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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A significant insight into life in Medieval England., 25 Nov 2007
This review is from: Everyday Life in Medieval England (Paperback)
Professor Dyer introduces his own book with the words: "This book is about the lives of ordinary medieval people. It deals with their material conditions, their social relationships, and their ideas. But its theme is also change and development over the medieval period ..."

It covers most aspects of ordinary life of the time and in doing so helps to dispel the frequent association in many peoples minds between the word medieval and a very poor quality of life. Life was often very difficult, but rather more often, more sophisticated and analogous to our own times than many of our contemporaries believe.

The book discusses the various aspects of medieval life on a topic by chapter basis which progresses from chapter 1: Power and Conflict in the Medieval English Village, via chapter 5: Changes in Diet in the Late Middle Ages, to chapter 14: The Hidden Trade of the Middle Ages ... to give just a sample of the broad ranging descriptions.

The Black Death is described as a great catalyst for change, but it was not an initiator of trends. Thus, "the rise of fresh meat to become the most important non-cereal food" was accelerated by the Black Death rather than instigated by it.

From records of building agreements, 'West Midlands Peasant Buildings, 1350 - 1500' are described in chapter 8 as: "84 per cent of the 113 Worcestershire buildings whose sizes were recorded, were either of three bays, ... (c. 4.6m x 13.8m), of of two bays, ... (c. 4.6m x 9.2 m), with three bays in a majority"; and the animals were usually separately housed. The one room flimsy shack was not by these accounts the habitat of the day.

On a somewhat topical note, the only aspect of life of these times that I rather missed, was a description of the weather conditions of the time and if this had any effect on changes in agriculture practice, particularly before the arrival of the Black Death.

The book is academic in tone, but is written in a manner that will also delight the interested non specialist.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable view of Medieval England, 27 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Everyday Life in Medieval England (Paperback)
Christopher Dyer is already a well-known and respected historical commentator. In this work he combines fifteen essays on varying aspects of rural life within the Middle Ages. The book offers an enjoyable and absorbing read, while each clearly identifiable essay makes it easy to isolate the topics required rather than wading through the work to collect isolated facts. The essays are varied in nature and cover such staples as towns and trade, but also the author dares to tackle some of the more intangible aspects of the rural existence.
As an important beginning, the book sets out to define for the reader the medieval village and the inter relationship of its people. With this framework in mind, he then moves onto the more elusive topics of rural life. He looks closely at the diverse types of settlement patterns taking into account the growth and decline of rural community. Within this context he tackles the largely unexplored area of medieval community development, types of dwellings and local construction traditions.
The rural diet is also well illustrated, with detailed evidence on the consumption of fresh water fish and produce from medieval gardens. These insights take the reader to a greater understanding of the social structure and give a fresh insight into methods of agricultural production and where people went to trade.
The book is a strong and convincing read and would provide a solid basis for those looking for a broad spectrum of material spanning social history of the later Middle Ages.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A picture of medieval England, 19 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Everyday Life in Medieval England (Paperback)
This book is rather like a collection of essays. It really is not a general read type of book, but if you're looking for a specific thing on social and economics then this book could have what you want. A well researched book with plenty of statistics. I do however think it is quite pricey.
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Everyday Life in Medieval England
Everyday Life in Medieval England by Christopher Dyer (Paperback - 1 Jan 2001)
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