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Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom Hardcover – 18 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (18 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316732451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316732451
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Historian Tom Holland has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for BBC Radio. Rubicon was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2004, and Persian Fire won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award 2006.

Product Description


** Fast and lively . . . another blockbuster (Jenny Diski, SUNDAY TIMES)

** A mighty narrative of kings and popes, battles and massacres . . . A tremendously good read (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE)

'At last, a book that sheds much-needed light on those 1,000 years between Roman Britain and the Norman conquest that we call the dark ages (Sue Arnold GUARDIAN)

'Holland tells a cracking tale, vividly bringing this neglected era of monks, popes, knights and serfs back to life (David Sinclair, TRIBUNE)


'MILLENNIUM ranges far in both time and space yet always returns to its central theme: the right ordering of Christendom. It is narrative history in the grand manner, written with the panache and confidence we associate with the great historians of the 18th and 19th centuries. Holland's research has been prodigious . . . It is a marvellous, enthralling read, and gives a lively sense of these turbulent centuries that were so crucial in the making of western civilisation. Read it, and be thrilled, amazed and enlightened'

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
After having read Rubicon, Holland's masterpiece of popularization, this book was rather disappointing. It is about the approximate period of 900 to 1100 C.E., the convulsive transition between the Dark Ages and the great renascence of the Gothic era. This is an extraordinarily complex moment, not only in internal evolution of the Latin West but from the three civilizations (Viking, Hungarian, and Moslem) pressing it from all sides. Unfortunately, in contrast to the focus on key watershed events of Rubicon, this makes for a sprawling and diffuse narrative that Holland does not quite pull off.

The book begins with the moment when Henry IV (the future Holy Roman Emperor) is forced to pay penitence to Pope Gregory VII, that is, when a worldly leader must acknowledge for the first time his inferiority before the power (moral or otherwise) of the leader of the Latin branch of Christianity. Holland then promises that the book will examine the beginnings of modernity, when the imprecise promises of apocalypse and Christ's return to bring about justice in the next world did not occur when expected, at the turn of the first millennium, gave way to new political and spiritual arrangements that had to be undertaken on Earth. Unfortunately, by the end of the book, he did not do this. That being said, the journey through the book is in many ways deeply rewarding.

For starters, the West (i.e. Latin Christendom) had been under siege for centuries. First, a new eastern faith, Islam, had eaten away at Christendom to establish a fractious empire that was moving into Europe from two directions. Second, the Vikings and Hungarians, both savage pagan fighting forces, were also making inroads and sowing destruction.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By I. Beeston on 15 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Tom Hollands' previous two books (Rubicon and Persian Fire), but I found Millennium a little bit disjointed.

The other books were far more dramatic, with an epic clash of civilisations and charismatic personalities that sweep the reader up in the excitement and get them interested in the subject material. Instead, this book is lacking much of that, and feels unfocussed as it switches between the histories of different nations without much of a common theme between them (other than each starts with that country's conversion to christianity).

Strangely there are side-stories that seem like far more exciting subject material than the main thrust but are sadly neglected, including the decline of Byzantium from it's exceptional sophistication and holiness to corruption, infighting and collapse, or the crusades (the book ends with a very rushed account of the first crusade), and at first it seems like the book will chronicle the empire of Charlemagne and it's successor states but this is never fully realised.

In the end I was left confused about what the real theme of the book is supposed to be. The expected apocalypse with the coming of the millennium (hence the title of the book) is only really discussed in the first half of the book and even then only as a half-baked motivation for some of the events described (although the evidence for that explanation seems weak). Much of the book describes the evolution of the papacy from being a weak and powerless provincial bishopric into the undisputed head of the western church (with political independence from the kings of europe), but again, this covers only a small part of the book.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Kuma on 26 Sep 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Holland does history and historians a great service. He brings areas of history such as the ancient world or the middle ages that have been increasingly the preserve of academics back to the general populace. He does this with wit, clever anecdote, narrative history and the confidence to nmatch his history with the trends in academia.

Millenium in this respect is a triumph of writing. First he succeeds in providing a highly cohesive narrative for a landscape that was divided amongst so many kingdoms and cultures, this is a victory in itself. secondly he ensures that his narrative is not the dull constitutional histories of the past that are a collection of dates but instead tries to really understand the motivations of the history.

Significantly he addresses the importance of religion and especially the Christian pre-occupation with the second coming. In an age that increasingly doesn't understand faith or wishes to downplay it's involvement in history, Holland masterfully draws in a clear and fair image of religion in keeping with current trends in middle ages history. He is very good at discuss the abbey at Cluny and using the abbey to draw a detailed image of the periods religious landscape. Skillfully he also looks at Muslim and Jewish attitudes and beliefs in the period and amazingly manages to fit into his narrative some well thought insights into the intellectual relationships between these faiths. It is often the downfall of historians of this period to take too Christian a view of events, but Holland succeeds in rising above this, it is to say the least refreshing.
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