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

4.2 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0385520584
ISBN-10: 0385520581
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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)
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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: 13231 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (April 25, 2009)
  • Publication Date: May 5, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001NLL6LC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,858 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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