Terry Jones' Medieval Lives Hardcover – 5 Feb 2004
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Terry Jones has it in for the Renaissance. It was the humanists of the Renaissance who created the standard image of the Middle Ages as a time of ignorance, misery and superstition and it is this image that Medieval Lives, the book based on Jones's BBC TV series, aims to dispel. According to Jones the men of the Renaissance could hardly have been more wrong. To him the medieval period is one of endless fascination, and its people not the benighted barbarians the humanists imagined but members of a rich and vibrant culture. Taking some of the standard stereotypes of medieval people we all have--the peasant, the outlaw, the monk, the damsel--he investigates the reality behind the image. What he reveals undermines our conventional views of the Middle Ages. Peasants were not all illiterate clods, spending their short and miserable lives in back-breaking labour on the land. Many of them could read a little--even Latin--and most worked fewer days of the year than their counterparts in the 19th century. Women in the period were not the downtrodden chattels of their lords and masters but were often more in charge of their destinies than they would be in later centuries.
All this slaying of the dragons of misrepresentation of the medieval era makes for exhilarating reading. Jones sometimes plays too much on his Python persona. Did we really need him to dress up for the camera so much in some of the book's photographs? (The picture of him in drag as a coyly smirking damsel on page 191 is particularly scary.) Yet his own enthusiasm for his subject is infectious and this is a thoroughly entertaining and eye-opening book. --Nick Rennison
"Jones laces the latest academic research with his own increasingly avuncular humour. Who says history can't be fun? In the hands of Professor Jones, how could it be anything else?" (Observer)
"Jones really knows his subject, he is also a passionate apologist for the Middle Ages.... and you also learnt things which made your view of the period a little more complex" (Independent)
"Jones is a reliable and accurate guide to his period, mercifully free from the pomposity that afflicts so many telly historians. Three cheers for Terry Jones" (London Evening Standard)
"Brimming with life, colour, and yes, facts too" (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was especially pleased to see that Terry Jones has some sensible comments to make about Richard III and the so-called Princes in the Tower (could have done with a bit more about the later.) At least he recognises Shakespeare's image of Richard as Tudor propaganda based on commentaries from the likes of More and Rous who changed his spin with the current king! Jones does not engage in Ricardian hysteria either, so it makes the short section on Richard III very readable.
Jones attempts to tackle these stereotypes head on, and he uses first hand accounts, the most up-to-date scholarly research and modern archaeology to create a different view of the Middle Ages in Britain.
Each chapter tackles a different stereotype, examples being: The Peasant, the Minstrel, the Outlaw, the Monk, the Philosopher, Knight, Damsel, and King.
Jones gleefully deconstructs these images and shows us another side to these groups. For instance he argues that Medieval peasants often had more days off work and rights than their descendants in the Victorian industrial age, or that fourteenth century Medieval women had a sort of semi-emancipation (making them much better off than their descendants in the Renaissance) or that Knights, far from being dashing, were often the Medieval equivalent of Mercenaries and arms dealers.Read more ›
What it does do is explain who the "Barbarians" were , where thy came from , where they went to and the reasons for the Roman successes and failures in dealing with them .
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book. Entertainingly told and set out thematically - which I love!
It has a lot of quirky facts and genuinely lets you know about life during the Medieval... Read more
This is not one of the better medieval history books,it seems their research into this subject was seriously flawed ,therefore we would not recommend this book.Published 12 months ago by d g green
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