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A Sense of Humour in Daddy’s Presence

J.L. Nelson: Medieval Europe, 5 June 2003

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe 
by Patrick Geary.
Princeton, £11.95, March 2003, 0 691 09054 8
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Europe in the High Middle Ages 
by William Chester Jordan.
Penguin, 383 pp., £9.99, August 2002, 0 14 016664 5
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... Patrick Geary’s The Myth of Nations is more timely than he could have anticipated. ‘Historians have a duty to speak out,’ he writes, ‘even if they are certain to be ignored.’ Why such passion, such a sense of contemporary engagement, in a book about the very early Middle Ages? Since 1989, this period – between the third and eighth centuries – has been persistently misrepresented by Europe’s nationalist and racist politicians, who claim to find in the Middle Ages some kind of justification for their policies ...

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