The axe and the oath Ordinary life in the Middle Ages

Robert Fossier

Book - 2010

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2nd Floor 940.1/Fossier Due Jul 28, 2024
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press c2010.
Main Author
Robert Fossier (-)
Other Authors
Lydia G. Cochrane (-)
Physical Description
xii, 384 p. ; 23 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Choice Review

The subject matter of this skillful, elegantly produced translation of Ces gens du Moyen Age (2007) is immensely important and represents the culmination of a lifetime of work by one of the leading French medievalists of his generation. Fossier (emer., Sorbonne) examines "ordinary life" under a series of illuminating thematic headings: the physical being of man himself, growth from childhood to adulthood, private life, the workplace, and death. But he also considers external and psychological categories, such as the weather, trees, animals, memory, expression, faith, and salvation. In doing so, Fossier has been careful not to impose the arbitrary divisions of modern society upon a civilization that knew no such compartmentalization, doing readers a great service. As with much French scholarship, however, the book is written in a highly stylized pseudo-literary manner. It is also insufficiently referenced (there are no notes), with the result that readers have no access to the great depth of primary sources that informed Fossier's interpretation. This is a weakness, as is the fact that much of it is Franco-centric and does not take sufficient account of the more recent research on aspects of societal history. Nevertheless, this stimulating book will be useful for promoting debate among students. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division medieval surveys and above. T. J. H. McCarthy New College of Florida

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

French historian Fossier (medieval history, emeritus, La Sorbonne; editor, The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages) here turns his attention from the middle classes and the nobility of the Middle Ages to the great and largely unknown group of ordinary men and women who made up the majority of the medieval population. His humanistic portrait delves into topics ranging from marriage practices to farming knowledge. The Middle Ages, he contends, were not an unchanging, dark time but rather one not at all different from our own, as people had the same corporal and spiritual concerns that we possess now. This book compares favorably with William Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire and Joseph Gies and Frances Gies's Life in a Medieval City. VERDICT Fossier writes with a passion that makes this amazing period of European history come alive for any reader interested in medieval or social history. However, a not inconsiderable concern for academic libraries is the absence of notes, a bibliography, and an index. Nonetheless, on all other counts, this accessible book is recommended.-Brian Renvall, Mesalands Community Coll., Tucumcari, NM (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.