Study Guide

Crispin: Cross of Lead Setting

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England, A.D. 1377

Sometimes we have to read a bit in order to figure out a book's setting, but in this case, we know for sure because it announces it at the top of the first chapter. "A.D." stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for "in the year of Our Lord." Well into the 20th century, "A.D." was used to count years after the birth of Christ. Now it's more common to see "C.E." for "Common Era," though. Whatever initials we give it, 1377 is the same year, and it's late in the 14th century.

Speaking of the 14th Century…

It's an exciting time to be alive, and by exciting we mean terrifying. The 14th century is famous for several reasons, all of them likely to kill us. This is the time of the Great Mortality (better known today as the Black Death), the Hundred Years' War, and the Peasants' Revolt, just to name a few. Two things defined the everyday lives of people in 14th century Europe—constant violence and constant religion, sometimes separate, but often together. 

The 14th century is part of the Late Middle Ages, when feudalism was dying and people were beginning to have the kinds of thoughts that would lead to the Renaissance. The tumult of this period mirrors the uncertainty of Crispin's personal journey, adding adventure and roadblocks thanks to some seriously wack rules and social hierarchies.

Medieval Road Trips

Our larger setting is England, though we don't see very much of it in this book. Instead we travel with Crispin as he makes his way from the village of Stromford, a fictional but typical Medieval English manor and village, to the city of Great Wexly, a fictional but typical Medieval English walled city. On the way, Crispin passes such fictional but typical sights as a hanged man and a plague-stricken village. Hey, we told you the 14th century was exciting, so England proper pretty much takes a backseat.

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