A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman

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Speaking of Europe in the 14th century, people often think of the plague, insurrections, schism in the Church, and other negative labels. For the most part, it was a time of violence, misery and suffering, as well as darkness and chaos. People tend to use the word “dark” to describe it, but this is inherently biased and too generic. That’s why we need a guide who can give us a closer look at this period in history so we can better understand it.

After a painstaking search through history, the author of this book found us a fitting guide. Born in 1340 and having passed away in 1397, our protagonist came from a prestigious family. He had high social status, as he participated and served as commander in chief in many key battles. He was also politically savvy, playing a very active and major role in the times he lived in. He was Enguerrand de Coucy VII, also known as the Sire de Coucy.

In this bookey, we’ll hear the legendary life story of Coucy and closely examine the religion, politics, culture and social life of that time. We’ll see how the fate of an individual could be impacted by major historical events such as the plague, the Hundred Years’ War, the corruption of the papacy, and the rise of the Ottoman Turks.

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