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The Pursuit Of The Millennium

The Middle Ages inherited from Antiquity a tradition of prophesy which, during those centuries took on fresh and exuberant vitality. This tradition foretold a millennium - in which the world would be inhabited by people at once perfectly good and perfectly happy. Humanity would enjoy a new paradise on earth, free of suffering and sin. Generation after generation was seized, at least intermittently, by a tense expectation of some sudden, miraculous event in which the world would be utterly transformed. Often these expectations become emmeshed with social unrest - with the desire of the poor to improve their material conditions. And when that happened movements were apt to arise which not only send tremors through the massive structure of medieval society but which also bear a startling resemblance to the great totalitaian movements of today. Drawing on a variety of contemporary resources, this book tells the story of those millennarian fanaticism of the Middle Ages and points to their persistence in the modern world.
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'Great learning and an admirably lively style... Professor Cohn's work throws a flood of light into unexplored corners... A most stimulating book' Christopher Hill

About the Author

Norman Cohn was born in London in 1915 and educated at Gresham's School and Christ Church, Oxford. Scholar and research scholar at Christ Church between 1933 and 1939, after the war he taught in universities in England, Scotland, Ireland, America and Canada. In 1966 he became a Professorial Fellow in the University of Sussex and director of an international research project on the preconditions for persecutions and genocides. From 1973 to 1980 he was Astor-Wolfson Professor at Sussex before becoming a Professor Emeritus. He was a Fellow of the British Academy and the author of Warrant for Genocide and The Pursuit of the Millennium (also in Pimlico). Norman Cohn died in 2007.


"Compelling and original" -- Bettany Hughes * The Times * "Important, original... Haunting and significant" * Times Literary Supplement * "It is a piece of great originality and power... It deserves study and emulation" -- Isaiah Berlin "Full of rich, fascinating scholarship... What a field he covers" -- Hugh Trevor-Roper

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