Monday, April 2, 2018

HNN: Chris Wickham’s “Medieval Europe”

Daniel Lazare reviews Chris Wickham's Medieval Europe for History News Network:
How times change. Thirty years ago, Chris Wickham was a rising young medieval historian calling for “a new Marxist theory of the complexities of socio-economic change” in the pages of the New Left Review. Now, judging from his latest work, Medieval Europe, he has given up not only on Marxism, but on any theory or mode of analysis whatsoever.
All suffer, he believes, from the sin of teleology, the notion that history is imbued with a logic, goal, or purpose. Historians who study the Middle Ages because they see in them the seeds of modernity are thus guilty of viewing the past through the lens of the present rather than accepting it on its own terms.
Contrary to Wickham, history is not just one damned thing after another, but a science packed with meaning no less than events.

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