Will Durant makes these 1000 pages of Middle Ages history about as interesting as 1000 pages of Middle Ages history can be. This is part of an 11 volume walk through history so pick a period and start reading!
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 16 years ago
Will Durant is a legend and through this book he gives us a great insight into the medieval era. Because he is not a Catholic, he gives us an unbiased view of the Church during that time, upsetting some of the Catholics who would like to believe their own legends. Not an easy read, but a good read.
The Fourth Volume in The Story of Civilization!
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 19 years ago
In this, the fourth volume in the Story of Civilization, Dr. Will & Ariel Durant have compiled thousands of details to create a smooth flowing story covering one-thousand years of Christian, Islamic, and Jewish civilization. At nearly 1100 pages in length, the reader will see: The early Christian ascetics and martyrs such as Simeon Stylites, who sat atop a sixty-foot high pillar for thirty years, exposed to rain, sun, and snow, and rejoiced as worms ate his rotting flesh. Saint Augustine. The Great Kings such as Charlemagne, William, and Richard "the Lion-Hearted." The Popes. The Prophet Mohammed. The knights and pirates of the Crusades. The Age of Romance, Chivalry, and courtly love in literature. The Italian poet Dante, and the transition to the Renaissance. Plus more including plates and maps. Although written to stand alone or in the series, this volume will most likely be read by more serious students of history, however, the Durants have created a prose which is very easy to read and understand. In short, this book is for everyone interested in history, both professional and layperson alike! I rate this book as five stars as the Durant's authoritative historical Magnum Opus!
An intellectual tour-de-force!!
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
Durant is a brilliant macrohistorian. He gives a broad, but concise picture of various facets of historical development-economic, political, cultural, religious and scientific-in the course of the Age of Faith. This is a sweeping grand narrative of one thousand years of a burgeoning Christian and Islamic civilization. Many historians have a peculiar aversion to the middle ages, because it is perceived as an intellectually unenlightened era. These historians typically take a cue from Edward Gibbon and loathe the fall of Rome perpetually until they reach the Renaissance. Durant, however, demonstrates evenhandedness in chronicling the development of Western Civilization in the middle ages and its interaction with the Oriental civilizations of Byzantium and Islam. Durant shows the centuries of interactions between Popes and kings, nobles and peasant, and really gives the reader a feel for the cultural, economic and societal developments in Christendom. Durant tells of Justinian who strove to keep Rome intact and summarily failed. Instead of wailing over the remains of Pax Romana like some historians, Durant shifts to offering a perceptively detailed history of Byzantium and the rising `barbarian' kingdoms of the Franks, Visigoths and Goths. He chronicles the growth of the Christian church with intriguing biographical sketches of church fathers such as St. Augustine, St. Benedict and St. Francis. His account of the Crusades is both remarkable and informative and too me it makes this book invaluable. The Venetian treachery against Constantinople is well detailed. Durant sketches the development of Britannia from its Celtic beginnings to the birth of England and the pivotal battle at Hastings in 1066, which forever shaped the realm and the course of history. His account of the Norsemen-Normans, Danes, Vikings and Icelanders-is remarkably interesting. Durant paves the way for the transition to Renaissance with his chapters dealing with Epistemology, Christian Science, the Christian theologian and philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas and the poet Dante. He shows that the medieval times were actually the bedrock for the Renaissance of classical culture. It was the pious monks of Christendom and the sages of Islam that preserved the classics of hollowed antiquity. It is my estimation that no serious student history can be without Durant's Story of Civilization series. Likewise, anyone interested in the middle ages should get a copy of the Age of Faith. If you're interested in the middle ages, I also recommend books by John Julius Norwich.
Dante...and so much more...
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
If you have never had the pleasure -- and goodfortune -- to discover Will Durant and this serieson THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION, then prepare yourselffor insight, enrichment, and cultural nurturing. Few sources concerning history and culture, witha strongly philosophical underpinning, can enlightenas does this series. Each volume in the series is subdivided intoa number of BOOKS, and each of these subdivisionsis further subdivided into Chapters of varioussections. But the flow, interest, and detail areon-going, clear, and stimulating. These are volumesnot only for scholars but also for general readersyearning -- longing -- to understand the flow andinteractions of history, culture, and thought. This volume is number 4 in the series. The Booksinto which it is subdivided are: "The ByzantineZenith: A.D. 325-565" -- "Islamic Civilization: A.D. 569-1258" -- "Judaic Civilization: A.D. 135-1300" -- "The Dark Ages: A.D. 566-1095" -- "TheClimax of Christianity: A.D. 1095-1300". This volume opens with the Chapter on "Julianthe Apostate" and closes with a lengthy chapteron "Dante: 1265-1321." That is certainly aninteresting span, not only in time, but inpersonality and focus, as well. The Chapter (38) leading into the Chapter onDante (39) is a wondrous, interesting presentationof "The Age of [Medieval] Romance: 1100-1300."It includes sections titled: The Latin Revival;Wine, Women, and Song; The Rebirth of Drama;Epics and Sagas; The Troubadours; The Minnesingers;The Romances; The Satirical Reaction. There areexcellent excerpts from some of the types, aswell as intriguing discussion of how the typesevolved, interacted, and interfused. Here isan example of the presentation from "The Romances": "But in romance the middle class had already captured the field. As aristocratic troubadours and TROVATORI wrote delicate lyrics for the ladies of sourther France and Italy, so in northern France the poets of humble birth -- known to the French as trouveres, or inventors -- brightened the evenings of the middle and upper classes with poetic tales of love and war. The typical compositions of trhe trouveres were the BALLADE, the LAI, the CHANSON DE GESTE, and the ROMAN." Durant proceeds to talk about Marie de Franceand gives one of her entire lyrics in the text.He then goes on to discuss the CHANSONS DE GESTEand their successors, the ROMAN (or Romances).There are excellent sections on the writers Walther von der Vogelweide, Chretien de Troyes,Wolfram von Eschenbach, Gottfried of Strasbourg,and Hartmann von Aue. This chapter serves as aexcellent, rich, historical and cultural backgroundfor the chapter on Dante which follows. The chapter on Dante is divided into the sections:The Italian Troubadours; Dante and Beatrice; ThePoet in Politics; and a final full and rich sectionon THE DIVINE COMEDY, itself. One excerpt from thetext cannot be passed by, without quotation: "In the epic of Dante's life, his exile was his hell, his studies and his
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