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A Distant Mirror
A Distant Mirror | Barbara Wertheim Tuchman
"Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . A great book, in a great historical tradition." CommentaryThe 14th century gives us back two contradictory images: a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and a dark time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world plunged into a chaos of war, fear and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing both the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived.
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review
breadnroses
A Distant Mirror | Barbara Wertheim Tuchman
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Mehso-so

DONE. This bad boy took me a whole month to finish. Tuchman‘s research is meticulous; I‘m sure sifting through all those primary documents made her head spin, because that‘s how I often felt reading this book! While I learned a LOT about Medieval Europe, it was unnecessarily long and at times repetitive. I mean, most books probably don‘t need to be 600 pages long… 😅 But overall, I enjoyed it. 🌟3.5/5🌟

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Texreader
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Our fam opens presents on Christmas Eve and here‘s my bookish haul. Also got the James Rollins‘ short story compilation. 🥰

#wintergames #merryreaders @Clwojick

Clwojick ♥️😍😍😍😍 2y
MaureenMc I received the same puzzle. 🥰 2y
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GoneFishing

Medieval justice was scrupulous about holding proper trials and careful not to sentence without proof of guilt, but it achieved proof by confession rather than evidence, and confession was routinely obtained by torture.

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annamatopoetry
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Pickpick

Finally done!
It's a weak pick, because although Tuchman's motive was to display the ultimate failure of the concept of knighthood and chivalry in war, she went about it in some questionable ways. Choosing de Councy as her focal agent was one of them, mainly b/c of his portrayal in a constantly positive light. I enjoyed the chapters that strayed from C. best, and longbows were discussed, but this book is far from flawless & quite unevenly paced.

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annamatopoetry
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I can drink tea! It was tasty, even though I only had a small cup.
Reading at home, because I really need to finish this book some time this century, and there's not much point in going to the coffee shop when they only use to go cups and paper bags.
Reminder that you're perfectly able to go outside as long as you don't hang out with people!

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annamatopoetry
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Poetic justice! Also, sugar bun.

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annamatopoetry
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I made it to page 500! Less than a hundred left. Now there's political intrigue that I don't care about! (lunch at Coffee Works, because Seattle is a bit crazy and I'm currently working from home. )

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annamatopoetry
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"before his downfall, which finishes off the Plantagenets, he invented the handkerchief, recorded in his household rolls as 'little pieces [of cloth] made for giving to the lord King for carrying in his hand to wipe and clean his nose'."
And that's why I keep reading this book. When it's good, it's a fantastic mix of high and low.

rubyslippersreads I‘ve had this on my TBR for ages. 3y
annamatopoetry @rubyslippersreads it's good, but very long, especially if you read it like I did until last week: carefully taking note of everything. I've started skimming the boring bits now and it's so much easier. 3y
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annamatopoetry
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Hey, I had hot chocolate and a jam tart outside before my day fucked up entirely (note: this was Lucas' fault for coming home a full hour and a half later than expected, and every fucking store's fault for closing early as fuck). Still reading this, because it will never end

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annamatopoetry
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How it's going? It's going, I guess. Started skimming the day boring passages. Umbria is pretty and the raspberry croissant amazing.

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Texreader
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This article is making me add books to my tbr list, including the tagged book! Not sure if that is good “self-therapy.”

https://lithub.com/escaping-into-books-about-the-middle-ages-is-my-self-therapy/

catiewithac Guilty!!!! I just started Crusaders by Dan Jones! 🛡 3y
Crazeedi All these books sound good to me!! 3y
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annamatopoetry
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I hit page 400, and am thus 2/3 through. May start skimming at this point; the events are always interesting, the choice of narration is not.
Tried a hot chocolate for the first time since January 11, and I seem to be doing okayish. (the CT scan came back indicating nothing wrong, as expected, still a relief. I have an endoscopy scheduled for March.)

Buechersuechtling Congratulations on your good CT results and your delicious got chocolate. I always love your pictures. A book, a yummy bun, and a nice drink. Makes me smile often. 3y
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annamatopoetry
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The French: being French already in the 1300s. Good for them.

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annamatopoetry
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Oookay back to the medieval stuff. The book itself is good but I am so sick of Councy, just drop him and focus on the era as a whole. (I brought soup for lunch but there were leftover Einstein Bros Bagel sandwiches after a meeting, so win.)

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annamatopoetry
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"Since papal revenue was cut in half, the financial effect of the schism was catastrophic. To keep each papacy from bankruptcy, simony redoubled, benefices and promotions were sold under pressure, charges for spiritual dispensations of all kinds were increased, as were chancery taxes on every document required..." but overall getting tired of religious schisms.

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annamatopoetry
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I haven't sat down with a book and a cup of coffee for over a week, so this is really nice. Church history is also much more interesting than the doings of the lord of Councy. Is this book never going to end? Probably. I like it though, I'm just busy baking and cooking and crafting and cleaning and a little bit of writing to have time for anything else. Ah, christmas season.

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annamatopoetry
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I have thoughts about Tuchman's portrayal of Isabella de Councy (English princess turned wife of the focal point French lord the book follows). It seem like she accepts her sources uncritically, and the sources said vain, spoiled, bitch. || I also have done my holiday decorating shopping for the year and am almost done decorating. Then I ate all the things.

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annamatopoetry
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"Knights of Picardy, Artois, Vermandois, and Hainault came with their squires and men-at-arms to “advance themselves in honor” in Coucy‘s enterprise. “Honor” in the lexicon of chivalry meant combat against other knights /... / The elasticity of the human mind allowed honor to be unaffected by partnership with mercenaries and brigands." slow progress, as I haven't read this week. I've written 3k+ words though.

annamatopoetry I made it to page 300! Which means I am more than halfway done. 3y
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annamatopoetry
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Stopping by coffee works after work because I needed to run some errands. Only have the ebook to read so that's what I'm doing. Looks like Italy is being difficult (to the Avignon pope)

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annamatopoetry
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"Goat-footed priests, monkeys, minstrels, flowers, birds, castles, lusting demons, and imaginary beasts twine through the pages in bizarre companionship with the sanctity of prayer." medieval marginalia is the best. Also, fashion chapter. Also, also, peach tart.

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annamatopoetry
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1. I'm back at A Distant Mirror. Approaching the halfway point. It's a long, dense book. Also Sakhalin Island, but it's longer, denser, and boring. I finished This Is How You Lose the Time War yesterday.
2. "When the château passed passed into the possession or Philip of Burgundy, the devices were kept in working order by a resident artist."
3. Oat caramel latte.
#weekendreads @rachelsbrittain

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annamatopoetry
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"Evidence /... / indicates that women‘s death rate was higher than men‘s between the ages of twenty and forty, presumably from childbearing and greater vulnerability to disease. After forty the death rate was reversed, and women, once widowed, were allowed to choose for themselves whether to remarry or not." this is true for most of post-antiquity European history; the best position a woman can find herself is as a window.

rwmg Transparency has always been a virtue 3y
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annamatopoetry
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Saving for future writing endeavors

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annamatopoetry
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"Events took a startling turn when King Jean himself, for whose recovery his country had sacrificed so much, voluntarily returned to captivity in England. The motivations of this curious monarch are not readily understood 600 years later;"
The fuck, Jean.
It's late and I'm going to the gym when I'm done with my coffee, because my back is ANGRY.

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annamatopoetry
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... And when unconditional surrender is the only ideological option, they were fucking stuck, is what she's saying. The 1300s were interesting as fuck but pretty bad to exist in.

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annamatopoetry
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"Though [Charles of Navarre's] promise was widely thought to be inspired by God, the King of Navarre could not live without plotting, and within months was engaged in a new plan to dispose of the Dauphin." or: Ms Tuchman is feeling salty again.

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annamatopoetry
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I didn't have a single moment for reading yesterday, mostly due to the fact that I went to a Hozier concert in the evening (SO GOOD despite having to sit due to the Ankle Situation). Today I finished the too-short chapter on the Jacqueries and ate a cherry jam tart (ew) because the sign lied and said it was raspberry.

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annamatopoetry
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Home from work today with really bad cramps. It was 11 before I made it out of bed (and mostly because my back hurt) but after 2pm I was up for heading out for more painkillers and a cup of coffee. Still reading this brick, approaching page 200.

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annamatopoetry
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"These wall chimneys “in the French fashion,” as they were called in Italy, were the greatest luxury of middle-class homes. The only other warmth came from the oven and cooking fire and warming pans in bed at night. Like sanitation, heating was an arrangement that the age seems technologically equipped to have handled better than it did, were it not that man is as irrational about his comfort as about other activities."

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annamatopoetry
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"The comparative ineffectiveness of French archery throughout the century is a puzzle. Towns and villages of France maintained companies of archers who were encouraged by special privileges, and men of the Beauvais /.. /considered themselves in individual skill the best in the world. Yet they were never properly combined in action with knights and men-at-arms, because French chivalry scorned to share its dominance of the field with commoners."

Buechersuechtling 🤭 Yes, that makes perfect sense *irony off* and – in my ears and life experience – sounds exactly like what the main body of men (in a military position) would bring forward as an argument. 🤦🏽‍♀️ 3y
annamatopoetry @Buechersuechtling oh absolutely. You see it over and over in history - military and political strategy is so deeply steeper in social and economical structures that it can't change even when it has to. 9th c Wessex comes to mind too - they were getting their assets kicked by vikings for *decades* until Alfred the Great was like "fuck honorable combat, we're using guerilla warfare". And won. 3y
annamatopoetry @Buechersuechtling I should add that it wasn't JUST a matter of ego. In medieval French society, the three classes were broadly Those Who Fight, Those Who Pray, and Those Who Farm. Being a nobleman was *synonymous* with being a warrior. No one else was allowed to own certain weapons, war horses, etc. Priests and nobility payed no/less taxes in exchange for prayers/armed defence. To let commoners play an important role would upend everything. 3y
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annamatopoetry
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Umbria today. They had a sugar bun! The hundred years war... Well, it's continuing. Tbh troup movements isn't my favorite, but at least I'm reading.

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annamatopoetry
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Saturday lack of pastries hack: have it be sunny so you can sit outside and illicitly bring a pastry from starbucks. Hey, if they want me to buy shit here they have to have it be available for purchase.

I haven't read much this week, unsure why other than general sense of meh. Oh, and lots of Solitaire. In the book, it's France's turn to have an absurdly incompetent king.

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annamatopoetry
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My coffee shop has jam tarts again!!!! I'm EXTREMELY excited about this. They also have new cups, which, while not as pretty as the old ones, are extremely photogenic. The book? Less uplifting, it's focused on the topic of the plague and antisemitism atm.

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Buechersuechtling
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Hey @annamatopoetry 👋🏼,
in case you speak German this article I stumbled across two days ago might raise your interest and/or make you happy:

🏹 🎯 https://www.welt.de/geschichte/article200553240/Poitiers-1356-Der-englische-Lang...

annamatopoetry I don't (beyond the very basics) , but I'll try to work through it with Google translate! 3y
annamatopoetry Delightful!! Always happy to see stuff about longbows, but even more so when their cultural significance is emphasized! 3y
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annamatopoetry
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"It was no lack of prowess that defeated the French and allied knights. They fought as valiantly as the English, for knights were much the same in all countries. England‘s advantage lay in combining the use of those excluded from chivalry—the Welsh knifemen, the pikemen, and, above all, the trained yeomen who pulled the longbow—with the action of the armored knight." longbowsssss #longbows

annamatopoetry I'll elaborate. Knights - heavy cavalry - were basically the tanks of the army. Heavily armed and armored knights atop armored horses the only thing that could really stop their charge was other knights. A foot soldier can take down an individual knights with some luck and skill, but a whole force of them? Nothing. Until longbows. And a knight takes a generation to replace. 3y
annamatopoetry A knight's horse alone ate as much grain as several peasants. Knights were super pricey to maintain but kept because the feudal system needed them to be Those Who Fight. Longbows? You can train a peasant to be useful in a few weeks. Really skilled in a year. But France resisted to let bowmen lead for the longest time BECAUSE it went egainst their entire worldview. And it fucked them over so bad. Once that became clear, feudalism couldnt continue thriving. 3y
Tamra Really interesting! 3y
annamatopoetry @Tamra it's literally on my top three of things to go on long rants about! A little simplified here of course but it gets the gist of it. 3y
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annamatopoetry
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"Raising money to pay the cost of war was to cause more damage to the 14th century than the physical destruction of war itself." tbh that can be said of many eras (900s Eng, 1400s and 1600s Swe come to mind). The logic: the money always end up coming from the bottom. Hungrier peasants work less well, thus grow less crops, get unhealthier, & malnutrition causes a weakened immune system, shorter lifespan and lower intelligence. Recipe for disaster.

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annamatopoetry
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It's time for longbowsssss! You have no idea how excited this makes me, the longbow is just a phenomenal game changer in medieval warfare, effectively ending feudalism, although the plague helped. Can't wait to read Tuchman's interpretation of what happened.
Vegetarian pasta sauce for lunch.

annamatopoetry "But feudalism didn't end until much later", you say. Well, it took its sweet time. But the crumbling started. 3y
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annamatopoetry
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Better luck today. Hanging out at Coffee Works, book is catching up (I enjoy they way it doesn't assume the reader doesn't know anything about the 14th century, but still gives you the lay of the land in terms of how people lived and what they believed). I'm not 100% on board with the "babies mostly died early so people didn't love them" thesis, though, and Tuchman appears to be.

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annamatopoetry
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Couldn't concentrate on my book because the experience was ruined by bad service. Coffee Works was out of pastries (this is normal on Saturdays, bc apparently people who run coffee shops are incapable of planning ahead & thus run out of everything 4 hours before close) so I went to Umbria, where I got my coffee in a to-go cup and was handed the wrong pastry. I like my Saturday bokfika, so it's annoying when people go out of their way to fuck it up

Buechersuechtling It‘s not meant to be impolite – but I just grinned with my whole face when I read your post. I like your tone and can so much relate to how annoyed you were since I would‘ve felt pretty much the same. 🙂 3y
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annamatopoetry
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Working from home today, so lunch at Coffee Works, outside! Avignon was quite the place while a papal city.

Emilymdxn Great picture! 3y
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annamatopoetry
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Nelly says "calm ur tits, Phil". Reading on my phone cause I'm too lazy to get up and get the paper book. (also icing The Ankle)

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annamatopoetry
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I couldn't go back to school again, but oh man, medievalists get to use the best terminology.

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annamatopoetry
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... And a ginormous hardback of A Distant Mirror so now I can go back to reading it.

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annamatopoetry
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It's almost as if training a whole class of men to fight and to fight only leads to problem when there's nothing to fight at the moment.
I decided to order a hard copy of this book from Powells - it's good, but I hate reading it on my phone and there were twice as many holds as copies at the library. So I'll take a break from it until it arrives.

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annamatopoetry
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1. Done
2. Try to rest The Damn Ankle, paint some furniture and some watercolors, dinner with friends
3. Half baked Ben and Jerry's, mint stragiatella at the local ice cream place, malted milk at Gelatiamo
4. No. I played the recorder as a wee child. I'd love to play the piano but don't have the patience and coordination to learn.
5 ok!
@howjessreads #friyayintro

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annamatopoetry
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It's a kindle book (not a trade paperback; it's lying)! This happens only rarely.

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Eggs
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#catalog

#quotsy

@TK-421

Image: Pinterest

Leftcoastzen I miss them so much! 3y
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annamatopoetry
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New book # 2, from the department of "I thought Neil Gaiman lost his ability to recommend books to me around 2013 but apparently no" (also, how do y'all add backgrounds to books like this? I tried every photo app that I had, then gave up, opened my computer, and did it in photoshop in about 11 seconds)

rwmg A fascinating book 3y
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GoneFishing

As the era of the sword was ending, that of firearms began, in time to allow no lapse in man‘s belligerent capacity.

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GoneFishing

The emphasis on sorcery reflected accusations by the authorities more than it did actual practice. Being threatened, the Church responded by virulent persecution.

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