Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

2/17/2003

Life in a Medieval City

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Oh, to be a burgher in the Middle Ages!

Some short time ago, I wrote a review of the rather disappointing Medieval Lives. But, since I’m either a glutton for punishment, or an eternal optimist, I tried another similar book called Life in a Medieval City by Joseph and Francis Gies. I’m pleased to say that it’s a much better book.
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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