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Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages

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Dan Jones's epic new history tells the story of how the world we know today came to be built. It is a thousand-year adventure that moves from Rome, sacked by barbarians in AD 410, to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. It shows how, from a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. The b Dan Jones's epic new history tells the story of how the world we know today came to be built. It is a thousand-year adventure that moves from Rome, sacked by barbarians in AD 410, to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. It shows how, from a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. The book identifies three key themes that underpinned the success of the West: commerce, conquest and Christianity. Across 16 chapters, blending Dan Jones' narrative shows how, at each stage in this story, successive western powers thrived by attracting – or stealing – the most valuable resources, ideas and people from the rest of the world. It casts new light on iconic locations – Rome, Paris, Venice, Constantinople – and it features some of history's most famous and notorious men and women.


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Dan Jones's epic new history tells the story of how the world we know today came to be built. It is a thousand-year adventure that moves from Rome, sacked by barbarians in AD 410, to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. It shows how, from a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. The b Dan Jones's epic new history tells the story of how the world we know today came to be built. It is a thousand-year adventure that moves from Rome, sacked by barbarians in AD 410, to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. It shows how, from a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. The book identifies three key themes that underpinned the success of the West: commerce, conquest and Christianity. Across 16 chapters, blending Dan Jones' narrative shows how, at each stage in this story, successive western powers thrived by attracting – or stealing – the most valuable resources, ideas and people from the rest of the world. It casts new light on iconic locations – Rome, Paris, Venice, Constantinople – and it features some of history's most famous and notorious men and women.

30 review for Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    I have read some of Dan Jones's works so was delighted to have received a copy of his latest book. I did not expect to find a book on the millennium between the fall of Rome and the dawn of Renaissance so fascinating despite my respect regarding the Author. The sheer thought of covering all main events in Europe and Asia that occurred within such a period sounds most challenging, and yet Mr Jones surpassed all my expectations. The amount of information is more than massive and I do not think I wi I have read some of Dan Jones's works so was delighted to have received a copy of his latest book. I did not expect to find a book on the millennium between the fall of Rome and the dawn of Renaissance so fascinating despite my respect regarding the Author. The sheer thought of covering all main events in Europe and Asia that occurred within such a period sounds most challenging, and yet Mr Jones surpassed all my expectations. The amount of information is more than massive and I do not think I will remember everything but I am especially grateful for the panorama of the times in which I take little interest. The Mongolian theme is terrific! It is not easy to find non-fiction unputdownable, this book proved to be such for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Henk

    Very immersive and impressive in how Dan Jones manages to summarize a millennium of developments. The medieval age is far from boring when reading this book Dan Jones takes us from the fall of the Roman Empire to the sack of Rome more than 1.000 years later in little over 700 pages. Still Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages manages to achieve quite some depth and is packed with facts and insights on an age I tend to think of as quite dull. The focus is clearly European, with the Very immersive and impressive in how Dan Jones manages to summarize a millennium of developments. The medieval age is far from boring when reading this book Dan Jones takes us from the fall of the Roman Empire to the sack of Rome more than 1.000 years later in little over 700 pages. Still Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages manages to achieve quite some depth and is packed with facts and insights on an age I tend to think of as quite dull. The focus is clearly European, with the whole concept of the Middle Ages being a very European concept as well (read for instance The Story of China: A Portrait of a Civilisation and Its People, where the eb and flow of civilization in the East is subject to a completely different rhythm). The tide of power shifts so often, the metaphore of a wheel of fortune spinning feels quite adequate Anytime there is a power established a counterpower seems to immediately manifests itself and conspires to bring down the other in a Hegelian metronome kind of fashion. Jones manages to keep an excellent helicopter view on the subject matter and intersperses general trends with lives set in the period to make his points. All in all a very interesting read that really changed my perception of the medieval period. Facts and observations: - Decimation being a punishment exacted by the Romans on a legion, where 1/10th of the men, selected by lot, was stoned to death by their fellow soldiers. - The rise of Rome coinciding with a good spell of climate between 150 BC and 200 AD. - The displacement of the Huns caused by climate crisis (draught) in East Asia - Pivotal role of Constantine in making Christianity the state religion and prosecutor instead of prosecuted. If he had lost the battle or saw another omen the whole history of the late Roman Empire and Europe would have been different. - How are provinces Britain, Italy and Spain, with their natural defences like the Alps, Pyrenees and the Channel, so badly guarded by the late Romans? - Justinian the legal reformer and sodomy condemner, dealing with climate crisis due to volcanic eruptions and bubonic plague named after him - The dome of the rock costing 7 times the tax revenue of the entire province of Egypt - I lack some kind of background on papal history and schisma - Likewise the rise of the Arabs, Vikings and later on the Normans feels very sudden, and I don’t feel I completely understand what set them on the spectacular conquests - Vikings aiding the capture of Sidon in the Levant during the first crusade and Innocent blunting the instrument by using it against the Cathars and even the Holy Roman Emperor himself - The audacity of Venice plundering Constantinopel - The meteoric rise of the Mongols, also partly due to favourable weather conditions on the plains and the absolute brutality and sweeping changes to the Middle-East - Marco Polo still taking 3.5 years to get to Xanadu - Opening up of the world and trade routes by the largest landbase empire being established, and leading Chinese and Persian innovations entering into Europe (and the Black Death) - Merchant class rising in Italy, with banking and double accounting taking a prominent role - Where are the guilds? Or Arabs bazars when discussing the development of commerce? - Florentine merchant families loaning 5 times the annual tax revenue of England to the king - Origin of the word bond being a ransom for captured bondsmen of lords and kings, captured on the battlefield - The takedown of the Templars by the French on Friday the thirteenth, revealing the importance of universities to interpret disputes - The founding of the University of Bologna being partly influenced due to geography, the city being on the crossroads of legal disputes between the Holy Roman Emperor and the pope - Cambridge profiting from censoring at Oxford by the English court - 14th century popular revolts as response to the decrease of workforce due to the black death toll of 40% - Portugese ships trading one horse for 9 to 14 slaves in West-Africa - The fall of Constantinopel to the Ottomans heralding a time of westward expansion and making finding a new route to India, avoiding this new Muslim state, more important - Bartholome Diaz taking 1.5 years to get past Africa - Maghelan his first journey around the world leaving only 20 alive of the 300 who set out - St Peters rebuild being so expensive a kind of ponzi-scheme, based on pumping out indulgences in Germany, being set up, indirectly contributing to the Reformation - Henry VIII comes back in a few sentences at the end of the book, connecting this book with the world of the Wolf Hall trilogy

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    Published today 2-9-21 This book is a comprehensive, enjoyable and easy to read overview of the Middle Ages for the period AD 410-AD 1527. It has a strong and deliberate concentration on Western Europe with other parts of the world included only to the extent that they interacted with (and particularly if they impacted on) the West. It is also a big picture book – concentrating as the title suggests on powers and kingdoms,– this is not the book to read to get an idea of what day to day life was l Published today 2-9-21 This book is a comprehensive, enjoyable and easy to read overview of the Middle Ages for the period AD 410-AD 1527. It has a strong and deliberate concentration on Western Europe with other parts of the world included only to the extent that they interacted with (and particularly if they impacted on) the West. It is also a big picture book – concentrating as the title suggests on powers and kingdoms,– this is not the book to read to get an idea of what day to day life was like for typical members of society at different points in the Middle Ages but to understand the macro forces which acted to bring about changes in society - the forces extending beyond political power to climate, disease, technology, religion and trade. The book is in four main sections – each of four chapters of typically 40-50 pages each. The first section is AD410-AD750:Imperium. The fours chapters are – Romans, Barbarians, Byzantines, Arabs. The first chapter is an overview of Imperial Rome – it successes and its strength almost immediately before its precipitous collapse (illustrated by the Hoxne Hoard and its connection with the collapse of Roman authority in England). This and the next chapter then looks at how climate change and associated mass migration (much of it a domino effect from other migrations – the author I think draws heavily here on Peter Heather’s brilliant “The Fall of Rome) undermined the entire basis on which the Empire was maintained. The resulting “Barbarian” realms in the West, the rise of the new Rome in Byzantium (and its interactions with the West) and the rise of Islam and its impact are then considered in turn. The second section: is AD750 to AD1215: Dominion. The fours chapters are – Franks, Monks, Knights and Crusaders. This section is very much a study in human power – both hard power (the emerging Frankish kingdom and their revival of a pseudo-Roman Empire) but also the softer power of religious orders, the way in which the reliance on heavily armoured horse born soldiers (and the expense of supporting them) lead to the importance of Kinghthood and the invention of chivalry, and then the way in which both (together with the interaction with Byzantium and its own problem with its non-Christian neighbours) all interacted to lead to the Crusades. The third section is AD1215 to AD1347: Rebirth. The fours chapters are - Mongols, Merchants, Scholars and Builders. The Mongols chapter features that the book calls a dramatic shift in geopolitics (caused by an Eastern Empire with a capital in what is now Bejing – with some fairly clear modern day resonances). But the rest of the chapter features some of those whose influences remain to this day – global traders and the financial devices (including banking) they developed around it, the founders of the World’s great Universities and the builders of some of its greatest buildings such as cathedrals and castles. The fourth section is AD 1348 to AD1527: Revolution: The fours chapters are - Survivors, Renewers, Navigators, Protestants. This book is about the end of the middle ages – starting with the devastation of a global pandemic which unlike our present one caused mass mortality and transformed previously feudal economies not by lockdown but by a tragic demand/supply imbalance. The book looks at the Renaissance and the search for new worlds, before finishing with the Protestant Reformation which not just restored Christianity but finished the Middle Ages. My thanks to Head of Zeus, Apollo for an ARC via NetGalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Selkis

    I'll post a review soon - as soon as I've got a bit more time. I really enjoyed this book though, but it's looong XD I'll post a review soon - as soon as I've got a bit more time. I really enjoyed this book though, but it's looong XD

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    Very readable, entertaining with irony, humor and a panoramic view of the period from the 400's to the 1500's. Highly recommended Very readable, entertaining with irony, humor and a panoramic view of the period from the 400's to the 1500's. Highly recommended

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Powers & Thrones takes a comprehensive, captivating and entertaining look at the enduring legacy of the Middle Ages in the form of supremely talented historian, broadcaster and award-winning journalist Dan Jones’ narrative nonfiction. This is an epic reappraisal of the medieval world--and the rich and complicated legacy left to us by the rise of the West. When the once-mighty city of Rome was sacked by barbarians in 410 and lay in ruins, it signalled the end of an era--and the beginning of a tho Powers & Thrones takes a comprehensive, captivating and entertaining look at the enduring legacy of the Middle Ages in the form of supremely talented historian, broadcaster and award-winning journalist Dan Jones’ narrative nonfiction. This is an epic reappraisal of the medieval world--and the rich and complicated legacy left to us by the rise of the West. When the once-mighty city of Rome was sacked by barbarians in 410 and lay in ruins, it signalled the end of an era--and the beginning of a thousand years of profound transformation. In a gripping narrative bursting with big names--from St Augustine and Attila the Hun to the Prophet Muhammad and Eleanor of Aquitaine--Dan Jones charges through the history of the Middle Ages. Powers and Thrones takes readers on a journey through an emerging Europe, the great capitals of late Antiquity, as well as the influential cities of the Islamic West, and culminates in the first contact between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. The medieval world was forged by the big forces that still occupy us today: climate change, pandemic disease, mass migration, and technological revolutions. This was the time when the great European nationalities were formed; when our basic Western systems of law and governance were codified; when the Christian Churches matured as both powerful institutions and the regulators of Western public morality; and when art, architecture, philosophical inquiry and scientific invention went through periods of massive, revolutionary change. At each stage in this story, successive western powers thrived by attracting--or stealing--the most valuable resources, ideas, and people from the rest of the world. The West was rebuilt on the ruins of an empire and emerged from a state of crisis and collapse to dominate the region and the world. Every sphere of human life and activity was transformed in the thousand years of Powers and Thrones. As we face a critical turning point in our own millennium, the legacy and lessons of how we got here matter more than ever. A richly informative, magnificent and eminently readable history of the Middle Ages in which Jones takes present-day preoccupations and analyses them, playing them out in a different time. Just as A Distant Mirror was about the calamities of the twentieth century reflected in the fourteenth century, this focuses on twenty-first-century preoccupations, things like climate change, big migrations of people, big technological changes, the emergence of nations and the relationship between individual states and big dominant superstructures. It is looking at all of the things we think about now, concerning the Middle Ages. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melisende

    It should come as no surprise that Jones has decided to take on 1000 years of history and condense it into one tome. To be perfectly blunt, I can take or leave Jones as an author - its nothing personal. I've read his books and find them entertaining enough, but to be honest he is not one of my "go to" authors - I don't go all "fan girl" when I see his books. Having said that, this is quite a good, well-rounded read, that will appeal to the masses. It is broken down into four parts, and four sub t It should come as no surprise that Jones has decided to take on 1000 years of history and condense it into one tome. To be perfectly blunt, I can take or leave Jones as an author - its nothing personal. I've read his books and find them entertaining enough, but to be honest he is not one of my "go to" authors - I don't go all "fan girl" when I see his books. Having said that, this is quite a good, well-rounded read, that will appeal to the masses. It is broken down into four parts, and four sub topics, that flow in a linear timeline. The focus encompasses both Roman Empires (East & West), Europe and the UK. Its only when discussing the Arabs and Mongols does Jones veer from a predominantly Euro-centric narrative. The aim here is to entertain and inform, and Jones does this remarkably well; and there is - of course - plenty of notes and references for the avid history buff to go exploring further on their own. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a slightly different take on the history narrative - and for all fans of Jones! Edit: see fuller review @ Melisende's Library wherein I break down the chapters.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. (I complained on Twitter about not getting approved or denied so maybe Dan Jones told them to give me a copy just so I would shut up about it.) Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I know, I know. I obviously can't be objective because it's Dan Jones, is what you're all thinking. Well, I CAN! This book is just THAT GOOD. Literally all of my favorite people, places, and things from history, in one ginormous volume, covering roughly 1,000 years of everything that h I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. (I complained on Twitter about not getting approved or denied so maybe Dan Jones told them to give me a copy just so I would shut up about it.) Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I know, I know. I obviously can't be objective because it's Dan Jones, is what you're all thinking. Well, I CAN! This book is just THAT GOOD. Literally all of my favorite people, places, and things from history, in one ginormous volume, covering roughly 1,000 years of everything that happened from the Fall of Rome to those Tudors coming in and shaking things up. We're talking this one might be rivalling The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England as my most fave Dan Jones book. That's HUGE. I first learned about Eleanor of Aquitaine from The Plantagenets so Dan Jones basically named my baby. (Side note: I always remind Eleanor that she is so lucky that I learned about Eleanor of Aquitaine BEFORE Boudicca, or she might have a very different name.) BUT THIS ONE IS SO GOOD. You also might be thinking, "Do we need ANOTHER book about the Middle Ages?" Again, the answer is yes. What Jones has managed to do once again is combine his massive amount of knowledge, tying it all together across place and time, and present it in a highly informative yet highly readable way. I was lucky to have teachers who really made history come alive for me, even going back to middle school. History has been my love for as long as I can remember. I get that non-fiction is not for everyone. A lot of people don't even give it a chance because history was taught to them in a boring recitation of facts and dates and names. This book though, is something different; an extraordinary feat that Jones should 100% be proud of. (And I assure you he is, because who wouldn't be?) He brings these historical figures to life and makes them real once more. It's hard sometimes to think about people this way, to imagine them living and working and dying in a world so different from our own. But Jones has the skill to share this knowledge and research in such an engaging way that you feel as though you could actually reach back in time and walk along Hadrian's Wall (which you actually can do if you're in the UK, which I am not and that is sad), to sit in a Great Hall and take in all the sights and sounds and smells of life at a royal court, to race along the Asian Steppes with Genghis Khan, watch as Rome is sacked time and again (six altogether in this span that Jones covers), and more. SO MUCH MORE. Really, truly. I was actually nervous about how I was even going to write up this review because there is so much material to address. Otherwise I would have had it up days ago. I really love how Jones divided up each section. First there is Imperium, Latin for what amounts to absolute power, which Rome once had, which covers 410-750. Here we find chapters on the Romans, Barbarians, Byzantines, and Arabs. Next comes Dominion, spanning 750-1215, with sections entitled Franks, Monks, Knights, and Crusades. Third is Rebirth, 1215-1347, detailing the time as it related to the Mongols, Merchants, Scholars, and Builders. Last comes Revolution, 1348-1527. We learn of Survivors, Renewers, Navigators, and Protestants. As you might expect, there is an extensive section of notes and from Jones you should expect no less. The text ended at 77% in my advanced digital copy, with notes taking up the next 13% of the content. Primary sources cover another 4%, with journal articles and theses ending at 96%. The remainder right up to 100% is footnotes. I can promise that if you pick this one up and settle in for a good bit of reading time, you will not be disappointed. Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages is the new standard against which to measure all others books covering the same topics. Without a doubt, this is the best book of 2021 for me and I don't believe that anything the rest of the year can top it. Highly, highly, highly recommended. ****************************************** OBVIOUSLY. EDIT 7-18-21: I have no idea how on earth I’m actually going to review this book because how do I review a book that encompasses 1000 years of history, including every person place and thing I love to read about all in one volume. Fantastic. Review to come. Text ends at 77% Notes ends at 90% Primary sources ends at 94% Journal articles/theses ends at 96% Footnotes 96%-100%

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘This book covers more than a thousand years, and its geographical scope encompasses every continent save Australasia and Antarctica.’ The book has sixteen chapters divided across four parts: Imperium (c 410 AD – 750 AD); Dominion (c 750 AD – 1215 AD); Rebirth (c 1215 AD – 1347 AD) and Revolution (c 1348 AD – 1527 AD). This history takes us on a journey between the sacks of Rome in 410 AD and 1527 AD. Within this structure, Mr Jones identifies three key themes that have underpinned the success of ‘This book covers more than a thousand years, and its geographical scope encompasses every continent save Australasia and Antarctica.’ The book has sixteen chapters divided across four parts: Imperium (c 410 AD – 750 AD); Dominion (c 750 AD – 1215 AD); Rebirth (c 1215 AD – 1347 AD) and Revolution (c 1348 AD – 1527 AD). This history takes us on a journey between the sacks of Rome in 410 AD and 1527 AD. Within this structure, Mr Jones identifies three key themes that have underpinned the success of the west: conquest, commerce, and Christianity. It is an epic history, covering the period between the retreat of the Roman Empire in the west and the 16th century Reformation. What makes this book particularly interesting is that it ventures beyond the political timeline. In addition to the power struggles between emperors, kings and tribal leaders, Mr Jones also writes of the impacts of pandemics, of demographic changes, and of climate change. Exploration, religious conquest, commercial growth, decline, and rejuvenation are all part of the history. I am reminded of the power of the Byzantine Empire, diminished after the 7th century but still standing until the fall of Constantinople in 1453, of the impact of the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, of the rise of commerce. There’s a lot to consider. I could get lost in reading about William Marshal, Sir Richard (Dick) Whittington, El, Cid and Leonardo da Vinci, or the impact of printing on the power of the Catholic Church. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their knowledge (and appreciation) of the period we in the west refer to as the Middle Ages. Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus/Apollo for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Brooks

    I haven't read any of the authors other books but I'm a total history junkie (Discovery & History Channels are my faves). I loved the series he did on British Castles so this was a no-brainer for me. I do have a degree in History and Classical Studies but you could be just a bored lay-person or military veteran and you could get a great deal of knowledge and enjoyment from this book. It does encompass a vast time period (from 400AD-Renaissance). It has a distinct focus on Western Europe and the p I haven't read any of the authors other books but I'm a total history junkie (Discovery & History Channels are my faves). I loved the series he did on British Castles so this was a no-brainer for me. I do have a degree in History and Classical Studies but you could be just a bored lay-person or military veteran and you could get a great deal of knowledge and enjoyment from this book. It does encompass a vast time period (from 400AD-Renaissance). It has a distinct focus on Western Europe and the peoples that they were directly in contact with/influenced by. It's not your day in the life of kind of read -it concentrates more on the forces that can be outside factors on the power bases- such as the movement of people, diseases and ideas, and the big game-changer - religion. The sections are broke down into easy to manage chunks and you could easily just go to whatever chapters interested you most. I'm more of a Classical History buff so I loved the earlier chapters dealing with the decline of the Roman Empire in the West. There are great maps that help you to track shifting borders/powers and a HUGE selection of further reading in various topics contained within the book for anything which might have piqued your interest. I received an ARC via NetGalley and I'm volunteering to leave this review for a wonderfully informative book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

    Another top class history book from Dan Jones! He manages to make medieval history incredibly exciting and engaging.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Neal

    So glad this book exists!! Splendid reading - couldn’t put it down, and I’ll be keeping it handy for reference and re-reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Luc

    A sweeping tapestry of the Middle Ages, a rollicking journey through Medieval civilization, its restlessness, its ambiguities and all the truculent changes that transformed Europe's identity and its destiny over several centuries. Dan Jones takes us once again on a memorable trip through the magnificent and tumultuous ups and downs that transformed the European landscape from the fall of the Roman empire to the first lights of the Renaissance with a bold new analysis. An unforgettable reading exp A sweeping tapestry of the Middle Ages, a rollicking journey through Medieval civilization, its restlessness, its ambiguities and all the truculent changes that transformed Europe's identity and its destiny over several centuries. Dan Jones takes us once again on a memorable trip through the magnificent and tumultuous ups and downs that transformed the European landscape from the fall of the Roman empire to the first lights of the Renaissance with a bold new analysis. An unforgettable reading experience from one of the best historians at work today in English. Highly recommended and to be enjoyed without any moderation. Bravo! Many thanks to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for this terrific ARC

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy McElroy

    Jones takes the reader on a journey of pilgrimage, crusades and conquests, growth of markets, education and changes in religion from 410 AD to 1527AD. This is the epic history of Viking invasions, the rise and fall of the Roman empire, with stories of lost treasure, adventures at sea and revolts, it's sometimes easy to forget you're reading nonfiction. Almost every aspect of history from conquests to education including the creation of Bologna University and it being the best place in the west t Jones takes the reader on a journey of pilgrimage, crusades and conquests, growth of markets, education and changes in religion from 410 AD to 1527AD. This is the epic history of Viking invasions, the rise and fall of the Roman empire, with stories of lost treasure, adventures at sea and revolts, it's sometimes easy to forget you're reading nonfiction. Almost every aspect of history from conquests to education including the creation of Bologna University and it being the best place in the west to study law, the creation of Oxford and how the Plantagenets helped it begin to thrive. The story of famed scholar Aquinas is not only interesting but Jones also adds humour especially in one line about perfume which I won't spoil. I particularly enjoyed reading about Leonardo da Vinci and his life in Europe as well as Martin Luther, a man I am definitely wishing to learn even more about after reading this. It has certainly given me an interest in reading more about his life. The notes and bibliography have certainly given me much more future reading for my own interests. I love reading how things that happened so long ago are similar to recent events or how things had a lasting impact, even to this day. This is certainly a big book but it's incredible especially as Jones has a way of writing that is so entertaining. Although this book covers an extensive time frame there was not a single chapter that wasn't interesting. Jones separates the book into four sections Imperium (c.410 AD – 750 AD); Dominion (c.750 AD – 1215 AD); Rebirth (c.1215 AD – 1347 AD) and Revolution (c.1348 AD – 1527 AD) making it very easy to focus on a specific era if that is your preference, unlike myself who devoured the whole thing and still wanted more. This is honestly the perfect book for anyone who wants to learn a bit of everything or focus on a specific era and whilst it may have taken me a while to read I was genuinely sad when I came to the end.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Frane

    I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. It was years after my college course on Western Civilization that I regained even the faintest curiosity about history--not only history, really, but specifically the history of Western Europe. The college course focused on wars and royalty, with no attention spent on anyone less than a duke, and no attention given to movements or causes unless they had an immediate impact on monarchies. Essay questions grilled us on whe I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. It was years after my college course on Western Civilization that I regained even the faintest curiosity about history--not only history, really, but specifically the history of Western Europe. The college course focused on wars and royalty, with no attention spent on anyone less than a duke, and no attention given to movements or causes unless they had an immediate impact on monarchies. Essay questions grilled us on whether we could define the difference between Henry II, Henry IV and Henry the Navigator. (And royal families lack of imagination in naming their children continues to be a burden; don't get me started on the Saxons.) Dan Jones is the professor I never had. Reading The Plantagenets a few years ago was a revelation. Admittedly, Jones had the advantage of introducing some of the most dynamic and fascinating actors of the Middle Ages but there were still plenty of knotted questions to unwind. Powers and Thrones is a different book entirely. It covers the slow fall of Rome, and all the way through Western European history to the Protestant Revolution. Unlike my college course, Jones is aware of the greater population, not only in the West but all the way to the Pacific Ocean. He identifies the forces that changed history, from invasions to plagues, climate disasters and religious zeal. Perhaps his greatest achievement is to write so plainly and clearly that he engages the reader in the people and events he describes. This is, honestly, a ridiculous amount of information for one book. But Jones has structured it so that there is a natural flow as the subjects change, with references and footnotes and maps galore.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Powers and Thrones is catnip for those drawn to books on history, here, the middle ages, specifically. It covers a thousand years from the fall of Rome, AD 410, to Henry VIII's reign in England, AD 1527. This time period in the East and West was a bubbling cauldron of change, innovation, religion and pandemic. Amazing to see the numerous uprisings as powerful forces flood the lands, the conquest that follows with a decline as another nation takes up the reins. What struck me most was the way so Powers and Thrones is catnip for those drawn to books on history, here, the middle ages, specifically. It covers a thousand years from the fall of Rome, AD 410, to Henry VIII's reign in England, AD 1527. This time period in the East and West was a bubbling cauldron of change, innovation, religion and pandemic. Amazing to see the numerous uprisings as powerful forces flood the lands, the conquest that follows with a decline as another nation takes up the reins. What struck me most was the way so many countries swapped power over this period. No one nation held their territories for too long but all made a mark with new methods of warfare, technology, innovation and learning. We think our current world is a global one but that was the case much further back in time than we may be aware. I loved Powers and Thrones. Dan Jones delivers this content in a way that is approachable, for those casually interested in history, yet makes it feel as if he is personally connected with the main players throughout this period. Each character feels fully fleshed out with a 'warts and all' description of his personality and capabilities. It is hugely addictive charting the progress and changes as new factions take control and how their influence affect the world. I couldn't love this more. Fascinating and inspiring, this may be the greatest period in our societal evolution.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Arman

    Powers and Thrones is Dan Jones most ambitious work yet. A book which covers almost 1000 years of history. The entirety of the middle ages, from the fall of Rome to the European Reformation and the Renaissance of the 16th century. The book is long, as would be expected, and even the audio version takes up a whopping 24 hours. Ambitious it may be, but it has delivered. Splendidly. Powers and Thrones is a readable and accesible history of this period for the general reader, which avoids many of th Powers and Thrones is Dan Jones most ambitious work yet. A book which covers almost 1000 years of history. The entirety of the middle ages, from the fall of Rome to the European Reformation and the Renaissance of the 16th century. The book is long, as would be expected, and even the audio version takes up a whopping 24 hours. Ambitious it may be, but it has delivered. Splendidly. Powers and Thrones is a readable and accesible history of this period for the general reader, which avoids many of the popular misconceptions and patronizing generalizations. Mr Jones has tried to make his work of history "relavant" but accurate at the same time, and as (for the most part) also suceeded at this. It covers everthing from the Viking invasions to the Crusades and the Hundred Year War, but the focus is not just Eurocentric. There are also some chapters on Islamic and Byzantine history, to glimpse of the bigger picture. The chapters and sections also allow the reader to "dive" in whenever they want, or read up on the parts of history they like better than others. Reading the entire book won't be a chore though. Highly recommended. Grateful thanks to Head of Zeus for an ARC which I foolishly forgot to download, and so went through the audiobook instead.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aidan

    Being a history book that encompasses the entirety of the Middles Ages, even going past where some would argue it ends, Jones’ books takes you through events starting from the decline and fall of the western Roman Empire up to the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th Century. If you want an in-depth look at events in this era then you will be disappointed. Jones knows he cannot go into too much detail given the scope of the period and limited space he has to write. Yet this does not mean the Being a history book that encompasses the entirety of the Middles Ages, even going past where some would argue it ends, Jones’ books takes you through events starting from the decline and fall of the western Roman Empire up to the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th Century. If you want an in-depth look at events in this era then you will be disappointed. Jones knows he cannot go into too much detail given the scope of the period and limited space he has to write. Yet this does not mean the book cannot be enjoyable, if you’re just becoming interested in this period then it’s a good stepping off point, to see which events and phases interest you and if you already know much about this period then it’s good to get a different view of it all from Jones. There are also times when Jones connects historical events together, such as how the Fall of Constantinople can be argued to have encouraged explorers to explore go west and south of Europe in an attempt to bypass the Ottoman Empire. While there will no doubt be chapters you find more engaging than others, the pacing overall is steady and it is not all focused on just war or politics or religion, but a good balance between them and other themes that resonate throughout the era.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mana

    Bestselling author Dan Jones tells the story of how the world we know today formed. It is a thousand-year emprise of Middle Ages that moves from the ancient Rome, invasions of barbarians in AD 410, from ruin of mighty Rome - to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. From a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. Success of the West was established on three pillars: - commerce, - conquest and Christianity. Dan J Bestselling author Dan Jones tells the story of how the world we know today formed. It is a thousand-year emprise of Middle Ages that moves from the ancient Rome, invasions of barbarians in AD 410, from ruin of mighty Rome - to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. From a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. Success of the West was established on three pillars: - commerce, - conquest and Christianity. Dan Jones is a skillful storyteller, the book is written with such a clarity, wit and ease. It is even fast paced, full of fascinating facts and stories of people, metropolises, such as Constantinople, Venice, Rome, Paris that ruled the world, ideas, progress and growth - everything based on sources, of course. Author provides thorough and well researched historical facts and subsequent analysis of Middle Ages and involves the reader to question and ponders more about those tendencies that put the West world on the throne of the whole world. Epic and eye-opening read! Highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daphne Sharpe

    What a book! It has taken me nearly a month to read with so much detail, yet there is also humour, thankfully. Political power, religious battles and schisms, disease( COVID-19 is not the first pandemic) , trade wars, weapons and punishments, all combine to take the reader on a fascinating journey through The Middle Ages. I really enjoyed the Islamic section, the story of its creation and evolution is pertinent today. The story of the Camels and the water will stay with me forever, I can’t get r What a book! It has taken me nearly a month to read with so much detail, yet there is also humour, thankfully. Political power, religious battles and schisms, disease( COVID-19 is not the first pandemic) , trade wars, weapons and punishments, all combine to take the reader on a fascinating journey through The Middle Ages. I really enjoyed the Islamic section, the story of its creation and evolution is pertinent today. The story of the Camels and the water will stay with me forever, I can’t get rid of that image!! I will have to reread some of the chapters, there are so many similar names and numerous battles, but you cannot fault the research! History is written by the winners and each era demands and deserves careful consideration. Yes, it is a weighty tome, but we have a lot of history to cover. It helps to open the eyes and minds to past events that have consequences still being played out today. A five star read. Thanks to Netgalley and Head of Zeus publishers for my ARC, in return for my honest, unbiased and freely given opinions . I will leave reviews to Goodreads and other outlets later.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    A truly epic history of Europe and beyond, spanning the heights of the Roman Republic and the depths of the religious wars following the Reformation. Although 'Powers and Thrones' clearly has a political element, the narrative goes far beyond that to consider the impact of other forces, man-made and natural, on history. As such, it is very much an all-encompassing history. As with any book of this size and scope, it can only provide a whistle-stop tour. Few things are discussed in any depth and m A truly epic history of Europe and beyond, spanning the heights of the Roman Republic and the depths of the religious wars following the Reformation. Although 'Powers and Thrones' clearly has a political element, the narrative goes far beyond that to consider the impact of other forces, man-made and natural, on history. As such, it is very much an all-encompassing history. As with any book of this size and scope, it can only provide a whistle-stop tour. Few things are discussed in any depth and many significant historiographical debates are dismissed with a 'that need not concern us here'. Yet the endnotes and bibliography are enough to provide a path for anyone wishing to pursue it further. However, there are some arguments into which Jones does wade, and he does this with a verve and confidence that was lacking from some of his earlier work. Regardless of the occasional quip about hookers' knickers or some such (and Jones's accessible and informal written style is always one of his selling points), this is the author at his most mature and convincing. An excellent read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    In Powers and Thrones, Dan Jones sets out to provide an overview of the entire period known as the Middle Ages, from the fall of Rome in c.400AD through to Da Vinci, Columbus, et al in the early 1500s. Over the course of 600 pages, the author provides an informative but whistle stop tour of the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Franks, Crusaders, Mongols and more.   There were times, when reading this, when I wished that Dan Jones was a little less ambitious in his scope and ambition – some sections sta In Powers and Thrones, Dan Jones sets out to provide an overview of the entire period known as the Middle Ages, from the fall of Rome in c.400AD through to Da Vinci, Columbus, et al in the early 1500s. Over the course of 600 pages, the author provides an informative but whistle stop tour of the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Franks, Crusaders, Mongols and more.   There were times, when reading this, when I wished that Dan Jones was a little less ambitious in his scope and ambition – some sections started to feel a little like a litany of names, dates and places so I would have enjoyed a little more detail here. If you like your history to be painted in broad strokes though, you’ll love this book.   Thank you to Netgalley and Head of Zeus, Apollo Publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  

  23. 5 out of 5

    Annarella

    This is the first book I read by Dan Jones and it's brilliant. It's a huge book (720 pages) but it was no issue as it's fascinating and gripping like a novel. This is the first comprehensive history of Middle Age I've ever read. Growing up in Italy I learned a lot about the fall of the Roman Empire, Charlemagne, Popes vs Emperors and son. This book is something more as it looks to other places and it's not eurocentric. There's humour but there's also a lot of research and the author is able to turn This is the first book I read by Dan Jones and it's brilliant. It's a huge book (720 pages) but it was no issue as it's fascinating and gripping like a novel. This is the first comprehensive history of Middle Age I've ever read. Growing up in Italy I learned a lot about the fall of the Roman Empire, Charlemagne, Popes vs Emperors and son. This book is something more as it looks to other places and it's not eurocentric. There's humour but there's also a lot of research and the author is able to turn historical facts into a fascinating story. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    Another cracker of a page-turning narrative history from Dan Jones. So refreshing to read a medieval history that doesn’t obsess about England, but covers the parts of the middle ages where the world-changing stuff was actually happening: Byzantium, Arabia, France, Central Asia, Scandinavia, Germany. It’s quite long though, so you do have to commit to it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Gannon

    Wow- just, wow. What an achievement. To cram a thousand years of history into a book this size, while retaining all the important details and not coming across as a boring academic lecture, is an achievement. Five stars easily earned- an achievement Dan Jones wins with every book of his that I read. For anyone with a passing interest in history, you will enjoy this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    all new history to me Dan Jones makes it like reading a novel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Colin Parry

    Dan Jones writes about history with the power of a great fiction writer. This is one of his finest.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dave Wheeler

    Wow this is a whole lot of history its fun and informative and very well researched ( from my prospective as having a keen interest in history but with a lot to learn). Lots of history can be told very differently depending on your stand point including your faith, nationality and interests. So I say this as you may not always like certain takes on history but from as neutral a point of view as possible I feel this is extremely well written. As factual as possible and a lot more fun than a study Wow this is a whole lot of history its fun and informative and very well researched ( from my prospective as having a keen interest in history but with a lot to learn). Lots of history can be told very differently depending on your stand point including your faith, nationality and interests. So I say this as you may not always like certain takes on history but from as neutral a point of view as possible I feel this is extremely well written. As factual as possible and a lot more fun than a study book but this would be a great source of information to get a take of each era that is covered. The collapse of The Roman Empire to the beginning of the Reformation where another Roman Era faced a uncertain future. I feel that the 2 groups here Catholic and Protestant have far more in common than not but then that's my take on it in a sentence. Each stage of history has winners and losers each side has a background and I felt this was covered as well as possible, specially over a 1000 years in under 1000 pages that's quite a feat to achieve. I enjoyed this as I've said and it brought history to life which is what you want if you're interested in any subject and if your interest is history then this is a wonderful book to have. I felt for me it's a book that you can just read about one era and come back later to look at another time later on. Its a lot to take in reading from front to back which I did and your right there's far too much information to grasp hold of the whole book. So I will look back at one time at a time next time I read it (that's a lot of times) I hope you have a lot of fun and learn much from Powers and Thrones I certainly did.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam Josh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Alexander

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