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Life in a Medieval Castle Paperback – April 25, 1979
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“The Gieses succeed in making a remote and unfamiliar world accessible.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“The authors allow medieval man and woman to speak for themselves through selections from past journals, songs, even account books.” (Time)
From the Back Cover
Medieval history comes alive in Joseph and Frances Gies's Life in a Medieval Castle, used as a research resource by George R. R. Martin in creating the world of A Game of Thrones.
Newly reissued for the first time in decades, Life in a Medieval Castle is the bestselling classic that has introduced countless readers to the wonders of the Middle Ages. Focusing on a castle called Chepstow on the border between England and Wales, acclaimed Medievalists Joseph and Frances Gies offer an exquisite portrait of what day-to-day life was actually like during the era, and of the key role the castle played. The Gieses write eloquently about the many people whose lives revolved around the castle, from the lord and lady to the commoners of the surrounding village. We discover what lords and serfs alike would have worn, eaten, and done for leisure; the songs sung; and the codes of sexual conduct that maintained order. We learn of the essential role of honor in medieval culture, the initiation process undertaken by knights, and how castles attempted to keep the constant threats of outside violence at bay.
Exhaustively researched and as engaging as any novel, Life in a Medieval Castle is the definitive text for anyone wishing to learn more about this fascinating era.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Excellent work for anyone interested in the topic and a must for Historical writers.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
very good read...wasn't disappointed in the least...highly recommend thisPublished 5 months ago by Patty Van Raalte
THis book opened new areas of medieval life and how it was experienced. wonderfulPublished 9 months ago by hypathia0077
Excellent brief discrption of what it was in
and around the medieval castle. I enjoyed
all the various aspects of living in the castle
og that age. Read more
This bood gives a lot of history and facts. Some are not as interesting as others. It was not as informative on some subjects. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kathie Hudson
Okay, but rather pandanctic. It can't seem to decide if it's a history of castles or a day in the life of the castle. Make up you mind, man!Published 12 months ago by Nelda Dunlap
Good book, well written. Plenty of details. A little dry at some parts. Maybe too many details. 3 1/2 stars.Published 16 months ago by Ryan