October 6th, 2007

reading, activism, writing

Book # 39: The Year 1000, by Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger

The end of time was predicted. According to some, Satan was about to be released from a thousand-year imprisonment to spend some time on Earth -- doing whatever he liked. A new bright "star" appeared, hanging in the night sky for three months (year 989, Halley's comet). The first millennial changeover, according to the Gregorian Christian calendar (named for Pope Gregory), was about to occur and people were nervous.

While no computers were predicted to crash, the era had it's own concerns. In a remarkably readable and entertaining book The Year 1000: What Life was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, An Englishman's World, the authors Lacey and Danziger tell the tale of England's progress at the time.

By using an the earliest surviving document of its kind, the Julius Work Calendar, as as frame they build a month by month description of what life was like a thousand years ago.

The Julius Work Calendar was a sort of touchstone, describing the way to figure out the high holy days of the Christian year, telling the appropriate sign of the zodiac, and illustrating the necessary tasks for the country-farming life.

The book shows how different life is today, and how our ancestors coped with the world a thousand years before anyone ever heard of the Y2K bug.

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