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How to Survive in Medieval England (Paperback)

British History P&S History Social History Medieval 15th Century 14th Century

By Toni Mount
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 176
Illustrations: Integrated black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526754417
Published: 30th June 2021

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Imagine you were transported back in time to Medieval England and had to start a new life there. Without mobile phones, ipads, internet and social media networks, when transport means walking or, if you’re fortunate, horse-back, how will you know where you are or what to do? Where will you live? What is there to eat? What shall you wear? How can you communicate when nobody speaks as you do and what about money? Who can you go to if you fall ill or are mugged in the street? However can you fit into and thrive in this strange environment full of odd people who seem so different from you?

All these questions and many more are answered in this new guide book for time-travellers: How to Survive in Medieval England. A handy self-help guide with tips and suggestions to make your visit to the Middle Ages much more fun, this lively and engaging book will help the reader deal with the new experiences they may encounter and the problems that might occur. Know the laws so you don’t get into trouble or show your ignorance in an embarrassing faux pas.

Enjoy interviews with the celebrities of the day, from a business woman and a condemned felon, to a royal cook and King Richard III himself. Have a go at preparing medieval dishes and learn some new words to set the mood for your time-travelling adventure. Have an exciting visit but be sure to keep this book to hand.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed #HowToSurviveInMedievalEngland and learned some new things about everyday life in that time. I definitely wouldn’t want to stay long as a time traveller though!

If you have enjoyed Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide series like I did, chances are you will also like this book. Something I particularly enjoyed was the interviews with historical figures! I will be looking out for further books by this author.

NetGalley, Gemma Rose

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Excellent ! Informative, engaging and accessible.
I hadn't come across the Bishop and the caterpillar court case before!

NetGalley, Jenny Quinlan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm addicted to "How to Survive" books as I love the mix of historical facts and humour.
This one is no exception.
I learned a lot about Middle Age in an entertaining way.
Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is an excellent addition to this series. All too often histories ignore the elements of everyday life. In this book, you become a time-traveler to medieval England and look at all aspects of life for people at all levels.

With tips, excerpts from medieval writings, and lively interviews, this is an engaging book.

NetGalley, Janet Perry

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Medieval England from 1154-1485. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. OK, it was the worst. But you are stuck here so you might as well make the best of it. Your time machine has accidentally thrust you here. How do you navigate life before the Internet and Alexa? Use the How to Survive in Medieval England guidebook. The guide has everything a lost time traveler, or an author setting their book in this period, needs to know. You wouldn’t want to confuse a forest with a woodland, would you?

Enchanting look back at how I would be dead in a minute if I lived in Medieval England. I’m not sure how my ancestors survived. Though, of course, I’m glad they did.

If you ever think that the age of knights and damsels in distress was exciting or romantic, How to Survive in Medieval England will set you straight. You were more likely a serf or a slave than a king or even a merchant. And everything was trying to kill you.

This is a great read for those interested in the lifestyles of the period. Perfect, as I’ve said, for authors of books set within the period. Plus, it’s pretty eye-opening that only the Plague allowed the poor a chance to better themselves. 5 stars!

NetGalley, Diane Hernandez

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I want to start off by saying what an interesting, fun read this was. I really enjoyed how it was written in a travel guide style. It made me feel like I was really going on a trip and what to expect, as if I were researching any other trip that I would be going on.

I'm a huge history buff, and medieval times are my favorite time period in history. I was thrilled to find this book and be able to read about it. I love the tips sections, and the little "interviews". It's obviously very well-researched.

I felt that it offered a fun and funny overview of life in the Middle Ages, and it was interesting and very informative. I plan on purchasing the hardcover when it comes out. I enjoyed the photos included. Such an enjoyable read.

NetGalley, Sheri O'Neill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always been interested in Medieval times. So when I saw this book I knew I needed to read it. A time traveller to Medieval England? Count me in!

The book tells you exactly what to expect should you time travel to medieval times and let me tell you: it ain't pretty! What would you eat, wear, drink and where how would you live? Your life expectancy, marriage, divorce, religion, medicine. Wow. I knew my romance novels were not exactly spot on but .. ok... Don't think the authors will use this book as research because the romance is sucked right out of you haha.

I have never been happier to live in the 21st Century :-)

NetGalley, Jeannette Koenhein

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a great little book for offering some basic information (or perhaps introduction) to anyone beginning to study, or simply just interested in, Medieval England. This particular edition is part of a larger series, all of which seem to be popular and well-reviewed. As a student of medieval history, I was pleased to see that, not only was the information correct, but it included facts beyond what would normally be found in succinct, age-appropriate overviews (rare as they are). The material covered, along with the language, is not overly simplified. As a librarian working with both middle and high school students, it is incredibly difficult to find historical material on this subject that falls between elementary grades and college/graduate level, so books like this are especially welcome. Due to the irreverent approach to the history itself, this book may initially appear to be aimed at younger readers, however, I could see this being placed in a high school or middle school level library collection

In addition to an index, this book also has a pretty handy table of contents that is actually more useful than many other reference (or reference-like) sources. Each of the main sections, such as “Family Matters” - is further divided into smaller areas of focus (marriage, divorce, women’s roles etc…) which makes finding specific information fairly straightforward. Furthermore, each chapter (including the images used) includes footnotes, and some decent bits of primary source quotations and information as well.

While this book may have been written as an extracurricular, yet informative read, it can absolutely be used by students as a solid reference source.

NetGalley, Joanna Novick

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book; it is both historically accurate and humourous. I'd describe it as a less grizzly version of the horrible histories series, but for adults. The layout kept the pace and held the readers interest, and I especially appreciated the parts which showed how certain words came to us from medieval times. I hope the author will write more in this series

NetGalley, Saffron Melnyk

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Author Toni Mount has such a clever way with phrasing words! Medieval life wouldn't have been all that funny but Mount uses wit and humour to inform and tell stories in a fascinating and engaging way. The book is chock full of interesting information, definitions, conversations and illustrations which will be critical for us twenty first century time travelers as we navigate the medieval era. We go on a journey and meet many people on the way, including their expressions and vernacular of the time. Brilliant. We watch their interactions, where they bake and eat, what they do at their jobs and at home, what and how they eat and drink and the hats they wear.

I have read every book on the topic that I can get my hands on and was excited to see this one. I learned more about the strict Forest Law, professions (inconsistent spellers need not be concerned), how to create Jowtes with Almond Milk, laws to regulate the length of long-toe shoes, the reason for cushions in the bath, busted medical myths, marriage vows, sharing a bed complete with a stranger and fleas at a guesthouse, entertainment, currency and loads more. Not only that but the author includes essential definitions for herriot, paliasse, solar, frumenty, codwainer, ayren, deodand and the origin of words including amaze and upper crust. I will not see "goose bumps" in the same light again!

This entertaining book should be on everyone's list if you are even remotely interested in the Medieval time period and how people lived then. For those of you who may be concerned, it is not written like a dry textbook. Far from it.

My sincere thank you to Pen & Sword and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this superb book! I enjoyed it thoroughly.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Were you ever interested how life was in medieval times? Well, with this useful guide you will get all information you need to survive in these brutal and hard circumstances. Compared to medieval man, modern man is pretty weak and without necessary knowledge and skills for that time.

The book offers many answers and information in order to blend in with locals during the back in time adventure. Expect discomfort, dirt, hard work and language difficulties.

The reader learns about social structure and housing, beliefs and religious ideas, clothing and appearance, food and shopping, health and medicine, work and leisure, family matters, warfare and law and order. And all that with a great humour, witt and intelligible narrative, illustrations and photographs.

Superb book for all history enthusiasts!

NetGalley, Mana M

That was so much fun! I loved the travel guide style, with all the tropes you'd expect to find in one.

I have to confess, history was one of my least favourite subjects in school, and I never developed an interest in it later. I recently read a couple of fictional books set in medieval times, though, so when I saw this book I was curious to learn more.

It was an accessible and fun overview of life in the Middle Ages (although it seemed to focus more on 11-14th centuries). It was all interesting (maybe the parts about warfare and law less so for me), but I particularly loved finding out things like word origins, or why the tax year end on 5th April here!

May have to buy the book for a few friends I kept pestering with quotes!

NetGalley, Andrea S

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was very interesting and engaging. As somebody who loves history, I find some texts can be very daunting to read and over complicated. However, this book was very informative whilst making Medieval history very accessible for a multitude of readers. A great easy read for anybody wanting to dabble into the medieval world!

NetGalley, Emma Jacobs

As the author writes in the preface, “This book is intended as a handy guide to the dos and don’ts for visitors to Medieval England.” It’s a clever way to explore just what life was like in England between 1154 and 1485, and how you would live if you somehow ended up in that place at that time.

Topics include housing, food, employment, language, hygiene, medicine, religion, law, social stratifications, dress, and even sex.

For every topic, the author includes a section called “Did You Know” with lots of fun facts about the time, often relating to the origin of words we use now from back then. Sometimes there are also sections called “Top Tip” that gives you a useful piece of information you will need for success, such as to keep your purse hidden out of sight. As the author writes: “Medieval thieves are known as ‘cut-purses’ for a reason.”

I loved these language insights. As another example, the author points out: “The connection between bells and time-keeping is so close the word ‘clock’ is a misspelling of the French word ‘cloche’, meaning ‘a bell.’” Also, since it was the custom that married women covered their hair, a “loose” woman was one wearing her hair loose and uncovered, and therefore likely to be “of easy virtue.”

You will also learn from whence come the phrases “straight-laced,” “upper crust,” and “baker’s dozen.” You will find out why doctors couldn’t also be surgeons, and how “gossiping” came about.

Evaluation: This is altogether a very entertaining book and well as an enlightening one, and will satisfy the curiosity of those who wonder how they would fare in a world with no toothpaste, antibiotics, or fast food.

NetGalley, Jill Broderick

This was a neat little book, a quick read that would do well for anyone wanting an introduction to the world of medieval England. So often we get histories where we hear about great political events, but rarely do we hear about the minutiae of daily life for the masses. In particular, it would be useful for any historical fiction author interested in writing about the period, as it gives a lot of interesting detail about the circumstances and realities of everyday people. A couple segments seemed a bit juvenile and silly, such as the "interviews" with historic figures, but on the whole this was a neat and fun read.

NetGalley, Claire Grothe

About Toni Mount

Toni Mount is an author of historical non-fiction and a teacher. She’s a member of the Richard III Society’s Research Committee, a costumed interpreter at historical events and belongs to the Crime Writers’ Association. She writes regularly for history magazines, has produced online courses for www.MedievalCourses.com and creates the Sebastian Foxley medieval murder mystery novels.


Toni has a Masters Degree in Medieval Medicine, Diplomas in Literature, Creative Writing, European Humanities and a PGCE. She lives in Kent with her husband.

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