Medieval Food and Feasting, and the emperor Charlemagne

Tehmina has now written two books, aimed at young adults (but very readable by any age really!). Her first is entitled “Medieval Feasts and Banquets: Food, Drink, and Celebration in the Middle Ages” which gives a great introduction to the subject, and blows away quite a few myths (bones being chucked over shoulders onto sawdust for the dogs for one!).

Her second is entitled “Charlemagne: The Life and Times of an Early Medieval Emperor” which gives a concise and enjoyable introduction to the infamous Holy Roman Emperor known as ‘Charles the Great’. He is an important historical character who led a complex life, and many books written about him are heavy-going – Tehm’s book is the most lucid introduction to his life that I have come across (and superbly written). Read more about Charlemagne at Wikipedia.

Both books are published by the Rosen Publishing Group and are available to buy at Amazon.

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  1. Thank you, Tom, for your more than generous review! Writing historical books for children/young adaults – especially for those from a different country (USA) – is difficult. The selection of information is the biggest challenge. One always hears the tut-tut from academics who devote their lives to such subjects, and of course, would have written a similar book in a completely different way. After all, deciding what was ‘important’ and what was not is more subjective than many academics think. I can, at least, guarantee that I have consulted good sources, primary and secondary to base both books on, and I hope they’ll provide enjoyment and interest to whoever finds themselves reading one.

    One thing I must correct – Charlemagne (ahem if you read the book properly) was not what one might call ‘infamous’ – famous yes, infamous only if you were a Heathen Saxon! Also, he didn’t adopt the title Holy Roman Emperor. This title was used much later by the German emperors and came about during the increasing tensions between the German emperors and the Papacy: the Investiture Controversy. This was largely due to a conflict of ideologies as to whether the emperor (annointed of course by the Pope) or the Pope himself should have the power and right to annoint bishops. The emperors needed to be understood as spiritual as well as temporal rulers. The title Charlemagne adopted was the ancient Roman epithet: ‘Imperator Augustus’.

  2. Charlemagne worked as hard to tip Europe from the Dark Ages into the Middle Ages as he did to convert pagans to Christianity. Curiosity about what he was like at home, as a father to his fifteen (or more) children, and what he did besides conquer Europe impelled me into research that led to writing two YA mystery novels, Rotaida and the Runestone, and Royal Spy. He was more than a thousand years ahead of his time in forseeing and starting education for commoners, non-clerics, and even for girls. He forsaw and tried to dig a canal to connect rivers flowing west to the Atlantic with rivers flowing east to the Black Sea. He didn’t succeed in that, but the Rhein Main Danube canal has been build in our time. It was finished in the late 1990s. Hats off to Charlemagne!

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