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Book List

This is by no stretch of the imagination a definitive or comprehensive list, just a selection of books that that contain information relevant to simulating medieval societies in role-playing games.

The missing ISBNs are the fault of my Book Club. And can someone explain to me the logic of the statement "a Cataloguing in Publication record is available from the British Library" (my italics)?

The Archaeology of Medieval England and Wales
John Steane
Croom Helm, 1984

A look back at the 'rescue archaeology' of the preceeding 25 years to see what had been added to our knowledge of the period. Subject covered besides the expected fortifications, churches and towns include industries and crafts, food and clothing.

The English Medieval Landscape
Ed. Leonard Cantor
Croom Helm, London 1982 ISBN 0-7099-0707-9

Each chapter covers a particular aspect, ranging from a discussion of the field systems to an analysis of the road network. Taken together they give an excellent overview of how England looked and how it was changing.

The English Medieval Town
Colin Platt
Paladin, London 1979 ISBN 0-586-08272-7

Lots of city and house plans illustrate the text, which starting with archaelogical evidence moves on to trade and administration, the church, and ends with the transition to the modern period.

Village and Farmstead
Christopher Taylor
G Philip & son, London 1983

Complimenting the above this has plans and aerial photographs. The author suggests that the 'Saxon invasions' were political rather than ethnic, with patterns of settlement being subject to slower changes for economic reasons rather any abrupt break. Villages have been expanding and shrinking, shifting location and vanishing throughout English history.

The Village & House in the Middle Ages
Jean Chapelot, Robert Fossier
Batesford, London 1985 ISBN 0-7134-3322-1

Translated from the French, covering similar ground to the previous work but over France and Germany as well as England. It also has individual house plans and a chapter on building techniques.

A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century
Margaret Wade LaBarge
Harvester Press, Brighton 1980 (1st pub 1965) ISBN 0-85527-966-4

Based on the household accounts for 1295 of the Countess of Leicester, sister of King Henry III. A wealth of information on food, clothes, travelling, with many prices quoted from this and other documents.

Medieval Woman
Anne Baer
Michael O'Mara, London 1996 ISBN 1-85479-656-9

At the other end of the social scale, a year in the life of a medieval village as seen through the eyes of the carpenter's wife. This is a serious attempt to put across the mindset of rural folk to whom the next village was a foreign country, metals and salt rare imported items.

The Making of Europe
Robert Bartlett
Penguin, London 1993

Subtitled 'Conquest, Colonisation and Cultural Change 950-1350', the thesis here is that during this period Latin Europe was expanding in all directions: against pagans in the East, moslems in the South, celts in the West. In seeking the reasons for this success the author does not confine himself to one discipline, being prepared to consider both written and archaeological evidence and venturing into agricultural technology and economics.
A quibble: the Bibliography is alphabetical, clear, easy to read. The Notes make no use of it! Works are cited differently and internal ibids are made that are difficult to follow.

World Builder's Guidebook
Richard Baker
TSR, Lake Geneva 1996 ISBN 0-7869-0434-8

Starting with planet design this AD&D supplement descends through geography and sociology to cities and villages. It concludes with a chapter on mythology. At first sight it would appear to be a useful aid to beginners at least. However...
The only references included are to other TSR publications and a few works of fantasy. Once the helpful 'facts' given are examined, the reason becomes apparent. Although the author often refers to the Realworld, he hasn't bothered to check anything:

...the most prosperous parts of Europe would fall into this category [High population]. Villages are scattered at five- to ten-mile intervals... (p59)
Untrue. 1-2 miles in England, perhaps 2-3 in France (bigger area, similar population).
At least half of the entire population is composed of poor farmers, peasants, herdsmen, and fishermen.... All other occupations ... take up about another 20 to 40 per cent... (p77)
Untrue. Even Japan with several rice crops a year only managed a 15% surplus. Europe had at best 10%.
Given such gross errors, the rest of the book becomes suspect. To be fair, most of it is written in very general terms. I liked the table that answers the PC question "Is there an Astrologer/Barber/Potter in this town?". But that doesn't justify the price.
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