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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable introduction to life in the Middle Ages
This book covers various aspects of life in England from the end of the Saxon period up to the reign of Edward VI. Its content is wide-ranging, including family life, law and order and attitudes to outsiders. As such it is a useful primer for further study. The book doesn't neglect the humorous (to modern minds) of certain Middle Age beliefs and stories including...
Published on 14 May 2009 by Matthew Culley

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Middle grade book
Martyn Whittock brings to light everyday life in the middle ages and provides a glimpse of the rough and tumble hardships of the times. The book gives an insight into life roughly between the Norman invasion and the battle of Bosworth, the onset of the Tudor dynasty. The amount of interesting facts outlined in the book is enormous. Information such as the life expectancy...
Published on 1 Dec. 2012 by David I. Howells


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable introduction to life in the Middle Ages, 14 May 2009
This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
This book covers various aspects of life in England from the end of the Saxon period up to the reign of Edward VI. Its content is wide-ranging, including family life, law and order and attitudes to outsiders. As such it is a useful primer for further study. The book doesn't neglect the humorous (to modern minds) of certain Middle Age beliefs and stories including Winchester Geese and the woman of Norwich who 'did not eat or excrete for 20 years, a fact proven in front of the Bishop'! The chapter on the cycle of the year was good but could have done with more depth on the spiritual significance of the various feasts and seasons. However, this does not distract from the book's overall quality. Personally, I would have enjoyed a chapter on warfare and its impact on the ordinary people of the country. Perhaps this could be a suggestion for the next edition. Overall, this book is highly recommended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 30 Sept. 2010
By 
J. Higham "joehigham" (Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
There is really not much to add to other peoples reviews of this book. In fact it's just an excellent read with plenty of straight forward information, which is easily digestible.

One can use this book as a primer for more in depth studies or as a kind of general guide book of the times. It's very interesting to read with the help of a computer, which means that one is able to look up references - such as churches, or towns - immediately and see what they look/looked like. You could almost plan a very interesting tour of the UK using this book to plan visits to churches, towns and DMV's (deserted medieval villages).

I found myself sitting down and reading this as a novel, which means hard to put down. Whilst at the same time discovering plenty of new information and of course developing my curiosity to find out more.

Excellent read and well recommended for everybody who is interested to learn more about this period.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview, 25 Mar. 2010
By 
Mike Davey (St Georges, Telford) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
I found this to be an excellent general overview of the period. It is aimed at the non-academic reader and written in a concise, understandable fashion, with plenty of description of various aspects of society at the time. This is one of the best books of its type and as enlightening and enjoyable as Ian Mortimer's Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England (which is brilliant).

Recommended to anyone with an interest in this period of history who wants an insight into life at the time but does not want to be engulfed in too much economic detail. Christopher Dyer is the writer to go for to glean more in-depth information and analysis.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Medieval History, 19 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
A credible academic work which is at the same time highly readable and entertaining, full of fascinating detail and insights into the everyday lives of people in Medieval times. Provides a good thorough overview of the period. Enjoyable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History as it should be told..., 25 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
...or almost. Slow to get going (but then, some would say, so was the Middle Ages) but it perked up and covered both high and low-born, and ranged nicely over several hundred years of history. An Age does not start from nothing...and Whittock puts the start in context, and rounds off with the effect of the Age on future generations. Full of stories and facts that whet the appetite and added to the store of knowledge that, like the Age itself I suspect, is not to be sniffed at.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informed and engaging., 20 Jan. 2014
By 
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
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Far from being brief, this is a detailed and highly readable account of what life was like in medieval England. It really brings the period to life. Based on childhood teaching, I'd always considered this era to be rather bleak. Both physically and spiritually. However, recent forays have changed my view and this book in particular gives a real feel for what life was like at that time. So many accounts focus on the monarchs and court, but I'm interested in day to day life for the ordinary citizen.

Here, we glimpse that reality. With entertaining accounts covering a diverse and often amusing range of 'events', the reader is drawn back more than 600 years. I really enjoyed this book which for the greater part read more like a novel than a factual account. A terrific introduction and overview of this pivotal period.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Middle grade book, 1 Dec. 2012
This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
Martyn Whittock brings to light everyday life in the middle ages and provides a glimpse of the rough and tumble hardships of the times. The book gives an insight into life roughly between the Norman invasion and the battle of Bosworth, the onset of the Tudor dynasty. The amount of interesting facts outlined in the book is enormous. Information such as the life expectancy for women was 25 and men 35, about the same as that of Sierra Leone in 2002 and that the homicide rate of the period was akin to modern day New York are such examples. That so great was the extent of church construction in the thirteenth century that it has been calculated it was the equivalent, in modern terms, of every family in England paying £500 every year, for the whole century is yet another example.

The general demographic explanations are very interesting in general and easily readable. Topics include the character of late Anglo-Saxon society, religion, population, diet and health, law and order, language and culture and much, much more. Most of the topics are covered really well and interesting but I thought a considerable portion of the content on religion provided too much information and lacked depth. I would have preferred to have read a more concise but in depth explanation on the Christian beliefs of the times. Here I thought the author attempted to strangle the reader with too much information due to the complexity and importance that such beliefs had during those times.

Despite this however, it is still a really good read and sheds light on a lot of areas that was hitherto unknown to me. Three stars still makes it a very entertaining read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief history of life in the Middle Ages, 5 Aug. 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
This is one of the "Brief History of ..." series which covers all sorts of topics from Stonehenge, to Misogyny (!), to the End of the World, and just about everything in between.

This book is a social history of England between the tenth century and about the mid-fifteenth century, so from just around the time of the West Saxon resurgence after the Viking incursions to about the reign of Edward VI. This is a great book for an undemanding read, informative and engaging. It would be great for someone with little or no knowledge of the period, or who wished to learn more about the social history of the period. The book is divided into chapters on:
The Character of Late Anglo-Saxon Society
The Changing Countryside
The Growth and Decline of Towns
Changing Expressions of Christian Belief
Population, Diet and Health
Women and the Family
Law and Order
Language, Culture and Entertainment
Living on the Edge: Aliens and Outcasts
Signs and Marvels: the Medieval Cosmic Order
The Cycle of the Year
The Shape of English Society by 1553

What really makes this book such an engaging and generally entertaining read is the way the author has put in anecdotes, and writings from the time to illustrate points throughout the book. This gives the book an informality and immediacy by relating what can be dry and factual to a `reality' that was lived by the people of the times. Definitely recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History brought to life., 2 April 2014
By 
Malcolm (Edlesborough, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) (Paperback)
Life in the Middle Ages is part of the Constable & Robinson
series of brief histories, and this particular book by Martyn
Whittock is both an interesting and entertaining addition to
their list.

Using his vast knowledge of the period, the author presents
the Middle Ages, that period from the 10th century to the mid
15th century, in extremely readable and informative portions.

We have chapters on Late Anglo Saxon Society,
Population, Diet and Health, The role of women and the family,
Law and Order, Language and Culture, and The shape of
English Society by 1553.
Almost every aspect of life is covered in some depth, with
suggestions for further reading.

Using Primary Sources such as the medieval chronicles of
the time we are led into the period by an author who not only
knows his subject but seems to have lived it too, at least from
a genealogical point of view.

Over 300 pages, with full primary and secondary source notes,
an excellent bibliography and index.

Well worth buying whether you are a student of the period, a
history buff, or need to use the book as a vade mecum to check
up on facts and dates.
Published 2009
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too much emphasis on theory., 3 April 2015
A lot that is interesting and useful undoubtedly, but from what I have read of it I have two major issues. One is the reliance on Secondary sources except in one chapter, and the other was dicotomy between theory and reality. What theologians and moralists may have said about women, for instance, and the legal theory that women had no rights over property in marriage seemed to be taken as gospel or as the norm.

However, my own research and reading has shown the pratice could be very different, and there we some women act as independant landowners and even Lords in their own right, and in marriage could play a signifigant role in the management of estates.
Furthermore, whilst some might have believed it a bad idea to teach women to read is it would fill thier heads with Romantic tosh, the evidence seems to show there were many literate women in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
The above are highlighted in the works of other historians like Eileen Power and Jennifer Ward.

So, whilst I am sure the author had no intention of being inaccurate, this book does not necessarily give the whole picture.
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A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories)
A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) by Martyn Whittock (Paperback - 12 Mar. 2009)
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