < Medieval Greek sigillátos < Latin sigillātus decorated with patterns in relief; see sigillate). The author is very good about most such things, which makes this sort of omission strange. I am unreasonably delighted over the licenses required to build castles or fortifications. James Bond can keep his license to kill – I want a license to crenellate. Also, in the section called "Organized Crime", suddenly Robin Hood comes up … and there came a tiny little light bulb over my head. Of course Robin Hood and his men were organized crime. As with the crenellating, I am insupportably tickled about this. On the whole, while this was a wonderful idea, well-written and well-read, and very enjoyable, for me there just wasn't quite the depth of information I hoped for. This was a very nice overview, dipping down here and there for a closer look. But I still love the idea of the Fodor's Medieval England; I'd love to see that. I listened to the Audible version, which despite a lovely reading by Jonathan Keeble probably didn't do justice to the book. This is the sort of book which encourages flipping back and forth, referring to the index and whatever other appendices there might be, as well as - I daresay - illustrations which were, obviously, absent from my version. Highly recommended - on paper.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    A very interesting way to write a history book. This author wrote this book like it was a travel guide. He tries to describe the sights, smells, and people of the era as if you could walk down the road and be in the middle of it. I really enjoyed reading it, and suggest it to anyone who enjoys reading history. I hope he writes more like it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jemidar

    Really 4.5 stars. Because this book is such a tantalizing glimpse into the real lives of people in 14th century England it has inspired me to do something that my university lecturers couldn't, and that is to actually read The Canterbury Tales. It's now officially my special project for next year. Thank you Dr Mortimer :-).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    2016 is the year I have decided to learn more about history, well that's the plan anyway! So, starting with this one I think was a good choice. It reads almost like a novel. The idea that you are a visitor to medieval England, discovering what life was like there from your own observations draws the reader/listener into that world immediately. I found it endlessly fascinating, discovering new things. The author imparts his knowledge on the subject with such a light touch that it is never dull, a 2016 is the year I have decided to learn more about history, well that's the plan anyway! So, starting with this one I think was a good choice. It reads almost like a novel. The idea that you are a visitor to medieval England, discovering what life was like there from your own observations draws the reader/listener into that world immediately. I found it endlessly fascinating, discovering new things. The author imparts his knowledge on the subject with such a light touch that it is never dull, always entertaining, and sometimes amusing (medieval fashions were bonkers - would you want to wear a pair of shoes that made it impossible to walk upstairs in?). I liked that each subject was allocated its own short chapter, so that you could move on quickly if it really didn't interest you. There are many subjects included, ranging from fashion, food, health and illness, hygiene, hunting, travel, jobs, war, religion, royalty, crime and punishment (often arbitrary, swift and brutal) and much more. I wouldn't want to live in medieval England - the chances of dying of something now preventable or curable was immense. Life expectancy was not good, that is even if you managed to avoid getting the plague which was rife. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and a good informative book for anyone wanting to discover more about every day life in that era.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Santhosh

    The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there... As the arresting title implies, the book is laid out in the form of a travel guide to medieval England, with chapters such as: The Landscape, The People, The Medieval Character, Basic Essentials, What to Wear, Travelling, Where to Stay, What to Eat and Drink, Health and Hygiene, The Law, and What to Do. With an interesting narrative device such as this, we learn of everyday life "back then" by viewing fourteenth century people a The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there... As the arresting title implies, the book is laid out in the form of a travel guide to medieval England, with chapters such as: The Landscape, The People, The Medieval Character, Basic Essentials, What to Wear, Travelling, Where to Stay, What to Eat and Drink, Health and Hygiene, The Law, and What to Do. With an interesting narrative device such as this, we learn of everyday life "back then" by viewing fourteenth century people as peers and contemporaries whom we interact and work and live with. Our whole standpoint from which we look at history changes once this approach is taken, and it only serves to make it more fascinating by adding to the detailing. Detailing such as what a typical shopping list looks like and how much things cost in the local market, what to wear and when, money and salaries and job opportunities, how dangerous it is to travel alone and on foot (and no Google Maps even!!), how much time it takes to practise and build the necessary muscles to become a good archer, how to properly greet a visiting lord, where would you go on pilgrimages in 14th century England and what souvenirs would you bring back, what literature (manuscripts only, no books yet) is available for reading, what you could expect to see on your evening walks, etc. You thus get to live in the fourteenth century, developing an intimate understanding and view of life itself as it was, and not just of the monuments, the wars and the dates. Ever wanted to be a knight in shining armour? You're in luck, this book details how much the different suits of armour cost along with prices for optional add-ons, how much it weighs, and how much time and money is required to regularly tend to it. Ever been one for whimsical dreams of living a peaceful life in the uncomplicated medieval times? This book will quickly cure you of it, as you learn about the trade-off of modern pollution and convenience for the stench of cesspits, faeces, dung, mould and decaying animal corpses; the 'medical' practices and its practitioners; the prevalent starvation; the rampant lawlessness and the violent sexism. Some points I found interesting: (view spoiler)[ ~~ The people are basically of three 'estates': those who fight, those who pray, and those who work. ~~ Humans, cattle, sheep are all smaller than their modern counterparts. ~~ It's very quiet. Outdoors, you can hear only the wind in the trees, the streams trickling, occasional calls of voices, and wild birds singing in their different languages 'full of mirth and joy'. People listen differently and with greater clarity. When a dog barks, they can recognise whose dog it is. They are more sensitive to voices. ~~ Many kings, knights, army commanders and lords are in their teens. ~~ Hunting, hawking and falconry are favourite occupations of the rich, and carefully guarded privileges. ~~ Dress codes are prevalent as per hierarchy and include rules on colours that can be used, the maximum value of the fabric to be used and the size of the wigs. ~~ The royalty and nobility speak French, and English is looked down upon. In England. ~~ If guilty of a serious felony, if you can get to a church before arrest, you can claim 'sanctuary' for up to 40 days, by confessing, while in the said church, to a witness. The pursuers must place a guard over the door to prevent you escaping – and they can be fined if you escape. And by law, these guards also have to feed you. You may freely leave the church to urinate and defecate outside. At the end of 40 days, you will be assigned a sea port from which you will abjure the realm. Whether you make it to the port depends on the general level of feeling against you and it's not uncommon for something to happen on the way. ~~ Be it at an inn, at a townhouse or at a friend's house, the host is legally responsible for the guest for the duration of stay. ~~ Minstrelsy are more like a troupe and include acrobats, jugglers and dancers, apart from the musicians. ~~ Unlike modern carols, which tend to be exclusively religious, many medieval ones are bawdy songs, and some are downright lascivious. ~~ Medieval medicine is a bizarre mixture of arcane ritual, cult religion, domestic invention and a freakshow, involving planetary alignments, divine judgement, bloodletting, astrology, urine colours, and balance of 'humors'. To know whether a patient might survive or not, they're advised to: Take the name of the patient, the name of the messenger sent to summon you, and the name of the day upon which the messenger first came to you; join all their letters together, and if an even number result, the patient will not escape; if the number be odd, he will recover. ~~ Cleanliness is, literally, considered on par with Godliness. Taking a bath is a luxury, and a means of physical and spiritual purification. ~~ Building bridges is considered on par with building parish churches in terms of common good and piousness. ~~ Travelling is by starting off in the general direction of the destination, and asking for directions at each town for the next farthest point they may know. (hide spoiler)] In the concluding words of Ian Mortimer, "History is not just about the analysis of evidence, unrolling vellum documents or answering exam papers. It is not about judging the dead. It is about understanding the meaning of the past – to realise the whole evolving human story over centuries, not just our own lifetimes."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dana Stabenow

    A wealth of detail in this you-are-there look at life in medieval England. Just dipping in at random: When you draw closer to the city walls you will see the great gatehouse...And then you notice the smell. Four hundred yards from the city gate, the muddy road you are folowing crosses a brook. As you look along the banks you see piles of refuse, broken crockery, animal bones, entrails, human feces, and rotting meat strewn in and around the bushes. In some places the muddy banks slide into thick q A wealth of detail in this you-are-there look at life in medieval England. Just dipping in at random: When you draw closer to the city walls you will see the great gatehouse...And then you notice the smell. Four hundred yards from the city gate, the muddy road you are folowing crosses a brook. As you look along the banks you see piles of refuse, broken crockery, animal bones, entrails, human feces, and rotting meat strewn in and around the bushes. In some places the muddy banks slide into thick quagmires whhere townsmen have hauled out their refuse and pitched it into the stream. In others, rich green grasses, reeds, and undergrowth spring from the highly fertilized earth. As you watch, two seminaked men lift another barrel of excrement from the back of a cart and empty it into the water. A small brown pig roots around in the garbage. It is not called Shitbrook for nothing. and Medieval society thinks of itself like this: there are three sections of society, or "estates," created by God--those who fight [the aristocracy], those who pray [the clergy], and those work the land [the peasantry]...Between 1333 and 1346 it is systematically shredded by the English longbowmen, who, although ranked among "those who work," show that they are a far more potent military force than the massed charging ranks of "those who fight." and ...women are blamed for all the physical, intellectual, and moral weaknesses of society. and, delightfully If you find yourself speaking English with the locals do not be surprised if their language gets a little rough around the edges. Just as fourteenth-century place names are direct descriptions of localities (for instance: "Shitbrook Street," Pissing Alley"), so daily speech is equally straightforward and ribald...So if someone slaps you on the back in a hearty way and exclaims, "Your breeches and your very balls be blessed" do not take it amiss. It is a compliment. Words to time travel by.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Noah

    I was pretty sure that my sci-fi reading streak would stand the test of time as the "nerdiest activity" of my existence. Then, however, I picked up and read a copy of this book. I was in the airport in London and had a few hours to kill, and voila - I'm taking in a fully articulated picture of life in medieval England. Flashback - me as a kid, with my brother and father, at a renaissance festival. I'm not going to lie, it was fun. Mortimer takes a much more serious and adult stab at bringing life I was pretty sure that my sci-fi reading streak would stand the test of time as the "nerdiest activity" of my existence. Then, however, I picked up and read a copy of this book. I was in the airport in London and had a few hours to kill, and voila - I'm taking in a fully articulated picture of life in medieval England. Flashback - me as a kid, with my brother and father, at a renaissance festival. I'm not going to lie, it was fun. Mortimer takes a much more serious and adult stab at bringing life to a long dead world, and covers every detail you might be interested in, including personal hygiene, legal structure, meals, foliage, etc. He attempts (rather successfully, in my opinion), to convey historical reality to the reader without the aid of a contrived plot (a la historical fiction, which I also do appreciate). He describes the work as a serious attempt to engage the reader in serious history. Now that I've checked off the "medieval england / history buff" category of my reading interests, I'm going to try and shift back to the main stream. I'm also working on a list of other nerdy activities to avoid (a man's got to maintain his image): a)Civil War re-enactments, b) Harry Potter clubs, c) ...

  20. 5 out of 5

    MAP

    This is a really fun and great idea. Basically the point is that since you're traveling back to the medieval ages, you need to know all the things that you won't get in a normal history book, like what underwear you wear or how you get from London to Canterbury in an age that doesn't have trustworthy maps or roads with signs. Although a couple of chapters dragged, a surprising amount of the ones I thought would be boring (Law, for example) ended up being really interesting. I would love if the p This is a really fun and great idea. Basically the point is that since you're traveling back to the medieval ages, you need to know all the things that you won't get in a normal history book, like what underwear you wear or how you get from London to Canterbury in an age that doesn't have trustworthy maps or roads with signs. Although a couple of chapters dragged, a surprising amount of the ones I thought would be boring (Law, for example) ended up being really interesting. I would love if the publisher made this a series: The Time Traveler's Guide to Renaissance Italy, Napoleonic France, Ancient Persia, etc, each written by a different expert in that era. I would devour them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Interesting guide on 14th century England - how they lived, eat, got sick, etc.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    What's that you say? Do whatever Kate Beaton says? OKAY!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Diener

    This historical reference work is really tailor-made for writers. Ian Mortimer couldn’t be a more qualified source of information, as a member of the Royal Historical Society, and the recipient of their prestigeous Alexander Prize in 2004. What I love most about this book is the way it’s written, as if you really were travelling back in time to the medieval period, with chapter headings like What to Wear, What to Eat and Drink, and most delightfully, What to Do. Under the chapter heading of Landsc This historical reference work is really tailor-made for writers. Ian Mortimer couldn’t be a more qualified source of information, as a member of the Royal Historical Society, and the recipient of their prestigeous Alexander Prize in 2004. What I love most about this book is the way it’s written, as if you really were travelling back in time to the medieval period, with chapter headings like What to Wear, What to Eat and Drink, and most delightfully, What to Do. Under the chapter heading of Landscape, Mortimer discusses London in some detail, and includes a list of Ten Places to See in London. For example, Sight number 6 is The Strand. Apparently it affords the visiting time traveller, or just plain traveller, the best view of the river, and is were the most prestigious houses are located. Sight number 9 is Tyburn. It is THE PLACE to go if you want to see a good execution. Roll up, roll up, there is one nearly every day! But Mortimer understands the curious time traveller may want to leave the stench and refuse-filled ditches of London behind him or her, and wander throught the countryside, stopping at the small towns and villages they pass along the way. He offers plenty of insight and advise to those wishing to experience the bucolic delights of the medieval countryside. And if you’re confused about who is who in the zoo when it comes to people, he gives the perplexed time traveller a nice little graph so you can see the social hierarchy at a glance. He also splits things up helpfully into those who work, those who fight, the clergy and then, of course, women. I found his information on how women were treated, discriminated against and how that situation was almost impossible to reverse because of the social order and conditions of the time very interesting. He also gives an extremely interesting chapter on the character of the medieval person. How they thought, what their perceptions of the outside world and each other were. He also gives some handy information on the price of goods, and wages and salaries. This is the kind of history text I love. Social history at its best, well-written, often amusing, and yet backed with a great deal of research. If you’re writing about the medieval period, and medieval England in particular, I highly recommend this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Brown

    I love learning new things about places and peoples, even if it’s a place I’ve “been” to before, which is why Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England intrigued me. The first page convinced me to buy to book. And I’m so happy I did. I’ve read my fair share of interesting and well-written texts on this subject, including, among others, Life in a Medieval City and Life in a Medieval Village by Frances and Joseph Gies, Standards of Living in the later Middle Ages by Christopher D I love learning new things about places and peoples, even if it’s a place I’ve “been” to before, which is why Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England intrigued me. The first page convinced me to buy to book. And I’m so happy I did. I’ve read my fair share of interesting and well-written texts on this subject, including, among others, Life in a Medieval City and Life in a Medieval Village by Frances and Joseph Gies, Standards of Living in the later Middle Ages by Christopher Dyer, The Medieval Castle by Philip Warner, Daily Life in the Middle Ages by Paul B. Newman, and Power and Profit: The Merchant In Medieval Europe by Peter Spufford. All engrossing reads. What sets Mortimer’s book apart is that he not only approaches the topic as a travel guide that leads to you interesting sights and shares fascinating tidbits about the place, but he also helps you imagine how it would be, as a 21st century person, to actually travel there. For example, where would you go if you got sick? What happens if you’re robbed, where do you report the crime, and should you? Where might you get food and would it be something you’d find palatable? How will you get from place to place? Why kind of entertainment can you expect? And what can you wear without offending your hosts? Mortimer focuses on the fourteenth century England, since this period comes closest to the popular idea of the medieval times. He tackles the topics of the landscape, people, the Medieval character, basic essentials, what to wear, traveling, where to stay, what to eat and drink, health and hygiene, the law, and what to do. And he does it all in a chatty, clear, and informative manner, with a bit of humor thrown in for spice. Each page was a delight, and I found myself feeling like I was there. Furthermore, I learned a number of things that I hadn’t picked up in my previous readings. I’m tempted to quote all sorts of interesting tidbits he shares about the age, but I’ll refrain. If you are at all interested in the Middle Ages, I think you’ll love this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Brilliantly conceived and executed. Just what is needed to fill out a dry historical account of 14th Century England, but even more useful for evaluating how far historical fiction strayed from historical fact. Mortimer gives plenty of detail but it is well organized and presented in such a companionable manner that it always goes down smoothly.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Excellent orientation to life in the 14th century. Mortimer writes from the bird's eye perspective of the reader as a visitor from the modern day.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Wow, this was not only an informative book to read, but a fun one as well! For anyone who loves historical fiction as much as I do, discovering new insights into the past is just as entertaining as a good story. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England has much to offer. We learn the life expectancy is much shorter in the 14th century. Throw in the Plague, and you have half of the population under 21 years of age. When you consider that societies with youthful populations are more violent, te Wow, this was not only an informative book to read, but a fun one as well! For anyone who loves historical fiction as much as I do, discovering new insights into the past is just as entertaining as a good story. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England has much to offer. We learn the life expectancy is much shorter in the 14th century. Throw in the Plague, and you have half of the population under 21 years of age. When you consider that societies with youthful populations are more violent, tend to be supportive of slavery, and see nothing wrong with holding brutal combats in which men fight to the death for the sake of entertainment, you realize that society has changed fundamentally. The book goes on to describe the types of people who live in the 14th century, the class system, the work, and how they conduct their economy. I found of particular interest the clothing, as advances technology allowed for buttons and different fabrics, (not to mention foreign trade, which introduced fashions from abroad) which changed the clothing dramatically. From a loose tunic in the early century, clothing styles changed greatly to be more form-fitting, with shorter hemlines for the men. No wonder monastic chroniclers feel obliged to pass comment; they blame the men for displaying very short skirts and well-packed hose, and they blame the women for being delighted by what they see. It certainly gives credence to the saying “what goes around, comes around,” doesn’t it? Other chapters in the book cover subjects such as traveling, where to stay, and what people eat and drink in that era. Imagine you are a weary traveler, and need to find an inn for the night. Mortimer lets you know that if you are not on horseback, you don’t stand a chance of getting a room. If you have a horse, and are lucky enough to secure a room, you will find several beds in each room, and you will share your bed with one or more persons. And don’t get me started on health, hygiene and medicine. Let’s just say that if the disease doesn’t kill you, the remedies of dung beetles, crickets and bats heads aren’t likely to make things any better. Can a person die from being overly grossed out? I’m sure that would have happened to me had I been subjected to 14th century medical practices. There’s much more, but I’ll leave that for you to read yourself. At times the information was a little dry – as when Mortimer discusses the landscape and seafaring vessels, so I’m taking off a half star for the sleepy passages. 3 1/2 stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Greg Strandberg

    Whereas most books on English history tell us of the big names and large wars, this book goes a different route and tells us of the everyday small stuff. For instance, we see how people lived in the 1300s, what their houses were like, and what they did for a living. We learn about the large fields that were unfenced and un-walled and how livestock often wandered over the crops. Individual families had about an acre that they were responsible for tending, so when this happened it was quite “an emba Whereas most books on English history tell us of the big names and large wars, this book goes a different route and tells us of the everyday small stuff. For instance, we see how people lived in the 1300s, what their houses were like, and what they did for a living. We learn about the large fields that were unfenced and un-walled and how livestock often wandered over the crops. Individual families had about an acre that they were responsible for tending, so when this happened it was quite “an embarrassment.” The forests covered about 7% of the English countryside back in the 1300s and there was hardly any loose timber or branches lying on the ground. People gathered it up and used it for kindling or building. Large oaks were prized for their ability to cross long spans with a single beam. The Great Plague of 1348-9 devastated these people. In 1300 there were about 5 million people in England but in 1400 there were only 2.5 million. England wouldn’t get u to 5 million people again until the 1630s. I especially liked the chapter on wages. You see huge pay discrepancies between the various classes, and even within them. For instance, earls got paid about £1,000 a year from their estates. Barons made between £300 and £700 while knights make about £40 and the local gentry maybe £5 to £40. Bishops make as much as earls while carpenters make about 3 pennies a day, or a little more than a shilling a week. That means it takes them about 4 months to make £1. It’s an interesting book and you might think so too. Give it a look!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mothwing

    This is not so much any "time traveller"'s guide to England, but a man's guide to medieval England. This bias permeates the entire book and rather spoilt the reading experience for me. This books is written as a guide to provide virtual time travellers with an account of what they would encounter if they travelled back into the fourteenth century. I loved it in spite of the bias, as the style and the accounts of everyday life are so incredibly vivid and well-written. The only thing I had qualms This is not so much any "time traveller"'s guide to England, but a man's guide to medieval England. This bias permeates the entire book and rather spoilt the reading experience for me. This books is written as a guide to provide virtual time travellers with an account of what they would encounter if they travelled back into the fourteenth century. I loved it in spite of the bias, as the style and the accounts of everyday life are so incredibly vivid and well-written. The only thing I had qualms with were his presentation of matters of gender, as his accounts on the gender politics of the time may be accurate, but the way he presents his data it is rather annoying, especially when he starts going into detail about why he believes that men were also oppressed at the time. Still, his detailed accounts on time-keeping, the social order, etiquette and cleanliness make this book a very good read, and the detailed input do not interfere with the reading experience due to the set-up of this book as a guide. Very recommendable!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

    Meine Meinung Dieses Sachbuch habe ich ganz spontan beim Stöbern in der Bücherei aus dem Regal gezogen, weil mich die Aufmachung und der Klappentext sofort angesprochen haben. Ich finde es immer sehr interessant, mehr darüber zu erfahren, wie Menschen in vergangenen Zeiten gelebt haben, und in dieser Hinsicht ist „Im Mittelalter: Ein Handbuch für Zeitreisende“ ein echter Glücksgriff. Ian Mortimer hat bereits mehrere historische Romane veröffentlicht, von denen ich bisher leider noch keinen gelese Meine Meinung Dieses Sachbuch habe ich ganz spontan beim Stöbern in der Bücherei aus dem Regal gezogen, weil mich die Aufmachung und der Klappentext sofort angesprochen haben. Ich finde es immer sehr interessant, mehr darüber zu erfahren, wie Menschen in vergangenen Zeiten gelebt haben, und in dieser Hinsicht ist „Im Mittelalter: Ein Handbuch für Zeitreisende“ ein echter Glücksgriff. Ian Mortimer hat bereits mehrere historische Romane veröffentlicht, von denen ich bisher leider noch keinen gelesen habe – das ist allgemein eigentlich nicht so mein Genre. Ich habe jetzt aber wirklich Lust, eines der fiktionalen Werke des Autors zu lesen, denn seine Kenntnisse über das Mittelalter (in Großbritannien) und die Lebensweise der Menschen damals sind absolut beeindruckend. Das Besondere an diesem Buch ist, dass es nicht nur trocken Fakten berichtet, sondern tatsächlich versucht, dem modernen Leser die Denkweise und Mentalität der mittelalterlichen Bevölkerung nahezubringen. Mortimer legt dem die These zugrunde, dass unsere heutigen Gefühle, Bedürfnisse, Leiden und Freuden trotz aller Unterschiede doch gar nicht so anders sind als vor 700 Jahren. Darüber kann man sich sicherlich streiten, doch nach der Lektüre dieses Sachbuchs bin ich geneigt, dem Autor zuzustimmen. Von Geographie über Unterkünfte, Essen und Hygiene bis hin zu alltäglichen Vergnügungen deckt das „Handbuch für Zeitreisende“ alle Aspekte des mittelalterlichen Lebens ab – ein Mosaik, das sich zu einem facettenreichen und vielfältigen Bild der Epoche zusammenfügt. Ich wünschte wirklich, es würden sich noch mehr Schriftsteller als Sachbuchautoren versuchen! Man merkt diesem Buch auf jeden Fall an, dass Ian Mortimer viel Übung darin hat, Leser über lange Strecken zu unterhalten. So ist sein Sachbuch alles andere als eine trockene Geschichtsstunde, die Fakten werden mit atmosphärischen Beschreibungen und vor allem sehr viel Humor aufgelockert. Zwei Abschnitte mit Bildern, eine Karte, Anmerkungen und umfangreiche Literaturempfehlungen machen das Lesevergnügen perfekt. Fazit Ganz große Leseempfehlung für alle, die sich für die Lebensweise der Menschen im Mittelalter interessieren! Auf sehr kurzweilige und unterhaltsame Weise zeichnet Ian Mortimer ein lebendiges, facettenreiches Bild der Epoche.

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