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Italy in the Early Middle Ages: 476-1000 (Short Oxford History of Italy) [Paperback]

Cristina La Rocca
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Price: £25.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

27 Jun 2002 0198700482 978-0198700487
In this volume, ten leading international historians and archaeologists provide a fresh and dynamic picture of Italy's history from the end of the Roman Western Empire in 476 to the end of the tenth century. Recent archaeological findings, which have so greatly changed our perceptions and understanding of the period, have been fully integrated into the eleven thematic chapters, which provide a fully rounded overview of the entire Italian peninsula in the early middle ages. The chapters consider such themes as regional diversities, rural and urban landscapes, the organisation of public and private power, the role and structure of ecclesiastical institutions, the production of manuscripts, inscriptions, and private charters.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (27 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198700482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198700487
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.8 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Cristina La Rocca is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Padua and is joint editor of 'Archeologia Medievale'. Her books include 'Pacifico di Verona. Il passato carolingio nella costruzione della memoria urbana' (1995),'Da Testona a Moncalieri. La dinamica del popolamento nella collina torinese'(1986). With D.Modonesi she is the editor of 'Materiali dietà longobarda nel veronese' (1989).

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First Sentence
To modern eyes Roman Italy had a very distinct identity, and its Romanness was expressed in numerous cultural features: architecture and craffs, mosaics and inscriptions, institutions and law, literature and education. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the serious student 29 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Professor La Rocca has gathered contributions from 10 scholars in this effort to describe Italy from the fall of the Roman empire (476) to around the year 1000. The scholars (seven Italians, and one each from France, Austria and Great Britain) portray different aspects of the Italian society: "Ecclesiastical institutions", "Rural economy and society", "Private charters", and so on. This is serious stuff, undoutably written by experts in their fields. It will give you a good understanding of the present state of knowledge of the items it describes, and Ms. La Rocca in her introduction does not deal with the history of Italy, but looks instead at the changing ways in which historians have dealt with it.

Do not expect an entertaining story of what happened, with hows and whys - we are very far from the Peter Heather style of history writing. There is a chapter ("Invasions and ethnic identity") where Walter Pohl goes through some of the actual events (with some hows and whys), but apart from that, the reader is assumed to know the general background. There are nine pages of chronology and six pages of maps, but only one illustration.

The book deserves praise for its extensive bibliography, but I can only give it four stars: The writing is dry as wood, maybe it has suffered from the authors' and translators' desire to be precise. The lack of illustrations is appalling, and I sorely miss a chapter that could bring together the essence of the different parts, who in their present state seem to be heading off, each in their direction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good overall survey 19 May 2009
An excellent general survey of the period. The text is clear and well-organized. However, the book doesn't really deal in any depth with the political/military developments; it is more concerned with the social and cultural aspects. A more detailed chronology and maps would also have been helpful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview of a Neglected Period 15 Sep 2005
By John W. Oliver - Published on
In an effort to understand more of the historic development of Italy, I picked up this book from the local library. The book covers a wide range of time, from 476-1000, and each chapter is an essay covering a particular aspect of this period. The book is definitely not all inclusive, and it is not meant to be. The essays do give the reader a good sense of what is happening and how Italy is changing through the time period.

Overall, I found the essays to be well-written. Some of the essays are drier than others, making them more difficult to focus your attention upon. I like the idea of the subject specific essay though, allowing the reader to understand an aspect as a whole for a period before passing onto the next.

The book concentrates mostly on Northern and Central Italy. Southern Italy does not receive the same attention. From the text, I would gather that there is less material about the area available to study this period. Perhaps as more archaeological evidence is found and local histories are gathered, we can understand more about what happened in this area in this period (Note: the Byzantine Empire controlled the area for much of this period, as opposed to the Lombards, Goths and Carolingans farther to the north).

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about this period. It is important to understand the transitions that a culture makes if you are going to understand why a land is how it is (and if that makes sense to you, good).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but uneven, and you're going to have to work for it 19 Feb 2013
By Sabbatic - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This seems to be one of the few books in this series which hasn't received a review by someone complaining that it's not narrative history and assumes a fair amount of knowledge. That said, for someone who hasn't read the reviews, it's worth pointing out that a book like this requires more work than reading through a narrative account. If nothing else, you'll need to refer to the timeline at the end a lot to orient yourself, and you'll need to be able to infer the meaning of a lot of terms on the fly. With regards to the latter, I'm still baffled as to why the glossary at the end is so small. There are a lot of specialist terms in these essays (from Medieval culture, from the study of the early church, and from archaeology). I'm no stranger to Classical history but often found myself confronted with terms that weren't glossed. I prefer this sort of history myself, but then I had far too many years of grad school.

As for the essays themselves, some are great (e.g. the chapter on the Rural Economy), others well illustrate the belief that Italian scholars can't see the forest for the trees (e.g. the chapter immediately following the latter). Since new archaeology looms so largely in the study of this period, you'll get many pages of details on this location, then that location, then that location, etc. In the hands of some authors, all that can be framed in a way that doesn't make it simple, but makes it comprehensible at a higher level. For some chapters though, one is confronted by a long series with a single limp sentence here and there meant to somehow give one a perspective. One is also left wondering sometimes why some topic is actually significant. The final chapter is a good example of this. It has a point, but not a strong one, and not a well argued one. Moreover, the author repeats it something like 6 times without ever giving a good sense of why the ability to catalog changes in epigraphic script really matters.
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