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A Taste for the Medieval

Games, music, and books that feature the Middle Ages

The Medieval Period is an era that continues to hold fascination for many, whether due to the prominence of swashbuckling knights in shining armor, the code of chivalry honored by those in the service of the kingdom, or the consecrated kings and their majestic castles. The Middle Ages captivate so many today, in fact, that popular culture is rife with references to the period, if not extensive depictions of life during this point in history. An example is the wildly popular Game of Thrones by HBO, based on the series by George R. R. Martin. Its story is actually loosely based on the War of the Roses that occurred during medieval times.

The landscape of music has also seen a revival of medieval tunes with the emergence of Neo-Medieval music which varies from genuine performance interpretations to modern reconstructions that mix electronic and rock sounds with classical medieval instruments like bagpipes. Strella do Dia is a group that has performed authentic interpretations of music from the Middle Ages for more than 10 years now. Certain online gaming establishments have also taken on medieval themes for their humorous and entertaining appeal. Leading gaming machines manufacturer IGT operates castlejackpot.com which presents casino games in a world of fierce knights and formidable castles.

Several books also give the people of today a good glimpse of this era perceived to be full of gallantry, a reverence for the holy, and a certain sense of romance (although Romanticism as we know it emerged during the Renaissance). Here are some of these books:

Medieval People by renowned medievalist Eileen Power tells of the Middle Ages through the lives of very interesting characters spanning the whole period. These include a 15th-century merchant, a 14th-century Parisian housewife, and a 9th-century peasant.
Marjorie Rowling’s Life in Medieval Times is another source of great enlightenment for those interested in having am extensive and broad overview of different people’s existence during the period. Greatly detailed and accurate, Rowling’s book presents the subject matter through the different classes of society (mainly in Germany and France), including monks, students, traders, and nobility.

For young adult readers and Medieval Period enthusiasts, Karen Cushman’s works of fiction are the ones to look for. Catherine, Called Birdy, which tells of a high-born girl who ironically has insignificant value and no power over her own fate and marriage (yet stubbornly and amusingly tries to take control of it) received a Newbery Honor in 1994, while her novel The Midwife’s Apprentice, about a homeless girl in a harsh society and her journey towards finding a place in the world (and her own name) won the coveted Newberry Medal for children’s literature in 1995.

Whether through books, games, or music, the Medieval Era shows no signs of being forgotten and merely relegated to the dusty pages of history any time soon.

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