Gillan Polack and Katrin Kania (2015) "The Middle Ages unlocked. A guide to life in Medieval England 1050-1300", Amberley publishing.
"The Middle Ages Unlocked provides an invaluable introduction to this complex and dynamic period in England. Exploring a wide range of topics from law, religion and education to landscape, art and magic, between the eleventh and early fourteenth centuries, the structures, institutions and circumstances that formed the basis for daily life and society are revealed. Drawing on their expertise in history and archaeology, Dr Gillian Polack and Dr Katrin Kania look at the tangible aspects of daily life - ranging from the raw materials used for crafts, clothing and jewellery to housing and food - in order to bring the Middle Ages to life."
This is a thick book with relatively small print, so you're getting a lot for your money. It contains a wide variety of subjects (see list of contents below) and is focussed on the social life, including practicalities such as clothing and housing, rather than the political history. While the book is about England in 1050-1300, there are also some info on France during this period, as the English crown held lands there. The book is easy to read, with no academic jargon. Every chapter is divided into smaller sub-chapters, which not only makes it quick to read but it's also easy to skip sub-chapters you are less interested in. Details on Jewish life in England is interspersed throughout the book rather than merely being an appendix in the religion chapter.
The only drawback with the book (for me anyway), is the lack of references in the text itself (It would probably have made the book twice as thick and four times as expensive, but still...). However, at the end of the book there is a chapter on recommended further reading. The topic for each chapter is dealt with separately and books and articles are discussed, not just listed.
I thoroughly recommend this book for any Medieval re-enactor and for those interested in the Medieval period.
If you're still unconvinced, read the book tour blog posts: http://togs-from-bogs.blogspot.co.uk/20 ... arted.html
List of contents
Anything with a vague historical bent
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