Mysteries of the Middle Ages: And the Beginning of the Modern World

Mysteries of the Middle Ages: And the Beginning of the Modern World

by Thomas Cahill

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307755148
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2010
Series: The Hinges of History
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 418,801
File size: 22 MB
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About the Author

Thomas Cahill's appealing approach to distant history has won the attention of millions of readers in North America and beyond. Cahill is the author of four previous volumes in the Hinges of History series: How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, and Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea. They have been bestsellers, not only in the United States but also in countries ranging from Italy to Brazil. He and his wife, Susan, also a writer, divide their time between New York and Rome.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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One

Bingen and Chartres, Gardens Enclosed

The Cult of the Virgin and Its Consequences

In the first decade of the twelfth century, a little girl from the Rhineland town of Bermersheim, near Mainz, was offered by her parents as a sacrifice to God. Her name was Hildegard; her parents were Hildebert and Mechthild, a pious knight and his pious, well-born wife. Hildegard was eight years old when she was left for life with an anchorite named Jutta von Sponheim, who lived alone in a cell attached to the abbey church of Saint Disibod. (Disibod was a whimsical Irish monk-bishop of the seventh century who, disappointed at the lack of response to his preaching by his own countrymen, traveled to the Rhineland, became a protégé of the English Saint Boniface, evangelist to the Germans, and founded Disibodenberg, where he seems to have been rather more successful than he’d been in his native land.) Not only does Hildegard’s story embody many of the cultural currents that reached their ebb in her time or soon after; this outwardly obedient daughter, her childhood cut so cruelly short, was destined to become one of the most important women of her age.

Using a living child as a religious oblation was no Christian invention. Greeks and Romans had ancient traditions of chaste priestesses and Vestal Virgins; and in the oldest records of both pagans and Jews we find evidence of “set-asides,” human offerings devoted to a divinity. In the earliest archeological records, these offerings are literal human sacrifices, such as the bog burials of Scandinavia. Jewish tradition yields such offerings in surprising numbers, starting with Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son and continuing through Joshua’s command to his troops to “devote” the people of Canaan to God under “the curse of destruction”—that is,to execute them. In later times, prisoners of war were no longer slain outright, but firstborn males still had to be “consecrated to the Lord” and then “redeemed” by an animal sacrifice that was substituted for them, as happens to the newborn Jesus in the second chapter of Luke’s Gospel. There is even a further echo of Jewish tradition in the offering of Hildebert and Mechthild, for Hildegard was their tenth child—and a tenth of one’s wealth, the tithe of the Hebrews, was consecrated to God.

But none of these grand historical precedents would have impressed an eight-year-old, who must have spent many a lonely, creepy night tucked away in Jutta’s sparsely appointed little hut. Anchorites are no longer an everyday occurrence—I have met only one in my life, and she was nutty as a fruitcake—but in the twelfth century they could be encountered in the neighborhood of many a monastery and even within the close of an urban cathedral. The word anchorite derives from a Greek verb meaning “to withdraw”; and we may best think of them as hermits who lived not in obscure caves but in association with a religious community. Your typical anchorite, though not necessarily a formal member of such a community, was nonetheless part and parcel of its sacred landscape, so much so that she (or he) would normally reside in a small room built into the wall of an abbey church or cathedral, a room with a view, so to speak—a slit or screened window that allowed the anchorite to attend church services but not so large as to make her visible to the merely curious.

The liturgy for the consecration of an anchorite was actually a funeral liturgy, for it was deemed that she was dying to the world and to herself. She was spoken of as already dead and with God in heaven. Her cell was called frankly her “burial chamber,” and, dressed in her shroud, she was directed to sing a verse from Psalm 132: “This is my resting place forever, here shall I dwell for I have chosen it.” The ceremony, attended gregariously by family, friends, and monastic benefactors, must strike us as a ghoulish sort of celebration, often ending with the ritual interment of the anchorite in her cell, from which it was expected that she would never again emerge. Brick was cemented on brick till the doorway to the cell was blocked and only the slit was left, enough for food and other necessities to be passed to her. If the ceremony did not conclude with an immuring, it concluded with a permanently locked door. But because this period is characterized by such variation in custom from one locality to another, we cannot be certain what was done in Hildegard’s case, nor whether the growing girl was permanently locked away in thecustomary single room. We do possess one odd detail that may bespeak a certain mitigation: at least one servant was locked in along with the anchorites. Jutta and Hildegard were, after all, noblewomen and so could not be expected to manage even their much-reduced needs by themselves.

The idea was to serve God by permanent prayerful retreat from the world. However bizarre this may sound to modern ears, we probably all know a few people whose apartness (or even madness) might be better served if such a socially approved role were still available. Though often represented as a period of repression, heavy with superstition, the Middle Ages offered—at least in religious roles—more options than are now allowed. I doubt that a frail suppliant, plainly dressed and with a distracted air, approaching a bishop today to say that God had instructed her to build a cell into the wall of his cathedral and to carve in that wall a small window from which she could hear mass, as well as the canonical hours, would receive a warm response. But in the Middle Ages such social oddities were welcomed and assigned a place of honor. While the rest of us went about our worried lives, they prayed for us continually, speaking always to God on our behalf.

The masters of the Middle Ages had, of course, another, less public motive for honoring anchorites. The batlike monks of the Prologue who terrorized the citizens of Alexandria might have been politically useful to the patriarch, but as time went on such mobs, vociferous, usually illiterate, became a religious plague. They could not be appeased by compromise; they were rabble-rousing extremists, unswervingly certain of their rectitude. Their implacable attitudes gave bishops, as well as other public men in charge of social order, terrible headaches. How were they to be quieted? By being brought under the bishop’s control, by being made subject to his rules and approval.

Every monkish mob was incited by a leader, often a desert hermit cherished for his holy ability to live apart from society, eating locusts, whipping his body, gifted with extravagant visions. The word monk derives, in fact, from the Greek word monos, meaning “alone, lonely, solitary.” In the rudimentary beginnings of monastic life, all monks were hermits, and only gradually did they unite in loose association with one another. Bishops began to invite the most influential solitaries to take up more conventional habitats, closer to human society and more readily subject to episcopal pressure. Monks and nuns, monachi and monachae, were made to write constitutions by which their communities were to be governed. In time, such constitutions came to be submitted to a bishop for his approval.

In the West, Saint Benedict, Italian founder of the Benedictines, became in the early sixth century the great constitutionalist, his Rule the standard by which all subsequent monasticism was judged. The monk’s life was utterly subject to his dictum Ora et labora (Pray and work). No rabble-rousing, please. Let anarchy be not so much as mentioned among us. In time, obedience, tranquility, and constructive employment—building, farming, herbal medicine, relief for the poor, succor for the sick, hospitality to wayfarers, manuscript copying, and (in the case of a gifted few) original writing—not vision, came to rule the Christian West. The Benedictines, in addition to vows of obedience, chastity, and community of goods, took a vow of stability, which meant they could not leave the monastery grounds without their abbot’s permission. Even prayer was measured out at appointed hours. No moment of the monk’s day or night belonged exclusively to him. The bishops, who—thanks to the barbarians—had quite enough on their plates, required such a church, where everyone, even a visionary hermit, could be counted on to play an assigned role and to stay within prescribed limits.

No one had done so much to spread the fame of Saint Benedict as Gregory the Great, who was himself a Benedictine monk and had written Benedict’s Life. By Hildegard’s day, even an abbey like Disibodenberg, originally a foundation of Celtic spontaneity, had submitted to the Rule of Saint Benedict. In the abbey church, the monks sang the canonical hoursa—as did all Benedictines from Britain to Bohemia—and from a lancet opening in the choir wall a single female voice united with theirs in chant. One day, a pure child’s voice joined in, inflecting the Latin words precisely, ascending gloriously and certainly to the subtle rhythm of the music. In their choir stalls the monks shivered with emotion: it was the voice of the child anchorite, the noble Hildegard.

We know little of what went on in Jutta’s cell, but we know the results. Under the older woman’s tutelage, the child learned to read the Book of Psalms in Latin and to sing the psalms of the monastic hours, the church’s Divine Office, while accompanying herself on the expressive ten-string psaltery, a sort of dulcimer plucked by hand.Throughout her life Hildegard’s Latin remained odd, at moments an almost private language. But her grasp of the principles of musicology was remarkable, eventually impelling her to compose her own chants, unusual in sound and singular in subject matter.

Beyond the Book of Psalms, Hildegard’s adult writings—a substantial survival—show evidence of reading so wide as to rival and even surpass that of the most accomplished scholars of her time. She makes reference to the other books of the Bible, especially the Prophets,to the usual biblical commentaries, to liturgical texts, to the Benedictine Rule, and to the Western fathers—Jerome, Augustine, Gregory, and Bede. Her Plotinian Platonism probably came to her by way of the ninth-century Irish philosopher John Scotus Eriugena, whose sermons and ruminations were standard texts, and she seems to have read reforming contemporaries, such as Hugh of Saint Victor and Bernard of Clairvaux, as well as earlier Christian classics, such as the Shepherd of Hermas and Adso’s On the Antichrist. Some have speculated that there are hints in her writings of such Carolingianb authors as Isidore of Seville, Rabanus Maurus, Paschasius Radbertus, and Notker of Saint Gall; and there are strong suggestions that she had access to Greek (and perhaps to Arabic) medical works and even to arcane rabbinical treatises. This, for an age in which books were scarce and precious, is an astounding catalogue, a library available to few men and to (so far as we can tell) no other woman. The library must have belonged not to Jutta, who could hardly have accommodated it in her hut, but to the liberally lending monks of Disibodenberg. What went on in Jutta’s cell was a lifetime reading program.

But what of the eight-year-old who was made to live in such unnatural confinement and who survived the rigorous reading program—and even flourished because of it? Does anything of her—anything personal, peculiar, intimate—remain in the historical record? To answer these questions we must step back a bit and consider more widely the currents of twelfth-century life, not nearly as open as ours to personal preference and psychological insight.

Life spans had not increased since the classical centuries; indeed, they had dipped dramatically during the terrifying uncertainties of the barbarian influx and were only now—in the new economic and cultural stability of twelfth-century Europe—beginning to approach the best Greco-Roman levels. An eight-year-old, even a child of privilege such as Hildegard, was not as young in the eyes of her parents as she would be in ours. At the same age, her lesser-born male contemporaries were preparing for apprenticeships in the homes of strangers—millers, bakers, chandlers, glaziers, fullers, coopers, wainwrights, and such—and many of her female contemporaries, already betrothed, were beginning to contemplate their coming roles as matrons of households. Hildegard was thought quite old enough to make a lifetime commitment.

But should we assume that Hildebert and Mechthild forced their daughter into an anchorite’s life? In Scivias, the book by which she is best known, Hildegard would counsel parents on the utter necessity of obtaining their child’s consent before offering him as an oblation. “If you offer a child to Me,” says the voice of Jesus, and that offering is against his will because you have not sought his consent to it, you have not acted rightly; you have offered a ram. How? If someone offers a ram at My altar without binding its horns strongly with ropes, the ram will certainly run away. So also if a father or mother offer their child, who is the ram, to My service, but do not honor his will, which is his horns, by assiduous care or supplication or entreaty or diligent exhortation, which are the ropes that bind him, since by all these the child should be brought to consent in good will; not having been proved by these tests, he will certainly run away, physically or mentally, unless God guards him by miracle.

And if you, O human, confine that child with such great strictness of bodily discipline that he cannot free himself from the pressure of his will’s repugnance, he will come before Me [at the Last Judgment] arid and fruitless in body and soul because of the captivity unjustly inflicted on him without his consent. Then I will say to you, O human who has bound him:

I had a green field in My power. Did I give it to you, O human, that you might make it put forth whatever fruit you wished? And if you sow sand in it, can you make it grow into fruit? No. For you do not give the dew, or send forth the rain, or confer fresh moisture, or draw warmth out of the burning sun, all of which are necessary to produce good fruit. So too, you can sow a word in human ears, but into his heart, which is My field, you cannot pour the dew of compunction, or the rain of tears, or the moisture of devotion, or the warmth of the Holy Spirit, through all of which the fruit of holiness must grow.

And how did you dare so rashly to touch one dedicated and sanctified to Me in baptism, that without his will you handed him over to bear My yoke in strict captivity; so that he became neither dry nor green, not dying to the world or living in the world? Why have you so oppressed him that he can do neither? If I comfort him by miracle so that he may remain in the spiritual life, that is not for humans to look into; for I want his parents not to sin in his oblation, offering him to Me without his will.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     xiii
A Chaucerian Invitation     1
Prelude: Alexandria, City of Reason: The Great Confluence     5
Introduction: Rome, Crossroads of the World: How the Romans Became the Italians     31
Bingen and Chartres, Gardens Enclosed: The Cult of the Virgin and Its Consequences     65
Aquitaine and Assisi, Courts of Love: The Pursuit of Love and Its Consequences     117
Intermezzo: Entrances to Other Worlds: The Mediterranean, the Orient, and the Atlantic     176
Paris, University of Heavenly Things: The Exaltation of Reason and Its Consequences     187
Oxford, University of Earthly Things: The Alchemist's Quest and Its Consequences     214
Padua, Chapel of Flesh: The Artist's Experiment and Its Consequences     230
Florence, Dome of Light: The Poet's Dream and Its Consequences     269
Ravenna, City of Death: The Politician's Emptiness and Its Consequences     301
Postlude: Love in the Ruins: A Dantesque Reflection     313
Notes and Sources     319
Acknowledgments     327
Permissions Acknowledgments     328
Photography Credits     329
Index     331

Reading Group Guide

“Intoxicating. . . . Cahill's command of rich historical detail makes medieval cities and their colorful characters come alive.” —Los Angeles Times

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enrich your discussion of Thomas Cahill's Mysteries of the Middle Ages.

1. Why did future generations characterize the Middle Ages as a time of destruction and ignorance? Who was served by that depiction? Which progressive aspects of this period were the most surprising to you?

2. The author attributes the rise of powerful women during the Middle Ages to the Madonna's central place in religious culture. How did perceptions of the Madonna shape the notion of the ideal woman during this era?

3. What similarities exist between the ways Hildegard of Bingen and Eleanor of Aquitaine used their power? How did the politics of church and state mirror one another during the Middle Ages?

4. What was Hildegard's guiding premise in her written exchanges with authority figures in the Church? How did her mystical visions seem to affect her tenacity? How would modern-day Roman Catholicism respond to a nun like her, or to an unconventional believer like Francis of Assisi?

5. How might European history have unfolded if Eleanor had ruled, rather than Henry (and later, Richard)? Would she have created an atmosphere of greater or less political stability?

6. What does the story of Abelard and Héloïse indicate about the changing concept of love during the Middle Ages? How does this couple compare to the ideals of courtly love also flourishing at the time? Were Héloïse's views on marriage realistic or idealistic?

7. What contemporary fallout does the West experience today as a result of the Crusades? Why was Francis of Assisi's approach to diplomacy-to sail to Egypt and meet with the Sultan al-Kamil in person-both rare and futile during the Middle Ages?

8. How was Francis able to find so much universal beauty in the world, as evidenced in “The Canticle of the Creatures,” while nature was dealing his health such horrific blows? How did humanity's understanding of the natural world change during his lifetime?

9. How would you characterize the scientific inquiries spurred by figures such as Roger Bacon? What can be learned from Thomas Aquinas's attempts to reconcile mystery and reason, or faith and facts? In what way do the intellectual pursuits of the Middle Ages speak to twenty-first-century quests for knowledge?

10. Do the chapters on medieval art indicate that art captures and preserves the way a community perceives the world, or does art change (even control) the way a community perceives the world? What is the significance of the fact that art turned realistic, particularly through the vision of the Florentine painter Giotto?

11. What were your reactions to the book's numerous photographs of medieval art and architecture? Do the artists and artisans seem to share a common definition of beauty?

12. What do Dante's poetry and life story tell us about the medieval understanding of God? What did Dante himself try to tell us about earthly concerns versus eternal ones, and the quest for peace?

13. What do the book's maps demonstrate about the role of land in the power struggles of the Middle Ages? On a smaller scale, which regions were more culturally permissive (did communities flourishing along the Rhine differ from those along the Seine)? What are the contemporary effects of these geographic shifts occurring centuries before?

14. The intermezzo, “Entrances to Other Worlds,” provides a portrait of an early form of globalization. In what ways did religion and commerce intersect at that time? Were there any secular realms in business then?

15. Mysteries of the Middle Ages begins and ends with reflections on classical civilization. How did medieval societies respond to these legacies? From the death penalty (see the author's note regarding Dominique Jerome Green in the book's introduction) to the church scandals described in the postlude, how does the twenty-first-century world respond to the legacies of the Middle Ages?

Introduction

“Intoxicating. . . . Cahill's command of rich historical detail makes medieval cities and their colorful characters come alive.” —Los Angeles Times

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enrich your discussion of Thomas Cahill's Mysteries of the Middle Ages.

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Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cahill at his best. Right up there with "How the Irish..." for enlightenment, education, entertainment, enrichment, and a pure joy to read.
Osbaldistone on LibraryThing 8 months ago
After reading "Mysteries", Cahill's fifth in his "Hinges of History" series, I felt like he was unable to keep the components of this volume tied together as well as he had in the earlier works in the series. This seems caused by the sheer breadth of what is called the Middle Ages. Cahill may have stretched the reasonable definition of a 'hinge' of history too far to keep the focus. However, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good introduction into the world that we call the Middle Ages. To say that this work is not as good as earlier books in Cahill's hinges of history series is not to say that this book is not a good read. Cahill set the bar pretty high with "How the Irish Saved Civilization". "Mysteries", unlike the earlier volumes, may require a second read to get it all tied together, but without that, this is still a solid series of essays on the Middle Ages. Cahill's instinct in bringing out the mind and heart of the historical characters in their world makes this an excellent introduction to the period and how it worked.Someone once said that to try to imagine the mind of an everyday person standing on a hillside looking out over a Middle Age landscape is comparable to trying to imagine the mind of a Martian. The whole frame of reference and beliefs that are (often unconsciously) the basis for how humans see the world has changed so radically in the past 800-1000 years. This seems true in many ways, but Cahill can make you feel like you're standing on that hillside as well as any historian I've read.Os.
SwitchKnitter on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I have fond -- if vague -- memories of Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization, which came out over a decade ago. So when I saw this book, I decided to get it. And I've been enjoying it so far. But on page 87 Cahill goes off on this half-page diatribe about how guilt is the greatest gift the Judeo-Christian tradition has given the Western world. He says that without it we would all be psychopaths. WTF? What about compassion and empathy? Why do we have to see ourselves as sinners in order to be good people?So the author has just revealed his bias, and I'm not enjoying the book so much now. It's hard to trust an author who thinks that way. I'm not saying I have to agree with everything an author writes -- far from it -- but to accept someone's expertise you have to trust them. Somebody who thinks Catholic guilt is a good thing is someone I can't believe.I'll put Mysteries away for now. Maybe a few days' distance will let me get the bad taste of Cahill's rant out of my brain...
NLytle on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is best used for the excellent pictures.
solla on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Cahills books generally deal with western history, though western history is permeated with the religions at least, that arose in the middle east, and most accounts begin with the middle east, Egypt and the fertile cresent centered in Mesopotamia. I have to admit that his books are in some way comforting, dealing with topics that are somewhat familiar to me. But, rather than simply presenting the events of history, he presents ideas and their impact. In this particular book I enjoyed reading about Hildebrand, an influential woman, and in Cahill's interpretation of the idea of Thomas Aquinas in contrast to those of Augustine. In short, he sees Augustine as more in line with Plato, with the metaphor of viewing reality from the cave and seeing shadows. But Aquinas, he sees as trusting the senses, and viewing the body as a good thing.I was also somewhat astonished to read that limbo had been out of favor in the Catholic church for some time, since I had learned about it as a child in Catholic school. This was in a section about Dante and the Divine Comedy, when he was talking about Dante's difficulty with the idea of the unbaptized going to hell. Limbo was a later solution to this difficulty, but, apparently has been de-emphasized along with the idea that the unbaptized go to hell.He has some scathing things to say about the recent sexual scandals in the Catholic church and Pope JohnPaul II and Bernard, implicating them as part of the coverup and in the church's treatment of the victims. I assumed as I read this that he was writing as someone who was raised Catholic, and looking it up I found that he was educated by Jesuits, and is currently a practicing Catholic.
alaskabookworm on LibraryThing 10 months ago
It seems as Cahill continues on his "Hinges of History" series, his narratives become more and more disjointed. Nevertheless, I continue to stick with him, because he tries to portray the positive aspects of history, rather than all the downers. This book is beautifully illustrated with photos and spot color. My advice would be to try and take each chapter individually and try not to focus too hard on his thread of reasoning, which completely lost me. In the end, this book got me more interested in the MIddle Ages, gave me many other reading ideas (including Sigrid Undset's Nobel Prize winning book "Kristin Lavransdatter" which I had never before heard of.)
markmobley on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Thomas Cahill is simply my favorite writer on history. He does not simply recreate events, but rather recreates the attitudes that allow those events to transpire. We often ask when someone does the unthinkable, "What were they thinking?" Well, Cahill proposes to answer.He is the first that introduced to me in a way that I could grasp it that people who lived before me did not think the way I do. In fact, he has used the phrase "if they were capable of thinking that thought" to reveal that we are much more dependent on our culture and history than we would ever like to admit. Our free wills are seriously limited by our pre-suppositions and the ideas of those who surround us.In his "Hinges of History" series, he tries to plot those moments that new ideas arose and the events that allowed them to rise. What made this possible? What were they thinking.Of all his books in the series, this is my least favorite. Not that it is not a good book. The first 180 pages had me feeling like my soul was being stretched. But it seems to have lost focus at the end, devolving into mini-biographies of Giotto and Dante. Cahill's strength is his willingness to comment, to interject his reading of history openly, which many historians refuse to do, but do by implicit editing of story and choice of adjective.He redeems himself with a well-written final chapter, attempting to tie together a very ambitious project, probably the most ambitious to date. And perhaps that is the difficulty. The so-called "Dark Ages" were anything but, opening the human mind to a new schema, breaking the shackles that had been handed to them by their anscestors. The seminal figures' actions and thoughts began the trickle down process that resulted in much change in the attitudes of us moderns.That being said, we were led down the rabbit hole of a personal vendetta not revealed until the last chapter. He intends to add his voice to calls for a new reformation of the Catholic Church and edits history in such a way that it serves his purpose. While I may agree that such a reformation is needed, I felt it incidental more than pivotal to his story.Overall, well worth your time. Even the chapters I have criticized were well-written and eye-opening. I'll read it again before I die, if things go well. ;)
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BiblioShan More than 1 year ago
This is a marvelous addition to Cahill's seris. It's nice, every once in a while, read about the flip side of history. As Cahill points out in his introduction to the series, history isn't all war, plague, exploitation and death. For every ghastly event, there is always someone going out of their way to help a stranger, ease a burden not their own or simply be a light of hope.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautiful! If you love art, history of Christianity and true scholarship, you will love this one. Cahill's series has been a glorious adventure through time, but this volume is icing on the cake. His erudition shines through while he makes it so smoothe a read. The illustrations shown here are superb.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A bitter disappointment, particularly since his previous books were in unique settings as a way of linking values today with those people of yore. These exceptions to the common culture did not lead to changes in contemporary times. He fails to identify the enormous contributions of the Moors and other Islam regimes to the preservation and enhancement of culture, art, literature and medicine during the medieval period.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book on the strength of his book about how the Irish Saved Civilization. I should have looked past the fine illistrations and possibly more at the content. I wanted to see how an openly Pro-Catholic writer could possibly soften or even condone the horrific sins of the Inquisition driven Catholic Church, and in that prospect I was disappointed. The point of this book was to be a fresh look at a period of history where texts often claim that the era was lacking in most of the virtues found before and after the period. The book further suffered from mixed writing, from that of scholars to that of a chatty visitor lecturing a Sunday school class. This book could not be further from the sound rational writing found in the earlier book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was bar far the wrost 'history' book I have ever seen in print by a so called student of history and former Boston College professor. His slim facts and awful comparisons had me wincing in pain as I read this book. How could the author of How the Irish saved cilization put out such inferior rubbish is beyond me. Maybe instead of trying to be hip Cahill could concentrate on getting his facts correct and his book to make some sense. Sorry but this book was garbage and a waste of money. If you really want to read, wait a few months and it will be on the clearance racks.