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Publisher's Summary

Imagine you could travel back to the 14th century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? And what are you going to eat?

Ian Mortimer shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. He sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking you to the Middle Ages.

The result is the most astonishing social history book you are ever likely to read: evolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail, and startling for its portrayal of humanity in an age of violence, exuberance and fear.

©2008 Ian Mortimer (P)2009 Isis Publishing Ltd

What the critics say

"A jaunty journey through the 14th century, one that wriggles with the stuff of everyday life." ( Guardian)

What listeners say about The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

With ease didst i survive thanks to thy most excellent guide!

Superb narration from J. Keeble as always. Aft having read both trad history books on medieval England and historical fiction set in the period, eg: Bernard Cornwel, The time traveller’s Guide gave me a unique and pleasantly surprising point of engagement half way btwn the two.

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  • Mr
  • 2019-05-13

Very engaging, but more like a history book than expected

As suggested by the title, I was hoping for a more high-concept ‘how to survive in medieval England’ - I.e. how a modern day person might be able to integrate, survive and even thrive in another age. Even the description of the book, and the intro, suggested this. Instead, it seems more like a regular history book - albeit a solid, rounded and well written one. The only real difference it’s written in present rather than past tense. This distinction of ‘living’ vs ‘dead’ history is mentioned several times throughout the book, as if the aim is to be taken seriously by historians. While this is a noble effort, I think I might have preferred the more speculative version.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marc-Andr?
  • 2010-05-13

Detailed, Interesting and Entertaining

This book takes you by the hand and teaches you everything you need to know if you were to time-travel to medieval England, hence the title. Sometimes I almost felt the narrator walking by my side along the road, pointing at various places, people or events, stopping from time to time to explain some concept of medieval life that my 21st century brain might have trouble to comprehend.

Also, Mortimer succeeds in going into detail while keeping the listener entertained and attentive.

Finally, the narrator's voice is warm and clear, which is a big plus for me as English isn't my primary language.

A great read. I recommend this book to anyone who wonders what life would be if we were born in those times instead of our own.

41 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda Vible
  • 2011-01-15

Loved It!

I love this time period in England and stumbled across this book recently while browsing for something new. I felt as if I had gone back in time and had my own personal tour guide who took the time to point out a lot of little details often left out of other medieval history books. I have listened to this book several times and never get tired of "looking" at medieval England while my guide answers all my questions.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Mike From Mesa
  • 2016-12-31

Absolutely wonderful

So what was life like in the 14th century? I have often wondered how people lived during the feudal period in England and suspected that the movie versions were not only wrong but completely misleading, but I never actually knew. This book filled in those answers.

What Mr Mortimer has done is provide a witty, educated and well rounded look at life during the 1300s that covers almost all of the areas that I, personally, was interested in. This book discusses what life was like for both the ordinary people, the nobility and those between and covers so many areas of life - the law, medicine, education, food, religion, town markets, travel, class and moral obligations, manorial justice and much more - that you can not help but come away both educated and entertained. His writing is full of wit, light, breezy and, at the same time, he manages to cover all aspects of life during this period in great detail and answer questions that were forming in my mind as I read. In summary I enjoyed this book so much that the first thing I did when I finished it was to look to see if he had any other books of the same type about other eras of English history and, when I found one, I immediately put it on my wish list.

The book is very well read my Jonathan Keeble and listening to it was almost as much fun as a real vacation. Highly recommended to those who want to know how people lived during Medieval England.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tad Davis
  • 2016-07-30

Entertaining and informative

Jonathan Keeble gives an excellent reading of Ian Mortimer's depiction of life in the 14th century. It's important to note the century, because even though the title refers to the Medieval period, the book focuses on a time that was pretty near the end of that period. It is, as much as anything else, a background study for lovers of Geoffrey Chaucer - who turns out, in the closing pages, to be the closest thing to a hero the book describes.

Mortimer's range is vast and his style is easy. The "time traveler" idea is a light framework for the discussion: it lets him address "you," the reader, in the second person, making the narrative even more vivid.

I don't know if the book includes everything, because it's the first one I've read on the subject. But it covers a lot: the layout of towns, the location of markets and privies, the clothes, the currency, the food, the houses (and hovels), and laws and outlaws. (By definition, an outlaw was someone who had put himself outside the protection of the law and could be beheaded on sight by anyone.) There are broad descriptions, but there are also fascinating anecdotes.

It was a brutal, dirty, smelly time, but Mortimer's account isn't one of unremitting misery. He talks about dances and music and plays, about the kinds of trees to be found in the forests, and the boys who played football in the streets.

It's an enjoyable listen, and it whetted my appetite for more - more books about the period, and more books by Ian Mortimer.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Troy
  • 2012-10-16

Prepare to Dig Deeper Than You Thought Possible

This is the most unique history book I've ever had the privilege to journey through. And make no mistake, this one is very much a journey. The author encourages you to use all 5 senses, peek behind every locked door, and worm your way into all walks of medieval society as though nobody noticed you weren't native to the time. I almost feel like this should be put into the hands of anyone who claims they don't like history, and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who's already interested. It's the perfect companion to any tome filled with names, dates, and places precisely because it isn't THAT book. Instead, it comes across more like a visceral experience. I'd love to have more books like this.

22 people found this helpful

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  • B.R.
  • 2013-06-29

At times, you almost feel your are there.

I was quite surprised at how effectively this book immersed me in 14th century England, largely by simply changing the tense of verbs and writing in the second person. I've heard this book described as a 'gimmick', apparently unbecoming of a professional historian, but it turns what could otherwise be a rather dry history of tax ledgers, merchant inventories, archaeological insights, city codes, and business regulations into a fascinating picture of the world our ancestors lived in 700 years ago. Make no mistake, this is a professionally researched and highly accurate social history of the 14th century, the amount of research that must have gone into it is astounding in its own right. But it is presented in such a way as to be both useful to the professional historian and quite entertaining to the average reader. You will learn a lot from this book, though it is never a chore; but more than simply learning about the period, you will come to understand the hopes, fears, and concerns that motivated the people who lived through it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ann
  • 2012-10-15

Bravo

Wonderful, brilliant, magnificent - the final words brought tears to my eyes. Will listen to again & seek out similar works

4 people found this helpful

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  • Neil Chisholm
  • 2011-12-30

Wishing I could go there!

This book is amongst the best I heard so far and a great idea bringing history to life. The author has lead a group of listeners as tourists back to 14th century England and lead us about the country pointing out interesting things and explaining their significance both to the times and also to the future.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Lori
  • 2010-12-01

If you love Medieval...

This book is amazing...I've been a long time fan of these times and have read lots of books like "Here Be Dragons" by Sharon K. Penman which anyone which likes these time should try (and there are two more of that trilogy) - but I've long wondered what it would be like to live there in those times and this book tells the story of how life is there - I've said many times that if I could go back to those times and be a King's sister or wife, I would...but after listening to this book I realize that I have it "pretty good" right here in 2010. This book is great and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys this time in history as I do, to hear what it is probably like. Definitely recommend this!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Joel Langenfeld
  • 2010-05-18

Unique Presentation

Hmmm... History as a travelogue.

The format works extremely well here. While the actual history is well, pedestrian, that's not the point.

By framing the exposition as "Here is what you'll find..." or "this might surprise you..." the reader is engaged with the culture on an intuitive level seldom experienced outside the trappings of historical fiction.

12 people found this helpful