The Conversion of Europe

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9780006863021: The Conversion of Europe

The story of how Europe was converted to Christianity from 300AD until the barbarian Lithuanians finally capitulated at the astonishingly late date of 1386. It is an epic tale from one of the most gifted historians of today.

This remarkable book examines the conversion of Europe to the Christian faith in the period following the collapse of the Roman Empire, to approximately 1300 when the hegemony of the Holy Roman Empire was firmly established.

Like Alan Bullock and Simon Schama, Fletcher is a historian with the true gift of a storyteller and a wide general readership ahead of him.

Fletcher’s previous book, The Quest for El Cid, won both the Wolfson History Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for History. This book is even better – the most impressive achievement so far of this strikingly gifted historian.

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From the Back Cover:

One of Christianity's first powerful converts, the Emperor Constantine, was baptised into the Christian church on his deathbed by Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, in 337 AD. But the religious character of his empire and the states which set themselves up as its successors was not thereby settled forever. It was not until 1386, over a millennium later, that the continent's last pagan ruler, Grand Duke Jogaila of the Lithuanians, was baptised and Europe became, at least nominally , a completely Christian continent. The epic story of the conversion of Europe over that millennium – the first, greatest and still most successful of all European integrations – is the subject of this book. Richard Fletcher's account of the growth of Christendom, its effect both on the character of European society and culture and on the civilisation of the world, is the most impressive achievement so far of this strikingly gifted historian.

"An absorbing account of the most important event in the history of Europe: its conversion to Christianity... Richard Fletcher is a stylist of distinction, not merely in the sense that like Gibbon his master of the memorable sentence, but in the historian's task of weaving the particular instance into the web of a compelling narrative."
RAYMOND CARR, 'Spectator'

"From Richard Fletcher's massive story, we learn about the otherness of the past: how different Christianity was then and now... It is the genius of this enthralling book that epic moments and tiny vignettes mingle to convey the flavour of Christian life as the people of Europe were experiencing conversion. The scale is ambitious, and the style lucid, but you never feel that you are adrift from the detailed reconstruction of modern scholarship."
ROBERT RUNCIE, 'Sunday Times'

"Fletcher tells the story clearly and with enthusiasm... the book is very readable. It is an achievement to produce an intelligent and accurate survey of the expansion of Christianity within Europe over a period of a thousand years."
ROBERT BARTLETT, 'Literary Review'

"A vivid and thought-provoking book."
KEITH THOMAS, 'The Times'

About the Author:

Richard Fletcher is renowned as one of Britain’s most engaging and witty historians. His previous books include Moorish Spain and The Quest for El Cid, which won the Wolfson Prize for History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He teaches history at the University of York.

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Richard Fletcher
Published by Fontana Press (1998)
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