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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging look at the Carolingian world., October 14, 2007
By 
Gerald M. Vrooman (Chenango Forks, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages Series) (Paperback)
To save money I ordered a used copy of this book. I received an ex-library book that had never been checked out. Apparently the students at a Catholic girls' school were not very interested in "Daily Life In The World of Charlemagne". The book does present some problems. Originally written in French and translated into English, it presumes a certain amount of knowledge about the Carolingian period. I was forced to resort to Google and Wickipedia a lot to put things in context. The single map provided is fascinating, but if you want know where Aquitaine or Austrasia were located you will have to find another reference. Compounding the difficulty is a lack of good source material. The author wryly confronts this problem in his preface, "Carolingian writers, shut up in their work rooms, rarely looked out the window at the life around them."

In spite of these difficulties the author presents a compelling picture of a sparsely populated land, where life was hard, famine frequent, and people often didn't live through the winter. Not only were food and fuel scarce but there was an ever present danger from wolves and other wild animals, not to mention the ever present brigands. In a society where men were often forced to chose between being peasants or being monks it is easy to understand how the stronger and more independent ones could be tempted by a life of banditry.

On the whole I found the book to very readable. By comparison the book I read about the Merovingians was positively opaque. In an over crowded world where we are on the verge of being implanted with RFID chips, and our cell phones can be used to track us, there is something alluring about the Carolingian world in spite of its hardships.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, some slightly out of date historiography, November 19, 2013
This review is from: Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages Series) (Paperback)
A fantastic book using excellent primary sources, though be warned, some slightly out of date historiography. A good example would be the frequently cited chapter on the supposed vast dark forests of Carolingian Europe. More recent history has showed that a lot of the terminology used for describing such areas may not be what we think of as "forest" for example, but more "royal reserve" which could include woodland as well as pasture or uncultivated fields. Not to mention that the specific angles of a lot of hagiographies have a vested interest in depicting the civilizing of nature as metaphor for religious christianization missions, whereas the confirmation of nearby settlement would belay that fact.

All in all, still a solid book, but just one to keep in mind that modifications and adjustments have been made to the interpretation of those same primary sources in the last 20-30 years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent examination, April 2, 2012
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Douglas Berry (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages Series) (Paperback)
This book is an incredible read, as the author does a fantastic job of introducing the reader to the myriad facets of life in the Frankish Empire of the 9th and 10th centuries. Everything from diet, prices, building styles, and social norms to the mechanics of how the state and church ran things. Frequent references to original documents really helps put things into perspective.

My only quibble is that in many places terms are introduced but not defined. It's left to the reader to understand through context what is meant. I don't know if this was present in the original or was a problem in translation. Also readers should understand that this is not a traditional history. Aside from a timeline in the back, there is no attempt to tell the history of France from Charlemagne and his descendants. This book is solely a look at the world and the people.

I mostly read history for pleasure and to get ideas for fantasy role-plying games. This work succeeded on both counts.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Source, September 20, 2005
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This is a good reference book as well as a book that you can read straight through. It helps paint a picture of life in the Early Middle ages.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Bit of What Life was Like under Charlemagne, April 2, 2013
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This is a well written and I guess well translated book about just what it says: daily life in Carolingian Europe. It's an easy to read book and it delves into a great many different areas, any of which could be examined in much greater detail. But this was exactly what I wanted for what I was working on.
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10 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definite Buy, June 15, 2004
By 
Paul Sacia "Paul Sacia" (Woodstock, GA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages Series) (Paperback)
Riche read the European source documents, written in a bewildering array of languages, and synthesized them; all for our reading pleasure. If you are wondering, "Who are those guys?", read it.
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Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages Series)
Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne (The Middle Ages Series) by Pierre Riché (Paperback - February 1, 1988)
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