Children's LiteratureWarfare was, perhaps, the major industry in the Middle Ages as kings and noblemen fought for land and power. After an overview of the Middle Ages, the book describes the feudal system of land distribution and power and of the similar system, daimyo, that prevailed in Japan at the same time. The roles of both knights and samurai are discussed. Then the reader learns about Magyars, Moors, Mongols and Vikings who traveled great distances searching for riches to steal and land to conquer. How castles were designed to keep the inhabitants safe and all the clever means of attacking them are described. A wonderful two-page spread titled "Siege!" shows a besieged castle with cutlines pointing out all the means of offense and defense As it tells of sieges, one clever ruse is mentioned. The embattled men in a Bavarian town were threatened with death. The women pleaded with the king for permission to remove whatever of their most precious possessions they could carry out on their backs. They exited the town carrying their husbands. It goes on to describe battlefields and battles, including those waged in the name of religion. Concluding with a two-page analysis of the factors that ended the Middle Ages, the book ends by mentioning the age of exploration that superseded the age of castles and knights. Vivid illustrations on each page enhance the text. The book includes a time line and glossary. 2004, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages 7 to 14.
Janet Crane Barley