I will start out with the statement that those of us who are
historians and archaeologists respect the works of Frances and Joseph
Gies highly. Reading their books is a required part of the curriculum
in the history departments of many major universities and several
courses are even designed around their works.
From the University of Minnesota - History 3206: Knights, Peasants,
and Bandits in Medieval England, taught by Dr. Anna Dronzek, Ph.D.,
Medieval and Early Modern European History - "required" reading for
the course - Frances and Joseph Gies, "Life in a Medieval Castle."
( http://mrs.umn.edu/~dronzea/3206/history3206.html )
From Louisiana State University - History 1001, Section 1, taught by
Dr. Karl Roider - Frances and Joseph Gies are "required" reading and
much of the course is based on their works.
( http://www.artsci.lsu.edu/hist/fac/1001syllabus.htm )
From Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York - Architecture from Catacombs to
Cathedrals, taught by Professor Stephen C. Clancy - Frances and Joseph
Gies' "Life in a Medieval City."
( http://www.ithaca.edu/faculty/clancy/222/syllabus02.html )
From Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada - History 412 -
812, the Gies are both suggested and required reading.
( http://qsilver.queensu.ca/~sandorm/412-1.html )
From Arizona State University - History 366, Survey of England, taught
by Professor Retha M. Warnicke, required reading, "Gies, Joseph and
Frances, Life in a Medieval Castle."
( http://www.public.asu.edu/~iermw/hst366/366syl.html )
From Arkansas Tech University - History 1503: World Civilization I,
taught by Dr. Jan Jenkins - suggested reading - "Joseph Gies; Frances
Gies. Life in a Medieval City."
( http://lfa.atu.edu/ssphil/HIST1503Syll.htm )
From University of Washington, Tacoma - Medieval Technology and Urban
Life Syllabus TSCIIN 440, taught by Dr. Michael Kucher - required
reading - "# Frances Gies and Joseph Gies, Cathedral Forge and
( http://courses.washington.edu/tande/med/med_syl.htm )
From University of Wisconsin - History 192 Life in a Medieval Castle -
taught by Professor Martha Carlin - there are only two books for
required reading. One is "Gies, Joseph and Frances Gies, Life in a
( http://www.uwm.edu/~carlin/castlesyl01.htm )
From Jacksonville State University - HY 101, section 7 Western
Civilization to 1648, taught by Dr. Llewellyn Cook - required reading
"Life in a Medieval Castle by Frances Gies"
( http://www.jsu.edu/depart/history/cook/101sec7syllabus.html )
From Fordham University - History 3012, taught by Professor Daniel L.
Smail - required reading - "Joseph and Frances Gies, Life in a
( http://www.fordham.edu/history/smail/Courses/syllabus_3012.htm )
From Kansas State University - Introduction to History: History 100 -
required reading - "Gies, Frances and Joseph Gies, Women in the Middle
Ages" - and - "Gies, Joseph and Frances Gies. Life in a Medieval
( http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~mgray/hist100.htm )
From Samford University - Cultural Perspectives 101, taught by
Professor Fred Shepherd - required reading - "Joseph and Frances Gies,
Life in a Medieval Village"
This list can go on and on. But from the dozen examples above, all of
which are from major schools and not fly-by-night institutions, I
could think of no better way in which to demonstrate the esteem in
which Frances and Joseph Gies are held by the academic community.
You ask if these authors are credible? I can also think of no better
way to demonstrate that they are and highly so.
You ask if they are going against the conventional wisdom. Among many
serious history scholars, the Gies "ARE" the conventional wisdom.
However, to make a fair answer, some professional academics in the
field of medieval studies are not impressed with the Gies. The reason
being that they offer no new theories or evidence. What they do is
sift and sort through already established knowledge, digest it,
challange the obvious errors, and present it in an understandable and
easily read form. The Gies are not cutting edge researchers or
archaeologists, they are historians, plain and simple.
The nature of this forum is such that anonymity is the rule, so I
cannot give you any personal information about myself which would
reveal any identity. However, as a historian and retired
archaeologist, I can freely and enthusiastically endorse these authors
as excellent reads.
If you are a serious historian, you may want to seek more "scholarly"
works and since history is an evolving topic, you may want to find
more recent works as well.
But if you are just beginning your studies, nowhere will you find a
more comprehensive, detailed, and accessible general introduction to
the topic of medieval daily life. We all have to start somewhere, and
I recommend the Gies highly.
As for their methodology, they attempt as much as possible not to use
any personal viewpoints or theories to describe or assume any
conclusions about life in the Middle Ages.
They do not try to persuade the reader to accept their particular
views, but provide facts which allow the reader to also critically
analyze medieval life . The work of the Gies is effective as history
due to the sources they use and they tell the reader about those
sources as part of their presentation. They use chronicles,
archaeological evidence, medieval contemporary accounts, fiscal
accounts of the time, letters, legal and political documents, and much
When using documents from the Middle Ages, they also point out that
each of these documents has its own viewpoints and prejudices. They
attempt to present the most authentic, objective and truthful facts
they can, even is such facts fly in the face of more popularly held
public opinions. When I say "public" opinions, I am speaking not of
acadamia, but of those things which the average person "thinks" they
know about history. We have a tendency to "filter" historic knowledge
through whatever set of beliefs or "isms" rule our lives and subscribe
only to those things which backup or reinforce what we "want" things
to be. The Gies are not afraid to challange those beliefs. While
their books are (thankfully) popular, they do not write for the
popular or "pop" history market, they write for scholarship.
I was not able to find a curriculum vitae for either of them on the
Internet. But I do hope that the information above, especially that
dealing with the wide spread acceptance of their work by acadamia,
gives you the evidence you need that their credentials are indeed
Search - Google
Terms - Frances +and Joseph Gies, Gies +and Gies, Gies +and acadamia,
university history course required texts +and reading
If I may clarify anything before you rate the answer, please let me
Best of luck with your history studies.