The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages

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Oxford University Press, May 15, 1970 - History - 416 pages
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The end of the millennium has always held the world in fear of earthquakes, plague, and the catastrophic destruction of the world. At the dawn of the 21st millennium the world is still experiencing these anxieties, as seen by the onslaught of fantasies of renewal, doomsday predictions, and New Age prophecies. This fascinating book explores the millenarianism that flourished in western Europe between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. Covering the full range of revolutionary and anarchic sects and movements in medieval Europe, Cohn demonstrates how prophecies of a final struggle between the hosts of Christ and Antichrist melded with the rootless poor's desire to improve their own material conditions, resulting in a flourishing of millenarian fantasies. The only overall study of medieval millenarian movements, The Pursuit of the Millennium offers an excellent interpretation of how, again and again, in situations of anxiety and unrest, traditional beliefs come to serve as vehicles for social aspirations and animosities.

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User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

If the word “Millennium” appears among the secular nowadays, it usually refers to a thousand-year period in the common calendar; i.e. “The First Millennium”. For historian Norman Cohn, however, the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - veranasi - LibraryThing

I know, I know, this is one of those quintessential hipster books. It was amazing. I kept getting caught up in descriptions of mythical monks trying to overthrow the Church. Read full review


The scope of this book
1 The Tradition of Apocalyptic Prophecy
2 The Tradition of Religious Dissent
3 The Messianism of the Disoriented Poor
4 The Saints Against the Hosts of Antichrist
5 In the Backwash of the Crusades
6 The Emperor Frederick as Messiah
10 The Egalitarian State of Nature
11 The Egalitarian Millennium i
12 The Egalitarian Millennium ii
13 The Egalitarian Millennium iii
the Ranters and their literature

7 An Elite of Selfimmolating Redeemers
8 An Elite of Amoral Supermen i
9 An Elite of Amoral Supermen ii

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Page 23 - And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Page 23 - And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal...
Page 21 - For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his Angels ; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Page 22 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse ; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
Page 22 - And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

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About the author (1970)

Norman Cohn held the Astor-Wolfson Chair at the University of Sussex until his retirement in 1980. He is the author of Warrant for Genocide, for which he received the Anisfield Wolf Award in Race Relations.

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