What did Europe look like in the 950s and what movements define Europe in the periode 950-1350? That is in essence the question Robert Bartlett's "The Making of Europe - Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350" analyzes and answers. And the answers are intelligent, multi-facetted, and based on sound arguments. Moreover, Bartlett's book is a linguistic pleasure to read.
I appreciated the fact, that Bartlett's book touches many individual identifiers in such a way that is easily understandable for a novice reader of history, but which at the same time is interesting for a more knowledgable reader. Among the identifiers that defines the periode 950-1350 are:
- the expansion of Latin Christendom
- the aristocratic diaspora
- military technology and polical power
- the image of the conqueror
- the free village
- the new landscape
- colonial towns and colonial trade
- race relations on the frontiers of Latin Europe
- the Roman Church and the Christian people.
Bartlett's book focusses on geographical areas that were subject to expansion, such as Eastern Europe, the Baltic, the Iberian penensula, and Ireland, but it does include many details that span the whole of Europe. I find this to be a major plus for the book, it does not view a specific situation for example that of Germany or France to automatically represent all of Europe. Bartlett has a strong knowledge of the geographical, ethnic, and cultural differences in Europe and this knowledge and the acceptence of the differences shines through.
I recommend Bartlett's book to anyone interested in European history or history of the Middle Ages: novices and experts alike.