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The Middle Ages Unlocked: A Guide to Life in Medieval England, 1050-1300

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  39 ratings  ·  9 reviews
To our modern minds, the Middle Ages seem to mix the well-known and familiar with wildly alien concepts and circumstances. The Middle Ages Unlocked provides an introduction to this complex and dynamic period in England.

Exploring a wide range of topics from law, religion and education to landscape, art and magic, between the eleventh and early fourteenth century, the struct
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 19th 2015 by Amberley (first published June 14th 2015)
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Jennifer (JC-S)
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarybooks
‘Life in the Middle Ages was not simple, nor primitive, and neither is it easy to explain.’

I’ve read a lot of fiction set in the middle ages, and a reasonable amount of medieval English history. While I have some understanding of the period, there are huge gaps in my knowledge. Some of those gaps have now been filled, thanks to this book by Dr Gillian Polack, a historian, and Dr Katrin Kania, an archaeologist, which addresses life in medieval England between 1050 and 1300.

‘This guide is a room w
Kyla Ward
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
As one of the admitted minority who deal with the Middle Ages on a daily basis (I perform medieval shows in high schools), I tell you, this book is furniture. Something gorgeously crafted from different woods, with lots of drawers and pegs. The scholar, author or educational presenter can use it to place what they already know in context and guide future research. The simply curious can dip in and come up with such fascinating details as the number of calves that died to make the average vellum ...more
What a fascinating and informative book! I would thoroughly recommend this as a research tool, or for anyone interested in Medieval British history. Subjects covered include almost everything, from taxation to modes of travel, education, and medicine, to fashion.
Some of the facts might be surprising: for instance, sidesaddles were not common in England until the 14th century, and so most women rode astride: leather clothing was unheard of as people only used it to make accessories like belts or
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
if you were to enter a time machine and go back to the Middle Ages to live, you'll want to read this book.
Steve Howarth
A light read and highly interesting account of medieval life. Well organised and detailed. Useful reference.
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in English History circa 1050-1300
So far, I have read up to page 122 of this fascinating book. Bought originally to help me have a clearer understanding of life in the late twelfth century as research for a book I am currently writing, it is proving to be an invaluable source of general information.
I did wonder whether I would struggle with it as I am not good at studying and living with myalgic encephalomylitis leaves me with little energy for struggling through some historical tomes, but this is informative in a style which is
Shelly Dennison
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fantastic book to keep on your bookshelf and dip in and out of. Unfortunately I borrowed it from the library and as a straight through read found it rather hard work as it is very fact heavy. For a more entertaining look at medieval life try Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England which covers much of the same ground but in a more readable fashion.

The subtitle about life in medieval England also feels a little inaccurate as it is much more European than that with frequen
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was hoping for an interesting read, as it is a very comprehensive book that is organized by different topics from religion, work, food, etc. But for some reason, it's actually very boring to read and doesn't bring the Medieval England period to any sort of life. I was left feeling like I was reading a school textbook instead. I skipped some chapters because they were so dull, such as the administrative functions of government, manufacturing, and laws. There are probably better books on the mid ...more
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Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a difficult book to get through. I took advice and skipped a few subjects that I wasn't particularly interested in but for the most part read it cover to cover. I learned some interesting nuggets and unlearned some assumptions. However what the book lacked for me were examples whether text or picture. There were a handful of pictures in the middle of the book but I found them neither interesting nor helpful. They weren't tied to any particular chapter or example. It would have been inte ...more
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Gillian is a writer and historian, currently living in Canberra, Australia. She intends to count the books in her library soon, when they stop falling on her and otherwise intimidating her.