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 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 facts at our disposal We have wealth, both personal and national, better technology, and infinitely skillful ways of preserving and extending our lives But whether we today display 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. 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 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.My next pick for my book club. 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. 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. 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 This Is What Life Was Like How Clothes Were Fastened In A World Without Buttons, P The Rudiments Of Medieval Brain Surgery, P The First Millennium S Bill Gates, P How Dolphins Forecasted Weather, P The Recipe For A Medieval Form Of Viagra, P Body Parts A Married Woman Had To Forfeit If She Committed Adultery, P The Fundamental Rules Of Warfare, P How Fried And Crushed Black Snails Could Improve Your Health, P And Much 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. I always re read this before going into first draft of the Lumatere fantasy novels. 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 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.
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
- 230 pages
- The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium
- Robert Lacey
- 11 August 2018 Robert Lacey