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Life in a Medieval City (Medieval Life) Paperback – 30 Sep 1981
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|Paperback, 30 Sep 1981||
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"An excellently written account of what is known of the life of medieval burghers....a delightful introduction to the subject.""--Library Journal"
Some particular books I found useful for a "A Game of Thrones" and its sequels deserve mention. ... "Life in a Medieval Castle" and "Life in a Medieval City," both by Joseph and Frances Gies. --George R.R. Martin, author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series"
From the Back Cover
For students, researchers, and history lovers, a look at day-to-day life in a rarely explored era. "About life and death, midwives and funerals, business, books and authors, and town government."--ChoiceSee all Product description
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Boy, was I in for a surprise!
For a week of my life, this little gem of a book transported me to life in year 1250 at the city of Troyes in Champagne, France.
With no exaggeration, this voyage is a true craddle-to-grave job: you're taught how the new class of burghers (the authors avoid the word bourgeois) is delivered into the world by the midwife, schooled in the church and then perhaps at university, or alternatively how it enters an apprenticeship with one of the many new craftsmen.
This was my favorite part of the book, and a five star lesson in etymology for me too, perhaps because I'm not English. So I learned about the tanner and the fuller and the walker and what tenterhooks are too. The emergence and role of the guilds is covered very well, both from a historical and from a sociological perspective.
I also learned the proper etiquette for how a doctor should ask for compensation, which as far as I'm concerned he fully deserved, given his job entailed tasting his patients' urine for sweetness.
The weddings are covered here, the church as an institution and the cathedrals as both objects of art and feats of engineering. You get a good taste for developments in the letters (with many well-chosen and translated samples of poetry and prose) and the arts, including theater.
The whole time, moreover, you're reminded of the underlying structure in which this new class of city-dwellers was formed and (slowly) emancipated, one where power was shared between nobility and the church and only slowly and partially ceded to the ascending classes of craftsmen and moneychangers.
All of which, in turn, rested on the importance conferred to the city of Troyes by the two fairs it hosted, the "hot fair" in August and the "cold fair" in December, to which people would travel from literally the whole of Europe to trade their wares.
The guided tour through the fair is the crowning moment of the book, the point to where the authors build up over the first 200 pages, and you truly feel like you went there yourself.
I don't want to say for sure, but I think many of my dreams over the past few days were set in medieval Troyes!
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