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A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (1978)

by Barbara Tuchman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,6261131,247 (4.15)282
The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated "Books of hours"; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague. Barbara Tuchman reveals both the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived. Here are the guilty passions, loyalties and treacheries, political assassinations, sea battles and sieges, corruption in high places and a yearning for reform, satire and humor, sorcery and demonology, and lust and sadism on the stage. Here are proud cardinals, beggars, feminists, university scholars, grocers, bankers, mercenaries, mystics, lawyers and tax collectors, and, dominating all, the knight in his valor and "furious follies," a "terrible worm in an iron cocoon."… (more)
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» See also 282 mentions

English (99)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Icelandic (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (110)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
The author found records of a 14th century French noble, Enguerrand de Coucy, and through him, studied the bloody 1300s in France and England. It helps to understand the enmity between these two countries, and to view the three-time emergence of the Black Plague during this century. Vividly described. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
Fróðleg og áhugaverð bók. Tuchman gefur góða mynd af öfgum 14 aldar í Evrópu sem felast í íburði og hroka, farsóttum og trúarlegu skipbroti og síðast en ekki síst linnulausum hernaði með rányrkju og skattpíningum. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
Lots of interesting facts about the 1300s: how armies waged war, travel times, typical books people read, etc.

The focus on one family might engage some readers better than it did me, but I found it tedious to keep track of the characters.

( )
  richardSprague | Mar 26, 2022 |
wonderful, a favorite
  Bookjoy144 | Mar 2, 2022 |
June 2020: Finally finished. How much and how little has changed in 600 years.

May 2020: I still have about 150 pages to go (I read non-fiction very slowly!) but am completely interested and enthralled by Barbara Tuchman's writing, and am already wondering what book about the 15th century I'll read... ( )
  gingerhat | Mar 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tuchman, Barbaraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sliedrecht-Smit, J.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spaans-van der Bijl, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, S. deEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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" For mankind is ever the same and nothing is lost out of nature, though everything is altered. "

John Dryden
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The genesis of this book was a desire to find out what were the effects on society of the most lethal disaster of recorded history-that is to say, of the Black Death of 1348-50, which killed an estimated one third of the population living between India and Iceland.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated "Books of hours"; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague. Barbara Tuchman reveals both the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived. Here are the guilty passions, loyalties and treacheries, political assassinations, sea battles and sieges, corruption in high places and a yearning for reform, satire and humor, sorcery and demonology, and lust and sadism on the stage. Here are proud cardinals, beggars, feminists, university scholars, grocers, bankers, mercenaries, mystics, lawyers and tax collectors, and, dominating all, the knight in his valor and "furious follies," a "terrible worm in an iron cocoon."

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