English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages

English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages

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English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages

English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages

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Excerpt

To us who are "the heirs of all the ages" the study of our ancestors is one that is most worthy of attention, and nothing, perhaps, helps us more in our efforts to understand them, or gives us a pleasanter sense of intimacy with them than to see them engaged in their ordinary avocations, and in their own homes. So in the following pages I have tried to picture their life in the later Middle Ages, not merely because there is much that is curious and attractive in their manners and customs, but also in the hope of gaining some insight into their characters. My subject is so vast and many-sided that it is impossible to treat it fully within the limits of a single book, and I think that a truer and fairer impression can be conveyed by brief descriptions of several aspects of it than by detailed accounts of one or two. I have therefore adopted this plan even at the risk of appearing somewhat sketchy. The term "later Middle Ages" may, I fear, sound rather vague, but having in a previous study of social life found the inconvenience of rigidly fixed dates, I am determined to avoid them now. I have, however, dealt mainly with the years which lie between the Black Death and the end of the fifteenth century--a period which is fairly homogeneous, and of immense importance in the history of the development of our national character, for it was a time when old institutions and ideals . . .

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