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The Bright Ages

Written by: Matthew Gabriele, David M. Perry
Narrated by: Jim Meskimen
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Publisher's Summary

"Traveling easily through a thousand years of history, The Bright Ages reminds us society never collapsed when the Roman Empire fell, nor did the modern world did wake civilization from a thousand year hibernation. Thoroughly enjoyable, thoughtful and accessible; a fresh look on an age full of light, color, and illumination." (Mike Duncan, author of Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution)

A lively and magisterial popular history that refutes common misperceptions of the European Middle Ages, showing the beauty and communion that flourished alongside the dark brutality - a brilliant reflection of humanity itself.

The word medieval conjures images of the “Dark Ages” - centuries of ignorance, superstition, stasis, savagery, and poor hygiene. But the myth of darkness obscures the truth; this was a remarkable period in human history. The Bright Ages recasts the European Middle Ages for what it was, capturing this 1,000-year era in all its complexity and fundamental humanity, bringing to light both its beauty and its horrors.

The Bright Ages takes us through 10 centuries and crisscrosses Europe and the Mediterranean, Asia, and Africa, revisiting familiar people and events with new light cast upon them. We look with fresh eyes on the Fall of Rome, Charlemagne, the Vikings, the Crusades, and the Black Death, but also to the multi-religious experience of Iberia, the rise of Byzantium, and the genius of Hildegard and the power of queens. We begin under a blanket of golden stars constructed by an empress with Germanic, Roman, Spanish, Byzantine, and Christian bloodlines and end nearly 1,000 years later with the poet Dante - inspired by that same twinkling celestial canopy - writing an epic saga of heaven and hell that endures as a masterpiece of literature today.

The Bright Ages reminds us just how permeable our manmade borders have always been and of what possible worlds the past has always made available to us. The Middle Ages may have been a world “lit only by fire”, but it was one whose torches illuminated the magnificent rose windows of cathedrals, even as they stoked the pyres of accused heretics.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

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Secularly biased

I found this to be an older take on medieval Europe than I was expecting. Its the same old "the world was golden, until the ignorant, violent, Christian barbarians came and ruined everything for centuries. But things started getting better (more secular) earlier than you may think". This is the same general persepctive that Ive been reading for decades now, I was hoping for something a little fresher. Its the same position I held when I was 13, but eventually grew out of when I realized things were more nuanced than secularism=good, Christianity=bad. The Church was the only thing which bound Europe together to form a common civilization at this time, as well as acting as a check on the power of the nobility and royalty.

Those are just two examples, but I was hoping for a little more nuanced exploration of the intricacies of how the middle ages worked, and NOT just another Christianity=bad take; that's the exact same view of the Dark Ages that we have maintained for centuries now.

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