Nigel Jones

Hot and Gold

Charlemagne and Roland

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 256pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The long period of turmoil that enveloped Europe in the wake of the fall of Rome was so devoid of recognisable written records that historians lazily dubbed it the ‘Dark Ages’. Modern archaeological discoveries, and a reassessment of the scanty written evidence that does survive from Europe’s big sleep, have, excitingly, enabled contemporary historians to confirm what the myths and the legends suggest: that the ‘barbarian’ cultures that succeeded Rome were richer, more complex and more ‘civilised’ than the Rome-worshippers allowed. And the Arthurian legends, it seems, were more than likely grounded in a thick mulch of verifiable fact.

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