I’m very happy with the pages about food and farming in Feudal, Feudal World, because they take me back to my first course in medieval history at university. Frances and Joseph Gies’ Life in a Medieval Village was the first book assigned in “The Shape of Medieval Society” at the University of Toronto. It introduced me to the layout of the average medieval village with its long strips of farmland, and to the logic of crop rotation and three-field farming, both of which appear in Feudal, Feudal World.
Of course, the world was more complex than the story told in Gies and Gies’ book. It turns out that the layout of medieval villages varied quite widely, and that intensive, “champion” farming was dominant only in a small part of England. Still, whenever I think of a medieval village I think of Elton, the little Huntingdonshire village not far from Cambridge that was the basis for Gies and Gies’ book.
There are bits and pieces of “The Shape of Medieval Society” all over It’s a Feudal, Feudal World, but there was more that I just couldn’t put in. Like Bishop Hugh of Lincoln’s habit of biting the bodies of (dead) saints to steal relics, or the song from the Wizard of Oz about the development of the plow. Man, I wish I could have gotten the permissions to put that in. Since I didn’t, you can find the lyrics at the bottom of page 2 of this link. Go take a look. And read the song about the Great Schism too. Sing it, even. I have.
It’s a Feudal, Feudal World: A Different Medieval History is available for pre-order from Amazon.ca and your local bookstore, to be released in July 2013.