In a work of splendid scholarship that reflects both a firm mastery of difficult sources and a keen intuition, one of Britain's foremost medievalists tells the story of the Christianization of Europe. It is a very large story, for conversion encompassed much more than religious belief. With it came enormous cultural change: Latin literacy and books, Roman notions of law and property, and the concept of town life, as well as new tastes in food, drink, and dress. Whether from faith or by force, from self-interest or by revelation, conversion had an immense impact that is with us even today. It is Richard Fletcher's achievement in this superb work that he makes that impact both felt and understood.
What impels the leaders of a religion to begin systematically to convert an entire continent? How do they go about doing it? How thorough is the conversion to be? What roles do politics and military conquest play in such religious conversion? How does conversion proceed in society, and how does it change society? Fletcher is well qualified to answer these and many other related questions with respect to the Christianizing of Europe during the Middle Ages. The prize-winning author of Moorish Spain and The Search for El Cid, he teaches at the University of York and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. specializing in medieval Spanish history. Spanning an entire millennium and a whole continent, his new work is dauntingly broad in scope, but his lucid presentation and lively and engaging style will carry even casual readers smoothly along. Recommended for both academic and public libraries.James F. DeRoche, Alexandria, Va.