Thirteenth-century England: Background information when reading Something Red

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Something Red

By Douglas Nicholas

Something Red

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Beyond the Book:
Thirteenth-century England

Something Red is set in 13th century England, in the latter part of what is known as England's High Middle Ages (essentially the time period from the Norman conquest in 1066 to the end of the reign of the last Norman king in 1272).

Although English life was beginning to change with the gradual development of cities, the economy was still mostly agrarian in the 1200s, with 90% of the population (estimated to be around four million people in 1300 AD) making their living off the land, either as farmers (growing wheat for personal use or other grain crops to feed livestock) or herders (mostly sheep and goats). Villages and towns primarily served as commercial centers that were reached by poorly maintained mud roads; the only large city was London with an estimated population of 35,000. Overseas trade was just beginning, with the main export being wool.*

According to the University of Wisconsin, the king and the nobility (which included high-ranking clergy such as abbots and ...

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