A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

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A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

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At no other historic period, the theory and practice of living have been in a greater discord, and Tuchman comments and elaborates on these paradoxes in such an immersive manner that her readers often find themselves in the midst of all events and actions, in the vicinity of battles and inside the domestic life of medieval men and women. Though I’m a bit wary that Tuchman is not a historian… I love books about Medieval times by Jacques le Goff, I’d argue that to date there was no better historian of Middle Ages than him – and Annales school of history, i. I will look into Le Goff books, thanks a lot for this recommendation, and I highly recommend this book by Tuchman.

Charles V who succeeded to the throne of France in 1364 developed a fairly effective strategy for dealing with the mercenaries, the tarde venus--pack them off to fight still more foreign wars! Contemporary conflicts in neighbouring areas, which were directly related to this conflict, included the War of the Breton Succession (1341–1364), the Castilian Civil War (1366–1369), the War of the Two Peters (1356–1375) in Aragon, and the 1383–85 Crisis in Portugal. She told me she had read this one three times – now, if that isn’t high praise it is hard to know what is. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. The strict hierarchy meant that everyone knew their place: “ the clergy had to pray for all men, the knight to fight for them, and the commoner to work that all might eat” [1978: 24].In these eminently readable and compelling pages the author brings the insights of a modern historian to bear on the decades of Chaucer and Boccaccio, the time of the Hundred Years' War and the Black Death, of the great fame of Dante, of extravagant civilization and bizarre superstition, of pilgrimage and plague, of revolutionary new technologies and enraged revolt against a poll tax. If to the above adventures, narrated ever so smoothly, one is to add the excellent studies of various chapters of Material Life in late Medieval Europe, that help us to shorten the Distance of the Mirror and make reflections become what is reflected, then one can begin to imagine the sheer pleasure that this book offers to whoever decides to open up its pages and read it.

I hadn’t studied the 14th century at all before reading Tuchman, but that was part of the charm the book: it was look into a world that was so thoroughly bizarre that I couldn’t not interested by it. My interest in medieval times is not incredibly strong; it is, in fact, relegated mostly to the hope of someday going to a Medieval Times restaurant. The increasingly bizarre machinations involving the split in the Catholic Church and the damage this did to both the church and society at large makes for fascinating reading in that it confirms yet again that people are often the last people you can rely on to act in any way that might be in accordance with their own best interests. Four and a half stars, with a half star off because all the battles and political machinations really were a bore, at least for me.Much faster to reload than the French crossbow, the longbow proved a decisive advantage, particularly as deployed by the far more organized and disciplined English army.

I’d actually recommend this book to historians and non-historians alike – that’s how much I liked it.Every Christian found himself under penalty of damnation by one or the other Pope, with no way of being sure that the sacraments of their priest were valid or a sacrilege. I think it helped her that she was not talking about the whole of the Middle Ages but just a century, and focused in particular on the life of Enguerrand VII de Coucy. One must take in score after score of kings, nobles, popes, prelates and others and their complex relationships as well as Middle Ages political geography. The Hundred Years War, the Papal Schism, the Black Death, peasant uprisings, the death of chivalry, crusades, assassinations, tournaments, all these things and more Tuchman explores through an examination of the life of one man, Enguerrand de Coucy.

The centre of the narrative here is the lifetime of Enguerrand VII de Coucy, whose double allegiances and adventures could be compared to some mythical storytelling.Look, if you are going to have trouble with the idea of people putting their lips to pus filled sores, then you are going to find this part of the book challenging. This transformation from the feudal system enabled the lords to squeeze the peasants mercilessly by charging rents for everything while no longer bearing any responsibility for the peasants’ wellbeing.

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