The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England : A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
The past is a foreign country. This is your guidebook. A time machine has just transported you back to the fourteenth century. What do you see? How do you dress? How do you earn a living and how much are you paid? What sort of food will you be offered by a peasant or a monk or a lord? And more important, where will you stay? The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England is not your typical look at a historical period. This radical new approach shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. All facets of everyday life in this fascinating period are revealed, from the horrors of the plague and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and medieval haute couture. Through the use of daily chronicles, letters, household accounts, and poems of the day, Morti-mer transports you back in time, providing answers to questions typically ignored by traditional historians. You will learn how to greet people on the street, what to use as toilet paper, why a physician might want to taste your blood, and how to know whether you are coming down with leprosy. From the first step on the road to the medieval city of Exeter, through meals of roast beaver and puffin, Mortimer re-creates this strange and complex period of history. Here, the lives of serf, merchant, and aristocrat are illuminated with re-markable detail in this engaging literary journey. The result is the most astonishing social history book you're ever likely to read: revolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail, and startling for its portrayal of humanity in an age of violence, exuberance, and fear.
Don't let the title fool you into thinking that this isn't serious history. It is, and of the highest quality. Mortimer (The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III) has written a tour guide to England's 14th century, an era of tumultuous change; even as the Black Death ravaged the countryside, Chaucer arrived on the scene, pleas were first allowed in court, and men's fashions went wild. Mortimer asks novel questions about the age: what information would you need to survive in this very different place and time? How should you greet someone you've just met? What is the food like? What are the health hazards? How safe is it to travel? How are women treated? What do people do for pleasure? Some practices look odd but had their own logic. Why was a coin worth six shillings eight pence, called the noble, useful? Because it was worth half a mark and a third of a pound (the two standard units of account). VERDICT Chock-full of surprises, this is exceptional social history, compellingly told; there should be "travel books" like this for every century. Start reading, and you won't want to stop.-David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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1 . Of some interest
Posted December 21, 2010 by Constant Reader , Upstate NYThis title is of some interest, and gives the reader a good deal of insight into the origins and peculiarity of the paradoxical term "British cuisine". Otherwise, it seems to be a little "padded" and lacks the grace of real humor or empathy for the people whose customs/mores are described. It does provide some excellent information.
December 28, 2009
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