The 14th century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony-a world plunged into chaos. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing to us both 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. Here are guilty passions; loyalties and treacheries; political assassinations; sea battles and sieges; fear of the end of the world; corruption in high places and a yearning for reform; satire and humor; sorcery and demonology; lust and sadism on the stage. Here are proud cardinals, beggars, bailiffs, feminists, Jews, university scholars, grocers, bankers, clerks, sorcerers, mercenaries, saints and mystics, lawyers and tax-collectors, and, dominating all, the knight in his valor and "furious follies," a "terrible worm in an iron cocoon."Tuchman, Barbara W. is the author of 'Distant Mirror The Calamitous Fourteenth Century', published 1987 under ISBN 9780345349576 and ISBN 0345349571.