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When Knights Were Bold Review by Tammy Walker

Eva March Tappan
Yesterday's Classics
PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

Have you ever wanted to know how a young man became a knight? Are you curious about the freakishly tall hairdos worn by some women during the Middle Ages? How might you go about capturing a castle? If you think your children might be intrigued by the answers to these questions, you will want to pick up a copy of When Knights Were Bold, published by Yesterday's Classics. Eva March Tappan was a teacher for more than 20 years before she began writing. She has written over 50 titles about history, fairy tales, and hero stories. Rather than revealing an intricate history of the time period, When Knights Were Bold depicts the prevalent habits, thoughts, and lifestyles. Confronted with a plethora of material about the time period, Ms. Tappan chose those topics which were most characteristic of the time and those which have made the strongest impact on life today. The 312 pages of text offer a wealth of information on the following topics:

  • Page, Squire, and Knight
  • The Knight's Arms and Armor
  • Jousts and Tournaments
  • How to Capture a Castle
  • Daily Life in a Castle
  • Life on a Manor
  • Pilgrimages and Crusades
  • Military Orders, Monks, and Monasteries
  • Hermits, Friars, and Missionaries
  • Life in Town
  • Merchant Gilds and Craft Gilds
  • How Goods Were Sold
  • Schools and Literature
  • Science and Medicine
  • Architecture and the Arts

The chapter titled "How to Capture a Castle" describes the main components of a basic castle and tells how it was built. Those who love the detailed descriptions of how Pa built his home in Little House on the Prairie will find these details very interesting. After explaining the intricacies of choosing the best site location, inner courts, outer courts, etc., the author gives the information we would need should we ever wish to capture said castle. Definitely high on my priority list! In her mind, there were really only three ways: (1) force a way through the gate, if possible, (2) get to the top of the protecting wall and overpower the defenders, or (3) undermine the walls. She then explains how this might be accomplished. Talk about fun reading!

Your children will learn so many particulars about feudal life, why persons went on pilgrimages, the proper character and attitudes of hopeful squires, how monasteries were established, what materials went into making common homes, and how universities were founded during this time period. For children 11 and older studying the Middle Ages, daily life and customs will be made tangible in vibrant, enjoyable detail. History can come alive for children when they are given fascinating pieces of information that help them remember specific events. This book is a great tool for accomplishing that end.

The author's knowledge and love of history is so evident. Her ability to present the material in an engaging way for young minds makes this a particularly special choice for those wanting to know more about knights, jousting, crusades, or castles. Pick and choose stories of relevance for your family or read the entire work. You and your children will be engaged.

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2009