By Barbara W. Tuchman
"Wise, witty, and beautiful . . . an outstanding ebook, in an excellent old tradition." —CommentaryThe 14th century offers us again contradictory photos: a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and a depressing time of ferocity and religious affliction, a global plunged right into a chaos of conflict, worry and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing either the good rhythms of historical past and the grain and texture of household lifestyles because it used to be lived.
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Additional resources for A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
Part One Chapter 1 “I Am the Sire de Coucy”: The Dynasty Formidable and grand on a hilltop in Picardy, the five-towered castle of Coucy dominated the approach to Paris from the north, but whether as guardian or as challenger of the monarchy in the capital was an open question. Thrusting up from the castle’s center, a gigantic cylinder rose to twice the height of the four corner towers. This was the donjon or central citadel, the largest in Europe, the mightiest of its kind ever built in the Middle Ages or thereafter.
Lat. 1156B, fo. 163) 6. Guidoriccio da Fogliano, by Simone Martini (Scala/Editorial Photocolor Archives) 7. Banquet for the Emperor (BN: Ms. Fr. 2813, fo. 473v) 8. Departure for Mahdia campaign (British Museum: Harleian mss. 4379, fo. 60b) 9. Bal des Ardents (BN: Ms. Fr. 2646, fo. , pl. 3 Fortune’s wheel (Morgan Library: Ms. 324, fo. 5 Chaucer’s squire (The Huntington Library: Ellesmere ms. 7 View of Paris (BN: Ms. Fr. 2645, fo. 8 A country village (BN: Ms. Fr. 12 English archers (British Museum: Addit.
Many tried, a few succeeded, but the generality of mankind is not made for renunciation. There never was a time when more attention was given to money and possessions than in the 14th century, and its concern with the flesh was the same as at any other time. Economic man and sensual man are not suppressible. The gap between medieval Christianity’s ruling principle and everyday life is the great pitfall of the Middle Ages. It is the problem that runs through Gibbon’s history, which he dealt with by a delicately malicious levity, pricking at every turn what seemed to him the hypocrisy of the Christian ideal as opposed to natural human functioning.
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman