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The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, An Englishman's World

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As the Shadow of the Millennium Descended Across England and Christendom, it Seemed as if the World was About to End. Actually, it was Only the Beginning... Welcome to the Year 1000. This is What Life was Like. How clothes were fastened in a world without buttons, p.10 The rudiments of medieval brain surgery, p.124 The first millennium's Bill Gates, p.192 How dolphins forecasted weather, p.140 The recipe for a medieval form of Viagra, p.126 Body parts a married woman had to forfeit if she committed adultery, p.171 The fundamental rules of warfare, p.154 How fried and crushed black snails could improve your health, p.127 And much more...

230 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 1998

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About the author

Robert Lacey

98 books305 followers
Robert Lacey is a British historian noted for his original research, which gets him close to - and often living alongside - his subjects. He is the author of numerous international bestsellers.

After writing his first works of historical biography, Robert, Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Ralegh, Robert wrote Majesty, his pioneering biography of Queen Elizabeth II. Published in 1977, Majesty remains
acknowledged as the definitive study of British monarchy - a subject on which the author continues to write and lecture around the world, appearing regularly on ABC's Good Morning America and on CNN's Larry King Live.

The Kingdom, a study of Saudi Arabia published in 1981, is similarly acknowledged as required reading for businessmen, diplomats and students all over the world. To research The Kingdom, Robert and his wife Sandi took their family to live for eighteen months beside the Red Sea in Jeddah. Going out into the desert, this was when Robert earned his title as the "method actor" of contemporary biographers.

In March 1984 Robert Lacey took his family to live in Detroit, Michigan, to write Ford: the Men and the Machine, a best seller on both sides of the Atlantic which formed the basis for the TV mini-series of the same title, starring Cliff Robertson.

Robert's other books include biographies of the gangster Meyer Lansky, Princess Grace of Monaco and a study of Sotheby's auction house. He co- authored The Year 1000 - An Englishman's World, a description of life at the turn of the last millennium. In 2002, the Golden Jubilee Year of Queen Elizabeth II, he published Royal (Monarch in America), hailed by Andrew Roberts in London's Sunday Telegraph as "compulsively readable", and by Martin Amis in The New Yorker as "definitive".

With the publication of his Great Tales Robert Lacey returns to his first love - history. Robert Lacey is currently the historical consultant to the award-winning Netflix series "The Crown".

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 516 reviews
Profile Image for Pramod Nair.
232 reviews194 followers
August 12, 2015
The Year 1000’ written by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger – a combination of a historian and a journalist – is a time travel back to the Anglo-Saxon England of 1000 A.D, offering the reader a unique opportunity to inspect and experience its daily life. The reader will meet and observe how average Anglo-Saxon’s carried on with their routine life thereby offering delightful and often charming insights into the history of England as it was at the turn of the first millennium. Written after conducting consultations and interviews with some of the top archaeologists and historians the author’s presents the narration in a style meant for the layman and can satisfy anyone with an inquisitive mind.

‘The Year 1000’ is presented like a panorama made up of the twelve months of year 1000 A.D, thereby letting the reader get acquainted with the way in which the Anglo-Saxon social, religious and political life unfolded during each months of the year. For this purpose the book utilizes an ancient document – the author’s name it as the ‘Julius Work Calendar’, a manuscript on parchment believed to be from the 1020 A.D and now preserved in the British Museum – which chronicles the high days and holy days of the twelve months of an year along with beautifully illustrated depictions of the ‘Labors of the month’ – illustrations which describe the activities associated with the Anglo-Saxon life during each month of the year. Each chapter of ‘The Year 1000’ borrows these illustrations pertaining to a specific month from the ‘Julius Work Calendar’ and the characters within these illustrations act as our guides to the ‘alien yet curiously familiar’ human world of the Kings, Saints, Nobles, Shepherds, Farmers and Laborers of those times.

The people, their health and their livelihood during 1000 A.D

Illustration for the month January in the ‘Julius Work Calendar’
Illustration for the month January in the ‘Julius Work Calendar’

"If you were to meet an Englishman in the year 1000, the first thing that would strike you would be how tall he was - very much the size of anyone alive today."

The first chapter – or the month of January – of ‘The Year 1000’ begins with these words. They continue with -

“But the bones that have been excavated from the graves of people buried in England in the years around 1000 tell a tale of strong and healthy folk”

- which clearly give indications to the Anglo-Saxon people - living in a pristine natural surroundings in which overcrowding, overpopulation, atmospheric pollutions and other forms of pollutions where literally unknown – were healthy, well fed and almost as tall as our contemporary generation.

“The ploughmen feeds us all… The ploughman gives us bread and milk…”

In the illustration for the January we meet the ploughman and his wheeled & iron-bladed plough, slicing open England’s damp and often clay-ridden crust, which gives indications to the hard manual labor that was the foundation of life during those times.

Anglo-Saxon food and drinks

Illustration for the month April in the ‘Julius Work Calendar’
Illustration for the month April in the ‘Julius Work Calendar’

“Poultry was considered a luxury food, and it was also recognized as a therapeutic diet for invalids, particularly in broth form. Old English recipe & remedy books show that in the year 1000, chicken soup was already renowned for its soothing & restorative powers”

In the month of April set for the Anglo-Saxon feasting the reader come to know about the staple and special food items that came from the kitchens of that time period. We come to know about the use of grains for making breads – at times of famine the grain was replaced with beans, peas, acorns or even barks and roots for making flour –, the consumption of poultry and meat and about the typical kitchen implements and utensils.

“I am a binder & a scourger and soon become a thrower, sometimes I cast an old fellow right to the ground.”

From this riddle from the time, the reader comes to know about the 'mead', a super sweet alcoholic drink brewed from the crushed refuse of honey combs, the reveller’s drink of choice during the year 1000 A.D. It superseded wine and other drinks of the time in popularity.

Apart from these from the rest of the book we learn a lot of insights about various areas like the personal hygiene of the people during this time period, how the people survived during famine, about the weather conditions they encountered, about their cultural inclinations, the justice system that was available, about their hunting and warfare, poetry, entertainment and philosophies, with great clarity and conciseness.

‘The Year 1000’ with it’s easy to understand approach, the authors ability in weeding out the best morsels of history along with the charming nature of the narrative with a touch of humor make it a good starting point for those who want to know about the society, people, religious beliefs, politics, health & medicine and farming that prevailed in the Anglo-Saxon world of the year 1000 A.D. This book definitely makes learning history a fascinating experience.

For those interested in taking a look at the pages of the ‘Julius Work Calendar’ can find them online at the British Library Images Online section.
Profile Image for Dana Stabenow.
Author 126 books1,909 followers
April 15, 2022
What a delightfully informative little book! I don't know how they crammed so much information into just 200 pages (reminds me of Mark Kurlansky's Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and this one doesn't have recipes). (And why not, I ask? Hmmph.)

The authors take something called the Julius Work Calendar, a medieval reminder of work and faith with wonderful illustrations at the bottom of each month's page reproduced at the beginning of each chapter of the book and explained in the following text, to illustrate life in Anglo-Saxon England. Did you know July was called "the hunger gap" back then, because it was right where the stores of last year's harvest ran out but before the new crop was ready to reap? Did you know that if you fondled a woman's breast uninvited it'd cost you a fine of five shillings? Did you know there were no surnames in the year 1000? They never left home, you were going to have the same name as your dad and your mom, so you didn't need them. Did you know Benedictine monks, by oath silent most of their lives, worked out a sign language with over 127 signs? "One gets the impression," write the authors, "that mealtimes in a Benedictine refectory were rather like a gathering of baseball coaches..."

The prose throughout is able and vivid, and you can see the twinkle in the writers' eyes, as in excerpts from a First Millennial (caps are mine) medical book called Bard's Leechbook (I want my own copy) which conveniently lists maladies starting with the head and working down. Mid-body we find a cure for male impotence, or

...the Viagra of the year 1000 -- the yellow-flowered herb agrimony. Boiled in milk, agrimony was guaranteed to excite the man who as "insufficiently virile" -- and if boiled in Welsh ale, it was described as having exactly the contrary effect.

although later they say

Several of the Leechbook recipes would have done credit to the witches in Macbeth.

The authors don't idealize the Anglo-Saxons in the year 1000, but they respect them and their resilience and capability, and they have a knack for making the narrative sound like it's all happening next door and all we have to do is stick our heads out the window to be eyewitnesses. About the easiest way into medieval studies I've ever stumbled across.
Profile Image for Jack Chaucer.
Author 9 books158 followers
January 20, 2018
An interesting and well-written journey back in time. Well-researched and organized based on the Julius Work Calendar, a time capsule of drawings that gives us hints about what life was like for ordinary folks more than 1,000 years ago. "What C.S. Lewis called the 'snobbery of chronology' encourages us to presume that just because we happen to have lived after our ancestors and can read books which give us some account of what happened to them, we must also know better than them. We certainly have more facts at our disposal. We have more wealth, both personal and national, better technology, and infinitely more skillful ways of preserving and extending our lives. But whether we today display more wisdom or common humanity is an open question, and as we look back to discover how people coped with the daily difficulties of existence a thousand years ago, we might also consider whether, in all our sophistication, we could meet the challenges of their world with the same fortitude, good humour and philosophy."
Profile Image for Betsy.
70 reviews12 followers
January 17, 2011
I read the month chapters in this book at start of corresponding months in my life. Sometimes I'll read (book) December in (real) August just to remind me of what I would be doing in the cold months 1000 years ago. This is one of the most engaging non-fiction books I've ever read, and all the better for being medieval. Probably the only history book I can read again and again and never get tired of it! I love the little details about everyday life, like what their clothes were made from, what their houses would've looked like, and the kind of food they ate. It's a great little peek into turn-of-the-first-century English life.
Profile Image for WarpDrive.
272 reviews388 followers
February 4, 2017
A very nice, vividly impressionistic, deeply atmospheric and compelling (but also accurate and well-researched) sketch of how life was in England around the year 1000.
Inspired by the Julius Work Calendar, the narrative is cast in the form of a calendar: it describes the social and cultural environment and the everyday life and habits that many conventional history books tend to bypass, reflecting the rhythms of life during this fascinating period.
Thoroughly enjoyable, insightful, entertaining and accessible, this provides a very engaging insight into life as it was lived then. A little gem of a book - while reading it you can almost hear the sound of church bells, and detect the sharp smell of wood-smoke on a late autumn afternoon.
Profile Image for Starling.
179 reviews
September 19, 2009
I rarely give a book 5 stars but this short book on THE YEAR 1000 was just about a perfect example of its kind. It was short, and for me right now short is a good thing. There was almost no repetition. The authors knew what they wanted to say, how they wanted to organize the information, and they kept to their plan.

In addition it was extremely readable. The book hooked me early on and kept me hooked. I already knew a lot of what they wanted to say, but there was also quite a lot I didn't know.

The book was organized in 14 chapters, 12 of them based on the illustrations from an ancient perpetual calendar from the period. One of the extra chapters was about the Julius Work Calendar and the final chapter was a general one about The English Spirit.

They used the line drawings from the Julius Work Calendar to head each chapter and to also organize what they wanted to talk about. So this was what life was like in England about 60 years before the Norman Invasion and it was interesting to know how much of English life was based on what came before the Normans got there.

Profile Image for Melina Marchetta.
Author 43 books7,545 followers
September 30, 2011
I always re-read this before going into first draft of the Lumatere fantasy novels.
Profile Image for Overbooked  ✎.
1,494 reviews
April 24, 2017
A very quick read, definitely not scholarly work, popular history I would call it. I liked the author’s choice of format for this book. Like an almanac, each chapter is dedicated to a month of the calendar year and describes the traditional activities and the fest days celebrated in that month, interspersed by references to historical figures and famous events.
The topics range from curious facts, kings and saints, practical medicine, common beliefs (mix of religion, paganism and superstition), typical diet, food cultivation and preparation, role of women and attitudes towards them, popular games and poems (a couple of bawdy ones) and, of course, the rich gamut of society (monks, peasant, merchants, lords, etc.).
The author often jumps to and fro across centuries which may be confusing. Overall, an entertaining book that gives a full 360-degree view of the rustic life one would find in England around the year 1000 AD. 3.5 stars

The sign of the cross was the antiseptic of the year 1000. The person who dropped his food on the floor knew that he was taking some sort of risk when he picked it up and put it in his mouth, but he trusted in his faith.

Lege Feliciter, as the Venerable Bede once put it: May you read happily!
Profile Image for Eric_W.
1,920 reviews354 followers
July 1, 2009
Much of what we know about the first millennium comes from a book written around 1020 called The Julius Work Calendar. It is the earliest surviving example of the English daily routine, "the schedule of the earth, and the life of the spirit." The ink used to put the characters on paper is interesting in itself. It was tapped from oak trees boils, created by wasps that had gnawed at the bark to lay eggs. In self defense, the tree formed a gall that was filled with a clear acid. The ink was called encaustum from the Latin caustere, meaning "to bite," because the ink literally "bit into the parchment." The parchment was made from the skin of a lamb or kid; the ink was finished with iron salts to provide black or brown color and thickened with gum arabic. Treated appropriately, the document lasts for centuries. Life was short, but the skeletons unearthed reveal people of stature similar to our own. It was only later that malnourishment and overcrowding created the shorter people of the middle ages and Victorian era. Life was simple and work hard.

Buttons had yet to be invented, so clasps or thongs were used to hold simple sacklike tunics together. Children of age twelve were considered old enough to swear allegiance to the king, and marriage between early teenage girls to older men was the norm. The wheeled plough was crucial to their existence, for it enabled two men and an ox to open up acres. England supported about a million people at this time. It would not have been possible without this invention, which was available as early as the first century, according to Pliny. Slavery was a fact of life and prevalent. In 1066, the Normans introduced the feudal system, but, prior to their invasion, slavery, was introduced by Germanic tribes who made war on their Slavic neighbors — slave derives from the fact that most slaves were "Slavs." Anglo- Saxons raided Wales for slaves, also. Dublin operated the largest slave market in western Europe. It was not uncommon for slavery to be an alternative to prison and it became the penalty for numerous offenses ranging from adultery to theft. Almost everyone was in bondage of one form or another, and often families were forced to place themselves in bondage during times of famine in order to eat. Famine was frequent, especially during July when supplies from the previous year were running low and the new harvest was not yet ripe. Infanticide was not a crime; the law recognized the horrible pressure placed on families by another mouth to feed. Children under the age of seven could legally be sold into slavery to relieve the pressure. The authors have an interesting and plausible explanation for rural frenzies that erupted during the early summer months (see Breughel's famous tableaux of crazed festivals). Lightheadedness was inevitable from lack of food, and the poor had to subsist on whatever they could find during the lean month of July. Rye that has gone moldy is a source of lysergic acid: LSD. " Poppies, hemp, and darnel were scavenged, dried and ground up to produce a medieval hash brownie known as 'crazy bread.'“ According to one modern historian, entire communities became virtually somnolent from the stuff. Taxes were collected in an interesting fashion. Mints were scattered throughout the kingdom, licensed by the crown and strictly watched to make sure that the percentage of silver to alloy was not adulterated. Coin was soft metal (to get a half-penny, one simply cut a penny in half) and to prevent it from becoming debased, it was good for only a relatively short period, two to three years. It then had to be turned in for new coins, exchanged at ten coins for eight or nine, depending on the level of taxation, the difference being kept for the king.

Clinton's peccadilloes were not unknown in the eleventh century. When King Eadwig failed to show up on time for his coronation in 955 C. E., a search party went looking for him. He was discovered in bed with a pretty young lass and her mother. Top that one, Bill. This bucolic picture becomes tainted with the evidence that while today’s air is polluted with gasoline fumes, the first millennium was pervaded with the odor of excrement. The toilet was behind the house and animals went just about everywhere. Parasites were a terrible problem, especially the maw-worm, which might reach 30 centimeters in length and had the disconcerting practice of migrating throughout the body and emerging unexpectedly from any orifice, sometimes from the corner of the eye. Despite their ignorance of elementary hygiene — if food fell to the floor, one made the sign of the cross and ate it anyway — they had extensive anatomical knowledge. A ninth century book still extant displays profound knowledge of the body’s interior mechanisms, and another describes the various fetal development stages in detail, even indicating that the soul was not present until after the third month, which suggests a tolerance of abortion.

Skulls dug up in ancient cemeteries of the time reveal evidence of trepanning, a technique still used today to relieve pressure in the brain following head trauma (except that we prefer Black & Decker to a bow drill). They were able to grow grapes for wine in England during this period because the climate was much warmer than today — even warmer than with “global warming.” The period 950 to 1300 A.D. is known as the “Little Optimum.” Archaeologists estimate the climate of the world was at least 4 degrees warmer than today, and the retreating arctic ice may have helped make possible Leif Erikson’s discovery of the New World and the vines he found growing there.

2 reviews68 followers
June 16, 2022
This was a relatively light-weight look at a specific inflection point in the past. I generally like history books that attempt to humanize a time and place, rather than chronicle political achievements. This book does that pretty well - I got a sense of what the food was like, how the villages in England worked then, and the anxiety people felt around things like a toothache (chances were you'd die from most ailments back then.)

However, even more interesting is how this book reflects more on when it was published. It came out in 1999, on the cusp of our own millennium, and reflects the gestalt of that era. References to the Y2K bug and Bill Clinton's controversial relationships are there. But what really struck me was the idea that this was written before September 11, before two terms of the Bush administration, before the war on terror. The book has a view of the next century that already sounds quaint and naive. And it's only 10 years ago.

So much has changed.
Profile Image for Cynthia Egbert.
2,147 reviews26 followers
April 17, 2014
I love the way Robert Lacey approaches history. He truly does make it come alive and gives the stories and that is what makes history worth studying, for me, anyway. And the fact that this work is based on the Julius Work Calendar of 1000, which I got to see in the British Library, makes it that much more thrilling for me. I believe, more and more each day, that we need to know our history. Lacey's works are a good way to get it.
Profile Image for Connie N..
2,324 reviews
March 17, 2019
This is a quite readable non-fiction book about what life would have been like in England (or Engla-lond) in the year 1000. Lacey bases his descriptions around the Julius Work Calendar which is one of the few surviving pieces from the time. It divides the year into months, of course, with Saint's Days listed, along with some descriptions of daily life, including illustrations. It is fascinating to think about how people lived their day-to-day lives without all of the "indispensable" items we take for granted today. Life was healthier in some ways because of diets of lean meat and vegetables, but of course people were affected by disease and illnesses which caused life expectancy to be around 40-years-old. I was interested to learn that there was money changing hands even as early as this time period, each coin hand-made. Everything was made of wood, including dishes, goblets, and cutlery. People lives in small villages and didn't even need last names because everyone knew everyone else. There were lots of little facts like this that made the story move forward quickly. It became much drier and bogged down when history and warfare were discussed, and it lost me when trying to keep track of kings and hierarchy. It was especially interesting that the use of the abacus was an amazing innovation, just like the computer was in today's world. Imagine trying to do sophisticated math with the mind-boggling Roman numerals. Lacey got a little preachy in the last section, although I didn't totally disagree with him. "In the eighteenth century Edmund Burke would argue that the sanctity of property was the basic prerequisite of economic enterprise, since incentive can have no meaning until society makes it possible for property to be held securely." All-in-all, very readable, a quick read, and filled with fascinating information.
Profile Image for Scott.
207 reviews50 followers
March 5, 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.
Profile Image for Tamara Agha-Jaffar.
Author 6 books247 followers
February 17, 2018
Pull back the curtains and take a peek at life in Anglo-Saxon England by reading The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium by Robert Lacey and Danny Danzinger. This is a delightful trip back in time. By piecing together interviews with an impressive number of scholars in the field and conducting extensive research as evidenced by their notes and bibliography, the authors provide a unique perspective on what life must have been like at the turn of the first millennium.

The organization of the book takes its cue from the Julius Work Calendar, the earliest surviving document of its sort, dated approximately 1020 CE. Divided into twelve months with a page for each month, this perpetual calendar chronicles the holy days and saints' days to be celebrated during the month and offers a glimpse into the daily lives of Anglo-Saxons in the year 1000. Each month is adorned with a delightful illustration depicting the activity associated with that month, whether it be ploughing, harvesting, sheep-shearing, or performing a myriad of other activities.

Written in a style that is engaging and accessible, the book is full of fascinating little tidbits of information and curious facts about the lives, habits, clothing, homes, and activities of Anglo-Saxons. The details allow us to peek into the lives of Anglo-Saxon villagers--from the texture of their coarse, woolen clothing, to the fleas infesting their beds, to the stench of open sewers, to the back-breaking labor as they worked the land. Life at the turn of the first millennium certainly had its challenges. People were totally dependent on nature and dated their lives by years when weather and land failed to cooperate. July, known as 'the hungry gap,' was the hardest month on the poor since spring crops had not yet matured and grain bins were probably empty.

In spite of these challenges, however, life in Anglo Saxon England had a charm all its own. Imagine living according to the rhythms of nature. Imagine stepping outside your home and not being accosted by sounds of machines in the air or on the ground, or cell phones buzzing for attention. Imagine the only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves, the twitter of birds, the grunts and snorts of nearby animals, the chatter of a brook. Imagine living in a village with such a small population that you know everyone and everyone knows you--who you are and where you came from; the names of your parents, grandparents, and siblings; which animals belong to you and which belong to your neighbor. Imagine the strong sense of community that develops in such an environment. Imagine living in a place where surnames had not yet been invented because everyone really and truly does know your name.

Life in Anglo Saxon England certainly had its challenges. But thanks to the digestible and entertaining format of this well-researched historical glimpse of England, we recognize it also had its charms.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Michelle Stockard Miller.
342 reviews153 followers
May 27, 2021
Short, but informative book about what life was like in England around the year 1000. A quote from C.S. Lewis at the end speaks volumes: "But whether we display more wisdom or common humanity is an open question, and as we look back to discover how people coped with daily difficulties of existence a thousand years ago, we might also consider whether, in all our sophistication, we could meet the challenges of their world with the same fortitude, good humour, and philosophy."

After the past year, I really wonder.
Profile Image for James Joyce.
261 reviews32 followers
November 29, 2017
This was a very interesting, informative book.

Each chapter did a split-focus, informing about a particular month and a particular aspect of society (generally associated with that month). For example, March and food, or July and food scarcity.

Lots of references, lots of small and large bits of info. If you are interested in this time period and in England, then I whole-heartedly recommend this book.
Profile Image for johnny dangerously.
110 reviews4 followers
June 8, 2016
Mediocre to good, but it's a quick and easy read. The central conceit-- which is not advertised anywhere in the book, presumably to make it more palatable to people buying it for the Y2K novelty when it was originally published-- is deeper than it seems.

The book takes you through a medieval calendar and talks about the cultural associations with that month, the traditions, the holidays, and the work of the average peasant. As books about the average person are punishingly rare, especially for this period, this book is valuable for a researcher. Recommended, but don't expect much analysis.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,403 reviews462 followers
November 30, 2019
One of two books I remember reading in honor of the millennium; the other was Stephen Jay Gould's Questioning the Millennium. So one look back and one look forward. The look back was fascinating. Although I know more about the history of the British isles than any place outside the US it remains impenetrable to me.
I enjoyed it quite a bit, of course, I'm the sort of person who walks out of any historical film discussing how well they did in recreating the period. for England the answer is almost always "not enough sheep."

Library copy
Profile Image for Rosemary Atwell.
362 reviews20 followers
December 27, 2017
A short and stylish little book that rewards the reader with a wealth of information. Effortless learning.
Profile Image for ArrowBreaker.
215 reviews
June 26, 2021
A brief look into life at England (Engla-lond) and how it came to be at the turn of the first millennium. This was a fun read. I enjoyed learning about how the Vikings called modern day Finland Vinland because of all the vines that grew there. Or the funny (and sometimes obscene) riddles copied down by monks. Or learning that a kickass woman such as Emma existed.

But I think the last paragraph of this book really got me:

What C.S. Lewis called the "snobbery of chronology" encourages us to presume that just because we happen to have lived after our ancestors and can read books which give us some account of what happened to them, we must also know better than them. We certainly have more facts at our disposal. We have more wealth, both personal and national, better technology, and infinitely more skilful [sic] ways of preserving and extending our lives. But whether we today display more wisdom or common humanity is an open question, and as we look back to discover how people coped with the daily difficulties of existence a thousand years ago, we might also consider whether, in all our sophistication, we could meet the challenges of their world with the same fortitude, good humour, and philosophy.

Reading about the past keeps me humble and encourages me to appreciate what I have in the here and now.
Profile Image for Kael.
34 reviews
May 6, 2020
I’ve read this about a dozen times over the last couple of decades and it’s still something I come back to as a living historian to snatch a sense of what life was like a thousand years ago without reading something overly academic. In fact, the easy tone and wit throughout makes it essential. Some of the scholarship is outdated by more recent interpretation, but as a starter for research or an overview of a thrilling period of English history, I heartily recommend.
Profile Image for Simon Pressinger.
207 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2021
I found this on a small charity shelf with an honesty box in my local Tesco. At 200 pages, it’s the shortest history book I’ve read, but still satisfying. Really enjoyed this one. This is popular history crammed with lots of juicy little bits of info about the medieval period. Some facts feel a little dressed up to impress, but I do like how much it explains, through stories, the linguistic formations and features of the geography of modern Britain.
9 reviews3 followers
February 1, 2019
Such an informative read! Detailing what life was like for the people of Engla-Lond in the year 1000. With my interest in the history of humanity and the formation of nations, knowing that I have English and Scandinavian ancestry, this was a wonderful eye opening journey.
Profile Image for Tina.
181 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2023
What a great book filled with tidbits of information about living in England at the year 1000. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Sjors.
199 reviews8 followers
August 27, 2022
Charming little book describing everyday life in the year 1000 in England. Sources are scarce, but well-used in my opinion. Everyday life is described in 12 chapters, one for each month, showing the main activities during that month. I liked it, a very human book.
Profile Image for Kiki.
308 reviews42 followers
September 29, 2015
This book is a compact "history" of the year 1000 in England, chapters each themed around a month of the Julian calendar, and fairly readable and interesting. Not a wow book, but not super time consuming either.

One thing I definitely came away with from this book: the world is certainly a dangerous place now, but it was much more dangerous back then! Everyone seemed a day away from a bad situation, either due to raids by marauding Vikins and invaders, or due to disease, or as a redult of childbirth..Clearly, money and power was not going to save even a King or Queen from death due to germs. And while these people certainly aren't what we think of as a modern, our lives our built in their societal structure, and their intellgience, even here in the US.
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102 reviews16 followers
June 14, 2009
I love nothing better than reading about the daily life of eras past, with a real peek into what folks did with themselves. This one gives glimpses but doesn't dig very deep. In linking each chapter with a month from a work calendar, it tackles twelve different aspects of daily living, each of which could easily be expounded upon to become its own book. It was nicely written and well-researched, but reads much like a primer and I wish I had gotten something more in-depth.
12 reviews
September 19, 2008
The layout of this book was fantastic, Lacey used the Julian calendar's twelve months to divide life into twelve chapters. It was highly readable and would appeal to the scholar as well as casual reader. One of my favorite parts of the book was his discussion on the break of the first millennium in 1000 AD. There was a great medieval version of the Y2K hysteria that really hit the spot.
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