Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Millennium: Tom Holland

Tom Holland thought it might illuminate our experience of the second Millennium to take a look at what happened in the build up and aftermath to the first but I don't think it does particularly. The history of what we used to call the Dark Ages is repetitive, bloody and dispiriting, as hard man after hard man rose out of the murk to clobber and be clobbered. Some were smarter and/or harder than others, some had luxuriant facial hair- but none emerges from the scanty records as a clearly characterised human being- not even Charlemagne- who must have been some sort of a genius to build and maintain an empire on the quaking sands of Western Europe when no-one before or after him could manage it. I doubt that I'll read to the end; I get the picture.

And I don't believe that just because human history has always been horrible it needs to continue that way. At Canossa in 1077 Pope and Emperor reached a novel agreement whereby they would rule side by side- with two separate hierarchies- priestly and secular- dividing responsibility up between them. Well, that may have determined the course of European history for something like a thousand years but we're out of its shadow now...
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