Picture of author.

Joseph Gies (1916–2006)

Autor(a) de Life in a Medieval Castle

23 Works 6,986 Membros 51 Críticas

About the Author

Joseph Gies was born on October 8, 1916 in Ann Arbor, Mich and attended the University of Michigan and Columbia University. He held jobs with several publishers including Encyclopaedia Britannica, and was editor-in-chief for a division of Doubleday. Gies is best known for several books, such as mostrar mais Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval City, and Life in a Medieval Village. These books, written with his wife Frances Carney, explore existence in Medieval times. The works, and his others, are noted for their highly readable, but thorough quality. Topics such as archaeology, government, dining, entertainment, and daily life are presented in fascinating detail. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos

Includes the name: Joseph Gies

Image credit: Joseph & Frances Gies

Obras por Joseph Gies

Life in a Medieval Castle (1974) — Autor — 1,305 exemplares
Life in a Medieval City (1969) — Autor — 1,289 exemplares
Life in a Medieval Village (1989) — Autor — 1,152 exemplares
Women in the Middle Ages (1978) 652 exemplares
Daily Life in Medieval Times (1990) 439 exemplares
Bridges and men (1963) 32 exemplares
Wonders of the modern world (1966) 18 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Nome canónico
Gies, Joseph
Data de nascimento
Data de falecimento
Locais de residência
Michigan, USA
University of Michigan (BA|1939)
Gies, Frances (wife)



I need to buy this book; I read it cover to cover a year ago and just borrowed it again for reference.

Any book that tries to sum up "medieval times" for a popular audience is going to do a lot of simplifying, but this one does a pretty good job as far as I, who am Not A Historian, can tell. It's a work of popular history and a bit older but makes extensive use of primary documents and, gratifyingly, tackles towns and villages as well as castle life.

The illustrations were added after the fact for this hardcover compilation, but they're for the most part carefully selected from medieval Books of Hours and other manuscripts - only a scattering of irrelevant Victorian illustrations.

If you're reading this review, you MAY be a writer (or artist, tabletop gamer, reenactor, etc.) Another work I recommend is Daily Life in the Middle Ages by Paul B. Newman, which was fabulous for small details of material culture. And Dorothy Hartley's Lost Country Life is quirky and dated but has a lot of good stuff about the rhythms of agricultural life.

Now if only there were more accessible books out there on non-Western material culture / social history. Heck, even coverage of eastern Europe is lacking in English. I try to create fantasy worlds that break the medieval mold, but I keep coming back to medieval/early modern Western Europe, and especially Britain, simply because of my confidence with my ability to handle the source material. Sigh.
… (mais)
raschneid | 1 outra crítica | Dec 19, 2023 |
I expected something different when I picked up this book. I expected a more in-depth picture of the daily life of a genteel family in 15th century England, but this was more of a window into the life of one family. There were a lot of names and a lot of estates to remember, but the principal ones stood out and were quite memorable characters.

The principal characters of Margaret, her two oldest sons, her husband, and her daughter were quirky, three-dimensional, and fun to read about. After all, they were real people, so of course they had ever-evolving motivations, desires, and fears. The other people that they sometimes allied themselves with and sometimes fought against were harder to remember.

In between all the names, there were fun tidbits about daily life (ex: the worth of various coins), and then there were some dramatic instances that made for intense reading! There was the time John Paston Sr. was accosted at knifepoint! There was the time Margaret was carried bodily out of a castle. There was the time Margery fell in love with the bailiff, and there was the time when Sir John Paston II ran away from from home!

It wasn't all mundane, and the juicy bits made it worth it. Anything written by Frances Gies is a staple in wanting to know more about daily medieval life, so I would recommend this even though it was sometimes slow and boring.
… (mais)
readerbug2 | Nov 16, 2023 |
I have read just about every book by the Gies couple, and I have to say that this book, Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages is by far their most academic book. What I mean by this is that there is a lot of meta discussion about what is a family, what makes up a family, what makes a marriage, etc. Oftentimes, this book feels philosophical in its delivery. Ultimately, once I got through the first couple of chapters, I really settled into its cadence and really fell in love with it.

The first couple chapters focus on what 'measurements' (for lack of a better term) Gies will use to identify and characterize families. After that, there is, what felt like, a hefty chapter on the late Roman Empire and the families during this time period. Again, it felt like Gies was trying to characterize what the medieval family was not. Honestly, I didn't find this particularly helpful and almost distracting. In picking up the book, I'm aware that I'm going to learn about medieval societies. I don't particularly care about what preceded them. I don't think it did much in setting up the backdrop for the medieval era, personally.

Once I got past this section, the book started getting more interesting. What impressed me was the breadth this book covered. Most of Gies' books cover English, French, and sometimes German medieval societies. Here, there were distinctions made for Spanish and Italian communities in various eras. There was a sense of hegemony between all of the eras but also a sense of uniqueness that made me want to pay attention so that I didn't miss anything.

When possible, Gies pulled from particular families to contextualize her facts, which I appreciated. The Pastons made an appearance, as they do in every book, but there were also Carolingian and Florentine families that managed to stick out of the crowd. When the spotlight was on these families, the facts really made sense. I finally understood how siblings were affected by primogeniture and how dowries evolved.

Yes, this book details the beginning of primogeniture, the entail, and the jointure in England. If you've read any historical book or watched a period drama set before 1910, then you know what these things are. I couldn't help getting excited during these sections, because it gave context to all of the Victorian and Regency novels I love to read. Honestly, this was probably the most exciting part for me, and I would venture to say it's the most recognizable or familiar part to readers, as well.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's more difficult to read through than Gies' other books, but it's well worth it. You must read it if you hope to get a complete picture of medieval history. I can definitely see myself referencing it in future, though it might be ambitious to say I would re-read the whole thing again.
… (mais)
readerbug2 | 3 outras críticas | Nov 16, 2023 |
Yes, this is the type of nonfiction that I devour. Daily life history woven around stories of real life people. The details are grounding while the narratives are exciting. It's succinct yet brimming with vibrancy of these women's lives. I found myself caring about all of these women, and that interest made me want to keep reading. This book was hard to put down! What really sets this book apart is the attention to detail and that lens being turned on all walks of life in the medieval ages. Readers learn about nuns with Abbess Hildegarde of Bingen, royal women with Blanche of Castile and Eleanor de Montfort, peasant women and Agnes li Patiniere, and then upper-middle class women in Margherita Dating and Margaret Paston. It's a very comprehensive view of medieval life, and I loved it.

With such fascinating women, the book was constantly interesting. The only time it really faltered was when it was discussing peasant women, and that is because there is a dearth of information regarding medieval peasants, in general. Gies had to get her information from manorial court records and church books of major life events. Even so, it was interesting reading about the guildswomen and the struggles they went through. Their fight for workers' rights echoed today's struggles, and it makes them seem more human. These weren't just mindless people going about their work, but people with thoughts and feelings who demanded justice.

I will say that some sections were more focused on the historical figures than the life of all women of that status, which made sense. There were a lot of nuns, so Hildegard's life was mostly glossed over in favor of revealing convent life to readers. Meanwhile, the lives of Blanche of Castile and Eleanor de Montfort took center stage in their sections. As royal women, their lives were certainly more unique, but no less fascinating.

Honestly, the standout for me was Margherita Datini. She is sort of the Italian Margaret Paston, in that historians understand a lot about medieval life from her letters to her husband, which have survived centuries. Additionally, Margherita taught herself to read and write as an adult woman so that she could correspond with her husband in private while Margaret relied on others to write her letters for her, and I just think that is the sweetest and neatest detail.

There aren't any battles or treaties in this book. In fact, it's as different from Gies's The Knight in History as you can get. Nevertheless, this is a must read for anyone interested in medieval history or women's history. I happen to love both, so I was in heaven reading this book, and I would totally read it again.

… (mais)
readerbug2 | 5 outras críticas | Nov 16, 2023 |



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