By Barbara W. Tuchman
The 14th century provides us again contradictory pictures: a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and a depressing time of ferocity and non secular affliction, a global plunged right into a chaos of struggle, worry and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing either the nice rhythms of heritage and the grain and texture of household existence because it used to be lived.
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Additional info for A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
Roads leading to the city The roads to Jerusalem appear on the medieval maps. 14 It ran from Jaffa via Ramla, Lydda, Beit Nuba, al-Qubeiba and Bidu to Mons Gaudi, and from there probably via the recently discovered village at al-Burj, and close to the farmhouse at Har Hozevim, finally arriving at the main gate of Jerusalem, Porta David. A second road shown on the maps is the Vicus ad Betleem Effrata (the road to Bethlehem and Ephrata). Most of the maps show no other roads, but there were alternative routes such as that which came from the coast on a more northerly route and reached the northern gate, Porta St Stephan, the road from Nablus, and the road from Porta Josaphat to the Jordan via Bethany.
Romanesque churches rose up amongst the twisting alleyways and typically Middle-Eastern souks continued to function under the Franks. Contemporary maps Prior to the twelfth century the only important map of the city is also the earliest one known, the sixth-century mosaic map in Madaba in Transjordan. 4 Most of these maps were drawn in the form of a circle oriented to the east and usually divided by a cross formed by the two main roads: the Cardo (Vicus ad Porte St Stephani and Vicus ad Porte Montis Syon) and the Decumanis (Vicus ad Templum Domini, elsewhere called Via David).
6 Jerusalem: the western entrance to the medieval Cotton Market (photograph by the author) indicating that in post-Frankish times the floor was considerably higher than it had originally been or is today. In the street of Tariq Bab al-Silsila there is a vaulted structure which may have been a market hall (Burgoyne 1987:336, n. 18). It consists of six groin-vaulted bays on the ground-floor level. Piers and at least two limestone columns carry the transverse arches supporting the vaults. The original facade is largely hidden by later construction, but two of the original arches can be partly seen.