From bestselling author Danny Danziger and medieval expert John Gillingham comes a vivid look at the signing of the Magna Carta and how this event illuminates one of the most compelling and romantic periods in history.
Surveying a broad landscape through a narrow lens, 1215 sweeps readers back eight centuries in an absorbing portrait of life during a time of global upheaval, the ripples of which can still be felt today. At the center of this fascinating period is the document that has become the root of modern freedom: the Magna Carta. It was a time of political revolution and domestic change that saw the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart, King John, and—in legend—Robin Hood all make their marks on history.
The events leading up to King John’s setting his seal to the famous document at Runnymede in June 1215 form this rich and riveting narrative that vividly describes everyday life from castle to countryside, from school to church, and from hunting in the forest to trial by ordeal. For instance, women wore no underwear (though men did), the average temperatures were actually higher than they are now, and the austere kitchen at Westminster Abbey allowed each monk two pounds of meat and a gallon of ale per day. Broad in scope and rich in detail, 1215ingeniously illuminates what may have been the most important year of our history.
Danny Danziger and John Gillingham’s 1215: The Year of Magna Carta attempts to simplify a tumultuous time in history and make the climate of the thirteenth century accessible to the modern reader. The result is a riveting read.
Rather than looking at the Great Charter itself, 1215 provides a reference for life in the British Isles, particularly in England, in that pivotal year. Full of intriguing details, the book gives the reader a glimpse of the social and political currents of the day.
Danziger and Gillingham’s work is not an in-depth study of the Magna Carta, or of King John and the barons. Instead, they provide a vivid study of the atmosphere that brought about the need for such a radical document. 1215: The Year of Magna Carta is an easy read, enjoyable for both the passingly curious and the avid historian.