The Age of Chivalry. Not to be confused with Bulfinch, it's a beautifully illustrated overview of the whys and wherefores of the incessant warfare that characterized the period. "To call this a coffee-table book would be unjust" wrote Britain's Spectator. "It is an intelligent and attractive guide to Europe’s middle ages, quite satisfactory to the specialist, but just as accessible to a precocious teenager. It will make plenty of people very happy if they find it wrapped beneath the Christmas tree."
If one wants to see firsthand how folks went about their daily affairs in the early 1400, look no further than the exquisite Très Riches Heures, a reproduction of a volume painted by the Limbourg Brothers for Jean, Duc de Berry at a time when commissioning such a marvel was the equivalent to buying a house today. Below is August from the section that depicts months of the year.