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A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (Brief Histories) Paperback – 12 Mar 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson; 1st paperback edition (12 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845296850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845296858
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A fascinating new portrait of Medieval Britain that brings together the everyday and the extraordinary.

About the Author

Martyn Whittock is Head of Humanities and History at Kingdown School, Warminster. He is a lecturer in local history and has written numerous textbooks for the educational market. He has been a consultant for the BBC, English Heritage and the National Trust and has written for Medieval History magazine and archaeological journals.


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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By Malcolm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...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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By Mike Davey VINE VOICE on 25 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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