Terry Jones' Medieval Lives

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Terry Jones' Medieval Lives
Genre Documentary
Written by Terry Jones
Directed by Nigel Miller
Presented by Terry Jones
Composer(s) David Mitcham
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8
Production
Producer(s)
Distributor Oxford Film and Television Production
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
Original run 3 January – 24 January 2004
Chronology
Related shows Terry Jones' Barbarians

Terry Jones' Medieval Lives is a 2004 Emmy award nominated television documentary series produced for the BBC. Written and hosted by Terry Jones, each half-hour episode examines a particular Medieval personality, with the intent of separating myth from reality.

The episode The Peasant was nominated for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming at the 2004 Emmy Awards.

Dr. Faye Getz acted as consultant for the series.

Alternative takes on History[edit]

Being a comedian as well as a historian, Terry Jones takes an established belief, turns that around, and presents proof for his assertion. For example, Peasants didn't live in complete squalor, owning some valuable property. Also class divisions weren't as severe as thought, there are cases of low-born people who rise to quite high positions.

In the episode on Kings, he says, "History isn't necessarily what happened. It's often what people want us to think happened." He uses the following examples:

  • Richard the Lionheart was actually a bad king, who only saw England (which he hated) as a means to finance his warmongering, whereas Richard III did a lot of good for England. Modern perceptions of these kings are reversed because chroniclers of the time were commissioned to write what was politically most convenient.
  • Louis, count of Artois (later King of France), was acclaimed as King of England yet appears in no history books as such (see First Baron's War).

Terry Jones explained his motivation for making this series in the article in The Observer "The main reason I wanted to make Medieval Lives was to get my own back on the Renaissance. It's not that the Renaissance has ever done me any harm personally, you understand. It's just that I'm sick of the way people's eyes light up when they start talking about the Renaissance. I'm sick of the way art critics tend to say: 'Aaaah! The Renaissance!' with that deeply self-satisfied air of someone who is at last getting down to the Real Thing. And I'm sick to death of that ridiculous assumption that that before the Renaissance human beings had no sense of individuality."

Episode list[edit]

The eight episodes were as follows:

Companion book[edit]

External links[edit]