Book Review: Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives

I’m currently working on the sequel to my first novel, The Beauty’s Beast (which will be re-released sometime in the next few months, promise!) and, in consequence, I have been doing a lot of research into the Middle Ages. I have been reading ALL THE BOOKS in fact. So far Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives is my favorite and certainly the most readable of the lot.

I had this at my mom’s house last weekend and I continually kept reading stuff aloud to her or telling her interesting factoids that popped up. The basic premise of the book is debunking all the misinformation about the medieval period that people take as truths. That they all thought the world was flat, for instance, or that every woman was a “damsel in distress”, uneducated and wholly at the mercy of her husband.

As a research resource this book gave me some nice and interesting little tidbits that I definitely plan to use for The Werewolf’s Wife and other books in the series. (Also the bibliography at the end is to die for and significantly increased the size of my Amazon wishlist in one fell swoop.) But I would honestly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading history for fun. It really is pretty entertaining.

Here, to help my case, have some quotes:

An Englishman accused by a Frenchman was not allowed to defend himself with oath-takers, but instead had to choose between battle and ordeal. And if the roles were reversed an English accuser faced a similar problem. So if you were an elderly freeman whose son had been murdered by a big, vigorous Norman you could go to a lord’s court, name the killer and find that he demanded the right to do battle with you. Oh, good.

Or, here, how about this bit about peasants?

The old feudal consensus had broken down, and the lords realized that if the peasants were now free from any obligation to them, they were equally free from any obligations to care for the peasants. Thus it was that the peasants came face to face with their greatest natural enemy–sheep.

Overall rating: ***** (I LOVED it!)

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