Synopses & Reviews
An ambitious and enlightening look at why the so-called Dark Ages were anything but that
Prizewinning historian Chris Wickham defies the conventional view of the Dark Ages in European history with a work of remarkable scope and rigorous yet accessible scholarship. Drawing on a wealth of new material and featuring a thoughtful synthesis of historical and archaeological approaches, Wickham argues that these centuries were critical in the formulation of European identity. Far from being a middle period between more significant epochs, this age has much to tell us in its own right about the progress of culture and the development of political thought.
Sweeping in its breadth, Wickham's incisive history focuses on a world still profoundly shaped by Rome, which encompassed the remarkable Byzantine, Carolingian, and Ottonian empires, and peoples ranging from Goths, Franks, and Vandals to Arabs, Anglo- Saxons, and Vikings. Digging deep into each culture, Wickham constructs a vivid portrait of a vast and varied world stretching from Ireland to Constantinople, the Baltic to the Mediterranean. The Inheritance of Rome brilliantly presents a fresh understanding of the crucible in which Europe would ultimately be created.
"Building on the foundation he laid in Framing the Early Middle Ages, award-winning Oxford historian Wickham constructs a magisterial narrative of the political, economic, cultural and religious fabrics that constituted the crazy quilt of Europe's Dark Ages. Negating what he calls a common 'teleological' view of this period as the source of European nations and a modern sense of European identity, he draws on archeological evidence and rich historiographical methods Wickham challenges standard views of the early Middle Ages as barbarous and bereft of political and cultural structure, and recreates a stunning portrait of the breakup of the Roman Empire and its consequences for Europe. Wickham looks at the immediate post-Roman polities in Gaul, Spain and Italy; the history of Byzantium, the Arab caliphate and its 10th-century successor states, including Muslim Spain; the Carolingian Empire and its successors and imitators, notably Russia and Scotland. Under this narrative layer lies a focus on the accumulation of wealth, the institutionalization of politics and the culture of the public. Wickham's achievement contributes richly to our picture of this often narrowly understood period. Maps, illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Prize-winning historian Wickham defies the conventional view of the Dark Ages in European history with a work of remarkable scope and rigorous yet accessible scholarship.
A unique and enlightening look at Europe's so-called Dark Ages
Defying the conventional Dark Ages view of European history between A.D. 400 and 1000, award-winning historian Chris Wickham presents The Inheritance of Rome, a work of remarkable scope and rigorous yet accessible scholarship. Drawing on a wealth of new material and featuring a thoughtful synthesis of historical and archaeological approaches, Wickham agues that these centuries were critical in the formulation of European identity. From Ireland to Constantinople, the Baltic to the Mediterranean, the narrative constructs a vivid portrait of the vast and varied world of Goths, Franks, Vandals, Arabs, Saxons, and Vikings. Groundbreaking and full of fascinating revelations, The Inheritance of Rome offers a fresh understanding of the crucible in which Europe would ultimately be created.
How a seven-year cycle of rain, cold, disease, and warfare created the worst famine in European history
In May 1315, it started to rain. It didnand#8217;t stop anywhere in north Europe until August. Next came the four coldest winters in a millennium. Two separate animal epidemics killed nearly 80 percent of northern Europeand#8217;s livestock. Wars between Scotland and England, France and Flanders, and two rival claimants to the Holy Roman Empire destroyed all remaining farmland. After seven years, the combination of lost harvests, warfare, and pestilence would claim six million livesand#151;one eighth of Europeand#8217;s total population.
William Rosen draws on a wide array of disciplines, from military history to feudal law to agricultural economics and climatology, to trace the succession of traumas that caused the Great Famine. With dramatic appearances by Scotlandand#8217;s William Wallace, and the luckless Edward II and his treacherous Queen Isabella, historyand#8217;s best documented episode of catastrophic climate change comes alive, with powerful implications for future calamities.
About the Author
Chris Wickham is Chichele Professor of Medieval History at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of All Souls College. His book Framing the Middle Ages won the Wolfson Prize, the Deutscher Memorial Prize, and the James Henry Breasted Prize of the American Historical Association.