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The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium [Hardcover]

Robert Lacey , Danny Danziger
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Jan 1999
THE YEAR 1000 is a vivid evocation of how English people lived a thousand years ago - no spinach, sugar or Caesarean operations in which the mother had any chance of survival, but a world that knew brain surgeons, property developers and, yes, even the occasional group columnist. In the spirit of modern investigative journalism, Lacey and Danziger interviewed the leading historians and archaeologists in their field. In the year 1000 the changing seasons shaped a life that was, by our standards, both soothingly quiet and frighteningly hazardous - and if you survived, you could expect to grow to just about the same height and stature as anyone living today. This exuberant and informative book concludes as the shadow of the millennium descends across England and Christendom, with prophets of doom invoking the spectre of the Anti-Christ. Here comes the abacus - the medieval calculating machine - along with bewildering new concepts like infinity and zero. These are portents of the future, and THE YEAR 1000 finishes by examining the human and social ingredients that were to make for survival and success in the next thousand years.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st edition (28 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316643750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316643757
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A Brief life of the Queen.

I have been writing about the Queen now for nearly forty years, and this little book is intended to distil and re-shape what I've learned into one pleasant afternoon's reading - a summary of its predecessors Majesty (1977) and Monarch (2002, Royal in the UK), with further research and thoughts on Elizabeth II in the year of her Diamond Jubilee.

'Lege feliciter', as the Venerable Bede used to say - May you read happily!

- Robert Lacey, January 2012 -

Robert Lacey is an historian and biographer whose research has taken him from the Middle East ("The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Saud") to America's Mid-West ("Ford: the Men and the Machine"). "Majesty", his pioneering biography of Queen Elizabeth II, is the definitive study of British monarchy - a subject on which Robert lectures around the world, appearing regularly on ABC's Good Morning America and on CNN's Larry King Live.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Although daily dangers were many, housing uncomfortable, and the dominant smells unpleasant indeed ("August was the month when flies started to become a problem, buzzing round the dung heaps in the corner of every farmyard and hovering over the open cesspits of human refuse that were located outside every house", write journalists Lacey and Danziger) life in England at the turn of the first millennium was not at all bad. "If you were to meet an Englishman in the year 1000," they write, "the first thing that would strike you would be how tall he was--very much the size of anyone alive today."

The Anglo-Saxons were not only tall, they go on to say, but also generally well fed and healthy; more so than many Britons only a few generations ago. Writing in a breezy, often humorous style, Lacey and Danziger draw on the medieval Julius Work Calendar, a document detailing everyday life around A.D. 1000, to reconstruct the spirit and reality of the era. Light though their touch is, they've done their homework, and they take the reader on a well-documented and enjoyable month-by-month tour through a single year, touching on such matters as religious belief, superstition, medicine, cuisine, agriculture and politics, as well as contemporary ideas of the self and society. Readers should find the authors' discussions of famine and plague a refreshing break from present-day millennial worries, and a very stimulating introduction to medieval English history. --Gregory McNamee


Thoroughly enjoyable ... a superb insight into life as it was lived a thousand years ago (INDEPENDENT)

A brilliant little book, well-written, knowledgeable, insightful, accessible, a model of how popular social history should be written (GLASGOW HERALD)

A series of deftly-turned vignettes of what it was like to live in England at the turn of the last millennium ... a quirky and engaging book (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

A beautiful window on past history. My book of the year (Simon Schama)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A primer for further research 7 April 2000
This book is light on good old fashioned scholastic learning but big on readability! If you are looking for a brief glimpse at what life was like in the year 1000 then this book is for you, don't expect any deep insight however because this book is aimed strictly at the general reader. This book gives the reader a taste of anglo-saxon life and should interest the reader in finding out more of the history of our English nation because there is more to the anglo-saxons than 1066 and 'William the lucky Bastard'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not all William and Harold...... 18 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Everyone knows what happened in 1066. The Normans came over, won the Battle of Hastings and in the process kicked off British history proper - right ? Wrong. In their absorbing and intriguing "The Year 1000", Lacey and Danzigger show us that not only were our forefathers already alive and very much kicking at the time , they were probably as tall as we are today, had considerably better teeth and spent as much time thinking up risque ditties as they did fighting. . Whilst we've all heard of William the Conqueror and Harold Godwin, Cnut and Alfred the Great, it always seems that the little man doesn't get much of a look in when the early history books are written. In a little over 200 pages of well-researched and charmingly written narrative, "The Year 1000" changes all that. Taking the Julius Work Calender as their template, the authors take us through a month-by-month trip through a year in the life of an 11th Century man on the Clapham Omnibus - what he ate, where he lived and what he did in his spare time. The style is light and immensely readable, but not lightweight. "The Year 1000" is not an academic textbook (although a fulsome references list testifies to the integrity of the research that went into its production) but that works very much to its advantage - history can so easily degenerate into a list of who fought who. This book avoids that whilst giving just enough names and dates to provide a historical "hook" to fix the period in our minds. Basing the book around the 12-month cycle really works as a narrative tool and serves to emphasise how dependant 11th century man was on the seasons for his life and well-being. Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ... light and easy read ... 1 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Again I very rarely read a book in 1 day but thoroughly enjoyed reading this and could not put it down until I'd finished it. OK it's superficial and does not tell us the whole story but it really does fill a need for those, like me, who have not studied history but have an interest and want a brief 'feel' for a period. Something that gives us the enthusiasm to read more about what really happened.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He remains an Englishman... 21 Mar 2006
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
The turn of the millennium (the last millennium, that is) in England was an interesting world to behold -- the country was struggling toward unity, but still wary of invaders from across the various seas (an invasion trend that would stop less than 100 years after the turn of the millennium). The typical Englishman was well-fed, but the kinds of food might astound modern readers; when the people got indigestion back then, medical treatments were even more bizarre.
Into the world, Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger venture with humour and insight. Lacey and Danziger, established writers in related topics, have traced a journey through history by tracing the typical life during a year at the turn of the year 1000, through the Julius Work Calendar, on reserve at the British Library, lost for a time due to miscategorisation. The authors (Lacey and Danziger) makes use of this interesting framework of month-by-month chronicling to develop the details of daily life and work in England in the year 1000.
The different months take the paradigm for different topics -- February looks at geography; August looks at medicine (and the frequency of flies); November looks at the issues of gender relationships. Among the fascinating facts that come out in the analysis are the kinds of cyclical patterns that occur in history --Lacey and Danziger point out that under Canute, an unfaithful wife would meet with a horrible fate, but that legislation died with him, until the Commonwealth period several hundred years later, when it would be revived.
The authors do not stick exclusively to English shores -- they discuss the general world situation, as it would impact English development.
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By A Customer
Great to see a historical book that is an easy read and one which would be enjoyed by anyone from 12 to a 100+. The book is divided into 12 chapters one for each month of the year and it provides an account of life around 1000. Full of fascinating facts and comparisons to life today - even President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky get a mention - but do not be put off by that! Reading the book made me want to go back to school and redo a History course. Well worth reading.
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By A Customer
It's interesting to note that the authors aren't historians but are actually journalists who have interviewed a large number of historians. The end result is a book that seems a little jumpy in places but on the whole portrays an interesting picture at the turn of the last millennium.
Definitely provides some food for thought as we enter the second millennium!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Totally disappointed
From the blurb on the back cover of this book I was expecting what it promised, i.e. "a vivid and surprising portrait of life in England a thousand years ago", but instead... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Charlotte
5.0 out of 5 stars Abook in good condition and as described
A brilliant book which gives an insight into life 1000 years ago. Our life is so much easier these days.
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice cover and presentation but bad, bad history
Before I start I suppose this book is quite a good read for the layperson. However, for someone who knows a bit about history reading this book will send you into cringe fits,... Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight, enjoyable read.
Having read some other reviews has compounded a fear I had as I read this book.
I'm no historian (especially of medieval times), but I wondered throughout "How do they... Read more
Published on 22 April 2000 by M. Saxby
1.0 out of 5 stars Obviously not written by medieval historians
This book is what happens when you have people write about a subject they do not know a thing about. Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2000
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately light and disappointing
There is definitely a book out there which needs to be written on this subject but this is just not it. Read more
Published on 30 Nov 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Life before 1066. Very interesting and easy to read.
I found this book to be thoroughly enjoyable. If, like me, history holds no ingrained fascination to yourself then this book is ideal. Its subject and style draw the reader on. Read more
Published on 21 Nov 1999 by Dr. Luke Bennetto
4.0 out of 5 stars Light and easy-to-read, but it fills a real gap
This is the first book that I've read in just one day for many years. Yes, much of it is superficial, and '1000' is treated with a few hundred years of salt, but its a period that... Read more
Published on 21 Nov 1999 by
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is a piece of populist journalism with zero depth
A typical piece of populist journalism for the millenially challenged, this book trots out some pedestrian desk research along with a good dose of 'man in the street' patronage. Read more
Published on 18 Aug 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Puts Year 2000 into perspective
This book is very easy to read but has a lot of very interesting details about life in Britain at the turn of the first millenium. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 1999
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