So, back in the late 14th century, a man in his 50’s – old by the standards of the day – married a 15 year old girl. This book is all kinds of awesome.
So, back in the late 14th century, a man in his 50’s – old by the standards of the day – married a 15 year old girl. He then sat down and wrote a book on how to be a good housewife for her to use both to be a good wife to him and later to be a good wife to whoever she presumably married after he died.
He sites in the prologue that he decided to write the book because his young bride told him she couldn’t run his house for him because didn’t know how to do anything. Which is the part where I started giggling, imagining the teenager pulling the old ‘I-can’t-do-that-because-I-don’t-know-how!’ whine. No doubt next she’ll be telling him her Algebra grade is so bad because the teacher hates her.
Anyway, the elderly Parisian wrote down everything one needs to know on managing a middle class house in that time and place, spending a lot of time both on the physical, mundane stuff – how to get rid of bedbugs, but also a lot on the more mental stuff. He talks a lot on how to avoid sin and be virtuous (and the translator says she cut out a /lot/ of the Jesus-Jesus-Jesus stuff for this abridge version). And he also covers how a husband and wife can have a good relationship – communicate. He also – gasp! – suggests the relationship should be somewhat equal. Not that he’s suggesting women be allowed to roam free or anything crazy like that, heaven forbid, but he is suggesting a woman doesn’t have to be a slave to be a good wife. Also, he advises his child bride not to fake it. Mmm…kay.
Surprisingly, there’s some still useful information in here – like how to negotiate with contractors, him warning her that they will always say at the end of the job that it took more labor, hours and materials than they will quote you at the beginning of the job.
Preach truth sir.
He covers a lot ground – marriage counseling, family relationships, how to stay in good standing in a community, the perils of gossip, tips for good gardening, cooking, cleaning, winemaking, covering just about everything a woman would need to know to be considered Good for that time and place.
But, despite the fact this book was written for his wife, the author gets caught up in his own words, waxing on poetic about life, the universe, everything, and I can just see him at his desk, surrounded by parchment, quills and inkwells, scribbling all sorts of advice on paper to his dear wife, and can also see her standing right next to him, trying to ask him a question, and him mumbling, ‘not now honey, I just have to finish this chapter,’ and her rolling her eyes and flouncing off to see who’s making the jousting tournament finals.
Its an interesting rant from a history teacher who has put up with one too many sophomores parroting back Hollywood "facts," but its also 40 years old Its an interesting rant from a history teacher who has put up with one too many sophomores parroting back Hollywood "facts," but its also 40 years old and doesn't offer much besides giving this poor woman a chance to vent. ...more
Pulls a lot of information from court records, but doesn't really answer the question of are these the exceptions or the usual cases for upper class w Pulls a lot of information from court records, but doesn't really answer the question of are these the exceptions or the usual cases for upper class women in this time period....more
David Boyle sets out to prove that the story of the minstrel Blondel finding King Richard by going from castle to castle and seeing if anyone recognizDavid Boyle sets out to prove that the story of the minstrel Blondel finding King Richard by going from castle to castle and seeing if anyone recognized the song Richard wrote was not just a fairy tale by Sir Walter Scot, but and actual event, and he makes a good case for it.
The author isn't a professional historian, but he did his research, and it shows. He's a journalist, so he brings an up to the minute quality to the writing, even as he gives you the big picture on how each, no matter how tiny at the time, event is going to effect the main players down the road.
He states in the prologue that he was inspired to write the book when he spent a brief time in jail after being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he learned what it meant to hear a familiar song sung by a friend. ...more
A good microhistory zeroes in on just one thing and stays with it over a long period as it interacts and influences just about everyone, Forrest Gump A good microhistory zeroes in on just one thing and stays with it over a long period as it interacts and influences just about everyone, Forrest Gump style.
This was just a little too broad – it needed to tighten up and pick a focus as it tried to cover too much over the course of more than 2,000 years. Lots and lots of good information here – I just couldn't’ get solidly engaged as it leaped all over the place. ...more
The book reads as a pompous graduate student’s final thesis, the student determined to be as dry and boring as possible to impress the dry and boring The book reads as a pompous graduate student’s final thesis, the student determined to be as dry and boring as possible to impress the dry and boring masters of the universe, those university dons whose lives begin and end with their dry conclusions, and God forbid anyone admit that history can be fun!
Oh no, this is very serious business, and very serious business has no right having a sense of humor or even a sense of being human. And anyone who ever laughed at human foibles that pop up over and over in the time stream, whoever made a joke comparing current presidents with long dead kings, is banned form their world. I mean, obviously, someone can’t have a sense of humor and brain, right?
Fossier’s voice oozes with contempt for the reader, talking down to all of us as being so dim for not knowing everything he knows. He praises the medieval time period at the expense of the present, constantly ridiculing not only other historians but all modern viewpoints and practices – completely losing all objectivity in the process. He gives a broad view of the Middle Ages– and gives us no sense of the actual people in it, because he is so busy pontificating.
He is, in short, a French history professor. To quote a historical fiction story about modern knight templars:
“French historians suck the life’s blood out of history. In the name of socio-economic analysis, they achieve the impossible: they make sex, war, and murder dull.” ...more
The thing about John of England is he is so relatability human.
He tries – and he fails, more often than not, like so many of the rest of us. And he ke The thing about John of England is he is so relatability human.
He tries – and he fails, more often than not, like so many of the rest of us. And he keeps trying, because he wants to show he is just as good as the rest of his family. And he fails, spectacularly, but by God, he never stopped trying to live up to the legend of his parents and brother.
John was a man of many, many insecurities, with a lot of blame that can be laid on Eleanor and Henry more concerned with each other and their kingdoms than any of their children, but even when John was the last of that insane, blazing, dramatic family left, he had an almost uncanny knack for doing the exact right thing to make as many people as possible mad at him.
This book exams John’s life thought the lens of how all his actions lead up to the Magna Carta, showing how John’s insecure ego accidently created one of the building blocks of modern government. ...more