A History of Europe from 400 to 1000
Reviewed at Medievalists.net
[Snip] “Early medieval Europe has, over and over, been misunderstood.” With these words, Chris Wickham begins his book The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000. The Professor of Medieval History at University of Oxford is here offering his views on how Europe itself changed with the break-up of the Roman Empire, and the emergence of kings and kingdoms in western Europe and empires in the East.
Professor Wickham sees two major problems with the way historians have portrayed the early Middle Ages — the first is that many books have claimed this period saw the emergence of national identities and an overall European one too — that if you searched hard enough you could find the beginning of France, Spain or Belgium. Wickham calls this “bad history” which is the result of the people seeing signs of evidence where none really exist.
The other problem he notes is the one where historians have traditionally seen the early Middle Ages as a kind of “storyline of failure” – the result of the collapse the Western Roman Empire, where Europe needed hundreds of years to recover. Wickham writes that he finds this to be ridiculous and notes that “every period in history has its own identity and legitimacy, which must be seen without hindsight.”