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The years from AD 1000 to the beginning of the fourteenth century were the most formative period in European history: a time of intense social, political, cultural and religious change. In this definitive work William Chester Jordan, one of the world's leading medievalists, explores a confident, dynamic age, far removed from our own. The society that emerged at the beginning of the second millennium was a fervently Christian and ambitious one, where the power of the church and nation-states expanded and learning flourished. From the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, Jordan brings to life the values and achievements of the High Medieval period: the religious crusades, the epic literature, the great universities of England, France, and Italy, and the momentous achievements of Gothic architecture. He also brilliantly examines how the 'fire break' of the fourteenth century - famines, plagues and wars - was to bring this world dramatically to an end.
"The Penguin History of Europe series... is one of contemporary publishing's great projects."--New Statesman
It was an age of hope and possibility, of accomplishment and expansion. Europe's High Middle Ages spanned the Crusades, the building of Chartres Cathedral, Dante's Inferno, and Thomas Aquinas. Buoyant, confident, creative, the era seemed to be flowering into a true renaissance-until the disastrous fourteenth century rained catastrophe in the form of plagues, famine, and war.
In Europe in the High Middle Ages, William Chester Jordan paints a vivid, teeming landscape that captures this lost age in all its glory and complexity. Here are the great popes who revived the power of the Church against the secular princes; the writers and thinkers who paved the way for the Renaissance; the warriors who stemmed the Islamic tide in Spain and surged into Palestine; and the humbler estates, those who found new hope and prosperity until the long night of the 1300s. From high to low, from dramatic events to social structures, Jordan's account brings to life this fascinating age. Part of the Penguin History of Europe series, edited by David Cannadine.
William Chester Jordan is Professor of History at Princeton University and the author of The Great Famine.
Jordan marvelously weaves the many and various events of the years 10001350 into a splendid historical tapestry. That this is the inaugural volume in the Penguin History of Europe augurs very well for the series. (Publishers Weekly) A splendid start to Penguins History of Europe series . . . [Jordan] writes elegantly and ironically, giving the reader a broad, but not dumbed down view of medieval society and its complexities. (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)"
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