cover image Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages

Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages

Dan Jones.. Viking, $35 (656p) ISBN 978-1-984880-87-1

Historian Jones (Crusaders) covers 1,000 years of world history in this entertaining chronicle of the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Protestant Reformation. Delving into the power struggles and "great forces beyond human control," including climate change and the Black Plague, that helped shape the era, Jones charts the evolution of cultural, military, and religious practices with intriguing case studies and vivid character sketches. A section on the rise of European universities notes that Thomas Aquinas"s brothers sought to dissuade him from studying to become a Dominican friar by "Chiring prostitutes to try to tempt him into sin," and that scholars from the University of Paris played a critical role in the downfall of the Knights Templar in the early 14th century. Though the focus is on Europe, Jones makes clear that the Arabic-speaking world exerted a significant influence on the West, in particular through the dissemination of scientific and philosophical knowledge. Throughout, Jones displays flashes of humor and reveals unexpected links between events and figures, noting, for example, that the patron of Flemish painter Jan van Eyck also helped send Joan of Arc to her death. This richly detailed history will appeal to aficionados and newcomers alike. Agent: Georgina Capel, Georgina Capel Assoc. (Oct.)