A handsome history opens with an overview of life in France in the 12th and 13th centuries. Readers can glean much general information about the medieval world; the spread depicting the spice trade is particularly informative. The second part focuses on events in one day in the life of a real woman, Blanche, Countess of Champagne, who managed her deceased husband's territory in order to protect her infant son's inheritance. It wasn't easy: Upon his father's death, her son became a ward of the king, who was keen to gobble up the assets of all his wards. She not only maintained his inheritance, but improved it. Bacchin's evocative full-color paintings complement Pernoud's meticulous detailing of Blanche's rigorous schedule--up before the sun and busy all the day with administrative work, her only respite in prayer, music, and poetry. This solid and informationally rewarding slice of life makes the Middle Ages vivid for researchers and browsers alike.