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Medieval Lives

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  145 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
A fascinating look at life in the Middle Ages that focuses on eight extraordinary medieval men and women through realistically invented conversations between them and their counterparts.
Paperback, 197 pages
Published February 3rd 1995 by Harper Perennial (first published December 31st 1994)
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Ian McHugh
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is something that I would not normally have read. This book is about a period of History that, despite being a History nerd, I have only limited knowledge of. This is a lovely book that I enjoyed immensely.

Norman Cantor constructs imagined tales and conversations between eight figures of Medieval historical importance and in the process tells more about the period, the changing ideas and attitudes, and the lives of the folk covered than any 'history book' could hope to achieve. In addi
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Lives of prominent historical figures of the Middle Ages told through discourses, conversations and debates with their contemporaries. The literary equivalent of history channel dramatic reenactments. I don't have as much interest in the era, but I love history and wanted to have a fairly well rounded self education in it. This book however didn't really work for me, specifically the format didn't really work for me. I would have preferred traditional biographies. It was educational, certainly, ...more
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cantor plops readers right in the middle of the power struggles and controversies that defined the middle ages by presenting his subjects a characters and making them debate their opinions. This does a good job of making their theological and political positions comprehensible to modern readers, but also leads to some jarringly unnatural expository dialogue. Still... a good read for medieval history buffs.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I usually love narrative history, but this one dragged just a bit for me. Not bad at all, but not as good as others I've read. My favorite story was about Eleanor of Aquitaine. That one was very good!
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it
The eight essays in this book are dialogue based explorations of medieval intellectual attitudes, rather than true biographies of the historical figures involved.

I didn't care for the narrative style, but I can see how it could help keep the interest of a general reader.
Daniel Kukwa
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The only Norman Cantor book of history that (to date) doesn't meet with my approval. He tries something different here: creating dialogue and presenting the information about his subjects as fictional debates between his chosen characters and their friends/enemies/rivals. It's a bold attempt at something different, but it doesn't succeed, for a number of reasons.

First of all, Mr. Cantor doesn't have an ear for natural dialogue; this approach calls for someone like Phillipa Gregory, and the end
Nov 12, 2011 rated it liked it
It took a bit for me to get used to how the author writes about each person, but I did get used to it and I did enjoy it. I was expecting and probably would have preferred the format historians typically write in, but hats off to him for being creative. In the end, you get what you put into it, I think.
Lynn Dee
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recently I had become interested in the Middle Ages and was looking for a good book to provide an overview. I found this book at the library and really enjoyed it. The author's style puts you in the same room with these historical figures, overhearing their disputes and discussions.
Fredrick Danysh
Oct 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Cantor attempts to describe how Europeans lived during the Middle Ages.
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-ages
have hardback
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
one of my favorites! such a treasury of ideas and perspectives.
Apr 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
Finished as in quit. This book is decidedly crap.
Evan Burrows
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Michael Hubany
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Nov 13, 2013
Ben Rothman
Oct 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
Awful. Just awful.
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Matthew Fitzpatrick
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Feb 07, 2011
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Oct 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Dry, dry, dry. Interesting people, but dull presentation
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Mar 30, 2012
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Dec 27, 2012
N.E. White
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Jun 07, 2011
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Oct 18, 2014
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Sep 06, 2012
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Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Cantor received his B.A. at the University of Manitoba in 1951. He went on to get his master's degree in 1953 from Princeton University and spent a year as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. He received his doctorate from Princeton in 1957 under the direction of the eminent medievalist Joseph R. Strayer.

After teaching at Princeton, Cantor moved to Columbia Univ
More about Norman F. Cantor...

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