Thursday, July 7, 2022

Power and Thrones

Power and Thrones is a fantastic book describing the history of the Middle Ages. I was engrossed from the first chapter, which describes the fall of the Roman Empire and thus begins a new period in human history (for western Europeans, anyway).

Each chapter is about one particular aspect of the Middle Ages that the author considered worthy of discussing. So for example, there are chapters about the various neighbouring empires such as the Byzantine Empire and the Mongols. But there were also chapters about the church as well as knights. And then there were chapters about events like the plague(s) and the crusades, as well as people, like the emerging merchant class, and of course the navigators like Columbus and De Gama.

I enjoyed reading about topics I didn't think I was going to because the author's story-telling and writing style were excellent. The reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, just how close Europe came to becoming Muslim, and how European kings came to associate themselves with God were fascinating topics in a lengthy book absolutely full of them.

The book's biggest weakness is its bias towards Western Europe. We learn almost nothing about the Americas, Africa, Australia etc. during this period. Even the Islamic empires, which at times dominated the world with technological advances during this period, were only described to the extent that they affected the European situation.

I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in history.

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