Were the Dark Ages truly the lost centuries they are so often portrayed as? How could a world so profoundly shaped by Rome and encompassing such remarkable societies as the Byzantine, Carolingian, and Ottonian empires be anything other than central to the development of Europe? In the Inheritance of Rome, award-winning historian Chris Wickham defies the conventional view of the centuries between AD 400 and 1000 with a work of remarkable scope and rigorous yet accessible scholarship.
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.
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. He lives in Oxford, England.
Table of Contents
List of Maps ix
List of Illustrations x
1 Introduction 3
Part I The Roman Empire and its Break-up, 400-550
2 The Weight of Empire 21
3 Culture and Belief in the Christian Roman World 50
4 Crisis and Continuity, 400-550 76
Part II The Post-Roman West, 550-750
5 Merovingian Gaul and Germany, 500-751 111
6 The West Mediterranean Kingdoms: Spain and Italy, 550-750 130
7 Kings without States: Britain and Ireland, 400-800 150
8 Post-Roman Attitudes: Culture, Belief and Political Etiquette, 550-750 170
9 Wealth, Exchange and Peasant Society 203
10 The Power of the Visual: Material Culture and Display from Imperial Rome to the Carolingians 232
Part III The Empires of the East, 550-1000
11 Byzantine Survival, 550-850 255
12 The Crystallization of Arab Political Power, 630-750 279
13 Byzantine Revival, 850-1000 298
14 From 'Abbasid Baghdad to Umayyad Córdoba, 750-1000 318
15 The State and the Economy: Eastern Mediterranean Exchange Networks, 600-1000 348
Part IV The Carolingian and Post-Carolingian West, 750-1000
16 The Carolingian Century, 751-887 375
17 Intellectuals and Politics 405
18 The Tenth-century Successor States 427
19 'Carolingian' England, 800-1000 453
20 Outer Europe 472
21 Aristocrats between the Carolingian and the 'Feudal' Worlds 508
22 The Caging of the Peasantry, 8oo-1000 529
23 Conclusion: Trends in European History, 400-1000 552
Notes and Bibliographic Guides 565
Index of Names and Places 623
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000 is the second volume in the new Penguin History of Europe series, and covers Europe from 400 AD to 1000 AD. It is scholarly, learned, complete, and, unfortunately, not very interesting. This is not the fault of the author, really, but is a fault of the lack of historical data and evidence. As a consequence, the author was mostly stuck reciting facts about the rulers in different areas and times in Europe, and at least for me this got old quickly. But in fairness, a history should stick to facts and to speculation that is closely based on facts. If the facts/evidence is not there, then one cannot really comment on things. I do give the author credit for giving us the latest state of historical research for this time period. A more serious criticism I have is the relative under-emphasis on eastern Europe and the primary focus on western Europe. Again, I understand why this was done (lack of sources for eastern Europe) but it does grate a little. Still, given the inherent limitations of the historical record, I give this four stars. This is the third in the series I have finished, the other two being Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648 and To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949, both of which I highly recommend.
Extremely good discussion of an era frequently glossed over as simple and crude.
Accurate, detailed, up to date, and it will change the way you look at the immediate post-Roman world. Slightly more academic than most histories in the shop.