Presents the economic and social life of a medieval town by chronicling a week's activities in the trading center of Stanford (now Stamford), England, in 1274.
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Grade 5 Up-- With fascinating detail and some informational flashbacks and asides, Sancha describes the crafts and trade in medieval England. She focuses on a town and the activities of several of its townsfolk, their families, and their friends over the course of a week in August, 1274. Through the dyer, the wool merchant, and a cloth merchant and finisher, Sancha describes the methods of spinning, weaving and finishing cloth, and tanning leather, along with trade routes and customs, social activities, religious life, education, and more. The recurring appearances of Walter Dragun, the town's unpopular seneschal, or overseer, and his bailiff point out the injustice of life before modern laws and courts, and the powerlessness of the common people. A full page on names describes the language of early England and gives the meaning and origins of specific placenames and surnames found in the text. The overall effect is similar to Joe Lasker's Merry Ever After (Penguin, 1978); both use semi-fictional characters to describe lifestyles, methods, and customs of a time and place. Sancha's book, however, uses a much smaller typeface to pack in a larger quantity of information. Unfortunately, Sancha's indistinct black-and-white illustrations do not have the clarity or attractiveness of those in Lasker's book. They are busily detailed and teeming with people and activities, but (with the exception of two maps and an illustration of a tanner's yard) lack labels or captions. There are four well-illustrated pages on trade fairs and markets in G. Caselli's The Middle Ages (Bedrick, 1988) and several short sections on crafts and trade in Trevor Cairns' The Middle Ages (Lerner, 1974), but both deal more in generalities than the range and depth of specific facts in Walter Dragun's Town.
-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Collins, 1987. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0001958747