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Medieval People

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  478 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
In this classic of social history, noted medieval scholar Eileen Power recreates the lives of six ordinary people who lived during the Middle Ages. Drawing upon account books, diaries, letters, records, wills, and other authentic historical documents, she brings to vivid life Bodo, a Frankish peasant in the time of Charlemagne; Marco Polo, the well-known Venetian traveler ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 18th 2000 by Dover Publications (first published 1924)
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For a long time historians foolishly imagined that kings and wars and parliaments and the jury system alone were history (p89)

In my imagination Eileen Power swept down from Northern Ireland to bring the new gospel of social history to the rich lands of southern England, but according to the infallible wikipeadia she only came from by Manchester which changes things entirely.

Medieval People was first published in 1924 and went through a series of editions before Power's death when she was, by the
Oct 04, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: cannonball-read
The problem with owning an e-reader is that you don’t get that closure of money changing hands. You just click through Amazon, pressing the One Click Buy button with impunity while your credit card quietly sobs in your wallet. In an attempt to limit the damage on my bank account, I went through Amazon’s free Kindle books and picked up Eileen Edna Power’s Medieval People.

Power’s book follows six medieval lives based entirely on literature (in this case, wills, poems, and contemporary observations
Sep 13, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
When I picked up this book and looked at the title and the cover, I did not expect that I was really going to enjoy reading it; it looked like it was going to be really boring and badly written. I was surprised when I started reading and realized that the style of writing was unlike most history books that I've read before, combining a narrative-style glimpse into the thoughts and opinions of the people featured in the book, and also plenty of factual information about their life and times. It o ...more
May 23, 2017 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is just okay. It's informative, and some of the stories are interesting. I like Power's conceit of keeping from the politics that everyone else usually focused on when writing histories and choosing to focus on the individual instead. I like her organizing principle of each chapter being about a different historical person and therefore about a different type of Medieval person. She writes about the peasant, the clothier, the traveler (Marco Polo!), the middle class housewife, the nun, ...more
Feb 19, 2008 Paula rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at various types of people who lived in different areas and eras of the Medieval time period. Some of it repeats what Powers wrote in Medieval Women but, in this case, the primary focus is on the non-royal population. Powers is able to piece together the lives of six specific people who otherwise would remain completely obliterated from history altogther, and she does this with a sense of humor as well as a real understanding of what their lives would have been like as though sh ...more
Rob Shurmer
Aug 03, 2008 Rob Shurmer rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one - better medieval social histories exist
Shelves: medieval
Rather dated now across the board: simplistic arguments, childlike prose ( "They were very merry and not at all refined." In stead of elucidating the social world of the 8th century Frankish peasant, comments such as this turn them into little more than Hobbits with their penchant for Maypoles and strong ale) and medieval stereotypes abound.
Nov 26, 2012 Giovanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: storiografia
E' un libro imperdibile:la quotidianità del medioevo raccontata attraverso sei personaggi comuni,la cui vita è rimasta impigliata negli archivi,nelle lapidi funerarie,nei contratti,nelle lettere personali e commerciali,negli atti dei processi.
Lo consiglio vivamente a tutti.
Jul 05, 2009 Stephen rated it liked it
A somewhat less than satisfying look at some real people from the Middle Ages based on documents and letters. Maybe I was expecting more than could possibly be reconstructed from the source material. Nonethless, interesting insights into how things were -- especially trade, travel and finance.
Sep 10, 2012 Anita rated it it was ok
This book was hard to get into at first, but it turned out to be really interesting. I don't know of another book that has shed so much light on the day-to-day lives of Medieval people. It could be boring in parts, yet fascinating in others. It's a must for anyone studying that time period.
John Mccullough
Dec 25, 2013 John Mccullough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extremely readable view of the lives of 6 Medieval people.
Jessica Trapp
Aug 23, 2011 Jessica Trapp rated it it was amazing
Interesting history and easy to read.
John Burns
Oct 05, 2013 John Burns rated it it was amazing
Hildigard von Bingen, WOW
ej cullen
Apr 18, 2010 ej cullen rated it liked it
Some plodding prose and dated syntax, but worth the effort if you have an interest in the daily travails of mostly ordinary people in medieval times.
Jul 28, 2014 Liam rated it it was amazing
This is a social history book which is written for the layman and counts no more than 160 pages in my edition. In this short space, Power provides a vivid taste of life across many sub-epochs of the medieval age. The chapters, progressing chronologically, are deliberately concerned with chiefly one historical document. From this one document she describes the living persons that the document concerns; the recipient of a guide to good housewifery in the late 14th Century, the Frankish peasant far ...more
Alisa Raty
Mar 01, 2017 Alisa Raty added it
Shelves: medieval
I loved that this book focused on real normal people during the middle ages, not on the wars and kings. It was written in an engaging way, making the research sound like a story. My favorite chapter was about the menagier's wife. This is definitely a good book if you want to know more about the middle ages.
Gregg Wingo
May 27, 2013 Gregg Wingo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gregg by: Bertrand Russell
I would like to thank Bertrand Russell for turning me onto this gem of a book. Dr. Power in this work lays the basis for the type of history embodied in the treatment of the U.S. Civil War by Prof. James I. Robertson, Jr. at Virginia Tech and Ken Burns on PBS. Originally published in 1924 this Fellow at Cambridge's Girton College rejected the traditional study of history in terms of dates and great "men" in favor of portraying the lives of simpler folks through historical records and literary te ...more
This book is surprisingly readable given it's publication date. Whilst there are now many publications which discuss the lives of medieval people (Ian Mortimer's Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England being the most fantastic book I have read to date) I have yet to come across one which discusses the lives of ordinary people from different time periods, locations and backgrounds in such close detail.

It is a concise read yet pays extensive focus to source material. Although I found this at ti
Jul 14, 2011 Calabash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggi, storia
Eileen Power ha fatto un ottimo lavoro con questo saggio; capita raramente di leggere libri di storia così scorrevoli e spigliati.

Il saggio si propone di esplorare vari aspetti minuti della vita medievale che spesso vengono taciuti nei libri di storia con la esse maiuscola in favore di grandi imprese e grandi uomini. Eileen Power invece esplora la vita quotidiana del medioevo e lo fa attraverso gli occhi di sei diversi personaggi: il contadino, il viaggiatore, la badessa, la donna di casa, il co
Feb 20, 2013 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me some good insight to those who lived in Medieval times. Much better than I had before. Yes people lived on Manors with a lord, and serfs who took care of the land for them by planting, caring for animals, barrel making, housekeeping and the like but life in the middle ages was so much more. Residents of Venice worked in trading and shipping with Asian goods. Marco Polo spent years in China with Kubla Khan. People were well connected to the church and many lived as priests and n ...more
Kikou Hsieh
Apr 11, 2012 Kikou Hsieh rated it liked it
There is a reason why this book is a classic, written in 1924 when Rankian history was still in its full glory, this represent an pioneer attempt to write a history from below, unfortunately, social history do seldom make interesting audiobooks for lay listener or readers, people seldom find prices of wool or domestic lives interesting.

I found this book focus too much on the High middle ages, as oppose to middle age proper, it could have focused more on the churchman instead of the nuns, it coul
Jul 13, 2014 Eduardo rated it it was ok
This book did not meet my expectations, justified by the title and the intentions explained in the introduction. The author talks about some semi-free peasants at the end of the reign of Charlemagne (ninth century) and then jumps all the way to the third quarter of the thirteenth century, as if there were not ‘medieval people’ in between [over four hundred years]! She ends the review talking about the life of an English clothier who dies in 1518. Who would consider today, though, such a man a ‘m ...more
Apr 23, 2010 Grace added it
I have managed to get my hands on the complete and unabridged 1937 Pelican paperback edition (part of the Penguins paperback range).
$1 AUD in the op shop! It still has the photographic black and white plates in the middle, which haven't dropped out. I hate when paperbacks do that.
It was really interesting and made you feel alittle bit like you were spying on some people from different strata in medieval society, from spoiled rich girls in some nunneries to poor slaves on farms.
Apr 21, 2008 Patrick\ rated it really liked it
I have always looked to those behind the scenes of majesty, people who really don't count individually (such as myself), but who, though unrecognized, keep the whole system intact (like most of us). This is one of those books who speak to me as what my life might have been if alive in a given place in Medieval time. Take the leap, enjoy and then be thankful.
Kevan Bowkett
Oct 25, 2014 Kevan Bowkett rated it liked it
This is a very interesting book, and full of the author's contagious enthusiasm for the Middle Ages. It includes chapters on Bodo (a Carolingian peasant), Marco Polo, a 14th-century abbess, the young wife of the 14th-century Menagier of Paris, Thomas Beston (fleece-trader to Calais, 15th century), and Thomas Paycocke of Cogheshall (16th-century English clothier). Fascinating.
Jul 02, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval-history
Worth reading -- interesting, lively prose; the portraits of Bodo the Frankish Peasant, Madame Englentine were the most captivating or lively, Marco Polo was fascinating and proudly done, Thomas Beston was touching, though like the Thomas Paycock portrait, was duller than the others; and the Menagier de Paris was sensitively treated. All in all, pleasant and informative.
Jack McNabb
Limited by no graphics

This review is based on the kindle version. Of course the language is dated but the people are real. Power gives us a sense of who they were. However the finely drawn word-portraits do not make up for the lack of graphical content. Our author did give us good reason to want to see them,but this version does not supply them.
Joy Lynne
Feb 04, 2012 Joy Lynne rated it liked it
This was a re-read of a book I read for a college class. Parts of this book are very very interesting, I really enjoyed the glimpses of every day life during various periods of the Middle Ages. There were some passages though, that were in French or the inconsistent English speaking of the time, that I found distracting and difficult to follow.
Sep 07, 2012 Giovanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E' un libro imperdibile:la quotidianità del medioevo raccontata attraverso sei personaggi comuni,la cui vita è rimasta impigliata negli archivi,nelle lapidi funerarie,nei contratti,nelle lettere personali e commerciali,negli atti dei processi.
Lo consiglio vivamente a tutti.
Sep 07, 2012 Marco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sei brevi "racconti" che proiettano il lettore nella vita medievale. Raccomandato per chi è cuorioso di sapere come la gente comune viveva a quei tempi.

Forse gli ultimi due racconti sono un pochino noiosetti, ma vale comunque la pena!
May 12, 2014 Bob rated it liked it
Actually I give this book 3.5 stars.
Worth reading for the information especially about English trades people in the late 1400's and early 1500's. Eileen Power was a forerunner of social history and this book is aimed at a popular audience. Her more specific work has much more detail.
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