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Ryan A. C.





Joined: 22 Mar 2004
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 147

PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 1:54 pm    Post subject: A Medieval Family by: frances and joseph gies         Reply with quote

I was searching through a used bookstore for something to read and found a book called “A Medieval Family” that uses letters sent between members of the Paston family in the 15th century and creates a narrative that follows the main branch of the family through land disputes, a rise in status, and war until the end of the century. It stops at the end of the century because the frequent writers of the family died off and the letters of correspondence between remaining family members became scarce. The book ends by briefly summarizing what happened to the family in the 18th century.

I really enjoyed the book as in in the letters it mentions the ordering of jacks, poleaxes, bows, the hiring of men for garrisons, and the expense of court and service. It also showed me something Hollywood never has and I feel never will. At one point a confrontation ended with an individual getting a cut to the hand and running away to hide in a house. His attackers pursued him to throw a rock through a window and yell insults at him. The book deals with real occurrences like this one instead of giving over the top battle-to-the-death violence. I find the mundane comings and going off these 15th century people very entertaining, and a lot of the letters end simply with requests for everyday things such as ingredients for cooking, or cloth for a new gown. Some of the letters end with questions on how a marriage prospect looks for one of the family. A lot of time and effort seems to have gone to that end, at least for the Paston men.

I found reading about the everyday life of the people who lived during an era that interests me fascinating. To be short now, can someone throw out some titles of books that give really detailed accounts of the everyday lives of the people who lived in the medieval period? Are there any detailed books about the Pastons? I found this book very enjoyable and would like more of its type.
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Kenton Spaulding




Location: Connecticut
Joined: 18 Jul 2005
Reading list: 12 books

Posts: 285

PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 2:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've got a book on my shelf which I will be reading in a week or two called "Daily Living in the 12th Century." Obviously can't tell you too much about it since I haven't read it yet, but some reviews are available on the myArmoury book section here: http://www.myArmoury.com/books/item.php?ASIN=B0007HAGCS I'm looking foward to reading it.

Kenton
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You will find another very good and related book that was written by Francis Gies "The Knight in History."

The Pastons inherited their estates from Bertrand De Guesclin who died with no actual blood heir. De Guesclin was actually a heroic and parallel model for William Marshall, but served primarily in Gascony. Since De Guesclin's cause was hopelessly lost, he became unfairly criticized. Eventually, Chaucer created a Falstaff type character which publically discraced him. The Paston family were among the few that remained loyal to De Guesclin and understood that his own performance had been exemplary. A fair amount of description of the formation of the business, then family loyalty between De Guesclin and the Pastons is in one of the later chapters of "The Knight in History".

There were a lot of other surprises in that book as well. Mrs Gies points out examples of how the displaced sons of tenant knights (landless knights) had much better than average educational upbringing. They basically spawned the troubadour movement, with much spread in poetry, writing, and formation of English as an accepted language.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
Joined: 01 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds interesting. Amazon has it. I suggest that you add it to your reading list.
"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch


Last edited by Steve Grisetti on Mon 06 Mar, 2006 3:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Felix Wang




Location: Fresno, CA
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
Reading list: 17 books

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PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you are really enthused, the Paston letters are in print (mind you, there are a whole lot of letters, and some are more interesting than others). For secondary sources, there is a lot of interest in this sort of thing at the armour archive, where there is a lot of interest in re-enactment/lliving history. For example: http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=56242
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Ryan A. C.





Joined: 22 Mar 2004
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 147

PostPosted: Mon 06 Mar, 2006 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bertrand De Guesclin! That is a really neat factoid. I always liked him and it's interesting to find this family connected with him.

I have to try to get a hold the letters. They should keep me more than busy and happy. I love reading about trivial happenings and going ons… It makes things real.

Thanks

(I love this site)
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