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The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

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The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Modern-day Europeans by the millions proudly trace back their national identities to the Celts, Franks, Gauls, Goths, Huns, or Serbs--or some combination of the various peoples who inhabited, traversed, or pillaged their continent more than a thousand years ago. According to Patrick Geary, this is historical nonsense. The idea that national character is fixed for all time in a simpler, distant past is groundless, he argues in this unflinching reconsideration of European nationhood. Few of the peoples that many Europeans honor as sharing their sense of nation had comparably homogeneous identities; even the Huns, he points out, were firmly united only under Attila's ten-year reign.

Geary dismantles the nationalist myths about how the nations of Europe were born. Through rigorous analysis set in lucid prose, he contrasts the myths with the actual history of Europe's transformation between the fourth and ninth centuries--the period of grand migrations that nationalists hold dear. The nationalist sentiments today increasingly taken for granted in Europe emerged, he argues, only in the nineteenth century. Ironically, this phenomenon was kept alive not just by responsive populations--but by complicit scholars.

Ultimately, Geary concludes, the actual formation of European peoples must be seen as an extended process that began in antiquity and continues in the present. The resulting image is a challenge to those who anchor contemporary antagonisms in ancient myths--to those who claim that immigration and tolerance toward minorities despoil nationhood. As Geary shows, such ideologues--whether Le Pens who champion the French people born with the baptism of Clovis in 496 or Milosevics who cite early Serbian history to claim rebellious regions--know their myths but not their history.

The Myth of Nations will be intensely debated by all who understood that a history that does not change, that reduces the complexities of many centuries to a single, eternal moment, isn't history at all.

Synopsis:

"A book of the best possible originality. It presents a theme that has been hotly debated in modern scholarly circles with a novel freshness, while drawing the attention of the reader to the urgent relevance of such debates to the history of modern Europe. This is a book of quite exemplary clarity. It deserves to be widely read and will doubtless spark off lively discussion among scholars."--Peter Brown, Princeton University

Synopsis:

Modern-day Europeans by the millions proudly trace back their national identities to the Celts, Franks, Gauls, Goths, Huns, or Serbs--or some combination of the various peoples who inhabited, traversed, or pillaged their continent more than a thousand years ago. According to Patrick Geary, this is historical nonsense. The idea that national character is fixed for all time in a simpler, distant past is groundless, he argues in this unflinching reconsideration of European nationhood. Few of the peoples that many Europeans honor as sharing their sense of nation had comparably homogeneous identities; even the Huns, he points out, were firmly united only under Attila's ten-year reign.

Geary dismantles the nationalist myths about how the nations of Europe were born. Through rigorous analysis set in lucid prose, he contrasts the myths with the actual history of Europe's transformation between the fourth and ninth centuries--the period of grand migrations that nationalists hold dear. The nationalist sentiments today increasingly taken for granted in Europe emerged, he argues, only in the nineteenth century. Ironically, this phenomenon was kept alive not just by responsive populations--but by complicit scholars.

Ultimately, Geary concludes, the actual formation of European peoples must be seen as an extended process that began in antiquity and continues in the present. The resulting image is a challenge to those who anchor contemporary antagonisms in ancient myths--to those who claim that immigration and tolerance toward minorities despoil nationhood. As Geary shows, such ideologues--whether Le Pens who champion the French people born with the baptism of Clovis in 496 or Milosevics who cite early Serbian history to claim rebellious regions--know their myths but not their history.

The Myth of Nations will be intensely debated by all who understood that a history that does not change, that reduces the complexities of many centuries to a single, eternal moment, isn't history at all.

About the Author

Patrick J. Geary is Professor of History at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is the author of Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the first Millennium (Princeton), Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages, and Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Princeton).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Crisis of European Identity 1

Chapter One: A Poisoned Landscape: Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century 15

Chapter Two: Imagining Peoples in Antiquity 41

Chapter Three: Barbarians and Other Romans 63

Chapter Four: New Barbarians and New Romans 93

Chapter Five: The Last Barbarians? 120

Chapter Six: Toward New European Peoples 151

Notes 175

Suggestion for Further Reading 185

Index 189

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691114811
Author:
Geary, Patrick J.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
General
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
European History
Subject:
Political Science and Int
Subject:
ernational Relations
Subject:
World History/Comparative History
Subject:
Political Science and International Relations
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
January 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
216
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Asia » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Medieval and Renaissance
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe New Trade Paper
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Product details 216 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691114811 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "A book of the best possible originality. It presents a theme that has been hotly debated in modern scholarly circles with a novel freshness, while drawing the attention of the reader to the urgent relevance of such debates to the history of modern Europe. This is a book of quite exemplary clarity. It deserves to be widely read and will doubtless spark off lively discussion among scholars."--Peter Brown, Princeton University
"Synopsis" by , Modern-day Europeans by the millions proudly trace back their national identities to the Celts, Franks, Gauls, Goths, Huns, or Serbs--or some combination of the various peoples who inhabited, traversed, or pillaged their continent more than a thousand years ago. According to Patrick Geary, this is historical nonsense. The idea that national character is fixed for all time in a simpler, distant past is groundless, he argues in this unflinching reconsideration of European nationhood. Few of the peoples that many Europeans honor as sharing their sense of nation had comparably homogeneous identities; even the Huns, he points out, were firmly united only under Attila's ten-year reign.

Geary dismantles the nationalist myths about how the nations of Europe were born. Through rigorous analysis set in lucid prose, he contrasts the myths with the actual history of Europe's transformation between the fourth and ninth centuries--the period of grand migrations that nationalists hold dear. The nationalist sentiments today increasingly taken for granted in Europe emerged, he argues, only in the nineteenth century. Ironically, this phenomenon was kept alive not just by responsive populations--but by complicit scholars.

Ultimately, Geary concludes, the actual formation of European peoples must be seen as an extended process that began in antiquity and continues in the present. The resulting image is a challenge to those who anchor contemporary antagonisms in ancient myths--to those who claim that immigration and tolerance toward minorities despoil nationhood. As Geary shows, such ideologues--whether Le Pens who champion the French people born with the baptism of Clovis in 496 or Milosevics who cite early Serbian history to claim rebellious regions--know their myths but not their history.

The Myth of Nations will be intensely debated by all who understood that a history that does not change, that reduces the complexities of many centuries to a single, eternal moment, isn't history at all.

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