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The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

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Explains what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking readers, to the middle ages, and showing various things from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture.

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The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

The past is a foreign country: this is your guidebook. Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the fourteenth century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? Should you go to a castle or a monastic guesthouse? And what are you going to eat? What sort of food are you going to be offered by a peasant or a monk or a lord? This radical new approach turns our entire understanding of history upside down. It shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. It sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking you, the reader, to the middle ages, and showing you everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture. Being a guidebook, many questions are answered which do not normally occur in traditional history books. How do you greet people in the street? What should you use for toilet paper? How fast - and how safely - can you travel? Why might a physician want to taste your blood? And how do you test to see if you are going down with the plague? The result is the most astonishing social history book you are ever likely to read: revolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail, and startling for its portrayal of humanity in an age of violence, exuberance and fear.


'[Mortimer] sets out to re-enchant the 14th Century, taking us by the hand through a landscape furnished with jousting nights, revolting peasants and beautiful ladies in wimples. It is Monty Python and the Holy Grail with footnotes, and, my goodness it is fun... the result of this careful blend of scholarship and fancy is a jaunty journey through the 14th Century, one that wriggles with the stuff of everyday life Guardian Social history is popular enough but I have read nothing quite like this. It is written in the manner of an extremely well-informed but chatty guidebook...This is not only an unusual book, but a thoroughly engaging one Literary Review This is the history book I've been waiting for: the essential handbook for any would-be Time Lords wishing to travel to the Middle Ages. Thorough, detailed and totally absorbing As lively as it is informative. His (Mortimer's) work of speculative social history is eminently entertaining but this doesn't detract from the seriousness and the thorough research involved Financial Times A unique and astonishing social history book which is revolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining' History magazine

About the Author

Ian Mortimer

Ian Mortimer has BA and PhD degrees in history from Exeter University and an MA in archive studies from University College London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1998, and was awarded the Alexander Prize (2004) by the Royal Historical Society for his work on the social history of medicine. He is the author of three medieval biographies, The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, and The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King, published in 2003, 2006 and 2007 respectively by Jonathan Cape. He lives with his wife and three children on the edge of Dartmoor.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st October 2009


Ian Mortimer

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Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing


368 pages


eBook Favourites

Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500



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