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A Medieval Family: The Pastons of Fifteenth-Century England

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  117 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
The Paston family of Norfolk, England, has long been known to medieval scholars for its large collection of personal correspondence, which has survived five centuries. Until now, however, they have remained virtually unknown to the general reading public. Revealing a wealth of information about the manners, morals, lifestyles, and attitudes of the late Middle Ages, the let ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 4th 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
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May 28, 2011 Vasha7 rated it liked it
I've come to prefer social history to "big events". This is an account of the fortunes of a newly-prosperous family, who had made their fortunes as lawyers, drawn from an unusually complete collection of their correspondence. The correspondence deals with many matters of money and litigation. They were not unusually litigious for their times; it was just a difficult century. Several letter-writers emphasized that it was necessary to be well-versed in law, besides having powerful friends, in orde ...more
Jan 16, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing
A fascinating slice of gentry life in mediaeval Norfolk (UK, East Anglia). This is based on a collection of letters written by and/or to the Paston family throughout the 1400s, including a series covering the Wars of the Roses. Originally I'd expected the book to contain the text of all the letters themselves, and there are indeed a lot of quotes, and a number of photos of originals. Mainly though, this is a narrative description of the Paston family's business and family relationships, as told ...more
Maryann Glotzer
Dec 16, 2015 Maryann Glotzer rated it really liked it
This book summarizes the life and times of the Paston family living (and thriving) through The War of the Roses. Not only was the throne up for grabs for the strongest contender, the houses and castles of the gentry were subject to raids, placed under siege and taken by force. This family left an extensive correspondence for posterity. Their concerns and struggles are documented in such detail that the reader can get a sense of what life was like. To keep your place in society, you needed to sla ...more
Pam Shelton-anderson
Jun 09, 2012 Pam Shelton-anderson rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-britain
This is not the Paston letters unabridged and in their entirety, but is a "translation" to clarify wording and archaic words. The author puts the Paston family's activities in the historic context of national and local events. The result is a rich account of the life of this family who lived in the turbulent time of the War of the Roses. Very good execution.
Marsha Altman
Jul 10, 2010 Marsha Altman rated it liked it
The cover made the historian in me excited, but it was actually fairly boring. I was tempted to put it down and I almost never put books down. The middle section was slightly more interesting when you could get into the characters, but ultimately it was a tale of people suing each other, which according to this book was what the Middle Ages were all about.
Dec 31, 2013 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
3.5 stars

The editors, imo, did too much editing. They should have let the family's letters speak for themselves.

(Stated First Edition that I bought at a Used bookstore for $5!)
Jun 23, 2009 Jan rated it liked it
The Paston family, whose large collection of personal correspondence is the basis for this book, helps us see firsthand the lifestyle and attitudes of the Middle Ages. Although intriguing, the sheer volume of information makes this a heavy read. A college level text.
Feb 05, 2008 Monica rated it really liked it
It would be so interesting to see the original documents that were used to compile this book. I am sure the details would be quite different from this version.
Mar 14, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it
Interesting and fun book. Gives real insight into life in fifteenth century England. I didn't realize how litigatious they were!
Aug 09, 2011 Ken rated it it was amazing
When you get transported in time to the 15th century, bring your lawyer.
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Frances and and her husband Joseph Gies were historians and writers who collaborated on a number of books about the Middle Ages as well as wrote individual works.
More about Frances Gies...

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