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The Forge of Christendom: The End of Days and the Epic Rise of the West [Kindle Edition]

Tom Holland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.95
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

At the approach of the first millennium, the Christians of Europe did not seem likely candidates for future greatness. Weak, fractured, and hemmed in by hostile nations, they saw no future beyond the widely anticipated Second Coming of Christ. But when the world did not end, the peoples of Western Europe suddenly found themselves with no choice but to begin the heroic task of building a Jerusalem on earth.

In The Forge of Christendom, Tom Holland masterfully describes this remarkable new age, a time of caliphs and Viking sea kings, the spread of castles and the invention of knighthood. It was one of the most significant departure points in history: the emergence of Western Europe as a distinctive and expansionist power.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If Y2K proved anticlimactic, the Y1K crisis—apocalyptic expectations surrounding the year 1000—had a lasting impact, argues this far-ranging, over-reaching history of medieval Europe. Holland (Persian Fire) surveys the two and a half centuries between the fragmenting of Charlemagne's empire and the First Crusade, visiting milestones like the Norman conquest of England along with lesser invasions, raids, feudal vendettas, kidnappings and pope vs. antipope squabbles. He discerns movement amid the tumult and slaughter, as Catholic Europe went from anxious beleaguerment by the barbarians coming from every direction to confident expansionism. Holland's thesis that it was the disappointment of millennial hopes that gave Christendom its new focus on worldly progress is weakly supported; he has a hard time showing that anyone besides churchmen thought about the approaching millennium. His greater theme is Catholicism's civilizing mission: pagan foes are converted and co-opted, a new class of marauding knights is tamed by Church peace councils, and Pope Gregory VII's defiance of Emperor Henry IV inaugurates church-state separation. Holland's colorful, energetic narrative vividly captures the medieval mindset, while conveying the dynamism that underlay a seemingly static age. Maps. (May 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

British historian Holland (Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Empire) has written a big, old-fashioned study of the reemergence of Europe following the disastrous collapse of the Roman Empire. He argues that expectation of Apocalypse at 1000 C.E. (or thereabouts) shaped the course of the era from Charlemagne to the start of the Crusades, i.e., roughly 800–1100 C.E. His vast setting shifts among locations as far-flung as York, Cordoba, Kiev, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. The huge cast includes all the great personalities of the time: popes and emperors, warriors and saints, including Canute, William the Conqueror, Pope Gregory VII, and Emperor Henry IV, along with many lesser prelates and warlords. To hold this diffuse story together, Holland relies with some success on lively, jokey, confident prose. His bloody saga of embryonic European states (and their alliances and conflicts with a power-hungry papacy) rather swamps any Millennial argument: Holland does not persuade the reader that concern about the End of Days played a significant role in the actions of the savage, power-hungry men who began assembling the proto-states of Germany, France, England, and Spain and launched the Crusades, the first pan-European enterprise. This book will appeal to all who enjoy a good history read.—Stewart Desmond, Ph.D., New York
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 9851 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (May 5, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001NLL6LC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,899 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shabby Publishing trick June 2, 2010
I'm not giving this book a one star rating because it is a bad book. Indeed it's a good book, a book I've read many times since it came out in 2008 under the title "Millenium". This publisher has got a lot of nerve re-packaging this existing book with a new title and cover art and selling it as Tom Holland's latest. What a sham! My wife ordered this book for me for my birthday, and I've been anticipating it for weeks. It was delivered this afternoon and I'm just speechless. I, and many thousands of other readers already own this book in it's original form.
So if you love Tom Holland's writing, in part because of the rich historical writing in his book Millenium, then don't bother picking this book up. You already own it.
If however, you haven't read this book, it's well worth the read. I just find it hard to recommend it in it's current form, as the publisher has committed what I would consider a fraud. Get the original edition instead.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I consider myself a history buff and love ancient Roman and modern Asian history, but basically haven't paid attention to the Middle Ages/Mediaeval history since high school. As Holland's newest book shows, that was certainly a mistake. According to Holland's The Forge of Christendom: The End of Days and the Epic Rise of the West, the early Middle Ages, around the turn of the millennium, proved to be an extremely important time not just in European history, but also the separation between church and state and the idea of progress more broadly.

Before the millennium, many Christians in Europe became apprehensive as, in the Book of Revelation, St. John predicted that the Antichrist would rule the world and the end of days would be near. The exact date was uncertain, but though to be a thousand years after Christ's birth (1000 AD) or his resurrection (1033 AD, the more accepted number after nothing happened in 1000 AD). During this time, Europe (coincidentally?) suffered internecine warfare, rogue knights, Viking raids, threats from a rising Islamic Caliphate, and a host of other problems. When the millennium came and went, both religious and secular leaders realized they had better solidify their own dominions on earth since the end of days might take longer than expected. However, unlike James Reston's The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D., Holland's book does not focus on the myths and legends surrounding the millennium, but rather the historical developments.

The thrust of the book focuses on the political and religious changes that accompanied, and were influenced by, the millennium.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Medieval Work but Disjointed October 9, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition
This work covers the history of the great kings in Western Europe and Popes from about the time of Charlemagne (800 AD) to the beginning of the crusades in 1095. The title is misleading, although the idea of the end of the world coming 1,000 years after the birth of Christ figures prominently. If there is a focus, and the author presents one for consideration, it is the conflict between Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Pope Gregory VII (everyone will think of their meeting at Canossa in 1077.) More specifically, the theme is the rise of the Roman Catholic Church to temporal power and assuming the authority to make and unmake kings as ordained by God. It was during this time that the Roman Catholic Church truely gained its European ascendancy that held until the Protestant Reformation.

It was this theme that attracted my interest, but then the work devolved into a recounting of the actions of kings and leaders from Spain to Poland during these almost 300 years. The narrative becomes disjointed, skipping around from land to land and losing its focus. In some respects the scope is simply too broad to go into the detail the author attempts, but then at other times he omits crucial details that would help to explain certain actions and attitudes. Otto of Northeim, for example, is passed over in a very few words, although he was important in Germany during his lifetime.

The author's scholarship is impressive, and this is indeed a scholarly work with much to offer. The problem lies in its organization. It seems like the author gets sidetracked on peripheral events like the Viking invasion of England that are hardly important in contributing to his basic theme.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Revolution May 16, 2009
It wasn't so long ago that we were all fascinated with the change of millennium, jumping into the two thousands of years. There were worries: everyone with a computer remembers that shortcuts by twentieth-century programmers were supposed to mean that computers would crash when they unexpectedly came across years with a first digit of two rather than of one. It's interesting that our worries with the big date change were technological. They didn't come to pass. When the calendar had advanced to year 1000, the worries with the big date change were religious. They didn't come to pass, either. Those millennial worries, and the history surrounding them, are the theme within _The Forge of Christendom: The End of Days and the Epic Rise of the West_ (Doubleday) by Tom Holland. This is a big, sprawling book of a strange time; although Holland starts out with Constantine, the book traces history most closely a century before and after year 1000. It's clear that there were fewer people paying attention to the calendar in 1000 than to the calendar in 2000, and probably only religious experts knew of the first millennial change. Holland admits that how much import was given to the year 1000 is controversial, and historians accelerated the controversy around the year 2000 because of contemporary themes. The history he gives, however, full of tumult between leaders and governments of nations and religions, shows that those who were reading the signs of the impending apocalypse did have worrisome events to hang their worries on. His book is a wide-ranging look at the tumult, with plenty of detail and many forceful characters.

Throughout this book, there are those who expect the Antichrist to arrive, Jesus to arise again, and the world to end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Kind of slow and tedious but worth reading
I began this book and put it down twice to read other books more interesting. But it is a history I was not familiar with and has been helpful in helping me understand background... Read more
Published 7 months ago by lachancesare
5.0 out of 5 stars Historic eye opener!
Tom Holland brought me into an era I knew little about. Once again he has given me a look at the issues and conditions of a time period I little understood.
Published 11 months ago by Douglas M Dwyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Scare me!
今日不列顛之文明起源於西元1066年的一位不列顛暴君,名叫威廉 (原名 Williamthe Conqueror)... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Yaolee Chen
2.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed
A book I found I had to persevere with which seemed to lack an enjoyable natural flow. Purchased because I enjoyed Rubicon but this history seems to rely much on speculation of... Read more
Published 14 months ago by James Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars A very readable history
I love history and even more when I get a book that is also a good read. This is the 2nd of Tom Holland's books that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.
Published 15 months ago by Paul R. Claremont
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep and entertaining (if somewhat muddled)
This is the third book I've read by Holland. Although it didn't have quite the panache and flow Persian Fire, the book was enlightening and delved into issues not often discussed... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Justice
4.0 out of 5 stars Tom Holland is a Great Historian
I enjoyed The Forge of Christendom. At times I don't know how much is history and how much is Mr. Holland's fecund imagination, but the combination makes for a lively recreation of... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Amadeus
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Narrative History
I picked up this novel after reading Holland's Rubicon and Persian Fire, due partly to my preference for the author's narrative style of presenting history, and partly due to the... Read more
Published on December 30, 2010 by Steven M. Anthony
3.0 out of 5 stars evocative, but fails to cohere and doesn't live up to subtitle's...
After having read Rubicon, Holland's masterpiece of popularization, this book was rather disappointing. It is about the approximate period of 900 to 1100 C.E. Read more
Published on November 12, 2010 by Robert J. Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful and enlightening
Tom Holland has done it again, but this time even more impressively than before. In Rubicon, Holland brought the Roman Republic and its fall to vivid life. Read more
Published on November 10, 2010 by DalkeyPlayer
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