Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Medieval Lives” as Want to Read:
Medieval Lives
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Medieval Lives

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  129 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
A fascinating look at life in the Middle Ages that focuses on eight extraordinary medieval men and women through realistically invented conversations between them and their counterparts.
Paperback, 197 pages
Published February 3rd 1995 by Harper Perennial (first published December 31st 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Medieval Lives, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Medieval Lives

A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. TuchmanThe Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian MortimerEleanor of Aquitaine by Alison WeirThe Plantagenets by Dan JonesThe Year 1000 by Robert Lacey
Best Medieval History Books
44th out of 462 books — 200 voters
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey ChaucerWorld Without End by Ken FollettBeowulf by Unknown
Best Middle Ages Books
227th out of 977 books — 1,229 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 12, 2014 Bandit rated it it was ok
Lives of prominent historical figures of the Middle Ages told through discourses, conversations and debates with their contemporaries. The literary equivalent of history channel dramatic reenactments. I don't have as much interest in the era, but I love history and wanted to have a fairly well rounded self education in it. This book however didn't really work for me, specifically the format didn't really work for me. I would have preferred traditional biographies. It was educational, certainly, ...more
Ian Mchugh
Aug 12, 2010 Ian Mchugh rated it really liked it
This book is something that I would not normally have read. This book is about a period of History that, despite being a History nerd, I have only limited knowledge of. This is a lovely book that I enjoyed immensely.

Norman Cantor constructs imagined tales and conversations between eight figures of Medieval historical importance and in the process tells more about the period, the changing ideas and attitudes, and the lives of the folk covered than any 'history book' could hope to achieve. In addi
Feb 21, 2016 Alvin rated it really liked it
Cantor plops readers right in the middle of the power struggles and controversies that defined the middle ages by presenting his subjects a characters and making them debate their opinions. This does a good job of making their theological and political positions comprehensible to modern readers, but also leads to some jarringly unnatural expository dialogue. Still... a good read for medieval history buffs.
Daniel Kukwa
Jul 05, 2015 Daniel Kukwa rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The only Norman Cantor book of history that (to date) doesn't meet with my approval. He tries something different here: creating dialogue and presenting the information about his subjects as fictional debates between his chosen characters and their friends/enemies/rivals. It's a bold attempt at something different, but it doesn't succeed, for a number of reasons.

First of all, Mr. Cantor doesn't have an ear for natural dialogue; this approach calls for someone like Phillipa Gregory, and the end
Jul 30, 2015 Nina rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-ages
have hardback
Mar 16, 2014 Michelle rated it liked it
It took a bit for me to get used to how the author writes about each person, but I did get used to it and I did enjoy it. I was expecting and probably would have preferred the format historians typically write in, but hats off to him for being creative. In the end, you get what you put into it, I think.
Lynn Dee
Mar 25, 2013 Lynn Dee rated it really liked it
Recently I had become interested in the Middle Ages and was looking for a good book to provide an overview. I found this book at the library and really enjoyed it. The author's style puts you in the same room with these historical figures, overhearing their disputes and discussions.
Fredrick Danysh
Oct 09, 2011 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Cantor attempts to describe how Europeans lived during the Middle Ages.
Nov 18, 2007 Maggie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
one of my favorites! such a treasury of ideas and perspectives.
Oct 09, 2012 Amy rated it did not like it
Dry, dry, dry. Interesting people, but dull presentation
May 02, 2011 Deena rated it did not like it
Finished as in quit. This book is decidedly crap.
Ben Rothman
Oct 16, 2009 Ben Rothman rated it did not like it
Awful. Just awful.
Joshua Anderson
Joshua Anderson marked it as to-read
Sep 02, 2016
Sureka Thorn
Sureka Thorn marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2016
Amanda marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2016
Jessica H
Jessica H marked it as to-read
Aug 20, 2016
Chelsea rated it liked it
Aug 18, 2016
Christopher marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2016
Fivewincs marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2016
Meagan rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2016
James marked it as to-read
Jul 03, 2016
Phil Kelley
Phil Kelley rated it it was amazing
Jun 24, 2016
Karen marked it as to-read
Jun 23, 2016
Danielle Dale
Danielle Dale marked it as to-read
Jun 11, 2016
Ryan marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2016
Diana Bugrova
Diana Bugrova marked it as to-read
Jun 07, 2016
Sharon Williams
Sharon Williams marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Women's Lives in Medieval Europe: A Sourcebook
  • Medieval Women
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance
  • Medieval Folklore: A Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs
  • The Ties That Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England
  • Medieval Costume in England and France: The 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries
  • Women in the Middle Ages
  • Revelations of the Medieval World (A History of Private Life, #2)
  • Memoirs of a Medieval Woman: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe
  • The Oxford History of Medieval Europe
  • The Great Medieval Heretics: Five Centuries of Religious Dissent
  • Life in a Medieval Castle
  • A Medieval Home Companion
  • Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity
  • War in the Middle Ages
  • Crusades
  • Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Cantor received his B.A. at the University of Manitoba in 1951. He went on to get his master's degree in 1953 from Princeton University and spent a year as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. He received his doctorate from Princeton in 1957 under the direction of the eminent medievalist Joseph R. Strayer.

After teaching at Princeton, Cantor moved to Columbia Univ
More about Norman F. Cantor...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »