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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Year 1000
Readable, entertaining, informative, surprising and lively. This book is like no other I have read on pre-Conquest England. While most books deal rather dryly with thegns and eaoldermen and the coming of Christianity, this book focuses on what life would have been like for the ordinary man and woman of the time. It is full of illumnating anecdotes about such things as the...
Published on 1 Jun. 2004

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shining a light on the dark ages
Monty Python have a lot to answer for. When it comes to life in the dark ages, their comic depiction of mud-splattered, sack-wearing, shrubbery-obsessed peasants has probably influenced more minds than any musty textbook ever could. Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger have clearly taken a leaf out of the Pythons' book, and opted for a similarly irreverent portrait of...
Published on 20 Mar. 2002 by J Gerrard


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Year 1000, 1 Jun. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year (Paperback)
Readable, entertaining, informative, surprising and lively. This book is like no other I have read on pre-Conquest England. While most books deal rather dryly with thegns and eaoldermen and the coming of Christianity, this book focuses on what life would have been like for the ordinary man and woman of the time. It is full of illumnating anecdotes about such things as the various types of worm people might have in their guts and the process of minting a silver penny - and what happened to you if you were found to be forging them - not a happy fate. It offers insights into the life of the monk and nun - and tells you where their ink came from to copy their devotional texts. It gives a powerful impression of how life could be very rich, or almost unbearable in times of famine. It deals with diet, religious beliefs, work and labour, slavery and bondage, the legal system, women, the class system, the economy, medicine, paganism, town and country life, battle and war, and all this in a fresh and lively manner. The authors make liberal use of sources to illustrate their topic, to great effect. This text is not written by academics, but it is a very useful insight into the world of 'real' men and women. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He remains an Englishman..., 21 Mar. 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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. Lacey and Danziger close the year and discussion with the figure of Gerbert, who would become pope Sylvester II, having been the scholar of note under the Ottos, successors of Charlemagne. His strange innovations, like prefering Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) to Roman numerals, introducing 'exotic' machines like an abacus to the world made him suspect -- however, Lacey and Danziger refer to him as the first millennium's Bill Gates, revolutionising computational power for good and forever.
Lacey and Danziger warn against the 'snobbery of chronology', as C.S. Lewis terms it -- we don't necessarily know better or live better than our ancestors, and sometimes our distorted views of the past much be called into check. For example, it is commonly held that people today are taller than people in the past; while this trend is true over the past several generations, prior to that, it is not true -- the average Englishman today is only slightly taller than the average Englishman of the year 1000.
From riddles and games for a dark and stormy night (playing cards would not be invented for several hundred years) to the origins of serfdom and family life, this is a fascinating text.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful and informative read., 31 Jan. 2003
By 
Chris J. Newman "lao-ke" (China) - See all my reviews
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If dull History books can be described as "dry", then "The Year 1000" should be described as "wet". However, I would choose "warm" or "charming" as more descriptive adjectives.
This is a delightful book written by two journalists who make no pretense at being historians. They are, however, good writers and it is quite obvious that they enjoyed writing the book as much as I enjoyed reading it. They make up for their own historical limitations by calling on the services of over 50 professional historians (mostly professors and PhDs) who are listed and credited in the "Acknowledgement" that concludes the book. Certainly, in this short volume, they have amassed a huge amount of fascinating information and anecdotes that more than warrants their diverse approach to writing the book.
It is no slight to call this book a "light" read. Lightness of touch is what characterizes its pages. But don't be deceived into thinking that it has nothing to tell. Its pages are crammed with interesting and often fascinating details, which allow the reader a vivid glimpse into the political and the social world of 1000 years ago.
Nevertheless, "warmth" is the defining feature of this book, and which makes it so very different to any other history book that I have read. The authors make no secret of the deep affection and respect that they hold (and presumably developed) for their subject - the people who lived 1000 years ago. There is no condescension or disdain in their stories and anecdotes; no implied judgments or criticisms that one expects from those who write with the benefit of hindsight. This book is a cheerful celebration of the end of the first millennium, written to celebrate the end of the second.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shining a light on the dark ages, 20 Mar. 2002
By 
J Gerrard (Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Monty Python have a lot to answer for. When it comes to life in the dark ages, their comic depiction of mud-splattered, sack-wearing, shrubbery-obsessed peasants has probably influenced more minds than any musty textbook ever could. Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger have clearly taken a leaf out of the Pythons' book, and opted for a similarly irreverent portrait of English life at the end of the first millennium.
The Year 1000 is packed full of details and anecdotes that are designed to entertain first and educate second. For instance, did you know that monks wore underpants, communicated by sign language so as not to break their vow of silence and (rather bashfully) called their toilet a necessarium? Before our very eyes, history is cut into tasty, easy-to-swallow pieces. As a result, the book is accessible and enormously enjoyable, assisted by the light-hearted and direct style.
As an introduction to the era, it's a roaring success, but if you're looking for serious historical analysis, then steer well clear as it will most likely cause you to spontaneously combust. The authors occasionally try too hard to link the past with the present, which, whilst providing much of the amusement, does not always provide sound judgement. One priceless, if ultimately unconvincing theory suggests that a natural form of the drug L.S.D. was responsible for driving the peasants wild during the winter famine. Maybe they were getting into practice for Woodstock.
The Year 1000 can be summed up thus: perfect entertainment, imperfect history. But when it's this much fun, it doesn't really matter does it? And it's nice to think that maybe Monty Python got it right after all...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not dry and not dull - highly recommended., 16 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year (Paperback)
I loved this little book, as it came out just before the year 2000, and was a good introduction to a thousand years ago. As ever, I have only just read it now, but what a little gem it is! Most books about this era can be quite dry and dull, but the authors completely avoided being like this. Instead, they take each month of the calendar and discuss a theme set around that month, so the book ends up touching on hungers, riches, and every other spectrum of life in 1000. I highly recommend this book, because it gives you a rich and interesting take on the Year 1000. 9/10.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 16 Oct. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year (Paperback)
A really very readable account of everyday life around the turn of the first millenium AD (with the odd bit of political history thrown in here and there). You really don't need any background knowledge to enjoy this, and it's written from the point of view of human interest rather than with any dry academic aims. Very enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easily 10/10!, 20 Mar. 2015
By 
SAP "Steba" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year (Paperback)
This is utterly compelling!

It is a no-nonsense, no-boring-padding, and a largely digression-free book about how the average Englishman (and -woman) spent his (her) year.

What strikes me most about this book is, by comparison, that modern people in the developed world have become COMPLETELY decoupled from the seasons and the months in a year. Each month in the year AD 1000 (not "1000 AD" as written) meant something very important. The obvious is ploughing and sowing in one month and harvesting in another (again, this means nothing today with 365-days availability of just about every victual), but less obvious is military campaigning which was an autumnal venture/activity, since the land had been harvested (so hands were free to fight) and the cold of winter hadn't yet set in. Apart from man's intimate relationships with the seasons and days of the week (religion was BIG then), we learn that in AD 1000 people were as tall as modern humans -- the misconception is usually that they were short due to malnutrition. The reason is that, although the commoners ate little, what they did eat was very nutritional (nuts, seeds, berries, apples, mushrooms, pears, cereals, vegetables &c). They also ate meat, which one would think was only available to the rich. Apparently not. They were permitted to hunt and gather to supplement their daily bread.

Also women had (almost) the same rights as men (to property, leaving legacies, and even ruling England as regents!). In fact, the word 'men' meant males AND females back then. Like 'mankind' means both nowadays (although this is currently being phased out in favour of 'humankind' -- I make no comment on that).

The workers, as drawn on the Julius Work Calendar -- the central device driving this book -- also had pot bellies, which is reassuring. And they wore tunics and stockings. Also surprisingly, and counter to common misconceptions, their clothing was brightly coloured, not drab, as there were many plant dyes available and dyes from other readily available sources. If these authors are to be believed, even the farm hands and shepherds could afford brightly coloured tunics. Purple wasn't only for kings or emperors! Another misconception shot down in flames.

I also learn of the "hungry gap" which falls in August each year when individuals' and families' food had pretty much run out and the land hadn't been harvested yet, so citizens (actually "subjects") took to eating anything the forests could provide such as acorns, plants, leaves, roots, tree bark, mushrooms and herbs... which sometimes contained psychedelic substances which made people high and probably -- unintentionally -- made their hunger pangs less harrowing, being an escape of sorts. So they danced, sang and basically became manic, before manic was a word...

There is so much here that I can't possibly relate every single fascinating thing I learned, and enjoyed learning.

Bread was a "flat bread" like modern pita or naan as there were no raising agents added... and most people ate it stale as only 10% of the population lived in towns where there were bakeries. In times of famine, the peasants made 'bread' with flour substitutes made with ground up acorns, beech nuts and other seeds from trees in the forests, and good old tree bark again. Freemen were also allowed to hunt in the forests, let their livestock in the forests to forage and eat, and they could collect firewood and other essentials. The Normans in 1066 completely outlawed the hunting by the lowly (penalty being death) and circumscribed the other activities I mentioned. As a result, hunting game became, and remains to this day, an upper-class pursuit and privilege.

And, can it be possible? There were no POTATOES in England in AD 1000. No coffee. And obviously no sugar other than honey. So people generally had excellent, white teeth! (I don't mean because of the lack of potatoes.)

I also now know that my previously favourite books "The Time-traveller's Guide to..." series isn't as original as I thought it was as this pre-dates them and is, in many ways, a time-traveller's guide book!

I really love this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First class tale of the turn of the first millenium, 27 Feb. 2010
This review is from: The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year (Paperback)
Thought I'd celebrate the 10th anniversary of the millennium by reading this short volume that has been languishing on my shelves for a while. And what a delight it was - Lacey is well-known for his Royalist ramblings, but with fellow journalist Danziger has produced a cracking example of popular history. The book is arranged ingeniously round the twelve months of the 'Julian' work-calendar, written about that time and the changes in year are used to explore the social, economic and religious life of the English at that time. Packed with surprising detail, apparently gleaned from extensive reading and interviews with 'real' historians, the approach is highly engaging. You even get an idea of the challenges of historiography given the sparse written evidence left behind. Surprisingly, given Lacey's forte I got a bit confused with the convoluted descriptions of kings, but otherwise faultless.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, knowledgeable & very entertaining, 20 Mar. 2015
By 
Mrs Ferret (Wirral, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year (Paperback)
I love this book which I bought many years ago when it was first published.
Each chapter starts with the line drawings (which are fabulously informative) from the Julius calendar for that month & the authors then use this to describe something of the life at the time. But they get the reader to look closer at the picture & see what actually is going on - who's doing what, what tools is he using etc - how often do we really take the time to give more than a cursory glance.
We probably all think we know that this period of our history was muddy, dark & dull. Wrong! This little book sheds light on the time & shows just how the people lived their lives as real people just going about their day by day business.
My copy is well thumbed, it's a great book & one I pick up every so often just to read a page or a chapter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great history book!, 31 Dec. 2011
By 
Amazon Customer (stoke-on-trent, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year (Paperback)
This is an outstanding work of historical writing. I thought when I first opened this book that it was going to prove to be somewhat unreadable, as some academic histories inevitably are, but I was pleasantly surprised. The authors successfully transports you back 1000 years to a time where famine and premature death were a real possibility in England. The authors portray vividly a world of deep superstition and belief. The general picture they paint is informative and the details with which the authors colour in daily life are utterly fascinating.

Bravo!
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The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year
The Year 1000: An Englishman's Year by Danny Danziger (Paperback - 25 Sept. 2003)
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