Scott's Reviews > The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium

The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey
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's review
Mar 05, 2011

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bookshelves: 1990s, history, medieval, contexts
Read in March, 2011

The Year 1000 (1999) is a tasty nibblet of late Anglo-Saxon history that you can polish off in an afternoon. Lacey's prose is light but still satisfying without being the slightest bit dry. Here is a sampler of some of the interesting tidbits I culled: July was the hungriest month of the year, since by then all last year's grain was eaten and this year's had yet to mature. Anglo-Saxon society was in some ways wonderfully simple, revolving around minuscule villages, spread out all over the countryside. Fewer than two million people enjoyed plenty of elbow room and free run of the the forests. The greater economy, though, was surprisingly complex: coins remained legal tender for only three years, at which point an enterprising thegn had to return them to the mint and have them re-coined. The minter kept a tenth of the deposit for his trouble, and forwarded part of that tithe to the king: a simple but efficient system for collecting income tax.

The authors organize their social history around the course of a year, but within each chapter they tend to hop around quite a bit. Some of these jumps are a little jarring. Still, the variety and triviality of the information combined to keep me turning pages. If you take your history as you would an afternoon's visit to a museum -- meandering from exhibit to exhibit, skimming the cards in the cases, squinting at the mannequins made up in period dress, and then heading to the cafe for a slab of chocolate torte -- Lacey and Danziger's 1000 is for you.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Angela (new)

Angela Zoltners Sounds intriguing Scott. I think I'll request this one from the library. How are you and the missus? We've bought a house in CH and will be moving back into the old ward sometime next month. Hope you're both well!

Doug I'm giving this one a try (as a book on CD). Interesting so far. AND it's introduced me a bit more to the venerable bede!

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