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Life in a Medieval City (Medieval Life) Paperback – September 30, 1981

4.4 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Some particular books I found useful for a A Game of Thrones and its sequels deserve mention. ... Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City, both by Joseph and Frances Gies.” (George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series)

From the Back Cover

Medieval history comes alive in Frances and Joseph Gies’s Life in a Medieval City, used as a research resource by George R. R. Martin in creating the world of A Game of Thrones.

Reissued for the first time in decades, Life in a Medieval City is the classic account of the year 1250 in the city of Troyes, in modern-day France. Acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies focus on a high point of medieval civilization—before war and the Black Death ravaged Europe—providing a fascinating window into the sophistication of a period we too often dismiss as backward.

Urban life in the Middle Ages revolved around the home, often a mixed-use dwelling for burghers with a store or workshop on the ground floor and living quarters upstairs. A developed economy, focusing on textiles, farming, and financial services, could be found in the town center, where craftsmen competed for business while adhering to the guilds’ codes of conduct. There were schools for the children, though only boys could attend and the lessons were taught in Latin by a priest. The church was a hub of both religious and civic life; services were lively and filled with song, and baptisms and other special occasions brought neighbors together to celebrate. The weddings of wealthier townsfolk were lavish affairs full of song and dance and drinking that could sometimes last for weeks.

“An excellently written account of what is known of the life of medieval burghers.”—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Series: Medieval Life (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (September 30, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060908807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060908805
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have been researching the Middle Ages for a number of years and this is one of the most even -handed books I have come across. The authors are researchers par excellence, and have presented their findings in an imminently readable form. If I were not already a student of the Middle Ages, however, I might have found the wealth of detail somewhat overwhelming and some of the terms and references obscure. This is a book for people who really want to know.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, the authors set out to simply enlighten the modern reader as to the daily life of a Medieval city-dweller. They had no hidden agenda, just the report of the facts, as best as they could determine from existing documents and sources. Their work represents a fairly accurate representation of what life might have been like for the average city dweller during the Middle Ages.
Second, they focus on one, particular city, namely Troyes. But, what they discuss can be generalized to other cities. Also, they compare Troyes to other cities of similar size and time periods, as examples of how standard, or not, Troyes was.
Thirdly, they use easy to understand language without talking down to the reader. They don't try to make their historical personages talk to the reader, but, instead, let the occasional quote do their talking for them. They speculate only a little bit about what the people might have been thinking, focusing instead on what they actually did.
All in all, a very enjoyable book. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the whys and hows of life in early cities.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book out of curiosity and I am glad I picked it up. The book's description of Troyes is quite detailed, complete and at times truly engrossing. The authors cover most aspects of life in the middle-ages and provide some insight in the developments during that time, as well as their significance (although this isn't the book to read if you are mostly interested in detaileed, scholarly historical analyses of the time). To sum up, a very pleasant book to read, full of interesting information about everyday life in another era. Recommended!
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Format: Paperback
I didnt know what exactly to expect as i went into this book. All i really aimed for was getting an insightful account on how living in a medieval city would be and had no idea how an author would go about presenting this.

Having mentioned that, "Life in a Medieval City" exceeded my expectations and then some! It's a brilliant and carefully detailed book on how the every day routine rolled around the 11th century in the city of Troyes in France.

The authors touch basically all aspects of life in a medieval city: commercial, religious, every day tasks, challenges and difficulties, education, military defense, you name it.

It's definetely not overwhelming as some reviewers claimed because the authors do not bore tzhe reader with the unnecessaryas the delve into the various sectors of medieval life. The style is very direct, very modern and very comprehensive.

The bits of information to be obtained from it are absolutely remarkable and i finished this book pleased that i had a fresh set of questions about medieval life based on the knowledge i acquired by reading it. This is anyway the value standard a good book should be measured by.

Easily one of the most pertinent books on the subject.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book for anyone who would like to further his or her education on daily life in a thriving Medieval city. Virtually all segments of the population, from lowest to highest, are described here, as are numerous aspects of the goings-on that kept a bustling city moving. This is not a work for romantics, it is a serious, fairly in-depth examination of the social and occupational structure of this era in European history. Medieval life could be brutal but it also had its shades of beauty. True a modern person may recoil at much of what a person from 800 years ago accepted without a thought, but the reverse might also be true. What I liked so much about this book was it refused to be the typical general study of a vast time and place and never strayed from its goal of shedding light strictly within the confines of a city and those who lived there, worked there, or came there for festival or for trade. Everything from clothing to food to tools to crime and punishment, religion and medicine are covered here. This is really a very fine book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Up front, I liked the book and enjoyed reading it in two short evenings. However, I was missing a lot of details. What were people doing in winter, summer and inbetween, any differences in lifestyle during the seasons (which is obvious for a farmer, but in the city?)? What were they doing during the numerous holidays ? What did they know about "the world" ? How big were the families ? I could ask many more questions that are not answered in the book. Also most chapters describe the life of the well-to-do , rich "burghers". Even if I understand that the documentation of the life of "upper class" is well better than that of the poor, still I would be interested in how the paupers lived and survived (they are mentioned often when they are begging at weddings/festivities/markets etc). Also there is not much information on the vast majority of the population: the people that are not rich and not poor but getting by just fine. In my opinion, the book could have been much better than it already is.
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