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medieval history

Life in a Medieval City

Frances & Joseph Gies.
Publisher Harper Perennial  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8 x 5.25 x 0.75 inches
ISBN 9780062415189
Pages/Publication Date 274/2016
Daedalus Item Code 69041
This item is not available.
Originally published in 1969, this is a standard work for those seeking a realistic picture of the medieval world (George R.R. Martin cited it as one of the books he found particularly useful in writing A Game of Thrones and its sequels). Set in 1250 in Troyes, the bustling capital of Champagne, Frances and Joseph Gies's lively and fascinating history focuses on a high point of medieval civilization—before war and the Black Death ravaged Europe—offering a window into the sophistication of a period we too often dismiss as backward. Life there revolved around the home, often a mixed-use dwelling for burghers with a store or workshop on the ground floor and living quarters upstairs. Troyes had a developed economy based on textiles, farming, and financial services in the town center, where craftsmen competed for business while adhering to the guilds' codes of conduct, and merchants and money men from all over Europe gathered to buy, sell, borrow, and lend. There were schools for the children, though only boys could attend and the lessons were taught in Latin by a priest. The church was a hub of both religious and civic life; services were lively and filled with song, and baptisms and other special occasions brought neighbors together to celebrate. The weddings of wealthier townsfolk were lavish affairs full of song and dance and drinking that could sometimes last for weeks. As the Gieses take us through the day-to-day life of burghers, we learn the customs and habits of lords and serfs, how financial transactions were conducted, how medieval cities were governed, and what life was really like for a wide range of people.

"An excellently written account of what is known of the life of medieval burghers."—Library Journal

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