The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000

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Overview

'The Penguin History of Europe series ... is one of contemporary publishing's great projects' New Statesman The world known as the 'Dark Ages', often seen as a time of barbarism, was in fact the crucible in which modern Europe would be created. Chris Wickham's acclaimed history shows how this period, encompassing peoples such as Goths, Franks, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, was central to the development of our history and culture. From the collapse of the Roman Empire to the establishment of new European states, and from Ireland to Constantinople, the Baltic to the Mediterranean, this landmark work makes sense of a time of invasion and turbulence, but also of continuity, creativity and achievement.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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. (Aug. 3)

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Library Journal
A work such as this is more than welcome in light of its inclusion of all the major players relating to the fall of Rome. Too often, previous works on this topic tilted toward Rome or Constantinople without recognizing their symbiotic relationship. Wickham attempts, with some success, to combine social history and political history by avoiding the confusing divisions that have developed over the centuries regarding the fall of Rome. His success appears to be largely due to his keeping religious history at bay; in other words, placing it within the other boundaries and frameworks he has already set. For example, he seeks to look at various regions, like Britain, as entities standing on their own and within their own historical terms and their own reality. Thus there are four parts to the work, each having its own chronology and geographical region: "The Roman Empire and Its Breakup, 400–550"; "The Post-Roman West, 550–750"; "The Empires of the East, 550–1000"; and "The Carolingian and Post-Carolingian West, 750–1000." Within these four areas there are a total of 23 subchapters. VERDICT While these divisions are not revolutionary, Wickham has created what could be called a very readable, historical textbook for the period and readers can drop in at will. Recommended for students of Roman history and the early Middle Ages.—Clay Williams, Hunter Coll., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140290141
  • Publisher: Penguin UK
  • Publication date: 3/2/2010
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 876,188

Meet 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, which was published in 2005, won the Wolfson Prize, the Deutscher Memorial Prize and the James Henry Breasted Prize of the American Historical Association. He taught for many years at the University of Birmingham and is a Fellow of the British Academy.
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