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Life in a Medieval Castle Paperback – April 25, 1979


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st edition (April 25, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006090674x
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060906740
  • ASIN: 006090674X
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Gieses succeed in making a remote and unfamiliar world accessible." -- Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Fiances and Joseph Gies have been writing books about medieval history for thirty years. Together and separately, they are the authors of more than twenty books, including Life in a Medieval City, Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval Village, The Knight in History, and Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel. They live near Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Frances and Joseph Gies have been writing books about medieval history for thirty years. Together and separately, they are the authors of more than twenty books, including Life in a Medieval City, Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval Village, The Knight in History, and Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel. They live near Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 38 customer reviews
All in all, an entertaining and well written book.
L. Sabin
Printed on rough paper that will age quickly, the many excellent black and white photos are so badly reproduced that some are nearly indecipherable.
Peter Smallhill
This book is an excellent start in study the workings of a Castle and how everyday life was in Medieval times.
Deborah MacGillivray

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 92 people found the following review helpful By L. Sabin on January 11, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short book on life in a medieval castle centers around the history of one fortress on the border between England and Wales, and then relates that story to castles across Western Europe. The passages are divided into chapters on all facets of castle life, and are written in a clear, almost "novel" like way.
Some of the facts presented are well-known, but there were enough fresh tidbits and interesting anecdotes that I never found myself bored.
In addition, at the end of the book, is a list of historically important castles, ranging in construction from the 9th century to the 15th century, that can be useful if the reader is planning a trip to England, France, Spain or elsewhere in Europe.
All in all, an entertaining and well written book.
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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on March 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a 17 year old freshman, I expected to have to force my way through the assigned chapters of what I expected to be a mega-boring dose of medieval torture. I was delighted enough to read the whole book in a weekend, and have picked it, and its sequels (which were not required reading), up again and again throughout the years.
What makes it unique is that its painstaking research is concisely and vividly presented, focusing on specific people within the strata of life within a medieval castle. It doesn't glorify, get bogged down in details, pity or condescend to its subject. There's dirt, disease and war along with everyday chores, pastimes, dining and amusement. It's a must read for anyone interested in an accurate and unembellished picture of the gamut of medieval society. I'm glad to see that it is still in print.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Sarah E. Morin on May 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Researching? Expanding your horizons just for kicks? This book is excellent by either account. Perhaps what I appreciated most about this book was that it covered a little bit of everything - from history to architecture to military engagements to domestic uses to the people who actually lived in castles. Castles really come to life in this book - as well as the people housed within. There's enough detail in here to satisfy the researcher - but the prose moves along at a trim pace so you won't get bogged down. If you're interested in a specific facet of castles or castle life, you may have to supplement your knowledge elsewhere, but this is a fine overview of castles and their history.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Life in a Medieval Castle is absolutely masterful! Extremely well researched, each chapter is a goldmine of information. The work not only offers a wonderful summary of the history of the development of the castle but also gives the reader a real feel for castle life. The text is engaging and very well written. Jargon specific to discussions of feudalism and castles is defined in concise tables at the back of the book. Liberally sprinkled with excellent photographs, the book provides extras, such as a schematic drawing of a castle and words and music to medieval songs (although I did find myself wishing that at least some of the plates could have been in color). The geographical guide to castles is comprehensive and examples are chosen with care. Bibliography is provided for each chapter for those readers who wish to study certain topics in-depth. Bibliographic selections are authoritative, current and comprehensive. The index is also well done and easy to use. The book is an excellent addition to reading lists for courses on the Middle Ages as well as an enjoyable read for anyone who wishes to learn more about medieval life.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Deborah MacGillivray HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent start in study the workings of a Castle and how everyday life was in Medieval times. The starts with the Castle arriving in England, and then moves into the various aspects of Castle life, the function of the Lord and Lady, the running of a household, how hunting was not a sport, but a means of survival. It goes into how a knight was made, how the Castle function in warfare and then shows why Castles slowly faded away.
Excellent work for anyone interested in the topic and a must for Historical writers.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on November 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I know that some people like to say that the works of the Gies are dry. Try reading 500 pages of Peter Brown. Now THAT'S dry. It's hard to make history terribly informative and yet accurrate and interesting. The Gies are very clear and personally I found it extremely interesting. It was the only book (out of 7) that I was required to ready for my class on Medieval Europe that I found interesting (and actually read all of!). It is not a novel, so be forwarned. If that's what you want, you WILL be dissappointed, but it is an excellent HISTORY book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sires on August 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent overview of castle life in England from just after the Conquest until decline of the feudal era. It's nicely illustrated with photographs of extant castles and period illustrations. I would definitely recommend this as either a book for the casual reader who might have an interest in medieval social life or a beginning for a more serious study.
The authors try to do a fair assesment of such issues as medieval hygeine (where it is all too easy to overwhelm the readers with descriptions of how dirty and disgusting the medieval life would be to modern sensibilities, thus overlooking that there was concern about unpleasant smells from the privy chamber, and how to fix it). The discussion on the duties associated with the feudal relationship is also very clear and readable. I particularly was interested in the mention at several points that physical blows were used as mnemonic aids. The buffet given a squire upon being knight was no mere tap, but many times a hearty blow meant to make him remember his oath of knightood. Also, beating the bounds was used to teach youngsters where the important landmarks were often by giving them a blow at the site of the landmark, or even bumping them against it. Fascinating look at the medieval ideas about learning-- which does have some effectiveness, epecially in a largely illiterate society, although it would probably be cause for arrest in any state in the US if it was used today.
Libraries have been written on any one of the sujects that was mentioned in this book so don't expect it to hold the one answer to any question about medieval life in a castle, but it can't be beat for a clearly written overview.
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