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The Time-traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century Hardcover – 2 Oct 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Bodley Head Ltd; First Edition edition (2 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224079948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224079945
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Ian Mortimer is best known as the author of 'The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England', which was a Sunday Times bestseller in 2009 and 2010. Its Elizabethan follow-up was a Sunday Times bestseller in 2012.

He is also the author of a series of four sequential medieval biographies, 'The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer' (covering the years 1306-1330), 'The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III' (covering 1327-1377), 'The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King' (covering 1377-1413) and '1415: Henry V's Year of Glory' (covering 1413-1415). A volume of scholarly essays, 'Medieval Intrigue: Decoding Royal Conspiracies' provides several of the in-depth pieces of research that support the more difficult and contentious aspects of these books, and includes his important essay on understanding historical evidence.

He was awarded the Alexander Prize (2004) by the Royal Historical Society for his work on the social history of medicine. His PhD was published by the Royal Historical Society in 2009 as 'The Dying and the Doctors: the Medical Revolution in Seventeenth-Century England'. He is also the author of two volumes of early modern manuscripts and numerous articles in the scholarly press on subjects ranging from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

He also writes poetry and fiction, the latter using his middle names 'James Forrester'. The Clarenceux trilogy of novels, set in the 1560s, is published by Headline in the UK.

He lives with his wife and three children on the edge of Dartmoor. For more information, see www.ianmortimer.com

Product Description

Review

`a unique and astonishing social history book which is revolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining'. -- History Magazine

'It is Monty Python and the Holy Grail with footnotes, and, my goodness it is fun'
-- Guardian

'a jaunty journey through the 14th Century, one that wriggles with the stuff of everyday life'
-- Guardian

It is written in the manner of an extremely well-informed but chatty guidebook...This is not only an unusual book, but a thoroughly engaging one
-- Literary Review

`perhaps the most enjoyable history book I've read all year'
-- Independent

as lively as it is informative
-- Financial Times

Review

'It is Monty Python and the Holy Grail with footnotes, and, my goodness it is fun'

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

409 of 414 people found the following review helpful By Jules of Gloucester on 26 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think that I can safely speak for many of us in the historical community (both writers and readers) when I say that we are - in the nicest way of course - rather nosy. That is, we want to know all about people from different times: what they looked like; what they did; how they did it. For instance, have you ever wondered whether people in the fourteenth century wore nightdresses or what the well off used to wipe their behinds with (I have!)? How about their pastimes, sense of humour or the difficulties of travelling?

Ian Mortimer's latest book: The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England - A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century certainly satisfies that craving for knowledge of the minutiae of daily life in the Middle Ages. The book is lovingly researched and well written with a light sprinkling of humour that makes it very easy to read. The style in itself is very original for a non-fiction historical book, using a `guidebook' approach that is a million miles away from the stuffiness of many `academic' books. Yet, happily, the book does not suffer from a lack of sincerity or historical integrity in any way.

The topics cover a broad range of subjects for the `traveller' from what the landscape will look like to what to wear, where to stay when travelling, and how to address different kinds of people that you will meet along the way. And then, of course, when they invite you to eat with them, you will know what food to expect. And then, of course, there is always the danger of falling ill. The Time Traveller's Guide is once again at hand to tell you not only what may be wrong with you (hopefully not the plague, or leprosy!) and what medicine is available to help cure it.

This book, then, is a wonderful read.
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126 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Frostycat on 2 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Having read 'The Perfect King' and become interested in the 14th Century (previously my passion was the Tudor Age)I decided to expand my knowledge of the period by picking out this book purely by chance. It is absolutely rivetting and I completed it in just 2 days. There are so many books on the period, most as dry as dust, but the world comes alive through Mortimer's pen. I do not feel it was 'dumbing down' in any way by writing this as a 'guide book' - quite the contrary. The world truly came alive from page one, and my attention was hooked. Mortimer reaches across the centuries into the hearts and minds of people not so very different from ourselves. We learn about their working lives and their leisure. We find out what they eat and what they wear. We can almost feel the horror of parents as they can only stand and watch their whole families being wiped out by plague. The greatest writers of the period are mentioned, not just Chaucer but other authors such as the Gawain poet, writing such poignant verses with emotions that feel just as relevant today. Not only is it a rivetting read, it is truly a handbook to be read in conjuction with other history books of the period. The past is not something long-dead and buried, but has a life all its own and is why we are who we are. A very easy, fascinating read.
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132 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. Moore on 2 Nov. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At school I hated history mainly because it was learning boring dates and events.
This book changes all of that; it tells me what I wanted to know in an easy to read and extremely enjoyable way.

What will I see in a 14th Century street, who will I see, what des it smell like, what will I eat, how do I address people I meet? All of this and more is covered in this excellent book. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of the period such as the city, the town, the village etc. Very clear and very informative; ideal for casual interest, school pupils, university history reading and so on.

I won't go into the details because that would simply spoil things for you so I suggest you get this book and be transported back some 700 years.

It simply brings history to life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 5 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
I am always suspicious of history books with a gimmick, quite often the gimmick dominates and the history lesson gets lost. So it was with caution I picked up this book. I need not have worried, the history is centre stage and the gimmick merely serves as an interesting entrance into the Medieval world.

The book is essentially a travel guide. If we were able to travel back and wander around Medieval England, what would we see? What is the political and social structure, the sights and sounds of the era? Where would you sleep, what would you eat? What is there to do and see? It's a format that really allows the writer to do a decent job of bringing the era to life on the page, and gives us easy access into the world of our ancestors.

By describing a society rather than a life or series of events, which is what most history books focus on, there is a wide breadth of information hereand lots that is not usually found in even the most comprehensive of histories. The era is brought to life and in the mind's eye we ca really see, hear and smell the world being described.

As well as being a decent history lesson, it is eminently readable and a thoroughly entertaining book. Highly recommended.
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