Monday, September 21, 2015

Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (Terry Jones and Alan Ereira)

Terry Jones' Medieval Lives
Terry Jones and Alan Ereira
BBC Books
Nonfiction, History
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Medieval England: a bastion of superstition and ignorance, peopled by filthy peasants living in run-down hovels and virtually enslaved by tyrannical noblemen, when helpless young damsels relied on the chivalry of knights to protect them from fates worse than death. At least, that's what the Rennaisance recorded of that dark time between the fall of Rome and the Age of Enlightnemnent - a vision perpetuated in Victorian times and even popular media today. But the truth is far less static and more complicated than that. The authors explore the so-called Middle Ages, separating fact from fiction.

REVIEW: Considering how people can easily twist events occurring within their own lifetimes, it's no surprise that our modern perception of medieval life is profoundly distorted, filtered through hundreds of years of agendas and "spin" designed to glamorize one era's achievements by belittling, ignoring, or outright falsifying earlier ages. Even the term "medieval" was invented to judge and denigrate. The subject is broken down for us armchair researchers by focusing on different viewpoints: the peasant, the monk, and so forth. Even the "damsel" gets her say - showing how little she resembles the often-allegorical image presented in fairy tale and legend, even if she still lived in a male-dominated world. What comes through is a vision of people who weren't nearly so foolish and dismissible as modern ages tend to think, a world of complicated political, religious, social, and personal issues with few clear-cut heroes or villains... in other world, a people not entirely unlike us. Some of the names and dates ran together for me, but overall I found it a decent and educational read.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Knights (Andrea Hopkins) - My Review
The Encyclopedia of Mysterious Places (Robert Ingpen and Philip Wilkinson) - My Review
An Introduction to Heraldry (Stephan Oliver) - My Review

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