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The reissue of Joseph and Frances Gies’s classic bestseller on life in medieval villages.
This new reissue of Life in a Medieval Village, by respected historians Joseph and Frances Gies, paints a lively, convincing portrait of rural people at work and at play in the Middle Ages. Focusing on the village of Elton, in the English East Midlands, the Gieses detail the agricultural advances that made communal living possible, explain what domestic life was like for serf and lord alike, and describe the central role of the church in maintaining social harmony. Though the main focus is on Elton, c. 1300, the Gieses supply enlightening historical context on the origin, development, and decline of the European village, itself an invention of the Middle Ages.
Meticulously researched, Life in a Medieval Village is a remarkable account that illustrates the captivating world of the Middle Ages and demonstrates what it was like to live during a fascinating—and often misunderstood—era.
From acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies comes the reissue of this definitive classic on medieval castles, which was a source for George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.
“Castles are crumbly and romantic. They still hint at an age more colorful and gallant than our own, but are often debunked by boring people who like to run on about drafts and grumble that the latrines did not work. Joseph and Frances Gies offer a book that helps set the record straight—and keeps the romance too.”—Time
A widely respected academic work and a source for George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, Joseph and Frances Gies’s bestselling Life in a Medieval Castle remains a timeless work of popular medieval scholarship.
Focusing on Chepstow, an English castle that survived the turbulent Middle Ages with a relative lack of violence, the book offers an exquisite portrait of what day-to-day life was actually like during the era, and of the key role the castle played. The Gieses take us through the full cycle of a medieval year, dictated by the rhythms of the harvest. We learn what lords and serfs alike would have worn, eaten, and done for leisure, and of the outside threats the castle always hoped to keep at bay.
For medieval buffs and anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating era, Life in a Medieval Castle is as timely today as when it was first published.
From acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies comes the reissue of their classic book on day-to-day life in medieval cities, which was a source for George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.
Evoking every aspect of city life in the Middle Ages, Life in a Medieval City depicts in detail what it was like to live in a prosperous city of Northwest Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The year is 1250 CE and the city is Troyes, capital of the county of Champagne and site of two of the cycle Champagne Fairs—the “Hot Fair” in August and the “Cold Fair” in December. European civilization has emerged from the Dark Ages and is in the midst of a commercial revolution. Merchants and money men from all over Europe gather at Troyes to buy, sell, borrow, and lend, creating a bustling market center typical of the feudal era. As the Gieses take us through the day-to-day life of burghers, we learn the customs and habits of lords and serfs, how financial transactions were conducted, how medieval cities were governed, and what life was really like for a wide range of people.
For serious students of the medieval era and anyone wishing to learn more about this fascinating period, Life in a Medieval City remains a timeless work of popular medieval scholarship.
From bestselling historians Frances and Joseph Gies, authors of the classic “Medieval Life” series, comes this compelling, lucid, and highly readable account of the family unit as it evolved throughout the Medieval period—reissued for the first time in decades.
“Some particular books that I found useful for Game of Thrones and its sequels deserve mention. Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City, both by Joseph and Frances Gies.” —George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones
Throughout history, the significance of the family—the basic social unit—has been vital. In Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages, acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies trace the development of marriage and the family from the medieval era to early modern times. It describes how the Roman and barbarian cultural streams merged under the influence of the Christian church to forge new concepts, customs, laws, and practices. Century by century, the Gies follow the development—sometimes gradual, at other times revolutionary—of significant components in the history of the family including:
- The basic functions of the family as a production unit, as well as its religious, social, judicial, and educational roles.
- The shift of marriage from private arrangement between families to public ceremony between individuals, and the adjustments in dowry, bride-price, and counter-dowry.
- The development of consanguinity rules and incest taboos in church law and lay custom.
- The peasant family in its varying condition of being free or unfree, poor, middling, or rich.
- The aristocratic estate, the problem of the younger son, and the disinheritance of daughters.
- The Black Death and its long-term effects on the family.
- Sex attitudes and customs: the effects of variations in age of men and women at marriage.
- The changing physical environment of noble, peasant, and urban families.
- Arrangements by families for old age and retirement.
Expertly researched, master historians Frances and Joseph Gies—whose books were used by George R.R. Martin in his research for Game of Thrones—paint a compelling, detailed portrait of family life and social customs in one of the most riveting eras in history.
The fascinating story of the fortunes of one medieval family over the course of a century, from bestselling historians Frances and Joseph Gies.
The Pastons were members of the English gentry—a tiny group of roughly 1,000 households sandwiched between the ruling nobility and the peasants, and a rough analog for the contemporary “middle class.” Their existence was fairly typical, but for the fact that it was recorded in an extraordinary collection of nearly 1,000 letters which have survived to this day. Through these letters, which cover the years from 1421 to 1484, and the lives of three generations of Pastons, bestselling historians Frances and Joseph Gies provide a rare window into the day-to-day life of this family, and the broader political and social goings-on of medieval England.
A Medieval Family first tells the story of Judge William Paston (1378-1444), the patriarch of the family, a lawyer and judge who bought up land in Norfolk and left his son a sizeable estate, which was later forcibly seized by a neighboring baron. We then follow the family through its ups and downs over several generations, learning of their feuds with neighbors, the frequent instability of 15th century England, and significant historical events, such as the Siege of Caister and the Battle of Barnet. There are also many letters of more personal significance, including a series of Valentines sent to John Paston III.
The work of acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies has been used by George R.R. Martin in his research for Game of Thrones. In A Medieval Family, they have woven a compelling intergenerational saga that is essential reading for anyone seeking insight into the medieval period.
“The Gieses, who specialize in making the Middle Ages accessible to nonspecialists, have done a wonderful job of linking and amplifying the Pastons’ words.” –New Yorker