Chaucer's People: Everyday Lives in Medieval England (Hardback)Liza Picard (author)
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'A holiday in the complex, joyful, indelicate medieval world' John Higgs, author of Watling Street
'Weaves an infinity of small details into an arresting tapestry of life in fourteenth-century England' Paul Strohm, The Spectator
The Middle Ages were turbulent times. In the fourteenth century alone, England was ravaged by war, plague, revolt and the overthrow of a king. Among the surviving records, the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer is the most vivid. But what does it tell us about the everyday lives of medieval men and women? What did people eat, wear, read and think?
Through the assorted cast of pilgrims Chaucer selected for The Canterbury Tales, Liza Picard brings medieval social history to life. These are lives led beyond the court circles frequented by most of Chaucer's well-heeled audience - lives spent at the pedal of a loom or in uncharted waters on the high seas.
Chaucer would sometimes raise a thought-provoking query in an apparently simple portrait. The Prioress was a sweet, pretty, well-mannered young nun; what was she doing on the road to Canterbury with a mixed band of men, instead of staying in her convent to pray? The Knight was 'a very perfect gentle knight'; but why had his military service landed him in such distant places as Lithuania and Spain? By providing these characters with a three-dimensional framework - the times in which they lived - Picard opens up the fourteenth-century world to us. Drawing on contemporary experiences of a vast range of subjects including trade, religion, toe-curling remedies and hair-raising recipes, Chaucer's People recreates the medieval world in all its glorious detail.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 644 g
Dimensions: 159 x 242 x 34 mm
Chaucer's pilgrims are the first historical characters who feel like real people, and now Liza Picard makes their world as vivid and three-dimensional as the merry band themselves. Chaucer's People is a holiday in the complex, joyful, indelicate medieval world - an approachable, engaging and highly recommended account of an England which is long gone, but whose spirit lingers -- John Higgs, author of Watling Street
As you read this book, Chaucer's writing gains a depth and pungency it usually lacks ... Sometimes these snippets, in their oddness, distance the toiling pilgrims from us. At others, they bring them much closer ... There is a Chaucerian pleasure in plain sentences, plainly written. This is more almanac than argument, but no less enjoyable for that. If you were to reread The Canterbury Tales, you'd get so much more from it with this at your side ... And there are some excellent titbits -- Catherine Nixey * The Times *
An absorbing and revealing companion volume to The Canterbury Tales * The Oldie *
Wonderfully readable and full of delights ... It buoyed me up with its brilliant insights, many of them entirely new to me -- John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor
Engaging and fun ... The premise of this entertaining book is to provide historical context for the multitude of figures in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It is well researched and packed with intriguing nuggets - from the etymology of the word "haberdasher" (from an old Icelandic word meaning a pedlar's sack), to the story of Richard Steris, "one of the cunningest players at the tenys in England", and a wonderful selection of medieval recipes ... Picard provides a wealth of detail both about the occupations of the various characters, and the wider contexts in which they operated. The section on the overwhelmingly complex nature of medieval law is particularly clear and effective -- Hannah Skoda * BBC History Magazine *
Chaucer's fourteenth-century story collection The Canterbury Tales is a classic hook on which to hang an exploration of the Middle Ages, and this take pleasingly spirals outwards to cover the characters (the nun, the knight, the miller) and the lives they would have led * History Revealed *
Instructive fun ... The writing is always lively, and there are excellent colour illustrations -- Dr G. R. Evans * Church Times *
Brings to life the social history of a period we still know little about. A jolly good read for historians * This England *
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