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The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England

(Time Traveller's Guides #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  19,867 ratings  ·  1,395 reviews
Discover an original, entertaining and illuminating guide to a completely different world: England in the Middle Ages.

Imagine you could travel back to the fourteenth century. What would you see, and hear, and smell? Where would you stay? What are you going to eat? And how are you going to test to see if you are going down with the plague?

In The Time Traveller's Guide Ian
Paperback, 344 pages
Published 2009 by Vintage Books (first published October 2nd 2008)
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Jeffrey He does talk about the problem of fraudulent merchants and how they were often locked up in stocks in the public squares. Another point worth thinking…moreHe does talk about the problem of fraudulent merchants and how they were often locked up in stocks in the public squares. Another point worth thinking about in relation to the trades was just how unimproved and dangerous it was to transport goods in the 14th century. There were no maps. Getting from one place to another was simply a matter of heading off in the general direction of your destination and asking at each stop along the way. There were some old Roman highways still around but they were only kept up when the King, who was at least early in the century a frequent traveller, was heading that way. Robbers and tolls were a fact of life. It's amazing to me that any merchant could have made money back then. I guess one reason it was possible was because wages for their apprentices were so low. There was way more labour supply than demand. I would suggest reading the book not for specifics on the trades you mention, but more for setting the context around goods of that period. If you're a collector, I'm certain you'll appreciate your collection all the more knowing what an artisan had to do to produce the product that's made its way to your century.(less)
Nicole Not really throughout the book but there are two sections of 8 pages of coloured high-quality pictures.

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Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
A very fun, entertaining book!
Here are a few things I learned:

The Landscape:

There are almost no conifer or evergreen trees in the middle ages so the winter skyline is particularly bleak.

There are no grey squirrels, only red ones. The grey variety has yet to reach Britain.

Cattle and sheep are smaller than their modern counterparts: much smaller.

There are no wolves. The last English wolf was killed in North Lancashire in the 14th century.

The People:

Half of the entire population are under the
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, non-fiction
As a history book, this is an interesting format and it's reasonably engaging, though by the end I was starting to get worn down by the sheer level of detail. But what bothered me was that apparently, if you want to time travel, you'd better be male: there's some lip service paid to actually discussing women's role in society, with some references to the kind of work women did (mostly: make ale, I gather), and quite a lot of reference to the kind of clothes women wore, and how likely women were ...more
Petra-X Off having adventures
These books on going back in time present the times as great political machinations from the King (or Queen) in London. Food grown locally and cooked from scratch each day. Clothes sewn to last. No vehicles or chemical fumes but walking - or for the rich, riding - in the open air. Hard work, but rewarding, a day that starts when the sun rises and finished when the candles sputter out.

But what they don't say is that no one much knew what was going on in London if they didn't live close as there
Most of us who read history or historical fiction set in Medieval (or even Tudor) England, can agree on one thing: we can’t understand the ways of life “back then” properly because we tend to apply modern morals and standards to history. However, with the “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”, readers can finally understand Medieval times. I guarantee you will never look at a history book the same again…

Divided into main sections such as the landscape, people, medieval character, what
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." -- L. P. Hartley

Take this book along on your next trip to Medieval England to help ensure your travel experience is a smooth one. Some things you might need to know for your journey:

-- If you are from Australia, you might be impressed that even in the 1300s people have some vague concept of existence of the continent. However, you should keep in mind it's considered much too hot for man to inhabit, and instead is the home of crea
Dannii Elle
I have long found this period of history the most fascinating to read about. What compels my interest is not the fierce battles or matters of court, but more the running of the day-to-day life of the common people, during this time.

For that reason, it was like this book was penned with my particular desires in mind. Unlike many other non-fiction books, this was not set out in the typical chronological format. Instead, this was split into sections that focused on one particular area of interest -
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Obviously, A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England was a title calculated to gain my attention. The premise: a different take on presenting an overview of a period of time, using the format of a travel guide – something of a Fodor's England 1320 that might be found in the TARDIS. Exploring the experience of all the senses, this should be a gem of a resource to the writer of historical fiction or fantasy.

From the introduction:
We might eat differently, be taller, and live longer, and we mi

Description: Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the 14th century. This text sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking the reader to the Middle Ages, and showing everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture.

As Susanna mentions in her review, the clothing section was very interesting: knitting was not known in 14C.
Fully recommended.

3.5* The Time Traveller's Guide to Eliz
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-4
This book was super interesting and informative if you’re looking to understand what life was like back in 14th century England. Plenty of statistics, but also the author worked hard to tell about life in an interesting narrative way that kept things from getting too dry. I found all the little tidbits about trade and buildings and the daily life of an Englishman very informative as well as statistics about percentages of the population that was literate, what sort of life you could expect if yo ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was a wonderful insight into medieval England. I've always been fascinated with medieval history, and this book was a grand companion. The book tells us about the economy, the classes of people, and the work that was available. It is split into chapters, full to the brim of interesting and somewhat juicy information.

I particularly liked the part on disease, health and medicine, as morbid as that may seem. It just fascinates me how illnesses were dealt with back them, especially, The Pl
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, audio-book
What a fantastic way to consume an overview of an historical period. Ian Mortimer's decision to create a guide for tourism shifts the focus of history from the "Great People of History" to the "People You'll Meet while Walking by Shitbrook," and that turns out to be far more fascinating -- at least to me.

Want to know how to avoid prosecution for murder in case you slip up during your travels? Mortimer lets you know. Want to know what sports you can expect to enjoy? They're all here. Want to kno
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An excellent history book. It really shines light on the lifestyles and times of the 14th Century. Borken down into 11 sections, they are as follows:
The Landscape
The People
The Medieval Character
Basic Essentials
What to Wear
Where to Stay
What to eat and drink
Health and Hygiene
The Law
What to do

From descriptions of what cities and towns were like, to the various societal divisions, common practices, food, etc

It is superbly researched, entertainingly written and full of information and cool
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exciting and compelling way to engage with the past

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century is a wonderful concept. History told in the form of a living guide - up close and personal. It's brilliant. Ian Mortimer shows us the food, the customs, the language, the clothes, the games, the laws, the risks, the illnesses, medicine, the poor, the aristocrats, the merchants, the soldiers, writers, poets, religion, the criminals, and so on. He
Tristram Shandy
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Travelling Broadens the Mind as Well as the Soles

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England is the first of a series of Time Traveller’s Guides written by Ian Mortimer covering, up to now, the Middle Ages, the times of the Tudors as well as Restoration England. Reading the first part of these peculiar travelogues made me hope that Mortimer will continue his Traveller’s Guide series at least into Victorian England because even though I would certainly not have wanted to live back then, this i
Karen Brooks
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historian Ian Mortimer does something really interesting with this book: he sets out to recreate the period (the Fourteenth Century) as if he were writing a travel book for tourists as opposed to researching and explaining a forgotten time. In other words, he places the reader in the moment, advising you where to go, what to see, how to behave, speak, dress and what to expect should you happen to have the good fortune to be transported back to not-so-merry old England in the 1300s.
After my seco
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it

Really 4.5 stars.

Because this book is such a tantalizing glimpse into the real lives of people in 14th century England it has inspired me to do something that my university lecturers couldn't, and that is to actually read The Canterbury Tales. It's now officially my special project for next year. Thank you Dr Mortimer :-).
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I DID IT, I freaking finished this book. I think I deserve some applause.

I love history, even the dry facts, a lot of the time. While the writing style in this book was actually quite nice, the content could be a drag. I found it harder to go through than a schoolbook.

I've had this book on my currently-reading shelf for 9 months or so. It was a chore. The author was nitpicking uninteresting details and forgetting whole aspects that I think matter, are interesting and would make this book a lot
2016 is the year I have decided to learn more about history, well that's the plan anyway! So, starting with this one I think was a good choice. It reads almost like a novel. The idea that you are a visitor to medieval England, discovering what life was like there from your own observations draws the reader/listener into that world immediately.

I found it endlessly fascinating, discovering new things. The author imparts his knowledge on the subject with such a light touch that it is never dull, a
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval-history
Loved this and have bored everyone around me with 'Did you know.....'.
Ian Mortimer brings the period alive with wonderful descriptions of what you would have seen, heard, sang, said, eaten, smelt etc in Medieval England.
Strange to think of a place with no potatoes, carrots or tomatoes. All the squirrels would be red. Hardly any pine trees or any sort of evergreen. No horse chestnut trees. No public spaces in towns apart from the market place.
And the loudest noise most people would ever hear woul
A very interesting way to write a history book. This author wrote this book like it was a travel guide. He tries to describe the sights, smells, and people of the era as if you could walk down the road and be in the middle of it. I really enjoyed reading it, and suggest it to anyone who enjoys reading history. I hope he writes more like it.
I loved, loved, loved this book! He did a great job keeping a non-judgemental perspective, which I didn’t expect but appreciated. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves history.
May 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly conceived and executed. Just what is needed to fill out a dry historical account of 14th Century England, but even more useful for evaluating how far historical fiction strayed from historical fact. Mortimer gives plenty of detail but it is well organized and presented in such a companionable manner that it always goes down smoothly.
Alex Givant
Interesting guide on 14th century England - how they lived, eat, got sick, etc.
Brian Clegg
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History is one of those subjects that ought to be fascinating, but all too often is dry and dull. Ian Mortimer had the excellent idea of doing a series of 'time traveller's guide's - telling you what you will experience on a visit to medieval England (here considering roughly 1300-1400).

As you might expect, there's a fair amount of dispelling of clichés about the period, while at the same time showing that others have a reasonable basis. It really was dirty, smelly and often nasty for many, yet
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, audiobook, uk
96th book for 2019.

Written as a travel guide to 14th Century England, this book offers a deep dive into everyday life in the late Medieval period. This is not a book about kings and knights (though they do appear); it's a book about food, travel, sex, power between the sexes, literature, occupations, death and so on.

If you have any interest in this period it's definitely worth a look.

Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This is a really fun and great idea. Basically the point is that since you're traveling back to the medieval ages, you need to know all the things that you won't get in a normal history book, like what underwear you wear or how you get from London to Canterbury in an age that doesn't have trustworthy maps or roads with signs. Although a couple of chapters dragged, a surprising amount of the ones I thought would be boring (Law, for example) ended up being really interesting. I would love if the p ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there...

As the arresting title implies, the book is laid out in the form of a travel guide to medieval England, with chapters such as: The Landscape, The People, The Medieval Character, Basic Essentials, What to Wear, Travelling, Where to Stay, What to Eat and Drink, Health and Hygiene, The Law, and What to Do.

With an interesting narrative device such as this, we learn of everyday life "back then" by viewing fourteenth century people
Michelle Diener
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical reference work is really tailor-made for writers. Ian Mortimer couldn’t be a more qualified source of information, as a member of the Royal Historical Society, and the recipient of their prestigeous Alexander Prize in 2004.

What I love most about this book is the way it’s written, as if you really were travelling back in time to the medieval period, with chapter headings like What to Wear, What to Eat and Drink, and most delightfully, What to Do.

Under the chapter heading of Landsc
John Brown
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love learning new things about places and peoples, even if it’s a place I’ve “been” to before, which is why Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England intrigued me. The first page convinced me to buy to book. And I’m so happy I did.

I’ve read my fair share of interesting and well-written texts on this subject, including, among others, Life in a Medieval City and Life in a Medieval Village by Frances and Joseph Gies, Standards of Living in the later Middle Ages by Christopher D
Dana Stabenow
A wealth of detail in this you-are-there look at life in medieval England. Just dipping in at random:

When you draw closer to the city walls you will see the great gatehouse...And then you notice the smell. Four hundred yards from the city gate, the muddy road you are folowing crosses a brook. As you look along the banks you see piles of refuse, broken crockery, animal bones, entrails, human feces, and rotting meat strewn in and around the bushes. In some places the muddy banks slide into thick q
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AKA James Forrester.

Dr Ian Mortimer is a historian and novelist, best known for his Time Traveller's Guides series. He has BA, MA, PhD and DLitt degrees from the University of Exeter and UCL. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and was awarded the Alexander Prize by the Royal Historical Society in 2004. Home for him and his family is the small

Other books in the series

Time Traveller's Guides (4 books)
  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England
  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain
  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

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“‎W. H. Auden once suggested that to understand your own country you need to have lived in at least two others. One can say something similar for periods of time: to understand your own century you need to have come to terms with at least two others. The key to learning something about the past might be a ruin or an archive but the means whereby we may understand it is--and always will be--ourselves.” 28 likes
“Justice is a relative concept in all ages. The fourteenth century is no exception.” 18 likes
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