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The Birth of the West: Rome, Germany, France, and the Creation of Europe in the Tenth Centuryby Paul Collins
Synopses & Reviews
Stimulating, encyclopedic, and often downright funny, this is a book worth remembering.” —Stephen OShea, Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada)
A lively, full-to-bursting history of the turbulent tenth century in Europe . Collins presents chaotic upheaval across Europe in an organized and riveting fashion.” —Kirkus (starred review)
The tenth century dawned in violence and disorder. Charlemagnes empire was in ruins, most of Spain had been claimed by Moorish invaders, and even the papacy in Rome was embroiled in petty, provincial conflicts. The stability once provided by Imperial Rome had dissolved, leaving a perilous landscape behind. Yet the story of the tenth century is the story of our cultures birth. This was the moment that civilization emerged from the Dark Ages into the light of day.
The Birth of the West tells the story of a transformation from chaos to order, exploring the alien landscape of Europe in transition. It thoroughly renovates older conceptions of feudalism and what medieval life was actually like. The result is a wholly-new vision of how civilization sprang from the unlikeliest of origins, and proof that our tenth-century ancestors are not as remote as we might think.
The Birth of the West is a re-making of what we think we know about the end of the Dark Ages. It is also the gate to the utterly unexpected cosmos of European forebears. The characters who people The Birth of the West are as familiar as relatives—as indeed they are—groping their way to a cohesive Western culture. The Birth of the West is thus the tale of our birth, and Collins tells it with a narrative grace and elegance which will make readers cherish it.” —Thomas Keneally, author of Schindlers Ark
"Western Europe claws its way out of the Dark Ages — just barely — in this hair-raising history. Collins, formerly a Catholic priest, surveys the century or so after Charlemagne's empire collapsed into civil war and anarchy, a time when government was a protection racket run by petty warlords, Viking and Muslim raiders pillaged and slaughtered, and popes comported themselves like Roman gang leaders. Amid a panorama of local vendettas and parochial power plays, Collins discerns movements toward a renewed order, initiated by Church reformers and farsighted statesmen, particularly the Saxon kings and queens who knitted Germany into a functioning state and resurrected the Holy Roman Empire. Writing with a supple prose and an eye for colorful detail and vivid characters, Collins shapes some of history's most appalling behavior — first prize might go to Pope Steven VI, who exhumed his predecessor's rotting corpse and placed it on trial for heresy — into a lively narrative with a comprehensible story line. Behind the blood-lettings and betrayals of medieval politics, he sketches an illuminating interpretation of a society and worldview shaped by insecurity, superstition, and personal loyalties. The result is a fascinating account of how a desperate struggle for survival bequeathed a civilization. 8 maps. Agent: Mary Cunnane, the Mary Cunnane Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The tenth century dawned in violence and disorder. Charlemagnes empire was in ruins, most of Spain had been claimed by Moorish invaders, and even the papacy in Rome was embroiled in petty, provincial conflicts. To many historians, it was a prime example of the ignorance and uncertainty of the Dark Ages. Yet according to historian Paul Collins, the story of the tenth century is the story of our cultures birth, of the emergence of our civilization into the light of day.
The Birth of the West tells the story of a transformation from chaos to order, exploring the alien landscape of Europe in transition. It is a fascinating
narrative that thoroughly renovates older conceptions of feudalism and what medieval life was actually like. The result is a wholly new vision of how civilization sprang from the unlikeliest of origins, and proof that our tenth-century ancestors are not as remote as we might think.
About the Author
Paul Collins graduated from Harvard with a master of theology, received his doctorate in philosophy in history from the Australian National University, and was ordained a Catholic priest. Since March 2001, when he resigned from active priestly ministry after thirty-three years of service due to a doctrinal dispute with the Vatican, he has been a full-time writer and radio and TV presenter. He lives in Australia.
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