Per uno o più di quegli accidenti che hanno costellato la mia vita di uomo e di lettore questo libro è rimasto in lettura per 14 anni.
Eppure è un libro splendido in cui ci si può perdere.
Questo capolavoro è la storia del Sire di Coucy della sua vita e del suo ruolo nella guerra dei cent'anni e allo stesso tempo lo splendido ritratto di un'epoca e di un secolo, il Trecento.
Non può quindi mancare per nessun motivo nella libreria di chiunque si dica interessato al Medioevo.
medieval5c-16c, nonfiction, published-1979, france, history, paper-read, books-with-a-passport
Recommended for: Post on to Clare
Read in October, 2009
** spoiler alert ** There be maps, and we love maps.
Opening - Formidable and grand on a hilltop in Picardy, the five-towered castle of Coucy dominated the approach to Paris from the north, but whether as guardian or as challenger of the monarchy in the capital was an open question.
Ending - Times were to grow worse over the next fifty-odd years until at some imperceptible moment, by some mysterious chemistry, energies were refreshed, ideas broke out of the mould of the Middle Ages into new realms, and humanity found itself re-directed.
To provide a central figure in her sweeping narrative, Tuchman chose the French nobleman Enguerrand de Coucy, partly because he lived a relatively long life and could therefore stay in the story during most of the 14th century. (De Coucy was born in 1340, seven years before the Black Death began in southern Italy. He died in 1397.) But he was chosen mostly because he was in the forefront of action tied, as he was, to both France and England. De Coucy was a French noble, but he married a daughter of Edward III of England.
The book covers the cataclysms suffered by Europe in the 14th century: the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, the papal schism, pillaging mercenaries, and popular revolts, including the Jacquerie in France, ruthlessly suppressed by de Coucy and his contemporaries, the liberation of Switzerland, the Battle of the Golden Spurs and peasant uprisings against laws that enforced the use of hops in beer. However, Tuchman does not just focus on political and religious changes. She begins her book with a discussion of the Little Ice Age, a change in climate that lowered the average temperature of Europe until the Eighteenth century. Tuchman also takes care to describe the lives of the people, from nobles and clergymen, right down to the peasantry.
Her most central text, as it is for any historian of the century, is Jean Froissart.