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Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950–1350

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A wave of internal conquest, settlement and economic growth took place in Europe during the High Middle Ages, which transformed it from a world of small separate communities into a network of powerful kingdoms with distinctive cultures. In this vivid and provocative book Robert Bartlett vividly shows how Europe was itself a product of colonization, as much as it was later ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 29th 1994 by Penguin Books (first published 1993)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Start your review of Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950–1350
Long review!

This is a unique and important book. It's not at all what I thought: I was expecting a pretty traditional overview of medieval European history hitting all the normal beats: feudal society, rise of kingdoms and a documentary culture, monasticism and friars, rise of a papal monarchy, maybe some bits on cathedral building or literature if Bartlett was feeling particularly wide-ranging. All that jazz. Instead, The Making of Europe focuses on how the 'heartland' of European civilization,
This is a book about the making of Europe and not about the development of Europe the focus is on how common practises, cultures and structures spread across the geographic concept of Europe through conquest, colonisation and emulation. For Bartlett the creation of Europe as an actual place with common cultural elements, as opposed to a geographical concept was the result of processes in history starting from around 950. These are essentially colonial and in various ways are the prototypical col ...more
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval
This is not the best choice if you are looking for an introductory survey of Medieval Europe - and I say this as a former professor of Medieval and Early Modern Europe. A basic understanding (at least) of the period is required BEFORE reading Bartlet. Bartlet expends most of his energy hammering home his theme of conquest and colonization, particularly by the Germans in Eastern Europe and the Anglo-Normans in Ireland, that he often loses sight of major developments in the core regions; the big p ...more
Matthijs Krul
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on the high Middle Ages out there, and one of my favorite medieval history books in general. If you want to know how Europe went from the diversity, decentralization and weakness of the 'Dark Ages' to the continent of religious wars, racial colonialism and nation-states that it would become, read this. ...more
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Making of Europe is a wonderful history that ranges over the European world (with special weight to details in what become Eastern Europe) and creates a different picture of the middle ages. Not the static time of Renaissance historian's criticism, instead it is one of internal conquest and consolidation and external expansion via colonization. Europe no longer suffered assaults from outsiders, it was now the aggressive force, spreading into Ireland, Spain, and the East. Bartlett turns what ...more
Lauren Albert
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-european
How did Europe become "Europeanized"? An outstanding survey of the ways in which Europe became Europe (in contrast to what wasn't). I learned so many new things--not so much facts (I knew many of them already) but their history and significance and relation to other facts. I knew that there were international monastic orders. I didn't know that this was a gradual change from more localized and independent houses and that they were a part of an "institutionalized skeleton that supported [an] inte ...more
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who follows my reading list knows of my general distaste for medieval history. But this book was a bombshell; one of the best books I've read - of all genres - in a long time. Fast paced, engaging, interesting, and, in ways a student would appreciate, easy to skim. I have two rough classifications for books: 1) rich in ideas and therefore stimulating; or 2) rich in anecdotes and stories, and therefore engaging. This book was both. From descriptions of medieval warfare and knighthood, to f ...more
Дмитрий Филоненко
The bright example of historical non-fiction which provides a deep insight into the essence of the processes of building of Europe in Medieval time. The book isn't focused on any of particular names or events but rather on strong underlying flows which have defined the ways of Europe's expansion and uniformity.

The main idea thoroughly carried out by author is that Medieval history of Europe is the story of conquest and colonization spreading from the core limited by the territories of contempora
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A good description, analysis, and summary of this period. A scholarly work, yet very readable.
Luke T
In The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350, Robert Bartlett attempts to answer two fundamental questions about the High Medieval Ages. First, how did Latin Europe, a highly differentiated society comprising only a small territory perpetually in danger from outside threats, come to spread over a continent with a more homogenized culture by the later Middle Ages. Secondly, as the title suggests, how did modern Europe develop? Bartlett argues that the process of co ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a nontraditional look at Europe and colonization. I've long known and felt that modern Europe came out of the Medieval period, but I hadn't thought where Europe's penchant for colonization came from. This examination of a distinctly European identity that spread chiefly from Western Europe is intriguing. At times I feel he conflates the argument a little too much in order the use the4 word colonization in there, but I can't argue with his overall thesis.

I was particularly fascinated b
Aug 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best plan on reading this is not spreading it out over a semester like I had to because you kind of lose the thread. That being said, also don't read another Bartlett book at the same time, because the repetition is, well, repetitive. (Thank you, Redundant Department of Departmental Redundancy). I did like this, though, as a scholarly work and a new (er) way to look at the development of medieval Europe. Bartlett basically argues that Europe did not begin with Charlemagne, as many have said, but ...more
I found this disappointing but am prepared to accept that this might be due to my own limitations. I can't muster a lot of enthusiasm for highly detailed accounts of law-making, coinage etc - but I did find the bits about people, and the church, and racism, and structure of villages, towns and the landscape etc. very interesting. On the whole I though it was rather dry and went into a lot of detail about a couple of parts of Europe and ignored the rest to a great extent. If I didn't have a good ...more
Bjarke Knudsen
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May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book by medieval historian Robert Bartlett provides an excellent description of the social and institutional transformations that took place in Latin Europe and its frontiers during the period of the High Middle Ages, when it achieved unprecedented growth, expansion, and sophistication. It describes the development and accomplishments of the entrepreneurs of this time: the post-Carolingian military aristocracy, the clerical elites, the international monastic and military orders, and the net ...more
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mediaeval
Bartlett sets out to examine the expansion of Latin Christendom and feudal Europe. He takes the view from the periphery and seeks to explain the homogenization of the continent by A.D. 1300. The replication of Latin Christian feudal structures on the periphery by an active and aggressive warrior aristocracy provides the general explanation but Bartlett never gives any one single reason behind the expansion. The crusade movement, economic and demographic changes, and military technology are all g ...more
N Perrin
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you thought Western colonialism began with Hispaniola or Mauritania's Arguin, then Bartlett will do some fancy historical footwork to demonstrate the medieval origins of Western colonialism with outposts in Riga, Palestine, and even ginger-infested Hibernia.

Bartlett does an excellent job mixing statistics with demographic/economic narratives and amusing anecdotes. (It was common practice for kings to give knights authorized land grants to territory that wasn't yet conquered. However, we have
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, uni, europe
An insighful book, organized into rather thematic chapters- my favorite ones focused on racism within European societies, although there are more 'expected' chapters such as how military technology both helped drive as well as was proliferated by conquest. There are plenty of interesting anecdotes woven in, and there isn't a complete reliance (although a bit less than I'd hoped) on just written accounts: the discussion on other historical techniques like archeology and place-names are succinct b ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Wolfson prize winners never disappoint but this one is probably the best of their crop: all the goods of the kind of insight that a brilliant academic can provide are packed into a coherent, crystal clear and concise narrative, arranged into twelve chapters each one of them dealing with a peculiar aspect of those years and how it evolved in the various European regions; Bartlett succeeds into demonstrating convincingly how during this four centuries Europe's pace accelerated leaving behind the m ...more
Not written in a straightforward or coherent manner at all. It's almost as if Barlett wrote this after having a stroke, because of the almost stream of conscious style he has when discussing topics. The crusades, investiture crisis, great schism, etc. are all some of the most important topics during this period, yet rather than dedicate long sections to them he just briefly discusses them throughout the book. If anyone is interested in learning about high/late medieval Europe this is absolutely ...more
Sefi Keller
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book succeeds in being quite comprehensive with a limited scope. While some parts are really interesting, others are less entertaining and are not easy to read through. Having said that, the book does a good job immersing the reader in a world that is at the same time both extremely foreign (e.g. inheritance law) and strangely familiar (e.g. the tension between new elites and old natives).
Juan Pollardo
Main points: Europe was formed in the late middle ages via the cultural homogenization brought by germanic colonization in former slav, celt, islamic and byzantine territory. This effected europes current political order and europe's colonial policy in asia, africa and the americas. ...more
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of some very interesting articles that looks beyond the foundational history of the period.
Toby Paterson
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting summary of the period around a few central themes...
N.W. Martin
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic and informative book.
this one was really, really neat! good materialist analysis
Diego Saldarriaga
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always thought the middle ages as "the dark ages". This book is great at pointing how the period of 950-1350 was fundamental on the creation of a European identity. ...more
The origins of modern Europe, in the High Middle Ages (950 - 1350)

The book centers around a description of how the 'Latin Christendom' expanded throughout Europe. It was mostly driven by the 'Franks'- a fairly homogeneous group of peoples from the heartlands of the old Carolingian empire who moved outward in all directions. Normands conquered England, settled Sicily and invaded Palestine; Franks helped with the Reconquista in the Iberian peninsula and settled Lombardy, and Germans settled east o
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geschiedenis
It strikes me that such an interesting period as covered in this book (from 950 AD to 1350 AD) is generally so little known about. Roughly, one could state that Europe's coreland was about the empire that Charlemagne created about 150 years before. But before the millennium southern parts of Spain and Italy were still occupied by muslims, while in the north and east, resp. pagan Vikings and Slavs attacked the heirs of Charlemagne and threatened christian Europe.

But Christian belief, an increasin
Joan Redmond
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a student of early modern colonisation I found Bartlett's book extremely interesting and stimulating, particularly his discussions of ethnicity and racism on European soil, and the gradually unifying and homogenising of 'old' Europe versus the fringes. However the book does have its flaws, being overly technical and dry in some places (military technology doesn't thrill me...). I cannot however agree with some reviewers who criticise the book's lack of focus on the core areas of France, the I ...more
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Robert Bartlett, CBE, FBA, FRSE is Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Mediaeval History Emeritus at the University of St Andrews.

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