Life in a Medieval Village by Joseph & Frances Gies

Read: 31 October, 2007

With very little information available about peasant life, I can imagine that it must have been difficult to stretch out an entire book. Certainly, I felt that it was the chapter on the village from Life in a Medieval Castle with only a few extra details. I did find those extra details interesting and I made good use of the images. All in all, I think that if you are doing research on Medieval life but are strapped for time, read Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel, City, and Castle, but skip this one. If, on the other hand, you have plenty of time, by all means give it skim through.

The book covers what it can about the daily life of peasants, usually from criminal records and so the book is full of amusing stories about drunken farmers hacking at each other with sickles. It also talks about marriage traditions and the church’s efforts to control that. The interaction with the manor, both in law and in harvest feasts, dominates much of the information in the book. There is also a good deal of information on farming – the plants, the seasons, the methods of sowing and reaping, bylaws about grazing, and so forth.

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