The word “medieval” conjures images of the “Dark Ages”—centuries of ignorance, superstition, stasis, savagery, and poor hygiene. But the myth of darkness obscures the truth; this was a remarkable period in human history. The Bright Ages recasts the European Middle Ages for what it was, capturing this 1,000-year era in all its complexity and fundamental humanity, bringing to light both its beauty and its horrors.
The Bright Ages takes us through ten centuries and crisscrosses Europe and the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa, revisiting familiar people and events with new light cast upon them. We look with fresh eyes on the Fall of Rome, Charlemagne, the Vikings, the Crusades, and the Black Death, but also to the multi-religious experience of Iberia, the rise of Byzantium, and the genius of Hildegard and the power of queens. We begin under a blanket of golden stars constructed by an empress with Germanic, Roman, Spanish, Byzantine, and Christian bloodlines and end nearly 1,000 years later with the poet Dante—inspired by that same twinkling celestial canopy—writing an epic saga of heaven and hell that endures as a masterpiece of literature today.
David Perry is a freelance journalist covering politics, history, education, and disability rights. Perry's work appears at CNN, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Washington Post, The Nation, Los Angeles Times, and many others. Perry was a professor of Medieval History at Dominican University from 2006-2017, working on Venice, the Crusades, and the Mediterranean World. He is the Senior Undergraduate Advisor for the University of Minnesota's History department.
Matthew Gabriele is a Professor of Medieval Studies and Chair of the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. He completed an Honors BA in history at the University of Delaware and then his M.A. and Ph.D. in medieval history at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a regular contributor to Forbes.com and his public writing has appeared in such places as the Washington Post, Time, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Slate, and The Roanoke Times.
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Moderator Judson Scruton M.A (The Johns Hopkins University, The Writing Seminars, specializing in poetry) has taught creative writing and literature at prep schools and universities. In his career as an educator Judson has also directed publications, communications, public relations, and development at a variety of educational institutions in the U.S. and U.K. including the Newberry Library in Chicago.