The War On Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe by R I Moore

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The War On Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe by R I Moore

Category: History
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Interesting analysis of the church's tough stance against heresy in the early part of the second millennium.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: March 2012
Publisher: Profile
ISBN: 9781846681967

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At the end of the first millennium, Western Europe was a place which had barely ever encountered heresy. It took just a couple of centuries for it to become a major problem in the eyes of church leaders, leading to the persecution of individuals and groups. Was heresy such a fast-growing problem? In this volume, R I Moore provides a thoughtful analysis of the issues and makes a powerful case that many supposed heretics were merely victims of a paranoid church which created propaganda to justify so many deaths.

Moore makes a compelling argument here and generally sustains it well. I have to admit I found it slightly hard going in a couple of places – notably a chapter on the 1130’s and 1140’s and Pope Innocent II’s Second Lateral Council and the later Council of Reims – but for the most part the author has a fairly easy to read writing style which means that even someone like myself, who has no real knowledge of the subject, is able to keep up. His list of sources is impressive and shows how much research has gone into the book, while his further reading list will be invaluable to those who want more detail on just about any aspect. Finally, there’s a brief but very useful timeline which puts the events of the book in context with general historic events such as the Normal Conquest of England and the coming to the throne of various European monarchs. It’s also beautifully illustrated, with both modern photographs of places involved and illustrations from some of Moore’s sources.

Despite picking this one to read mostly out of idle curiosity, I found it to be an interesting and enjoyable book. I think that anyone who likes history will definitely gain a lot from Moore’s writing, while to those with a particular interest in the time period it’s certainly a required read.

Another excellent work dealing with the first half of the second millennium is 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory by Ian Mortimer.

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Buy The War On Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe by R I Moore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The War On Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe by R I Moore at Amazon.com.


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