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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun and informative history
Danny Danziger, author of the popular 'In the Year 1000', looks at the way of life of the English during another pivotal year - 1215, the year of the Magna Carta. In many respects, this is a much more important year than 1000 - in the first place, many people didn't realise it was the year 1000 when it was happening. A similar lack of awareness of the importance of the...
Published on 31 Jan 2006 by Kurt Messick

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twelfth and Thirteenth Century England
The title of this book may be a bit deceiving. This book does not focus on the history of the year 1215 or even really about the Magna Carta itself. Though there are references throughout, only about 30 of 300 pages of the book talk about the year 1215 and Magna Carta. If this is what you are looking for there are many books about Magna Carta. But enough of what this book...
Published on 15 April 2012 by JH


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun and informative history, 31 Jan 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Danny Danziger, author of the popular 'In the Year 1000', looks at the way of life of the English during another pivotal year - 1215, the year of the Magna Carta. In many respects, this is a much more important year than 1000 - in the first place, many people didn't realise it was the year 1000 when it was happening. A similar lack of awareness of the importance of the contemporary events takes place in 1215.
As Danziger and co-author John Gillingham note near the end of the text, 'Denounced by the pope, rejected by the king, discarded by the rebels, by the end of 1215 Magna Carta was surely dead.' This was a document that was more important in hindsight and in precedent than in actual effect. The political situation in England was precarious for most participants in 1215, and civil strife close to civil war was not solved with the stroke of the pen or the great seal being stamped onto the parchment of the Magna Carta.
This book looks more at the world of the English in 1215 rather than the document of the Magna Carta itself. In this respect, it parallels in some ways Danziger's earlier book. The authors look at life in castles, country homes of all classes, town dwellings and church institutions. The ways in which family, school, commerce and employment were dealt with are all subjects of concern here. This was still a feudal society, with overlapping hierarchies of church, crown and aristocracy, as well as contentious foreign relations (the kings of England and France still held rival claims over each other's kingdoms).
Danziger and Gillingham develop a world in which the politics of church and state are still vastly intertwined at the highest levels, but the world of the common folk remains little influenced by the great issues of state in a direct sense. On the other hand, there were popular ideas and sentiments that could make themselves felt from the ground up - the legend of Robin Hood is but one example of the ways in which people saw themselves as aspiring to a freedom more present in later constitutional development.
Each chapter of the book opens with a clause or statement taken from the Magna Carta, and thus the great document holds the organising principle for the text. It is somewhat ironic, as the authors discuss, that the main text of what we consider the Magna Carta (and the one that carried the force of law in Britain from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century) was in fact a revised edition drawn up in 1225. One gets the sense that this is a document that helps establish basic rights we take for granted, including freedom from capricious tyranny and the right to protest. 'Although there is not a word in it about the right to protest, there is a sense in which Magna Carta in its entirety represents protest.'
However, it is the Magna Carta's myth more than its substance that carries the main weight of its legacy. While the idea of the Magna Carta certainly shaped later legal and constitutional development throughout the English-speaking world, Danziger and Gillingham do a reasonably convincing job at showing that the document was in fact more a reflection of its world than a dramatic reformation of it.
This is a popular history text - it has some useful bibliographic information, but does not employ footnotes, endnotes, or other more academic devices in the text. The writing is accessible, informative and more than occasionally lively.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed every page!, 12 Nov 2004
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
On June 15, 1215, facing a rebellion of his barons, King John of England (yep, the villain of the Robin Hood movie, but that's a different subject) was forced to the conference table, and signed an historic charter - Magna Carta. Widely believed to be the very root of Anglo-Saxon, and later World, democracy, Magna Carta is venerated by many. But, what do you really know about Magna Carta?
In this fascinating book, the authors look at England in 1215, and give the reader an wonderfully in-depth understanding of what life was like at that time, what was going on in England and the rest of Europe, and finally gives the story of Magna Carta, the myths that have grown up around it and even its wording.
Every once in a while a book comes along that surprises me with its excellence - well, this is one of those books! The authors do an excellent job of giving the reader a feel for life in the thirteenth century, really bringing it to life. I enjoyed every page of this fascinating history book, and highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys reading a good book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars history made easy (and very compelling), 23 Jan 2008
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1215: The Year of Magna Carta (Paperback)
I finished this book in a matter of days, so interesting is the subject matter and, perhaps more to the point, so easy and compelling is its style. It's crammed with interesting facts and figures about the day and age when Magna Carta was first drawn up, but it reads as easy as a good detective novel and brings this particular slice of history expertly to life. Sheer joy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twelfth and Thirteenth Century England, 15 April 2012
By 
JH "hobbs_tx" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
The title of this book may be a bit deceiving. This book does not focus on the history of the year 1215 or even really about the Magna Carta itself. Though there are references throughout, only about 30 of 300 pages of the book talk about the year 1215 and Magna Carta. If this is what you are looking for there are many books about Magna Carta. But enough of what this book isn't. The majority of the book is spent describing what life was like in England during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. For instance, English manners, dress, and a normal day in the life at a manor are discussed. The book also talks about the farming practices and how they were changing with the urbanization of the English countryside into towns and establishment of markets. The administering of estates and the transition from pre-Norman slave society to serfdom are explained. The topics covered are varied like Jews and moneylending practices, organization and curriculum of schools, tournaments, the mobile court and the patronage system of the Angevin kings, the English legal system and Common Law, trial by ordeal and its abolishment by the church, organization of the English church, the advancement of monasteries and friaries, and the world view of the shape of the earth.

The book also covers many significant events prior to 1215. There is an account of the Battle of Bouvines, events around the assassination of Thomas Beckett, the Pope's interdict and excommunication of King John, brief account of King John reign before the civil war of 1215, Angevin Empire's interactions with the Celtic nations, summary of the first three crusades. These subjects are not given much detail, but enough to establish a backdrop. The story of the rebellion of 1215 and signing of the Magna Carta to the ending of hostilities with the death of John and accession of Henry III are described briefly. The full text of the Magna Carta in provided translated to modern English. The book also talks about misconceptions and myths about Magna Carta that have developed over time.

In summary, I would recommend this book if you are interested in what life was like during twelfth and thirteenth century England. However, for me most of the topics seemed too rushed or glossed over. I enjoyed Richard and John: Kings at War much more. It gives a good background for the development of Magna Carta and the events around the rebellion of 1215.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 1215 The Year of Magna Carta, 13 April 2014
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A easy for read and informative book that brings to life the history and issues of the time and the foundations of our freedoms.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 1215., 12 April 2014
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This review is from: 1215: The Year of Magna Carta (Paperback)
Really enjoyed this book, the authors have done some brilliant research, telling of all the types of things English people got up too during the period of the Magna Carta. A real insight ,an eyeopener really.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 5 Aug 2013
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Paul Pacey (Lincoln) - See all my reviews
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Well written, informative and interesting.

I am a guide at Lincoln Castle; home of 1 of the 4 remaining copies of the Magna Carta and use information from this book in my tour.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A brief gallop through 1215, 6 July 2013
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Mrs. TK Ellis "Bookworm" (High Wycombe, Bucks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1215: The Year of Magna Carta (Paperback)
I purchased this book as I wanted to know more about the background and events which led to the Magna Carta. I found that this book was not focussed as extensively on the events as I would have liked, however that is down to me not reading the reviews properly!. Having said that, I found the book to be well written and very informative - I have learnt a lot from reading this.. Overall, although this was not exactly what I was looking for it was a very good read and I would thoroughly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, 8 May 2013
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This is a really easy to read book, with loads of information about life at the time, for the rich and the poor. A must read for anyone with an interest in this period of history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD BOOKS AT GREAT VALUE, 1 April 2013
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GOOD QUALITY BOOK. EXCELLENT VALUE. WHAT CAN YOU BUY FOR 12p? - GOOD BOOKS OBVIOUSLY! -- WILL BE BACK FOR MORE.
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1215: The Year of Magna Carta
1215: The Year of Magna Carta by John Gillingham (Paperback - 10 May 2004)
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