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Frances Gies (1915–2013)

Författare till Life in a Medieval Castle

14 verk 7,330 medlemmar 55 recensioner

Om författaren

Foto taget av: France and Joseph Gies

Verk av Frances Gies


Allmänna fakta

Vedertaget namn
Gies, Frances
Andra namn
Carney Gies, France (Nom d'alliance)
United States of America
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Auburn, Maine, USA
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
New York, New York, USA
Hempstead, New York, USA
Wilton, Connecticut, USA
Barrington, Illinois, USA
Oakton, Virginia, USA
University of Michigan (BA|1937|MA|1938)
Gies, Joseph (husband)
High school English in Caro, Michigan (Teacher, 19 40 | 19 42)
Kort biografi
Frances Gies, née Carney, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a daughter of Prof. Robert John Carney and his wife Frances Gibson Carney. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 1937 with a B.A. degree, and in 1938 earned an M.A. in English and a teacher’s certificate. In 1940, after teaching high school English in Caro, Michigan, for two years, she went to New York City. There she married Joseph Gies, a writer who also hailed from Ann Arbor, with whom she had three children. Frances worked as a reader for the story department of 20th Century-Fox, while her husband was an editor at This Week Magazine, the Sunday magazine of the New York Herald Tribune. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army in France and Germany. After the war, they began a new career as historians and writers collaborating on a dozen books about life in the Middle Ages, including Women in the Middle Ages, Life in a Medieval City, Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval Village, and Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel. She also wrote individual works, including Joan of Arc: The Legend and the Reality, and The Knight in History.



I need to buy this book; I read it cover to cover a year ago and just borrowed it again for reference.

Any book that tries to sum up "medieval times" for a popular audience is going to do a lot of simplifying, but this one does a pretty good job as far as I, who am Not A Historian, can tell. It's a work of popular history and a bit older but makes extensive use of primary documents and, gratifyingly, tackles towns and villages as well as castle life.

The illustrations were added after the fact for this hardcover compilation, but they're for the most part carefully selected from medieval Books of Hours and other manuscripts - only a scattering of irrelevant Victorian illustrations.

If you're reading this review, you MAY be a writer (or artist, tabletop gamer, reenactor, etc.) Another work I recommend is Daily Life in the Middle Ages by Paul B. Newman, which was fabulous for small details of material culture. And Dorothy Hartley's Lost Country Life is quirky and dated but has a lot of good stuff about the rhythms of agricultural life.

Now if only there were more accessible books out there on non-Western material culture / social history. Heck, even coverage of eastern Europe is lacking in English. I try to create fantasy worlds that break the medieval mold, but I keep coming back to medieval/early modern Western Europe, and especially Britain, simply because of my confidence with my ability to handle the source material. Sigh.
… (mer)
raschneid | 1 annan recension | Dec 19, 2023 |
Another fascinating book by medievalist Frances Gies. Normally, Gies writes with her husband, Joseph, but this book is hers alone. There were times when I found the book a bit slow, but I attribute that to my not being as interested in this topic than in the Gies' books on daily life. However, it's not a long book, and the inclusion of pictures helps break up the monotony of text.

Gies begins the book by telling readers what the medieval knight is and what it is not, consequently both playing into and dismantling modern notions of knighthood. After this, the books is really broken down into a few distinct sections: the Crusades, romantic depiction with troubadours, William Marshal, the Templars. There are more chapters than this, but these are the main points. Additionally, Gies spends some time on the logistics of knighthood, how much it cost to maintain the title, the ebb and flow of its population, and who could become a knight. Overall, it's super interesting stuff. I just don't find military history to be the most interesting topic, personally.

Gies indicates she is going to review the different evolutions of knighthood through the lens of various famous knights in history. This is my favorite part of Gies' books because the inclusion of real people helps ground the history for me and contextualize it. However, Gies didn't really do that here. There were three people that really stood out: William Marshal, Robert du Guesclin, and Sir John Fastolf. Unfortunately, they didn't make an appearance until the latter half of the book, and I think this is why I struggled with this book. There are a lot of dates and battles and city names to remember that, eventually, it all gets muddled.

If military history is your thing, then you will love this book. Medievalists will also really enjoy this. I'm still glad I read this, even if it didn't grip me as much as other books by the Gies.
… (mer)
readerbug2 | 2 andra recensioner | Nov 16, 2023 |
I expected something different when I picked up this book. I expected a more in-depth picture of the daily life of a genteel family in 15th century England, but this was more of a window into the life of one family. There were a lot of names and a lot of estates to remember, but the principal ones stood out and were quite memorable characters.

The principal characters of Margaret, her two oldest sons, her husband, and her daughter were quirky, three-dimensional, and fun to read about. After all, they were real people, so of course they had ever-evolving motivations, desires, and fears. The other people that they sometimes allied themselves with and sometimes fought against were harder to remember.

In between all the names, there were fun tidbits about daily life (ex: the worth of various coins), and then there were some dramatic instances that made for intense reading! There was the time John Paston Sr. was accosted at knifepoint! There was the time Margaret was carried bodily out of a castle. There was the time Margery fell in love with the bailiff, and there was the time when Sir John Paston II ran away from from home!

It wasn't all mundane, and the juicy bits made it worth it. Anything written by Frances Gies is a staple in wanting to know more about daily medieval life, so I would recommend this even though it was sometimes slow and boring.
… (mer)
readerbug2 | Nov 16, 2023 |
I have read just about every book by the Gies couple, and I have to say that this book, Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages is by far their most academic book. What I mean by this is that there is a lot of meta discussion about what is a family, what makes up a family, what makes a marriage, etc. Oftentimes, this book feels philosophical in its delivery. Ultimately, once I got through the first couple of chapters, I really settled into its cadence and really fell in love with it.

The first couple chapters focus on what 'measurements' (for lack of a better term) Gies will use to identify and characterize families. After that, there is, what felt like, a hefty chapter on the late Roman Empire and the families during this time period. Again, it felt like Gies was trying to characterize what the medieval family was not. Honestly, I didn't find this particularly helpful and almost distracting. In picking up the book, I'm aware that I'm going to learn about medieval societies. I don't particularly care about what preceded them. I don't think it did much in setting up the backdrop for the medieval era, personally.

Once I got past this section, the book started getting more interesting. What impressed me was the breadth this book covered. Most of Gies' books cover English, French, and sometimes German medieval societies. Here, there were distinctions made for Spanish and Italian communities in various eras. There was a sense of hegemony between all of the eras but also a sense of uniqueness that made me want to pay attention so that I didn't miss anything.

When possible, Gies pulled from particular families to contextualize her facts, which I appreciated. The Pastons made an appearance, as they do in every book, but there were also Carolingian and Florentine families that managed to stick out of the crowd. When the spotlight was on these families, the facts really made sense. I finally understood how siblings were affected by primogeniture and how dowries evolved.

Yes, this book details the beginning of primogeniture, the entail, and the jointure in England. If you've read any historical book or watched a period drama set before 1910, then you know what these things are. I couldn't help getting excited during these sections, because it gave context to all of the Victorian and Regency novels I love to read. Honestly, this was probably the most exciting part for me, and I would venture to say it's the most recognizable or familiar part to readers, as well.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's more difficult to read through than Gies' other books, but it's well worth it. You must read it if you hope to get a complete picture of medieval history. I can definitely see myself referencing it in future, though it might be ambitious to say I would re-read the whole thing again.
… (mer)
readerbug2 | 3 andra recensioner | Nov 16, 2023 |



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