Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives


Famous for lampooning the medieval world in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Terry Jones has a real passion for and detailed knowledge of the Middle Ages. In Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives, his mission is to rescue the Middle Ages from moth-eaten cliches and well-worn platitudes. Behind the stereotypes of “damsels in distress” and “knights in shining armor,” there are wonderfully human stories that bring the period to life. Terry will start with the medieval archetypes—the Knight, Peasant, Damsel, Monk, Outlaw, King, Merchant, and Physician—and in the course of unravelling their role and function will introduce a host of colorful real-life characters, recreating their world by visiting key locations.

Editorial Review

‘Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives’ is a captivating exploration of the Middle Ages that promises to reshape your understanding of this often-misunderstood period in history. In this meticulously researched and delightfully written book, the late Terry Jones, renowned for his work with Monty Python, takes readers on a humorous and informative tour of medieval Europe, challenging common stereotypes and revealing the rich tapestry of human experiences that defined the era.

One of the standout features of this book is Jones’ ability to infuse humor into history without diminishing its importance. His irreverent wit and engaging storytelling style make the complex and occasionally daunting subject matter accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Through a series of chapters, each focusing on a different medieval archetype, Jones introduces us to knights, monks, peasants, and more, dismantling myths and offering fresh perspectives on their lives.

What truly sets this book apart is its commitment to portraying the diversity of medieval society. Jones highlights the lives of individuals who often receive minimal attention in traditional historical accounts. From the plucky outlaw to the defiant feminist, he showcases the experiences of those who didn’t conform to the rigid norms of their time. This approach not only offers a more nuanced understanding of the Middle Ages but also resonates with modern readers, underscoring the universality of human struggles and aspirations.

Jones’ extensive research is evident in the depth of detail he provides throughout the book. He masterfully combines primary sources, historical records, and his own insights to build a comprehensive and immersive narrative. While ‘Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives’ is an approachable read, it doesn’t sacrifice academic rigor. The inclusion of endnotes and a bibliography adds scholarly weight to the work, making it an excellent resource for those interested in delving deeper into medieval history.

Another commendable aspect of the book is its visual appeal. Richly illustrated with period-appropriate artwork, maps, and photographs, it provides a visual context that enhances the reader’s understanding of the era. The artwork, in particular, evokes the ambiance and aesthetics of the Middle Ages, transporting readers back in time.

However, it’s important to note that this book is not solely focused on factual accuracy. Terry Jones makes it clear that he is telling “medieval stories” rather than providing a strict historical account. While this approach may ruffle the feathers of some purist historians, it serves the book’s purpose well – to engage and educate a broad readership.

Terry Jones' Medieval Lives
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.3
Publication Date: 1st May 2005
ISBN13: 978-0563522751

Author: Terry Jones

Terry Jones

Terry Jones

Terence Graham Parry Jones, born on February 1, 1942, and passing away on January 21, 2020, was a versatile Welsh figure in the realms of acting, comedy, directing, history, writing, and a prominent member of the renowned Monty Python comedy troupe.

Following his graduation from Oxford University, where he earned a degree in English, Jones, along with his writing partner Michael Palin, collaborated on various prominent British comedy programs, including contributions to shows like Do Not Adjust Your Set and The Frost Report. Together with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and American animator-filmmaker Terry Gilliam, they conceived and brought to life the groundbreaking Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Jones played a significant role in shaping the show’s innovative and surreal format, where sketches seamlessly transitioned from one to another without the traditional use of punchlines. His directorial debut came with the Python classic, Holy Grail, a film he co-directed with Terry Gilliam. He also helmed subsequent Python films, such as Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.

In addition to his comedic achievements, Jones co-created and co-wrote the anthology series Ripping Yarns alongside Michael Palin. He also contributed an initial draft to Jim Henson’s film Labyrinth and is acknowledged for the screenplay, although only a limited portion of his work made it into the final version. Jones gained recognition as a respected medieval historian, authoring several books and presenting television documentaries centered on this historical era. He also displayed prolific talent as a writer of children’s books. In 2016, his exceptional contributions to television and film were celebrated with a Lifetime Achievement award at the BAFTA Cymru Awards.

Tragically, Jones endured several years living with degenerative aphasia, which gradually robbed him of his ability to speak. He eventually succumbed to frontotemporal dementia in 2020.


  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, September 4). Terry Jones. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Jones

  • Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives. (2023). Google Books. https://books.google.com.tr/books/about/Terry_Jones_Medieval_Lives.html?id=7Rh7J6xzjpAC&redir_esc=y

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