Life in a Medieval City
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Life in a Medieval City

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,110 ratings  ·  46 reviews
For students, researchers & history lovers, a look at day-to-day life in a rarely explored era.
"About life & death, midwives & funerals, business, books & authors, & town government."--Choice
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published 2002 by Folio (first published 1969)
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"Life in a Medieval City" is an educational nonfiction book. It covered all aspects of city life in the 12th and 13th centuries in Europe. The focus was mainly on what life was like in Troyes, France, but the authors also compared Troyes to various other European cities.

The content was technical (as in, serious research rather than interesting trivia), but the writing wasn't dry. I liked the depth of information and the quotes from documents written at that time. There were some black and white...more
Karen Brooks
This is another outstanding addition to a captivating series for any history buff or beginner historian. Taking the reader through a 'typical' medieval city, in this case Troyes in 1250, the Gies' introduce us to all aspects of everyday life throughout the year - from schools and scholars, to authors and tanners, to the famous Hot and Cold Fairs that ran for a few centuries. Discovering what people ate, wore, how they interacted, the imposition of taxes, the return to Roman Laws and courts (and...more
Medieval history is mostly about kings, barons, bishops, friars and popes. Occasionally there is a mention of the peasants, but there is very little in traditional histories about the medieval city. I consider it a pity because in my opinion medieval city is what really distinguishes Europe from Asia and the rest of the world. The city had more or less disappeared from the European scene with the fall of the roman empire, and when it re-emerged following restoration of order, its character was d...more
I came across this in our basement, it was from one of Stephanie's classes at Alma College. Fairly interesting and quick read. I liked how it was organized by topic: A Medieval Housewife, Small Business, The Doctor, and Disasters to name a few. Most interesting to me were A Burgher's Home and The Doctor. This book gave me a greater appreciation for how difficult life was and included details that get glossed over in even the best literature and film on this period.
Apart from some issues with the language, this is a very good book. I was surprised by how entertaining it is - it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of many similar books, but it is written in an engaging manner that drew me in.

The book doesn't really LOOK like much, particularly if you look at the too-dark photos that are included, but it is really comprehensive for its relatively short length. It does what it says on the cover - life in a medieval city is covered from many angles - it s...more
This book was fantastic and fascinating, and I think it will probably turn out to be my favorite of the nonfiction trilogy. (Apparently I am very much a city person.)

I really enjoyed the discussion of the politics and economics of craftsmen and businessmen within a medieval city -- the particular city they focus on is Troyes in France -- and how all the other bits of medieval life interacted with business. I also really enjoyed the discussions of medieval literature and creators of fiction, poet...more
I thought this was a well-written account of daily life in 1250. I cannot possibly vouch for its accuracy, but nothing set off warning bells. I learned a few things I didn't know, for example that "universities" at first didn't have building, lecture just happened where there was enough space for a teacher and a bunch of students, including in churches. I learned that lords frequently sold strange things, for example entire towns, or the rights to all taxes from a certain craft. But what's proba...more
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in everyday life in a Medieval City. I had some trepidations when I started reading because I'd read (or rather, skimmed) some of Gies' other books on medieval life and I'd found them to be a bit dry. But "Life in a Medieval City" is actually quite entertaining and easy to read. There are plenty of examples, anecdotes, and little details that really make this book come to life. The first half, which deals primarily with family, death, and busine...more
I'm surprised at how often I return to the Life in a... series. It's a fairly friendly yet clinical look at precisely what the titles would suggest. I'm using this review as a means to cover the entire series, as they're all of fairly equal quality. The books manage to cover quite a lot without getting bogged down with overly technical details. If you're looking for the specifics of certain technologies or aspects of life, you might have to do a little deeper digging than what these novels provi...more
This was a great look at life in the 13th-century French town of Troyes. It describes the day and life of wool merchants, schoolboys, weavers, midwives, doctors, storytellers, city officials, tradesmen, tanners, shoemakers, and more. What's it like to have dinner with a middle-class burgher family? It's an interesting and enlightening view of what life was like when our modern western culture was first being born out of the ashes of the Dark Ages. Definitely a good read if it's something you'd b...more
I have a low tolerance for nonfiction. This historical snapshot of daily life in one medieval city in 1250 was a delight to read. It had my rapt attention, and I caught myself saying, "Huh!" or chuckling numerous times while reading it. I loved the first half of the book. The second half was a bit less interesting, only because the topics weren't as personal. A truly fascinating read, filled with technical details but somehow never dry. I will definitely devour Life in a Medieval Castle!
Rosalind Hoenig
What great any things about everyday life that I had no idea about
Jason Koivu
This series of medieval life books by Gies gives a solid overview of the various day-to-day happenings during the period as well as the pulse points of historically pivotal moments as they affected the Europeans of the time. It's perhaps not riveting reading for anyone other than history buffs. However, I've found it mildly entertaining and in the very least quite useful for research.
I often wonder what it would be like if I woke up one day in another time and place. This book is well-researched but not nerdy. OK, maybe the book itself is very nerdy, but I really enjoyed the way the author broke down each sliver of life. Education, Church, Housewife, Businessmen, etc. all get their own chapter. A real look into the "day in the life" of a French city around 1250.
Life in a Medieval City is an excellent non-fiction book about the daily business of Troyes, a middle sized city in France. The authors have chosen to look at the city specifically in the year 1250, at the height of it's economic importance as the host of two fairs, the summer fair and the winter fair, for which merchants and salesmen traveled from hundreds of miles.
Gina Conkle
I can't even remember how long I've had this book and Life in a Medieval Castle. I refer to both when reading and writing, even used them for a guest lecture/lesson for middle school history class.

Joseph and Frances Gies make history come alive...really transport you with day to day tidbits.

The book, in fact, is on the shelf above my computer. A definite keeper.
This book should really be called "Middle Class Life in a French Medieval Trade-Fair City" because that's really all there is to it. A quite interesting, if thoroughly sanitized overview of the early development of the middle-class. It was written in 1969, but still, we all know medieval life was bawdy and oftentimes disgusting-- let's hear about it!
I found this book interesting and easy to understand. It gives details about life in 1250 A.D. in Troyes, a city in the county of Champagne in northern Europe. It talks about town government, disasters, entertainment, education, religion, medicine, business (small and large), weddings, funerals, childbirth, children, housewives, and the home.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Oct 29, 2008 Susanna - Censored by GoodReads rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susanna - Censored by GoodReads by: Dr. Speer
Shelves: history, medieval, france
This little book describes what daily life might have been like in a medieval city in about 1250. The city they chose to look at was Troyes in what is now France, home of two of the Champagne fairs (the "Hot" fair in high summer, and the "Cold" fair in early winter) - and the origin of the "troy" in the phrase "Troy ounce."
This is, first of all, an interesting book. Not altogether well written, but interesting. The Author(s) have a great understanding of historical concepts and I would recommend this book to anyone taking an introduction to Medieval studies, however I would not recommend it to someone looking for a good read.
Paul Drager
Sadly the preface to the book was perhaps the most interesting part of the book. Overall it's an easy read and has some really interesting segments, but something was just off and note terribly compelling about the writing. I'd recommend going to the library and reading the preface, then moving on to something else.
Eric Anderson
It gives a good overview of daily life, thought there are so many social groups it's nearly impossible to encompass all of them. It concentrates mainly on the rising merchant class and the burghers. It focuses on the city of Troyes and the authors are particularly fascinated by the fairs.
Tom Wall
The Gies not only explore Medieval urban culture in France, but also explore etimologies and terms used during that time. This entertaining book informs in a way that keeps you interested without the predictable dryness that books on this topic tend to have.
A lively, entertaining book loaded with fascinating detail about city life in the Middle Ages. Black and white photos and illustrations. This book is well-known as the most comprehensive, accurate, and readable of its genre. Ages high school through adult.
If you want to look back into what a normal person would have seen, heard, and felt in medieval times, this is a great book. It explains simple things such as layouts for buildings and gutters, small details that make the read very entertaining. Overall, great book!
I loved this book. It was easy to read and flowed very logically from one subject to the next. AND I just found out there's a Life in a Medieval Village and a Life in a Medieval Castle by the same author!!
Rachelle Peterson
Gave an interesting view of life in the 13th century. Found the Life of the Housewife, Marriage, Birth and Death the most fascinating. Read this book for my history class but didn't feel it was to dry.
A breif overview of the times set against the backdrop of the once flourishing market town of Troyes in the Champagne region of France. It's one lasting contribution to our lexicon; the Troy Ounce.
Gus Victoria
Not written particularly well and somewhat dated, but still very useful in showing snapshots of society in a Medieval City circa 1250. Well researched. Excellent intro. Worth the read.
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I would keep these (all by Gies books) next to me while reading historical fiction books that I like. I would look up castles or other items of interest. fantastic books!
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Frances and and her husband Joseph Gies were historians and writers who have collaborated on a number of books about the Middle Ages, and have also written individual works.
More about Frances Gies...
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“For outdoors, he wears a mantle fastened at the shoulder with a clasp or chain; although buttons are sometimes used for decoration, the buttonhole has not been invented. ” 1 likes
“At mealtime a very broad cloth is laid on the trestle table in the solar. to facilitate service, places are set along one side only. On that side the cloth falls to the floor, doubling as a communal napkin...there are several kinds of knives...but no forks.” 1 likes
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