Book Review: The Middle Ages by Morris Bishop (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Middle Ages by Morris Bishop (Four Stars)

“Our judgments of the Middle Ages as a whole must be relative to our assessment of our own age. It was an age of superstition; and so is ours, though the superstitions are different.”

An overview, not a history, of the Middle Ages. Lots of context, few specifics. In this case, that’s good. Readers put off by lists of kings and battles will find a topical collection essays on what was really going on in the lives of real people.

“In a deeper sense, the Middle Ages were a continuation of the ancient peasant culture that goes back 10,000 or 20,000 years, to the Stone Age.”

A healthy antidote to common misperceptions about what life was really like between AD 50 and 1500.

“Animal fat for cooking was in short supply, for it was in great demand to make candles, soap, and axle grease; a pound of fat cost as much as four pounds of lean meat.”

Repeatedly touches people and events which impact modern (in 1968, when published) pop culture–Joan of Arc and King Arthur–whether fact or fiction.

“Men were not ignorant of the things they needed to know – practical agriculture, weapon-making, the strategies of survival; and they had no interest in rediscovering the speculations of ancient sages.”