There died in Avignon in one day one thousand three hundred and twelve persons, according to a count made for the pope, and another day four hundred and fifty-eight persons and more. Three hundred and fifty-eight of the friars preachers in the region of Provence died during lent.
"At that time the mortality was so great that it left scarcely any one alive ... [and] laborers could exact their own terms, whether wages or clothing."
"Wickedness increased to such a degree that [people] no longer had any regard for honesty or good faith, and robbery and trickery reached such a level that it was a rare thing to find anyone who would keep his word or fulfill his obligations."
"Amid the errors there shone forth men of brilliant genius, who although they were incapable of stemming the torrent of barbarism, became conspicuous in their erudite works."
"In these days, there shone forth many men of incomparable holiness, whom the Lord magnified with the signs of miracles and wonders."
"Rome was great in arms, law and eloquence. But our Athens has surpassed it in the study of the arts and sciences."
“Souls ignite one another, minds fertilize one another, tongues exchange confidences; and the mysteries of this human being, a microcosm in this macrocosm, abound and spread.”
"The Gothic Age was not dark; it produced universities, windmills, mechanical clocks, spectacles, the guild-system, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio."
"Our use of the term 'Dark Ages' to denote the early Middle Ages betrays our bias towards literacy and the written word."
Against the malice of servants who were idle and unwilling to serve after the pestilence without taking outrageous wages it was recently ordained by our lord the king, with the assent of the prelates, nobles and others of his council, that such servants, both men, and women, should be obliged to serve in return for the salaries and wages which were customary (in those places where they ought to serve) during the twentieth year of the present king’s reign (1346-7) or five or six years previously.
“It is the custom in England, as with other countries, for the nobility to have great power over the common people, who are serfs. This means that they are bound by law and custom to plough the field of their masters, harvest the corn, gather it into barns, and thresh and winnow the grain; they must also mow and carry home the hay, cut and collect wood, and perform all manner of tasks of this kind.”
"At that time the peasants were so much at peace and tranquil that they scarcely knew what a helmet looked like."
"When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men."
"The rich, the mighty, and the nobles oppress the poor and the weak so cruelly that it is pitiful to see them."
"The lord owes his vassal protection...so that all shall live in peace."
"Between a serf and the lord of the manor there was a close tie...a feudal group knit closely together by common obligations."
"The wretched serf does immeasurably more than his lord prescribes for him...he dreads his lord's greed."
"The peasant subjected to his lord erupts in anger and rage."
"The lord spends his days in gluttony and lust, in gaming, hawking, hunting."
"Then the archers shot with bows, and the mangonels threw stones, and the knights and foot-soldiers with swords and spears fought hand to hand at the walls and gates, and so violently assailed them that they took the outer wall by force."
"The king of England had the town surrounded on all sides, and shut up by sea and land, so that no person could enter or go out without his leave. He had the sea watched by his ships, to prevent any succour being thrown in by that quarter; and had made his miners work night and day."
"It is only the diligent and sagacious general who can draw up his army near the walls of a fortified town so as to take the greatest advantage of the nature of the place."
“The principal part of a siege is the construction of engines. These are of various kinds, and are used to throw darts and stones, to batter the walls, to undermine the foundations, to fill up the ditches, and to cast bridges over them.”
"The king ordered his army to close in on the city and besiege it. They surrounded the city walls, constructing wooden siege engines and towers to attack the ramparts."
"We employed siege engines of every kind, battering rams, catapults, mangonels, petraries, Greek fire, crossbows, and slings. The defenders countered our every move."
"The bold attackers fought their way over ramparts and walls. The defenders showered stones, arrows and fire upon them. A fierce struggle ensued."
"Miners hid themselves below ground, digging a hollow trench under the foundations. Propping up the ground with wood, they took away the lower stones."
“The trebuchet is a machine for throwing stones. It is made thus: two beams are laid across each other, and a sling is attached to the point where they cross. A stone is placed in the sling, and when the machine is set in motion, the stone is thrown with great force.”
BBC History: The Black Death (archived page)
The Medieval Guide: The Art Of Medieval Siege Warfare - Attack and Defense
Medieval Chronicles: Siege Warfare and Tactics
Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance - Provides "bibliographies of articles and reviews drawn from 518 medieval and renaissance journal titles".
Labyrinth - Global information network providing access to electronic resources in medieval studies.
Links to Other Chaucerian and Medieval Sites - Links to materials on Chaucer and to medieval Studies in general
The Medieval Review - Distributes reviews of current scholarly work in the field of medieval studies.
The Online Medieval & Classical Library - "A collection of some of the most important literary works of Classical and Medieval civilization."
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