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“Modern historians have suggested that in his last years he (Richard II) was overtaken by mental disease, but that is only a modern view of the malfunction common to 14th century rulers: inability to inhibit impulse.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“Vainglory, however, no matter how much medieval Christianity insisted it was a sin, is a motor of mankind, no more eradicable than sex.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“If it is not profitable for the common good that authority should be retained, it ought to be relinquished.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“The social damage was not in the failure but in the undertaking, which was expensive. The cost of war was the poison running through the 14th century.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“Voluntary self-directed religion was more dangerous to the Church than any number of infidels.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“Whatever solace the Christian faith could give was balanced by the anxiety it generated.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“The unrecorded past is none other than our old friend, the tree in the primeval forest which fell without being heard”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“His (Deschamps’) complaint of court life was the same as is made of government at the top in any age: it was composed of hypocrisy, flattery, lying, paying and betraying; it was where calumny and cupidity reigned, common sense lacked, truth dared not appear, and where to survive one had to be deaf, blind, and dumb.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“If all were equalized by death, as the medieval idea constantly emphasized, was it not possible that inequalities on earth were contrary to the will of God?”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“It is wiser, I believe, to arrive at theory by way of evidence rather than the other way around…. It is more rewarding, in any case, to assemble the facts first and, in the process of arranging them in narrative form, to discover a theory or a historical generalization emerging of its own accord.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“The nastiness of women [in the 14th century] was generally perceived at the close of life when a man began to worry about hell, and his sexual desire in any case fading.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“Human beings, like plans, prove fallible in the presence of those ingredients that are missing in maneuvers – danger, death, and live ammunition.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“Dead battles, like dead generals, hold the military mind in their dead grip.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“Belgium, where there occurred one of the rare appearances of the hero in history, was lifted above herself by the uncomplicated conscience of her King and, faced with the choice to acquiesce or resist, took less than three hours to make her decision, knowing it might be mortal.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“No more distressing moment can ever face a British government than that which requires it to come to a hard, fast and specific decision.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“No less a bold and pugnacious figure than Winston Churchill broke down and was unable to finish his remarks at the sendoff of the British Expeditionary Force into the maelstrom of World War I in Europe.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“The ills and disorders of the 14th century could not be without consequence. Times were to grow worse over the next fifty-odd years until at some imperceptible moment, by the some mysterious chemistry, energies were refreshed, ideas broke out of the mold of the Middle Ages into new realms, and humanity found itself redirected.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“The costliest myth of our time has been the myth of the Communist monolith.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“The open frontier, the hardships of homesteading from scratch, the wealth of natural resources, the whole vast challenge of a continent waiting to be exploited, combined to produce a prevailing materialism and an American drive bent as much, if not more, on money, property, and power than was true of the Old World from which we had fled.”

 

Barbara Tuchman

“bureaucracy, safely repeating today what it did yesterday, rolls on as ineluctably as some vast computer, which, once penetrated by error, duplicates it forever.”

 

Barbara Tuchman