Millennium : The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom Paperback
by Tom Holland
Of all the civilisations existing in the year 1000, that of Western Europe seemed the unlikeliest candidate for future greatness.
Compared to the glittering empires of Byzantium or Islam, the splintered kingdoms on the edge of the Atlantic appeared impoverished, fearful and backward.
But the anarchy of these years proved to be, not the portents of the end of the world, as many Christians had dreaded, but rather the birthpangs of a radically new order. MILLENNIUM is a stunning panoramic account of the two centuries on either side of the apocalyptic year 1000.
This was the age of Canute, William the Conqueror and Pope Gregory VII, of Vikings, monks and serfs, of the earliest castles and the invention of knighthood, and of the primal conflict between church and state.
The story of how the distinctive culture of Europe - restless, creative and dynamic - was forged from out of the convulsions of these extraordinary times is as fascinating and as momentous as any in history.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512 pages, Section: 24, b/w
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 02/07/2009
- Category: European history
- ISBN: 9780349119724
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by jintster
Tom Holland has risen very quickly to become one of the UK's foremost popular historians. The rpimary reason is his ability to tell a complex story reasonably simply through sharp and lucid prose. With his third book, he has tried to add an element of analysis to the storytelling but he doesn't seem wholly comfortable with it. His argument is that it was this period that saw the formal seperation of church and the state which gave rise to the distinction between Christian western Europe and Islam. However, it's not a particularly strong argument and he pursues it rather half-heartedly. The storytelling is compelling. The first crusade, castles and terrorising castellions springing up everywhere, the collapse of Muslim Spain, Viking pirates, the Norman invasion...there's plenty of action here. Such a canvas would be too broad for many writers but Holland just about manages to keep it together although there are so many charcaters to deal with it does become a bit difficult to follow sometimes.
Review by cwhouston
This is easily the best history book I've picked up for a long time. It's tremendously readable, without feeling simplistic, and is stuffed full of details that somehow Holland manages to wrap together into a coherent whole. It summarises the history of Europe during the period commonly called 'the dark ages', from the collapse of the Roman empire up to the 'first' millenium. The majority of the text then covers the remarkable events of the 11th century.This is absolutely ideal for an introduction to this period of European history and may well be appreciated by people who might ordinarily avoid non-fiction. I purchased another of his titles immediately after finishing this. Superb.
Review by jcbrunner
An enjoyable if disjointed history of some highlights of 10th and 11th century European history. Its new US title "The Forge of Christendom" is in no way warranted. The turn of the millennium (giving it its original title) is also not an important part of the narrative. Its focus lies on some extraordinary rulers in Germany, Italy and England, with Henry IV going to Canossa at the start and conclusion of he book. For people unaware of Canossa,1066 and all that, it might serve as a light introduction (which omits huge parts of Europe to concentrate on the already familiar). Georges Duby's L'an Mil offers more.
Review by SChant
A readable history of Europe around the first christian millenium. The spread of names and places was a bit confusing at times, and I thought the "Millenium" reference was a bit of a stretch when the timespan covered around 400 years, but all-in-all very enjoyable.