The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950-1350 First PB Edition
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"The most stimulating and well-written reassessment of medieval Europe that has appeared for many years."---Eric Christiansen, The New York Review of Books
"Bartlett amasses a wealth of documentation and, unlike other authors, he weaves a rich tapestry of colourful incidents, personalities, and contemporary comment.... A masterful survey of the forces that shaped the West."---Theodore K. Rabb, The Times Literary Supplement
"An absolutely first-rate book.... Bartlett has elucidated the making not only of Europe but of our own country and of the modern world as a whole."---Roger Draper, The New Leader
"Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the problems of Europe today."---Keith Thomas, Guardian
"The Making of Europe is an important book. . . . This excellent discussion of medieval colonial expansion is much overdue. . . . [It] goes a long way toward understanding what is meant by the European mindset and sheds some light on why this mindset spread into the far corners of the globe.""---Madelyn B. Dick, History: Reviews of New Books
". . . a useful and illuminating book, marked by breadth of outlook, impressive erudition, and a convincing discussion of the principal forces contributing to the "making of Europe" between the tenth and the fourteenth centuries."" ― Journal of Interdisciplinary History
About the Author
- Publisher : Princeton University Press; First PB Edition (August 23, 1994)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 447 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0691037809
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691037806
- Item Weight : 1.64 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.03 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #505,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In 950 CE, Europe was a shrunken region under siege from non-christian invaders (Arabs, Vikings, Hungarians, and certain Slavs, i.e. from all directions). As the Millennium approached, many in western Christendom believed that the apocalypse was imminent. While there had been a succession of relatively effective Emperors from the time of Charlemagne, their dynasties had proven unstable, rarely lasting more than 3 generations before disintegrating into power struggles. Then suddenly, the external threats either stalled (the Arabs) or were absorbed by conversion into Christendom.
The relative calm that resulted enabled actors to undertake a series of fundamental measures that completely transformed the political and economic landscape. On the one hand, aristocrats adopted a new style of defensive fortification, the stone castle. This new technology of warfare consolidated their power base, allowing them to invest their resources into economic development - clearing land, forcing their serfs and peasants to pay taxes and stay within their territories for long-term servitude - rather than merely warfare. On the other hand, the Roman church initiated a series of reforms, in particular the clearer definition of orthodoxy, opening the way to persecutions for heresy and crushing the enormous diversity that had grown up during the extraordinary experimentation of the dark ages. Indeed, Christianity became a far more politicized ideology, a unifying glue (with administrative structures and educational institutions in place) that spawned that gigantic colonial venture called the Crusades in the Holy Land as well as east and north within Europe. While these developments narrowed diversity and did not promote political freedoms, they added focus to the work and missions of European rulers. Europe in this time became far more uniform as a territorial entity in its economy, institutional forms, political-religious ideologies, and urban plans. Even the names of rulers lost their local flavors, becoming those of the accepted saints as defined by Rome.
This was a golden age for aristocrats (the landowners, knights, and upper clergy), who intermingled, spoke common languages, and moved into geographical areas designated to them by emperors; they exploited new policy instruments to buttress their power. In exchange for service to the Emperor or King, many commoners became aristocrats at this time. In addition to the church's support, they established scholastic universities, systems of uniform law based on the legal legacy of Rome, and the foundation of cities and networks in which new economic activities could be undertaken. As the economy flourished and populations exploded in size and dynamism, Europe truly established an identity for itself. Much of the basic urban contours that they established at that time exist today.
Bartlett covers this for the most part from the optic of "colonialism" - the movement of populations to new, often unoccupied areas for development. It was more or less the end of the migrations that established the essential outlines of the ethno-linguistic groups that exist today. This is, of course, only one dimension of the process: there was also an intellectual movement (scholasticism) that is largely uncovered, the economy is only occasionally mentioned, and other related developments (e.g. the Gothic era, another way to define the entire period) are neglected. The reader will need to explore those elsewhere. Also, it is so analytic that there is very little narrative, which makes it read a bit dry at times.
This book is so full of ideas that it was very hard for me to put it all together in this review. I do not feel I have successfully covered either the nuance or even the substance, which means I must read it again. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the West and/or the middle ages. It is fundamental reading and has forever changed my perception of the period.
Top reviews from other countries
Not for everyone I suspect if you are really only interested in gleaming key points of this era. This is a graceful and gradual explanation of a process that itself proceeded in a similar way!