A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman
The fourteenth century was a time of fabled crusades and chivalry, glittering cathedrals and grand castles. It was also a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.
Here, Barbara Tuchman masterfully reveals the two contradictory images of the age, examining the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes and war dominated the lives of serf, noble and clergy alike.
Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries and guilty passions, Tuchman recreates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, above all, knights. The result is an astonishing reflection of medieval Europe, a historical tour de force.