When I first studied medieval history I was bored to DEATH. I felt like all the details I found interesting were quickly glossed over, and the more tedious parts, like wars and dates, took up too much of my time. (If you’re looking for good history curriculum read this post.)
But recently I’ve taken a fancy to all things medieval. I think it all started with reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is by far the coolest medieval duchess/queen to ever exist and is at the top of my “Favorite Historical Figure” list.
After I began researching Eleanor, I realized I didn’t have enough knowledge of the events going on in her time to fully appreciate her biography. And while I was searching for reading material on 12th century Europe, I came across Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England.
I was drawn into the book from the first line. I loved Mortimer’s ideas about interpreting history and his approach to writing historical nonfiction. What really made this book unique though was that it was actually written like a travel guide. The author writes about where you could stay, sights to see, and the food you’ll eat.
My favorite chapters were about the fashion of the times, the entertainment, and of course the health issues. Mortimer has a hilarious sense of humor and I can actually say that a history book had me laughing out loud. And The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England actually made me want to spend time reading some famous medieval literature. Currently I’m reading the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
While we’re on the topic of poetry and literature, I must confess my love for children’s books. And so, as part of my medieval history research I also read Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz, which is a really cute book in the format of a play about the different people you would find in a medieval village. (Another good book by Schlitz is The Hired Girl.)
The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England is a bloody amazing book. I learned so much about medieval life in England and the people who lived there, so if you’re looking for an engaging history read, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Now I’m going to find The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England!