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The Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages


  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107449091

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About the Authors
  • This groundbreaking study reveals the distinctive impact of apocalyptic ideas about time, evil and power on church and society in the Latin West, c.400–c.1050. Drawing on evidence from late antiquity, the Frankish kingdoms, Anglo-Saxon England, Spain and Byzantium and sociological models, James Palmer shows that apocalyptic thought was a more powerful part of mainstream political ideologies and religious reform than many historians believe. Moving beyond the standard 'Terrors of the Year 1000', The Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages opens up broader perspectives on heresy, the Antichrist and Last World Emperor legends, chronography, and the relationship between eschatology and apocalypticism. In the process, it offers reassessments of the worlds of Augustine, Gregory of Tours, Bede, Charlemagne and the Ottonians, providing a wide-ranging and up-to-date survey of medieval apocalyptic thought. This is the first full-length English-language treatment of a fundamental and controversial part of medieval religion and society.

    • Proposes a new framework for understanding early medieval, apocalyptic thought
    • Draws comparisons between different Western cultures and the East
    • Explores the relationship between the development of ideas and the implementation of political and social change
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is an exceptional book. Palmer offers a synthesis where none currently exists, moving the study of apocalypticism away from modern historiographical polemic and into a space that helps us understand the Early Middle Ages as a whole.' Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech

    'The topic is complicated and controversial; the author is learned, wide-ranging and open-minded. This combination has yielded a book that is both accessible and important.' Mayke De Jong, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands

    'James Palmer's excellent new look at the idea of the imminent end of the world shows both how normal it was for most of the early middle ages and how it interleaved transactionally with political action. Anyone interested in the early middle ages, or in the interplay between theology and politics in any period, should read this book.' Chris Wickham, University of Oxford

    'It has been said that only two things are necessary in life: paying taxes and dying. … Palmer has made a significant contribution to our understanding of early medieval Europe and the emergence of Christendom, one that should be seriously considered by all medievalists. … For scholars, the early Middle Ages will never look the same. For this, we owe Palmer our gratitude.' Eric Leland Saak, Augustiniana

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107449091
    • length: 274 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 2 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: how the world ends
    1. The end of civilisation: c.AD 380–c.AD 575
    2. The new urgency: c.AD 550–c.AD 604
    3. The ends of time and space: c.AD 600–c.AD 735
    4. Pseudo-Methodius and the problem of evil: c.AD 680–c.AD 800
    5. Charlemagne, Pater Europae: c.AD 750–c.AD 820
    6. A golden age in danger c.AD 820–c.AD 911
    7. The year 1000 and other apocalypticisms: c.AD 911–c.AD 1033
    The end: c.AD 400–c.AD 1033
    Select bibliography
    Index of manuscript references
    General index.

  • Author

    James Palmer, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    James Palmer undertook a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Nottingham in 2006–7 (on Time and Power in the Early Medieval West). In 2007 he was appointed Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of St Andrews, where he has taught widely on the Middle Ages, including a course on Medieval Apocalyptic Traditions. His well-reviewed first book on Carolingian hagiography, Anglo-Saxons in a Frankish World, 690–900, was published in 2009. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society the following year. In 2011–12 James held a much-sought-after ARHC Fellowship, which allowed him to complete his research for The Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages. He was a founding editor of The Medieval Journal, an international forum for interdisciplinary medieval studies. He is also a member of the Medieval Academy of America and the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists.

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