The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages

The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages


By (author) Norman Cohn

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  • Publisher: PIMLICO
  • Format: Paperback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 134mm x 212mm x 34mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 27 June 1993
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0712656642
  • ISBN 13: 9780712656641
  • Illustrations note: 1
  • Sales rank: 117,110

Product description

The Middle Ages inherited from Antiquity a tradition of prophesy and gave it fresh and exuberant life. This tradition foretold a Millennium in which humanity would enjoy a new Paradise on earth, free of suffering and sin - a Kingdom of the Saints. Generation after generation was intermittently seized by a tense expectation of some sudden, miraculous event in which the world would be utterly transformed. Often these expectations became enmeshed with social unrest and movements arose which sent tremors through the massive structure of medieval society. Drawing on a huge variety of contemporary sources, this unique and compelling book tells the story of those Millenarian fanaticisms of the Middle Ages and points to their persistence in the modern world.

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Author information

Norman Cohn was born in London in 1915 and educated at Gresham's School and Christ Church, Oxford. Scholar and research scholar at Christ Church between 1933 and 1939, after the war he taught in universities in England, Scotland, Ireland, America and Canada. In 1966 he became a Professorial Fellow in the University of Sussex and director of an international research project on the preconditions for persecutions and genocides. From 1973 to 1980 he was Astor-Wolfson Professor at Sussex and is now Professor Emeritus. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the author of Warrant for Genocide, The Pursuit of the Millennium and Europe's Inner Demons. Norman Cohn died in 2007.

Review quote

"Compelling and original" -- Bettany Hughes The Times "Important, original... Haunting and significant" Times Literary Supplement "It is a piece of great originality and power... It deserves study and emulation" -- Isaiah Berlin "Full of rich, fascinating scholarship... What a field he covers" -- Hugh Trevor-Roper

Editorial reviews

This is a powerful study of millenarian sects in Europe in the Middle Ages, and its images of armies of flagellants roaming the countryside, whipping themselves into a frenzy to gain God's forgiveness, alongside its subtle weaving of religion and politics, makes it one of the most exciting history books available. The reader really feels as if they are there, watching the wild, dark pageant whirl all around. (Kirkus UK)