A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
An original, entertaining and illuminating guide to a completely different world: England in the Middle Ages.
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.
“[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”
“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”
“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”
“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”
“A unique and astonishing social history book which is revolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining”
“Addressing the reader directly, his aim, triumphantly achieved, is to engage our sympathies with people whose similarities to us are as fascinating as their lives”
“Entertaining, informative and fun”
“Ian Mortimer is taking readers on a sense-smacking tour of the 14th century, which is guaranteed to make us wrinkle our noses in disgust and delight by turns”
“Successfully communicating the extraordinary energy of this vibrant, cathedral-building time”
Alistair Mabbott, Sunday Herald
“This superb "rough guide" to 14th century England takes a fresh approach to history by thinking of the past not as something simply to be studied, but as something to be lived.”
Aimee Shalan, Guardian
“Successfully communicating the extraordinary energy of this vibrant, cathedral-building time.”
Alastair Mabbott, Sunday Herald
William Leith, Scotsman
“To read this book is to be transported to 14th - century England, in the company of a knowledgeable and witty guide. Dr Mortimer's book is a complete social history of medieval England. All you ever wondered about how people live-and much more- is here.”
BBC History Magazine
“Ian Mortimer puts the little man back into the 14th Century in this sights, smells, sounds and swords-based romp ... Fans of popular history and historical fiction will devour it ... It is Mortimer's best work to date”
Dan Jones, The Telegraph
“Ian Mortimer is the most remarkable medieval historian of our time”