Terry Jones' Medieval Lives

Former Monty Python star Terry Jones returns to his roots as a historian in this Emmy award nominated series about some of the best known people of the Medieval period in the UK. Jones looks to separate the myths that have grown up around some of the best known figures and groups of the time and find the real truth about what life was really like for Medieval people. Amongst his amazing facts are the revelations that Richard the Lionheart may not have been as good a king as viewers expect, and peasants were allowed to live in a better way than expected.

BBC America
1 Season, 8 Episodes
February 9, 2004
Cast: Terry Jones
Terry Jones' Medieval Lives

Terry Jones' Medieval Lives Full Episode Guide

  • The stereotypical medieval peasant is a toothless, filthy, ignorant wretch, a slave to his feudal lord. Terry discovers a very different reality. They had more holidays than us, their houses were bigger, they frequently ate better and had more influence in the corridors of power. The average peasant knew the law, as he was often left to manage his own land and community affairs. Until the onset of the plague, most peasants were also healthy. So why did it all end in the Peasants' Revolt?

  • Unlike the altruistic Robin Hood of legend, outlaws were often members of the landed gentry who robbed the poor to give to the rich. Remarkably, however, these outlaws gained a place of respect in society. And as for the poor commoner needing help from a hooded man - false. Instead they had lawyers, were more litigious than Americans, and paid their bills in butter and cheese. Tripping over a crack in the cart track could be a profitable business even hundreds of years ago.

  • Since the age of science and reason, the Middle Ages has been dismissed as a period shrouded in ignorance and superstition. But the reputation of medieval scientists, known then as philosophers, has been unfairly blackened. They understood far more than we give them credit for, and had a more ethical approach that we could learn from today.

  • Noble hero in shining armor? Or murdering, looting rapist? Discover some unsavory truths - and the dark side of chivalry.