Dedicated to classics and hits.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Book Review: The Year 1000 by Robert Lavey and Danny Danizger

Bath Roman Statue, originally uploaded by saridder.
I bought this book at one of those Crown Books Remainders stores that pop up every so often in your run down mini malls and vacant storefronts. In fact, this book still bears the twice marked down price tag on the front. I know, based on the price tag that I paid $5 for this book in 2005 and two years later- it is time to actually read "The Year 1000: What Life Was Like At the Turn of the First Millennium, An Englishman's World." The awkward title conceals what is a tidy little book, concerned with exactly what it says it is concerned with- the everyday life of an Englishman in the year 1000.

Clocking in at an expeditious 300 pages, The Year 1000 belongs more to the category of secondary/popular history then as a work of primary history. The pages are dotted with anecdotes that will be familiar to those who have read some of the more familiar classics in the history of the period (R.W. Southern's The Making of the Middle Ages, to name one obvious example). To their credit, authors Lacey and Danziger do cite to their authority.

The Year 1000 was published in 1999, and it was clearly written & published in some kind of misguided attempt to cash in on the Y2K fears (remember Y2K?) Despite the repeated shout outs, The Year 1000 doesn't at all mention the hysterics that engulfed parts of the European Continent for the turn of the first millenium. Of course, this is a book about ye olde england- not the continent, and at England at this time the exact method for calculating dates hadn't been quite settled on as of yet. All that finality would wait for the Norman invasion in 1066.

But what generalizations can one make about life in England in the Year 1000?
1. Rural.
2. Simple.
3. Times of plenty were alternated with times of starvation on a yearly basis, depending on when the crops were harvested.
4. Hygiene had not yet been invented.
5. The english liked a ribald riddle.
6. Everyone dressed like the characters from Monty Python's The Search for the Holy Grail (the book actually says this) only the outfits were a bit more colorful then you might at first expect.

No comments:

Blog Archive