Life in a Medieval Castle (Joseph Gies) pdf, epub, doc

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A funny thing happened to me with this book. I was reading it on a plane when the gentleman next to me exclaimed, 'That would have to be the most boring book I have ever read!' Having been so engrossed in the book, I'd failed to notice he was reading over my shoulder and first assumed he must be referring to the novel he'd fallen asleep reading. But when he continued with, 'why, there's no torture or dungeons in it or anything!' I realised he WAS reading my book. I was so lost in the narrative, in the unfolding of history, of the way Joseph and Frances Gies bring life in a medieval castle to... well, life,that I'd forgotten my recent surgeon's appointment (reason I was on the plane), the take-off, fellow passengers, and ride, because I was utterly captivated. All of which just goes to demonstrate how subjective the reading experience is - this man's pain was my pleasure. (I should add, I quickly dispelled him of the idea it was boring and he could only have read a few pages anyhow. The reason I know this is because up until a short period before he spoke to me, he'd been snoring like a roadside drill).

The Gies' compelling non-fiction work takes the reader back in time, depositing us firmly in the midst of the life and times of the castle - not the ones you see on television or in too many films, all scrupulously clean and with everyone tidy and far too accomplished with weapons, food preparation and all sorts of other duties; or the type filled to the brim with aristocrats and where servants are largely absent or so in the background you barely notice them. No, these castles, mainly in England, but also abroad, are filled with pantlers, bottlers (where the term 'butler' originates from), slaughterers, smiths, grooms, carters, brewers and all manner of servants. There are also the requisite lord and lady, squires and knights, but also seneschals and other administrative people. Taking us through the various roles - within the castle and village surrounds, what people ate, wore, celebrated - from Lammas to tournaments, how the castles were built, altered, the manner in which they were defended or attacked as well as simply lived in and around, this book is a fascinating and beautifully written (and translated) insight into a period of time that's all too easily misrepresented and romanticised in popular culture (not that there's anything wrong with that, unless you're a dinky-di history buff and want more than constant spit and polish). It also explains why the castle declined and provides a comprehensive list of castles to visit throughout the UK and Europe as well as a terrific glossary at the back.

Far from boring, I devoured this book and am looking forward to tackling the others in the series.

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Book info

  • Author:
  • Publisher:Harper Perennial
  • File: 2.8 Mb
  • Ganre: History
  • Release: 02.04.1979
  • ISBN: 9780060906740
  • Pages 288
  • Rating: 4.46 (704 votes)

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