I can't say I've ever been a major history buff, but there was something about A Year in the Life of Medieval England that attracted me to read it. When it comes to great battles, kings and queens, and political discord, my attention drifts easily, but this book suggested a more anthropological perspective which looked thoroughly exciting.

A Year in the Life of Medieval England by Toni Mount

A Year in the Life of Medieval England by Toni Mount

First of all, a little clarification; the title of the book could be a little misleading but the premise is that there is an 'event' for every day of a leap year, though there is no chronology in terms of dates. The events could have taken place from anytime between 1066 and 1500, so it is not an account of one particular year in medieval England.

This does get confusing from time to time, for example when you've got Richard III being killed on August 22nd and the trial of William Wallace on August 23rd, which occurred 180 years prior. However, Toni Mount does include a useful timeline at the start of the book listing all the medieval kings along with their date of birth, coronation, key events, and death or abdication, which does help put events into context. You end up flicking to that table so often that you eventually have them all memorised.

Events of interest relate to the lives of monarchs and aristocrats, battles, natural events, letters and wills, crimes, new laws and anything else that could be recorded in official documents. They range from the historically significant and common knowledge to the hopelessly mundane and wildly obscure, but all paint a solid picture of life in the Middle Ages.

Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the book is where Toni Mount has been unable to uncover specific events for certain days of the year. In their places, she has instead included interesting recipes, medicines, traditions, poems and horticultural advice among other things. This adds a certain texture to the information and means that even the most learned scholar of history is likely to come across something they never knew before.

A Year in the Life of Medieval England is certainly not the easiest book to get through thanks to the facts being so scattered, but the index and monarchy table do a great job combating that issue. It's a unique concept for a history book and would certainly make a great gift for the history nerd in your life.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk