A Year in the Life of Medieval England by Toni Mount

a-year-in-the-life-of-medieval-englandHave you ever wondered what life was like in the Middle Ages? Not just the ‘celebrity’ news of Kings, Knights and Nobles, but the life of the villager or local merchant. Wonder no more! Toni Mount offers a look at the everyday Medieval life in her new book A Year in the Life of Medieval England.

A Year in the Life of Medieval England begins on January 1st and progresses through the year without missing a day. Each day describes an event or two that occurred. In order to accomplish this Mount doesn’t restrict herself to a single year. Instead she uses the entire Middle Ages, from 1066 to 1500. Mount uses contemporary and secondary sources to provide a glimpse into the day to day life of Medieval England.

The book covers the major events in the Middle Ages; the death of Kings and important nobles, famous battles and the birth of Princes. But what makes this book stand out from others is the inclusion of everyday events of ‘normal’ people. There’s a Last Will and Testament from a minor Knight in Kent, holiday traditions, school grammar, horticulture, laws; the list goes on and on.

It’s easy to get engrossed in A Year in the Life of Medieval England, the daily entries are short enough to read in 5-10 minute sessions. But once I got started I read a month or two at time. Mount mixes the right amount of well known history with unknown history to make an enticing book.

A Year in the Life of Medieval England is an excellent look into the lives of both Nobles and commoners alike. The entries are filled with mixed emotions as well. One day you read about the neglected Road Tax and the next you are reading about the death of an unborn child. Another great feature of this book is you don’t have to read it from front to back. You can pick it up and start reading anywhere. Start in June, jump to March, then head over to November!

I recommend this book to anyone looking to get a better view of the Medieval Era. It offers a nice balance of history from across the social classes and spans the entire Middle Ages. A Year in the Life of Medieval England will make a great addition to any library!

You can find Toni Mount on Twitter @tonihistorian, or visit her facebook page. Visit her website at www.tonimount.co.uk for more information on her books, talks and classes.

You can buy A Year in the Life of Medieval England on the Amberley website or check your favorite bookseller.

Medieval Archives gives A Year in the Life of Medieval England 4 out of 5 stars.

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Disclaimer: Medieval Archives received a complimentary copy of “A Year in the Life of Medieval England ” for review purposes

A Year in the Life of Medieval England


The medieval era is often associated with dynastic struggles, gruesome wars and the formidable influence of the Church. But what about the everyday experience of the royal subjects and common people? Here, alongside the coronations, diplomatic dealings and key battles, can be found the fabric of medieval life as it was really lived, in its folk songs, recipes and local gossip. With a diverse range of entries – one for each day of the year – historian Toni Mount provides an almanac for lovers of all things medieval. A detailed picture is gathered from original sources such as chronicles, manor court rolls, coroners’ rolls and the records of city councils. We learn not only of the royals and nobles of official history but also the quarrels of a miscellany of characters, including William and Christopher of York, Nalle Kittewritte who stole her neighbours’ washing, and Margery from Hereford who was murdered by an Oxford student. The world in which they laboured, loved and lived is vividly reimagined, one day at a time.

10 surprising facts about William the Conqueror and the Norman conquest


1) No one at the time called William ‘the Conqueror’

The earliest recorded use of that nickname occurs in the 1120s, and it didn’t really take off until the 13th century. At the time of his death in 1087, William was called ‘the Great’ by his admirers, and ‘the Bastard’ by his detractors; the latter a mocking reference to his illegitimate birth (he was the son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, and his mistress Herleva).

3) The Norman conquest introduced castles to Britain

Castles were a French invention – the earliest examples were built around the turn of the first millennium along the Loire valley. There were plenty in Normandy before 1066, but only a tiny handful in England, built in the previous generation by French friends of the English king, Edward the Confessor. The Norman conquest changed all that. “They built castles far and wide, oppressing the unhappy people”, wept the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 1066.

6) The Normans introduced chivalry to Britain

Savage in their warfare, William and the Normans were more civilised in their politics. Before 1066, the English political elite had routinely resorted to murdering their political rivals, as they would do again in the later Middle Ages. But for more than two centuries after the Conquest, chivalry prevailed, and political killing became taboo. “No man dared slay another, no matter what wrong he had done him”, said the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in its summary of the plus points of William’s reign. Waltheof of Northumbria, beheaded in 1076, was the only earl to be executed after the Norman takeover. The next execution of an earl in England occurred in 1306, some 230 years later.

7) William banned the English slave trade

In pre-Conquest England, at least 10 per cent of the population – and perhaps as much as 30 per cent – were slaves. Slaves were treated as human chattels, and could be sold, beaten and branded as their masters saw fit. It was a sin to kill a slave, but not a crime. The Norman Conquest hastened the demise of this system.

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norwich-castleIt is one of the great historic centrepieces of the city, and over the next few years an ambitious project is aiming to transform Norwich Castle keep and give visitors the chance to step back in time to the world of the Norman kings.

Called Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England, the £13m four-year project will transform the keep to its former glory as it appeared in the days of King Henry I.

Thanks to substantial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, much of the money is already in place to make the dream become a reality.

Tonight there will be a special launch at the castle for invited guests to mark the development stage of the project.

Once the whole project is complete, visitors will be able to walk on the reinstated principal Norman floor and explore the re-created royal palace, including its great hall. There will also be a British Museum Gallery of the medieval period and improved access for people with disabilities, including to the battlements where state-of-the-art technology will give people the chance to compare views of modern and medieval Norwich.

“Norwich Castle is an absolute hidden gem as it stands at the moment. This is going to make a magnificent contribution to and for the people of Norwich and Norfolk, and provide us with the national status that the superb building we have deserves.

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