A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age

William Manchester, Author Little, Brown and Company Inc $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-54531-0
Using only secondary sources, Manchester plunges readers into the medieval mind-set in a captivating, marvelously vivid popular history that humanizes the tumultuous span from the Dark Ages to the dawn of the Renaissance. He delineates an age when invisible spirits infested the air, when tolerance was seen as treachery and ``a mafia of profane popes desecrated Christianity.'' Besides re-creating the arduous lives of ordinary people, the Wesleyan professor of history peoples his tapestry with such figures as Leonardo, Machiavelli, Lucrezia Borgia, Erasmus, Luther, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Manchester ( The Arms of Krupp ) devotes much attention to Magellan, whose globe-straddling voyage shattered Christendom's implicit belief in Europe as the center of the universe. His portrayal of the Middle Ages as a time when the strong and the shrewd flourished, while the imaginative, the cerebral and the unfortunate suffered, rings true. Illustrations. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/27/1992
Release date: 04/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
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