By Barbara W. Tuchman
The 14th century supplies us again contradictory photos: a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and a gloomy time of ferocity and non secular discomfort, a global plunged right into a chaos of warfare, worry and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing either the good rhythms of historical past and the grain and texture of household existence because it was once lived.
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Extra info for A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
These gardens mainly featured vegetables with as many medicinal herbs as peasants could grow successfully. They were generally surrounded by wattle (woven) fences in an effort to keep pigs out of the garden. Abbey gardens. Monasteries had multiple gardens, including vegetable gardens and “herbers” for cultivating foods and herbs to eat, an infirmarer’s garden of medicinal herbs, and orchards created for growing fruit but also laid out in such a way that monks came to them to both pray and pace (monks frequently pondered difficult questions while pacing).
Hemp was eventually identified as a cheaper alternative to mandrake. Every manor grew hemp for its fibrous stalks that made good ropes, so it was readily available for use as a painkiller at a much lower cost. The poppy plant (from which opium is made) was also grown as a painkiller; sometimes mothers used poppy juice on their nipples so the baby would sleep after feeding. Cinchona bark (quinine) was another remedy of the period, and this plant is still viewed as effective for malaria. Diagnosis and Treatment Methods 41 Little has been written about how they determined food qualities, but as with herbal remedies, the medieval food values were almost certainly a combination of association (what the food reminded them of) and trial and error.
Because people lacked education, the words and phrases used often slurred into more of a magical hodgepodge of nonsense. Relics In faith healing, relics were often important to the process, and if a possession that was thought to have belonged to a saint seemed to cure effectively, then myths about the objects grew. This success brought great attention to the house of worship that claimed ownership of the relic, and that church soon became the site of mass pilgrimages, which brought an increase of attention and income.