The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium

Robert Lacey, Author, Danny Danziger, Joint Author Little Brown and Company $23 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-55840-2
Offering a delightful, often astonishing portrait of everyday life in Anglo-Saxon England in the year 1000, this wonderfully earthy chronicle, while timed for the end of this millennium, distinguishes itself from the sea of millennial titles by focusing on the end of the last one. Lacey (Sotheby's--Bidding for Class), a popular British historian, and London-based journalist Danziger (The Orchestra) focus on aspects of daily living. The Anglo-Saxons, a practical, self-contained, fervently superstitious people, were 99% illiterate, yet their language would become their most widespread legacy. Bristol was a slave-trading port, and the use of ""bondservants"" was a basic underpinning of the rural economy (the Norman invasion of 1066 would replace servitude with feudalism). There was no sugar, but honey was so valued that it became a form of currency. Personal hygiene was almost nonexistent, and most adults died in their 40s. Engla-lond, as the country was called, endured the best and the worst of times, enjoying unmatched prosperity but also falling prey to Viking raids, a menace that King Ethelred (the Unready) exacerbated by paying protection money. The narrative is organized in 12 chapters--one for each month--plus a closing chapter assessing the Anglo-Saxon legacy. Prefacing each chapter is a nimble, remarkably modern-looking, secular drawing of laborers' activities reproduced from the Julius Work Calendar, probably created by a cleric working in Canterbury Cathedral around 1020. This is a superb time capsule, and the authors distill a wealth of historical information into brightly entertaining reading. Agent, Curtis Brown. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1999
Release date: 02/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 250 pages - 978-0-7838-8790-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-316-02565-2
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-316-51157-5
Paperback - 230 pages - 978-0-349-11306-7
Hardcover - 978-0-00-750874-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-7366-8059-2
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