Good intro to medieval history,
This review is from: The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages (Penguin History of Britain) (Paperback)
This is a `proper' history book with a wide historical sweep, centred on the Britain of the early and middle medieval period. It has some interesting things to say beginning with Edward II, deposed by his own wife, Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, which sets the scene for a hugely turbulent period in Britain, where English kings adventured over much of France, and more than one unstable king ended up deposed. This book does not concentrate entirely on the lives of kings, however, it also ranges over a wide variety of subjects. The lives of ordinary people are given fascinating detail, including their laws, work, trades and guilds, religion, politics and parliaments, women's lives and times of war and pestilence. Because it ranges so widely it cannot give us the narrative sense of an individual king's existence and the detailed tenor and tone of his reign, but it does a very good job of widening the horizon, putting individual monarchs into context and recounting broad issues surrounding their reign.
Miri Rubin has a great depth of knowledge and manages to convey the pace of change without overloading one's brain with too much detail. In fact, this book acts as a great taster for the history of our islands. It gives colour and perspective to a period of history that has too much been shrouded in Shakespearian mystique and antique notions of how people lived and died during the Hundred Years War.