By Barbara A. Hanawalt
A brisk narrative of battles and plagues, monastic orders, heroic girls, and knights-errant, barbaric tortures and soft romance, intrigue, scandals, and conquest, the center a long time: An Illustrated historical past mixes a lively and exciting writing variety with beautiful, thorough scholarship. Barbara A. Hanawalt, a well known medievalist, launches her tale with the customarily violent amalgamation of Roman, Christian, and Germanic cultures following the destruction and pillaging of the crown jewel of the Roman Empirethe nice urban of Rome. the tale strikes directly to the redrawn map of Europe, within which strength avid gamers like Byzantium and the newly-established Frankish country commence a precarious life in a «sea of tribes» (in the phrases of a contemporary).
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Extra info for The Middle Ages: an illustrated history
S E T T L I N G DOWN IN THE OLD EMPIRE • 29 When monks took their final vows to join a monastery, they received a tonsure—the hair on the top of their heads was cut off. Here, St. Guthlac (c. 674-714), an Anglo-Saxon, receives a tonsure from a bishop while his abbess and other nuns observe. Peter, as the favored apostle of Jesus, held a place of special reverence in the early Church. Tradition maintained that he had founded the first Christian church in Rome and had suffered a martyr's death in that city.
The men and women who came under the influence of Mediterranean culture gradually adopted these tasks and their respective symbols. Because metal was a scarce commodity in those times, men must literally have beaten their swords into plowshares. Women retreated from the fields to concentrate their labor about the house. These people must have had strong feelings about this radical change in patterns of behavior, but their emotions and thoughts are not recorded. The records from the reign of Charlemagne provide a picture of the lives of those who became peasants rather than paid warriors in the new regime of settled agriculture.
Those doing the plowing will have beer supplied by the estate's steward. Returning tired in the evening, the family consumes bread, a porridge of peas boiled with ham, and beer. They are too weary to sit around the fire, so Berthildis extinguishes it with a clay cover, and they turn in early. Their beds are straw pallets on the floor, their bedding rough linen sheets and wool blankets woven by Berthildis. A peasant's day is hard work from sunup to sundown. Management of these estates required continual oversight.