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By Barbara W. Tuchman

The 14th century offers 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 conflict, worry and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing either the nice rhythms of background and the grain and texture of household existence because it used to be lived.

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Extra resources for A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

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30 Initiates who only temporarily form a communitas are to be distinguished from marginals, who permanently form a group on the edges of society. They also can pose a possible threat to society since they elude normal societal structures, as demonstrated in Metzler’s paper on disability that denotes that the status of a liminal group of people could be found in the places they were permitted to enter and the location of these structures and areas. In general then and speaking in spatial terms, the state of being in between stages, either as an initiate or—to come closer to the subject of this volume—as an ill person hovering between life and death, is very discomforting to humans and to the cultures in which they live.

26 As we will see in some contributions in this volume, finding the borders between categories, such as between the human sexes, can be a matter of ideological importance. Just as the borders of categories and other phenomena can be unclear, they can be permeable as well. 27 To begin with, the borders of a body can be situated more internally, for instance when one is digesting food. When does the food become part of our body, or ourselves? When it passes our lips? Or further down, when it has reached our stomachs?

A. Bazelmans, By Weapons Made Worthy. Lords, Retainers and Their Relationships in Beowulf. (Amsterdam Archeological Studies) 5 (Amsterdam, 1999); Chris Fowler, The Archaeology of Personhood. An Anthropological Approach (London and New York, 2004). 28 Nijdam, Lichaam, eer en recht, esp.  281–321. introduction 11 and surveillance. 29 Douglas’ theory is particularly significant for the study of medicine when controls are put into place for the outbreaks of diseases that regulate the spaces through which people move.

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