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The Formation of Christendom (1987)

de Judith Herrin

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A groundbreaking history of how the Christian "West" emerged from the ancient Mediterranean world In this acclaimed history of Early Christendom, Judith Herrin shows how--from the sack of Rome in 410 to the coronation of Charlemagne in 800--the Christian "West" grew out of an ancient Mediterranean world divided between the Roman west, the Byzantine east, and the Muslim south. Demonstrating that religion was the period's defining force, she reveals how the clash over graven images, banned by Islam, both provoked iconoclasm in Constantinople and generated a distinct western commitment to Christian pictorial narrative. In a new preface, Herrin discusses the book's origins, reception, and influence.… (més)
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A beautifully structured account of the transition from Late Antiquity to the early Medieval era. Rather than give separate histories of the rise of the papacy, the evolution of Byzantium, and the establishment of the Carolingian Empire, Herrin synthesizes these movements and shows how their interrelationships formed post-Roman Europe. For example, she discusses how rivalry between iconoclasts and iconophiles in the east helped drive the Pope and Charlemagne into an alliance that broke the hold that the emperor in Constantinople had over the western church, culminating in Charlemagne being crowned Emperor in 800 by Pope Leo III. The final chapter is a lovely meditation on the monastic libraries of the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance. It doesn't provide a grand summation so much as a lovely coda to an ongoing story. ( )
1 vota le.vert.galant | Jan 26, 2015 |
Ms Herrin wades into an area with little surviving evidence, and has the courage to produce a very readable synthesis from a number of disparate sources. I applaud her work! ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 2, 2014 |
This is a scholarly work about a fairly obscure subject. It isn't about the spread of religion. Instead, the book deals with the transition of the various political entities of Europe from secular states into Christian ones. It describes the increase of the power of the Church as it fills the vacuum left by the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Activities such as looking after the poor, maintaining public buildings and organizing and regulating commence became the domain of religious leaders. By undertaking these actions they gained the popular support of the people. They soon established the right of the Church to advise and even make demands upon secular leaders

This is not a casual beach book, but for those interested in European history it provides an interesting look at the transition from Roman authority to feudal suzerainty. ( )
  jztemple | Jul 30, 2008 |
Highly recommended. A synthesis of European and Christian history emphasizing the eventual parting of the ways of the West (Rome) and the East (Byzantium). The author's erudition is impressive reaching back to the latin and greek sources. The writing is a little dull at times, but the information is well-presented and compelling. ( )
  haeesh | Mar 14, 2007 |
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A groundbreaking history of how the Christian "West" emerged from the ancient Mediterranean world In this acclaimed history of Early Christendom, Judith Herrin shows how--from the sack of Rome in 410 to the coronation of Charlemagne in 800--the Christian "West" grew out of an ancient Mediterranean world divided between the Roman west, the Byzantine east, and the Muslim south. Demonstrating that religion was the period's defining force, she reveals how the clash over graven images, banned by Islam, both provoked iconoclasm in Constantinople and generated a distinct western commitment to Christian pictorial narrative. In a new preface, Herrin discusses the book's origins, reception, and influence.

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