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Daily Life in the Middle Ages Paperback – February 15, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0786408979 ISBN-10: 0786408979

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (February 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786408979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786408979
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Written in a style that is accessible to junior-high-school students and up, this book shows that life during the Middle Ages was neither as dark nor as primitive as novels, movies, or earlier historians have depicted it. In seven long chapters, the author, a lecturer on medieval history, analyzes "Eating and Cooking," "Building and Housing," "Clothing and Dressing," "Cleaning," "Relaxing and Playing," "Fighting," and "Healing." Each of these topics is broken down into its major components, with numerous aspects of daily life treated under each of the headings. "Clothing and Dressing," for instance, starts with a discussion of the sources for reconstructing what people wore, followed by sections on fabrics, clothing, fashions, and accessories. The section on fashions, to take one example, has subsections for tunics and doublets, capes and cloaks, and other items of apparel. Black-and-white drawings and photographs are used throughout. Though the book synthesizes a wealth of material from all over Europe, Newman rarely discusses the differences in daily life in the various countries of Europe, painting a general picture instead.

Daily Life in the Middle Ages is similar to Jeffrey Singman's Daily Life in Chaucer's England (Greenwood, 1995), which also divides the subject into topics such as clothing and accessories, arms and armor, food and drink, and entertainment. However, Singman's book focuses only on life in England, and each chapter is shorter and less detailed. Singman discusses bread in one paragraph, while Newman takes two pages to talk about not only bread but every grain that was used in bread.

Because of its greater detail and modest price, this is an excellent resource for school and public libraries that need accessible secondary sources for students doing papers on the Middle Ages. Even if libraries have Daily Life in Chaucer's England, they will want to add Daily Life in the Middle Ages to their collections. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"A wealth of material...great detail...excellent." --Booklist/RBB

"Very readable...appealing." --Mediaevistik

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Very informative and very interesting.
The Pertster
The writing style is simple, yet vivid and entirely engaging, bringing the middle ages to life in an easy-to-understand yet detailed way.
J. Fuchs
All in all, I highly recommend this book and look forward to the Kindle editions of his other books.
MagnoliaSouth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By J. Fuchs VINE VOICE on June 21, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Newman's book is divided into seven sections -- Eating and Cooking, Building and Housing, Clothing and Dressing, Cleaning, Relaxing and Playing, Fighting, and Healing. Each chapter is further broken down into convenient and well-organized sub-sections that combine to paint a thoroughly detailed portrait of life at all levels of society throughout Europe. Newman points out how each of his seven areas differed from country to country and in different centuries. The writing style is simple, yet vivid and entirely engaging, bringing the middle ages to life in an easy-to-understand yet detailed way. For example, in the chapter on building and housing Newman discusses what materials were used (and where and why), how they were worked, and what tools were used for each; types of buildings and construction techniques; use of lighting, furniture, decorative elements, etc. The section on food includes what food and drinks people consumed, how food was grown, gathered, stored and served, and differences in class and geographical areas. Almost two pages are devoted to grains alone. Newman explains each element clearly, using photos to illustrate many of the concepts. He dispels common myths about the period and writes convincingly that life was much more advanced and varied than is commonly believed. This is not an academic book (no footnotes or specific source material, although there is a rich bibliography for each chapter generally), but rather a book for the casual researcher, writer or lay person who really wants to understand the middle ages. It is extremely well-written (if poorly proofed), and the only real criticism I can make of the book is the quality of the binding, which makes it hard to read the left-hand pages in the early chapters.
I have been heavily researching the middle ages for a book I am writing and have read numerous books on the subject. This one is by far the most informative and enjoyable.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
This author has accomplished quite a feat by taking what could be extraordinarily dry material and masterfully crafting a very interesting book. Rarely do you find a scholarly work of this caliber that you can read simply for pleasure. Mr. Newman debunks all of the supposed truisms about the Middle Ages to put the era in its proper perspective in history. This is a marvelous, considered, detailed accounting of what life was really like in those times, and it was not nearly so dreary as you have been told. This thought-provoking book is a must-read. You won't want to put it down.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Daily Life in the Middle Ages" provides and excellent look at life, food, cleanliness, warfare and other aspects of the period. It is at the same time very accessible to the lay-reader such as me. After reading about the development of armor, the reader will look at "Braveheart" a little differently. The style is informative, but neither dusty nor without humor. Higly recommend.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 10, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree completely with the praise other reviewers have heaped upon this book. I have a large number of books on the Middle Ages and this is one of the best, if not the best. There is detailed information on a large number of topics, which are easily located, and well written. This book is a winner.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G. Davis on April 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Newman really gets down to the "nuts and bolts" of medieval life. For most topics, he is extensively detailed. (For a few topics, he touches them so lightly I don't know why he even mentioned them.) His sections on food, clothing and construction techniques are the best I have seen so far in any book on the subject. Overall, if you want to know the "how and what" of medieval life this is a great reference book. I only gave it four stars because while Newman had great information, he was skimpy on how he knows it other than a few pieces of artwork and some very rough sketches. More artwork examples, better diagrams, and some actual photographs would have helped.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Victor on November 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Like other reviewers have stated, while the beginning premise of this book sounds like a dry read, it is anything but. It's very informative, entertaining and gives the reader the idea that alot of our ideas about the Middle Ages, could prove to be quite wrong. Alot of books seem to point to the idea that everyone in this time period was unsanitary, filthy, ignorant and ruled by superstition. Alot of books on history, tend to focus on dates, laws, wars, and major events. This books is much different. It takes historical records about more obscure things, such as recipes, washing, clothing, medicine and entertainment and what emerges is a fascinating read about ordinary people and how they must have lived. Be prepared to learn new ideas about the people of the Middle Ages and close the book with a new understanding about this captivating time period. Excellent read for anyone with an interest in history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Been There Done That on March 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I heartily recommend this book to anyone with a casual interest about the 'Middle Ages'. Newman explains and provides just enough detail to adequately cover the subject at hand without delving too deep with half page footnotes which might bore those without degrees in medieval studies.

Daily Life definitely builds a solid foundation for those who wish to delve further into this niche of european history.

If Daily Life has sufficiently whet your appetite for all things medieval, you might be interested in:

"Rural Economy and Country Life in the Medieval West" by Georges Duby
"The Great Household" by CM Woolgar
Anything written by Christopher Dyer.
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