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Everyday Life in Medieval England [Paperback]

Christopher Dyer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 37.99
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Book Description

1 Jan 2001
Everyday Life in Medieval England captures the day-to-day experience of people in the middle ages - the houses and settlements in which they lived, the food they ate, their getting and spending - and their social relationships. The picture that emerges is of great variety, of constant change, of movement and of enterprise. Many people were downtrodden and miserably poor, but they struggled against their circumstances, resisting oppressive authorities, to build their own way of life and to improve their material conditions. The ordinary men and women of the middle ages appear throughout. Everyday life in Medieval England is an outstanding contribution to both national and local history.

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Everyday Life in Medieval England + Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c.1200-1520 (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing; New Ed edition (1 Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852852011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852852016
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This is an excellent book, not just in its detailed evidence but as an arresting survey of rural society, particularly at the sub-aristocratic level. It extends our knowledge of social history with new insights into how people lived, worked, ate, traded and related to one another." --Nicholas Orme.

About the Author

Christopher Dyer is Professor of Medieval Social History at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of "Standards of Living in the Late Middle Ages."

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Professor Dyer introduces his own book with the words: "This book is about the lives of ordinary medieval people. It deals with their material conditions, their social relationships, and their ideas. But its theme is also change and development over the medieval period ..."

It covers most aspects of ordinary life of the time and in doing so helps to dispel the frequent association in many peoples minds between the word medieval and a very poor quality of life. Life was often very difficult, but rather more often, more sophisticated and analogous to our own times than many of our contemporaries believe.

The book discusses the various aspects of medieval life on a topic by chapter basis which progresses from chapter 1: Power and Conflict in the Medieval English Village, via chapter 5: Changes in Diet in the Late Middle Ages, to chapter 14: The Hidden Trade of the Middle Ages ... to give just a sample of the broad ranging descriptions.

The Black Death is described as a great catalyst for change, but it was not an initiator of trends. Thus, "the rise of fresh meat to become the most important non-cereal food" was accelerated by the Black Death rather than instigated by it.

From records of building agreements, 'West Midlands Peasant Buildings, 1350 - 1500' are described in chapter 8 as: "84 per cent of the 113 Worcestershire buildings whose sizes were recorded, were either of three bays, ... (c. 4.6m x 13.8m), of of two bays, ... (c. 4.6m x 9.2 m), with three bays in a majority"; and the animals were usually separately housed. The one room flimsy shack was not by these accounts the habitat of the day.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable view of Medieval England 27 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Christopher Dyer is already a well-known and respected historical commentator. In this work he combines fifteen essays on varying aspects of rural life within the Middle Ages. The book offers an enjoyable and absorbing read, while each clearly identifiable essay makes it easy to isolate the topics required rather than wading through the work to collect isolated facts. The essays are varied in nature and cover such staples as towns and trade, but also the author dares to tackle some of the more intangible aspects of the rural existence.
As an important beginning, the book sets out to define for the reader the medieval village and the inter relationship of its people. With this framework in mind, he then moves onto the more elusive topics of rural life. He looks closely at the diverse types of settlement patterns taking into account the growth and decline of rural community. Within this context he tackles the largely unexplored area of medieval community development, types of dwellings and local construction traditions.
The rural diet is also well illustrated, with detailed evidence on the consumption of fresh water fish and produce from medieval gardens. These insights take the reader to a greater understanding of the social structure and give a fresh insight into methods of agricultural production and where people went to trade.
The book is a strong and convincing read and would provide a solid basis for those looking for a broad spectrum of material spanning social history of the later Middle Ages.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A picture of medieval England 19 Oct 2013
By Mr Mr
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is rather like a collection of essays. It really is not a general read type of book, but if you're looking for a specific thing on social and economics then this book could have what you want. A well researched book with plenty of statistics. I do however think it is quite pricey.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyday Life in Medieval England 15 Mar 2006
By The Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this book very informative and insightful. Christopher Dyer presents various aspects of everyday medieval life in England such as the villages and their decline, food, relationships between landowners and tenants and numerous other areas of life all based on facts and evidence drawn from archeological, topographical, and ancient documents as the sources for evidence. Trying to piece together a full view of this period of history based on scattered evidence can be a daunting task and I feel the approach Christopher takes works very well. Arranged in essay form, Christopher presents facts, he doesn't come across as someone trying to justify his point of view but wants to give the reader the truth based on the body of research information currently available (at the time of writing the book). For example if he is drawing a conclusion based on limited evidence he will state something to the effect that his conclusion is based on limited evidence and that more research needs to be done. By doing this I feel it shows he is more concerned about presenting evidence and truth and not forcing his opinion or painting his own vision of the medieval time period. This book does read a bit dry similar to academic text and for this reason I do agree with the previous post that it seems it was written more for academia than for the casual reader of history. Still, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the everyday life in medieval England.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading. 4 Oct 2011
By Been There Done That - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is as the other reviewer stated, ELiME is typical Dyer, thoroughly sourced and annotated.

As for the two star reviewer, I'm puzzled by his comment regarding "...marketed to a general audience..." That's comparing apples and oranges. I think no one here is under the illusion any of Dyer's books will ever be recommended by Oprah's book club.

I'm also disappointed with his slight towards Dyer (re:justification). When I read a Dyer book, I know I am reading a lecture based on extensive period sources and minutiae.

Connecting the dots from eight hundred years past is no small task, but Dyer does so and more importantly, he shows you how he did it.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Academic and dry 22 Jun 2004
By J. Fuchs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dyer's book consists of a series of essays on topics ranging from why villages declined in England in the middle ages to changes in diet to gardens, peasant buildings and the peasant's revolt of 1381. Yet unlike the tremendous breadth and depth of Paul B. Newman's far more engagingly written "Daily Life in the Middle Ages," Dyer's book seems to be as much about justification for why Dyer's view of life in the middle ages is accurate as about actual medieval life. This book is written more for the academic who cares deeply about sources for what is known than what is known itself, and the dry style and format (intro, argument, conclusion, and lots of footnotes, charts and tables) won't win many fans outside academia.
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