** Fast and lively . . . another blockbuster, Jenny Diski, SUNDAY TIMES ** A mighty narrative of kings and popes, battles and massacres . . . A tremendously good read, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE 'At last, a book that sheds much-needed light on those 1,000 years between Roman Britain and the Norman conquest that we call the dark ages, Sue Arnold GUARDIAN 'Holland tells a cracking tale, vividly bringing this neglected era of monks, popes, knights and serfs back to life, David Sinclair, TRIBUNE. Tom Holland is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. He is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and the Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Persian Fire, his history of the Graeco-Persian wars, won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award in 2006; Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom, a panoramic account of the two centuries on either side of the apocalyptic year 1000; In the Shadow of the Sword, which covers the collapse of Roman and Persian power in the Near East, and the emergence of Islam; and Dynasty, a portrait of Rome's first imperial dynasty.He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for the BBC. His translation of Herodotus was published in 2013 by Penguin Classics and followed in 2016 by a history of Æthelstan published under the Penguin Monarchs series, and in 2019 Æthelflæd England's Forgotten Founder as a Ladybird Expert Book. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical Association prize, awarded to 'the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome'.Holland is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Making History. He has written and presented a number of TV documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4, on subjects ranging from religion to dinosaurs.He served two years as the Chair of the Society of Authors; as Chair of the PLR Advisory Committee and was on the committee of the Classical [email protected]_tom. 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.
All roads lead to Clermont This is an engaging populist romp through the early Middle Ages that within the framework of the Millennium (and millenarist fears and hopes) seeks to draw together the development of the Holy Roman Empire and the emergence of papal monarchy, the two contending forces claiming to be be the temporal and spiritual heirs of Rome, in order to explain the distinct culture of the medieval Christendom that evolved in the eleventh to fourteenth centuries and was the foundation of modern western European society. This is an overwhelmingly political narrative, focusing upon emperors and popes and kings and lords, and so has little to say about the economic and social changes that underlay the creation of the more stable, confident, and resurgent Christendom that emerged after 1000, and, while touching upon knighthood and castellateion, quickly brushes over the formation of a recognisably feudal land tenure (except in a brief social contract discursion), and says nothing about demesne farming beyond the great ecclesiastical estates of Cluny, or the environmental and climatic changes, which together helped to produce the population explosion and economic growth that profoundly affected demography, society, agriculture, and material culture in 1000 to 1300. So, this is a history of origins - the origins of medieval Christendom - but only as seen through a political lens. Tom Holland's medieval Christendom is therefore predominantly a political construct, one driven by the symbiotic rivalry of empire and Church, and conceived in terms of ideas about the Book of Revelation and the End of Days associated with the millennium from Christ's birth and death. It is a story told through the deeds of great men and, sometimes, great women, and framed by elite political culture and elite thought and action. It is a popular history from which the mass of the people is mostly excluded. Holland brings his usual dramatic and enthusiastic prose to his tale, with amusing asides and selections that support his viewpoint, beginning in a prologue with that most symbolic of confrontations between church and state, the submission of the emperor Henry IV to Pope Gregory VII at Canossa in 1077, at the end of his period. He then explains how these two powerful individuals and the European societies at which they stood at the head got there, starting with the knitting together of the post-antique conception of the Roman Christian empire in the West with Germanic kingship, through the foundation of the Carolongian and Ottonian empires, with diversions to the creation of the French, English, Scandinavian, and Kievan monarchies and brief trips to the other, older, eastern Roman empire of Constantinople, and on to the Gregorian and Cluniac reform movements of the eleventh century that rejuvenated the papacy and reordered the Church, bringing both a check to and a legitimisation of the power of secular rulers and division within Christendom itself, a division of Roman West from Orthodox East, and a division between the aims and actions of those who exercised spiritual power and those temporal power. At the end of his book, Holland returns to Canossa, its context now having been established, and charts the recovery of Henry IV from his subjugation and the apparent failure of Gregory VII. However, he does not leave the story there, but goes on to the papacy of Urban II and the council of Clermont with the Pope's call for a crusade to take back Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre into Christian hands, which by allying the religious power of papal monarchy with the military prowess of knighthood provided both a solution to the Gelasian knot of the two swords, spiritual and temporal, and a human manifestation of millenial hopes for the defeat of Antichrist and the Second Coming. All roads, it seems, do not lead to Canossa, but to Clermont, and the Crusades are not an aberration or the product of insensible prejudice, but both the consequence of the foundation of medieval Christendom and an inherent manifestation of the civilisation thereby created. The Crusades are the defining characteristic of the western medieval society that emerged after 1000, and whose creation Holland seeks to describe within the distinct history of western European, Christian, and Roman, identity. This book is a lively read and an entertaining introduction to a period often erroneously regarded as the Dark Ages, and will stimulate discussion for those already familiar with the period and medieval European history.
Illuminating the Dark Ages... The years between the fall of the Roman Empire and the turn of the first millennium are generally known as the 'Dark Ages', an era of brutality, poverty, illiteracy, paganism and savagery, when all the advances of the Greek and Roman civilisations seemed to vanish as though they had never been, and the shape of the countries we know as England, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Denmark, were barely coming into focus. Such was the case in Western Europe, at least. There was no such Dark Age in the Islamic or Byzantine Empires. In these years, it would have been all but impossible to imagine a time, not so far in the future, when both these mighty empires would be toppled and Western Europe would stand triumphant, stable and orderly, crowned by the splendour and spiritual muscle of the Pope in Rome. Tom Holland chronicles the course of the centuries either side of 1000 AD, a time of much convulsion and upheaval: the 'birth pangs', as he calls it, of Western Europe. These were the years in which France was emerging from West Francia, a breakaway portion of the empire of the Franks, the empire of Charlemagne, who had been crowned emperor of the West in Rome itself and acknowledged as the western counterpart of the eastern emperor in Constantinople; in which the Scandinavia countries of Norway, Denmark, Iceland were turning away from Odin and the old gods and embracing Christianity; in which Vikings were settling, by force, in France and forming the land that would become Normandy; other Norsemen were settling further in the continent and becoming known as the Rus, eventually giving their name to Russia; yet more Normans were invading and conquering England, Sicily and southern Italy; the Muslim caliphate was splitting in two, with the Umayyad clan basing their dynasty in Cordoba in Muslim Spain, al-Andalus, and the Abbasid caliphate waging persistent war against the Byzantines. And above all of this, the Church was establishing its grip, the power and influence of the Pope reaching into every kingdom - the secular and the spiritual no longer as separate as they had once been. Popes were claiming new powers and rights over kings, culminating in many kings coming under the papal sway as vassals, crowned and acknowledged by the Pope alone - in effect, the Pope was claiming that the whole of Christendom was subject to him and the Church. And in an act that would have lasting consequences, popes were coming to embracing the concept of a church-blessed 'holy war, a concept already well embedded in the Islamic jihad. In the space of two scant centuries, all this came to pass - and how much can be ascribed to 'millennial fever', to the fervid belief that the End of Days was nigh and the Antichrist due, with the thousand year anniversary of Christ' birth on the horizon, is the major theme of this book. The years before the turn of the millennium were dark and feverish, with many believing that the world was sinful and needed perfecting before the End of Days, giving rise to much of the impetus that propelled these changes. Tom Holland is a marvellous writer - he has a tone that somehow manages to be wry and melodramatic at the same time, quite a skill. This isn't academic history, it is very much history for the uninformed, but there can be few authors better at painting such a sweep of history so enjoyably. I found the central theory of the millennial fever a little lacking, and it only really forms a central theme in the first half of the book. But I didn't enjoy this book any less for that. This is an era of history I've never been especially interested in - it's either Greek, Persian and Roman, or skipping over these middle years to get to 1066, but I could hardly put this book down.
Europe's history around the first millennium. This is a well written overview of a period in European history which is very much neglected. Fascinating stories. Shattered a few of my previous understandings. Well worth reading if you wish to understand our heritage.
A Great Read This is a remarkably interesting book covering a pivotal period in European History. A 'must read' for those interested in the co-evolution of Church and State.
Fascinating Tom Holland gives such a wide view of events it changes all the things you thought you knew, particularly 1066 and all that.
Four Stars Very interesting and clever concept about the anniversary of Jesus's birth/death creating the modern Europe
Very good read Really good read, well worth it for amateur historians and anyone who enjoys a good history book.
Another fantastic read from Tom Holland Another fantastic read from Tom Holland, well worth buying
Revealing history A good read revealing history
Five Stars Great book. Great insights into the collapse of republicanism in Rome. A lot of modern parallels.
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