Medieval Horizons: Why the Middle Ages Matter
By Ian Mortimer
The Bodley Head
This book examines how the lives of medieval people, particularly people in England, changed between 1000 and 1600, and how those changes were important for us living in the modern world. From the regulation of war to the speed of business, and from townhouses to the questioning authority, many topics are covered in its chapters.
The use of the word ‘medieval’ to describe half a millennium conceals how much daily life changed over that time. But more importantly, it suggests that everything we put in the box marked ‘medieval’ is separate from the modern world. As a result, we fail to realise that the way we live today is largely the result of social developments that took place between the eleventh century and the sixteenth. Many of our contemporary concepts, values and priorities originated in the Middle Ages. Many of our cultural and social practices did too, from our discovery of other continents and races to our use of surnames and our reliance on money and the written word. In short, not to know about the changes that took place in the Middle Ages means failing to understand the cluster of revolutions that shaped the character of the modern world. And that means failing to understand ourselves.
Who is this book for?
While this book can serve as an excellent introduction to life in the Middle Ages, it might be most suited to those who are looking for an even broader study of history. The individual chapters: Horizons, War, Inequality, Comfort, Speed, Literacy, and Individualism, can also be good introductions to the topics on their own.
Dr Ian Mortimer is a best-selling author in the field of history as well as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Among medievalists he is well-known for his Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England. You can learn more about Ian through his personal website or follow him on Twitter @IanJamesFM.