James Mcconnachie

Why the most important years in history were from 1347 to 1352

A review of Centuries of Change, by Ian Mortimer. It’s a book that is at its best offering counter-intuitive thoughts on the medieval period

A group of retired Somerset farmers were sitting about in the early 1960s, so Ian Mortimer’s story goes, debating which farming invention had most changed their lives. Was it the tractor? Fertilisers? Pesticides? Silos? No, they agreed, it was the Wellington boot.

Mortimer tells this old story to illustrate that ‘it is not always the most dramatic changes that make a difference to our lives’.

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