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Europe after Rome

A New Cultural History, 500-1000

Julia Smith

Publication Date - 23 July 2007

ISBN: 9780192892638

384 pages


Europe after Rome: A New Cultural History 500-1000 is the first single-author study in more than fifty years to offer an integrated appraisal of the early Middle Ages as a dynamic and formative period in European history. Written in an attractive and accessible style, the book makes extensive use of original sources in order to introduce early medieval men and women at all levels of society--from slave to emperor--and allows them to speak to students in their own words. It overturns traditional narratives and instead offers an entirely fresh approach to the centuries from c.500 to c.1000.
Rejecting any notion of a dominant, uniform early medieval culture, Europe after Rome argues that the fundamental characteristic of the early middle ages is diversity of experience. To explain how the men and women who lived in this period ordered their world in cultural, social, and political terms, it employs an innovative methodology that combines cultural history, regional studies, and gender history. Ranging comparatively from Ireland to Hungary and from Scotland and Scandinavia to Spain and Italy, the analysis highlights three themes: regional variation, power, and the legacy of Rome. In the context of debates about the social, religious, and cultural meaning of "Europe" in the early twenty-first century, this book seeks the origins of European cultural pluralism and diversity in the early Middle Ages.


"This book is a masterpiece of condensed exposition. It is also a breakthrough--a truly New Cultural History--in the quiet determination of the author to approach very old themes from angles refreshingly different from those from which they have usually been approached . . . It is, above all, the first complete account of the early middle ages as a civilization in its own right. It catches the living texture of western Europe, from Rome to the Hebrides, for a half millennium of its history. It is truly the study of a civilization in its entirety. . ."--Peter Brown, Princeton University

Table of Contents

    Part I: Fundamentals
    1. Speaking and Writing
    2. Living and Dying
    Part II: Affinities
    3. Friends and Relations
    4. Men and Women
    Part III: Resources
    5. Labor and Lordship
    6. Getting and Giving
    Part IV: Ideologies
    7. Kingship and Christianity
    8. Rome and the Peoples of Europe