A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages

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Little, Brown Book Group, Feb 7, 2013 - History - 160 pages

Using wide-ranging evidence, Martyn Whittock shines a light on Britain in the Middle Ages, bringing it vividly to life.

Thus we glimpse 11th century rural society through a conversation between a ploughman and his master.

The life of Dick Whittington illuminates the rise of the urban elite. The stories of Roger 'the Raker' who drowned in his own sewage, a 'merman' imprisoned in Orford Castle and the sufferings of the Jews of Bristol reveal the extraordinary diversity of medieval society.

Through these characters and events - and using the latest discoveries and research - the dynamic and engaging panorama of medieval England is revealed.

Interesting facts include:

When the life expectancy for women dropped to 26 years in Sierra Leone in 2002, following a catastrophic civil war, it was one year longer than the estimate for early medieval women.

So great was the extent of church construction in the thirteenth century that it has been calculated it was the equivalent, in modern terms, of every family in England paying £500 every year, for the whole century!

Murder rates for East Anglia, in the fourteenth century, were comparable with those of modern New York. For England generally the homicide rate was far higher than that of the urban USA today.


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User Review  - DLMorrese - LibraryThing

England in the Middle Ages doesn't sound like an appealing spot in space-time to me. It's no Renaissance Fair. Between the oppressive authority of the Church and the nobility, and high levels of crime ... Read full review


Chapter2 The Changing Countryside
Changing Expressions of Christian Belief
Population Diet and Health
Chapter7 Law and Order
Aliens and Outcasts
Chapter11 The Cycle of the Year
Chapter12 The Shape of English Society by 1553

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About the author (2013)

MARTYN WHITTOCK has taught history at secondary level for thirty-five years. He is a lecturer in local history and has written numerous textbooks for the educational market and also books for adult readers, including on Viking and Anglo-Saxon history. He has been a consultant for the BBC, English Heritage and the National Trust and has written for Medieval History magazine and archaeological journals.

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