"The breath of reading is astounding, the knowledge displayed is awe-inspiring and the attention quietly given to critical theory and the postmodern questioning of evidence is both careful and sincere."--The Daily Telegraph (UK)
"A superlative work of historical scholarship."--Literary Review (UK)
A unique and enlightening look at Europe's so-called Dark Ages; the second volume in the Penguin History of Europe
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.
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.