At the approach of the first millennium, the Christians of Europe did not seem likely candidates for future greatness. Weak, fractured, and hemmed in by hostile nations, they saw no future beyond the widely anticipated Second Coming of Christ. But when the world did not end, the peoples of Western Europe suddenly found themselves with no choice but to begin the heroic task of building a Jerusalem on earth.
In The Forge of Christendom , Tom Holland masterfully describes this remarkable new age, a time of caliphs and Viking sea kings, the spread of castles and the invention of knighthood. It was one of the most significant departure points in history: the emergence of Western Europe as a distinctive and expansionist power.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: The Forge of Christendom|
|Release Date: 05-05-2009|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The Forge of Christendom
The Return of the King
The Whore of Babylon
"All these will I give you," said Satan, showing Jesus the kingdoms of the world, "if you will fall down and worship me."1 But Jesus, scorning empire, refused the temptation. And Satan, confounded, retired in great confusion; and angels came and ministered to the Son of Man. Or so, at any rate, his followers reported.
The kingdoms shown to Jesus already had a single master: Caesar. Monarch of a city which had devoured the whole earth, and trampled it down, and broken it to pieces, "exceedingly terrible,"2 he swayed the fate of millions from his palace upon the hill of the Palatine in Rome. Jesus had been born, and lived, as merely one of his myriad subjects. The rule proclaimed by the "Anointed One," the "Christ," however, was not of this world. Emperors and their legions had no power to seize it. The Kingdom of Heaven was promised instead to the merciful, the meek, the poor. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."3 And Jesus -- even facing death -- practised what he had preached. When guards were sent to arrest him, his chief disciple, Peter, "the rock" upon whom it had been prophesied that the Church itself would be built, sought to defend his master; but Jesus, healing the man wounded in the ensuing scuffle, ordered Peter to put up his weapon. "For all who take the sword," he warned, "will perish by the sword."4 Dragged before a Roman governor, Jesus raised no voice of complaint as he was condemned to death as an enemy of Caesar. Roman soldiers guarded him as he hauled his cross through the streets of Jerusalem and out on to the execution ...