The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity Ad 200-1000 (Making of Europe)
This work is a history of the people, struggles, defeats and victories, ideas and actions that together comprise the history of the first 1000 years of Christianity. It ranges across the whole of Asia Minor, North Africa and Europe. It both captures the immediacy of decisive moments and explains the nature of the processes by which the end of the period had established Christianity as the single greatest factor in political power and cultural life throughout the region. By establishing itself within the framework of two empires, the Roman and the Persian Sassanidic, Christendom inherited their double universality from its beginnings. The book traces the history of the distinctly Eastern Christendoms centred first in Byzantium and later spreading to the Balkans and to Russia, and the Western Christendoms focused on Rome but with powerfully independent centres in France, Germany, England and Ireland. It explores the origins of monastic life in the Coptic Church of Egypt, and charts its gradual spread throughout the West. The book recreates the vibrancy of Christian cultures and their claims to be the universal "true" Christianity, and shows how the rise of centralized forms of Christianity were associated with the renewed imperial systems of Byzantium and in the Carolingiam Empire. The book describes, too, the rise of Islam and its effect on the Christianity, first in the Middle East and then in the Byzantine Empire and Western Europe, and examines the origins of the great contests between the two faiths. Finally the author shows how, especially in North and Eastern Europe, the memories of a pagan past became part of the culture of what was now an officially Christian world: a distinctive relation between past and present, profane and sacred had emerged in Western Christendom by 1000 AD, and a civilization which was by then irrevocably different from the Christendoms of the East. The book moves constantly from the religious and theological to the social and secular. It combines evocations of people and places within a wide perspective of space and time, and structures the whole in a coherent narrative.