It is difficult to find anywhere in the records a favourable comment on the Free Companies in the Middle Ages.

Less than two hundred pages packed with information on the title subject, written in lively prose and illustrated mostly with line drawings from the times, plus a few photographs. Where else are you going find out that during the Middle Ages

An amusement gallery was sometimes run in conjunction with a medieval zoo…In these galleries visitors…were soaked to the skin on pulling the handle of one of the machines, then found themselves precipitated through a trap-door into a sack filled with feathers or even soot, when they tried to run away.

I wonder if they ever suspended the local mayor over a tub of water and threw balls at a target to see if they could dump him in? Bet they did.

The chapters are arranged first by means (Road, Bridges and Hospitality, Sea-Routes, Ports and Ships) and then by travelers themselves, explorers, merchants, royalty, soldiers and the notorious Free Companies.

It was inevitable that these companies should be formed during a period when there were no regular paid standing armies…It is difficult to find anywhere in the records a favourable comment on the Free Companies in the Middle Ages…Roads were rendered dangerous by them to travellers, fairs could not be held, craftsmen and traders could not pursue their livelihood, nor peasants cultivate their fields, monks had to flee from monasteries…

The reputation of wandering scholars called goliards suffered likewise:

These wandering clerks are wont to roam about the world and visit all its cities till much learning makes them mad; for in Paris they seek the liberal arts, in Orleans classics, at Salerno medicine, at Toledo magic, but nowhere manners or morals.

Yes, and doesn’t that bring back fond memories of those long ago days at the University of Alaska…

And I was delighted to learn that

There were of course many women entertainers among the lower ranks of jongleurs. These were mainly dancers who performed sword dances and acrobatics, balancing on the points of swords and aiding jugglers.

The magician’s assistant in the glittery cleavage costume has a long history.

Book Review Monday Chatter

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. I love that you have found so many books about what life was really like during Medieval Times and so many 1st person reports. It must have been a hard life for most people.

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