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Powers and Thrones summary

Dan Jones

A New History of the Middle Ages

4.6 (337 ratings)
32 mins

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Powers and Thrones by Dan Jones is a history book that explores the evolution of monarchy in England from William the Conqueror to present day. It offers insight into the political, cultural and social factors that shaped the monarchy and the country over the centuries.

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    Powers and Thrones
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    Climate change and mass migration led to the collapse of the western Roman Empire.

    The Roman Empire was a global force for more than one thousand years. During its heyday, it spanned northern Africa, Asia Minor, and most of Europe. Roman rule influenced the politics, culture, religion, and military of its dominions. It had transformed from its pagan beginnings to an empire-wide adoption of Christianity, solidifying Christianity’s status as a major global religion. Its official language, Latin, would influence languages across the European continent and remain the de facto written language in western Europe throughout the Middle Ages. 

    But by the fourth century CE, the Roman mega-state was beginning to collapse. And, surprisingly, a large factor in its fall was climate change – thousands of miles away from central Italy.

    The key message here is: Climate change and mass migration led to the collapse of the western Roman Empire.

    In the mid-fourth century, eastern Asia experienced the most severe drought recorded in the last two millennia. So the Huns, a nomadic people living in eastern Asia at that time, began to migrate across the Volga river, invading the lands of Germanic tribes known as the Goths. Since the Huns had an upper hand with their advanced archery capabilities, huge bands of Gothic tribes were forced to flee and seek refuge in the Roman Empire. Soon, eastern Europe was overwhelmed with a migrant crisis.

    At first, the Roman Empire was able to control the crisis. Emperor Theodosius I made arrangements to settle and employ the Goths in the Roman army. But in the 390s, the Huns continued their march west, displacing an even larger population of non-Roman tribal groups. Over the decades that followed, waves of barbarian migrant tribespeople posed an increasing threat to Roman power.

    Perhaps the most famous barbarian assault on the Roman Empire was led by Attila the Hun, who, in the fifth century, united the Huns and many Germanic tribespeople against Roman rule. Attila’s barbarian army pillaged its way from eastern Europe into Italy before he decided to retreat, his forces decimated by disease and a lack of resources. Ironically, Attila’s death the following year caused further chaos, as Germanic tribespeople freed from Hunnic rule scattered across Europe.

    The power of the western Roman Empire had all but dissolved by the time a coalition of Gothic tribes led by Odoacer deposed the final Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, in 476. In the wake of the empire’s collapse, barbarian realms including the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Burgundians, and the Franks established themselves across Europe, laying the foundations for the kingdoms of medieval Europe.

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    What is Powers and Thrones about?

    Powers and Thrones (2021) is a comprehensive history of the Middle Ages. Tracing time from the fall of the western Roman Empire to the Protestant Reformation, these blinks reveal how forces such as global networks, climate change, mass migration, pandemics, and technological innovation, as well as political leaders, the clergy, and knights, shaped the medieval world.

    Powers and Thrones Review

    Powers and Thrones (2022) by Dan Jones explores the intricate dynamics of power and authority throughout history. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • It presents a fresh perspective on historical figures and events, giving readers a deeper understanding of how power shapes societies.
    • Incorporating compelling stories and insightful analysis, the book brings history to life and keeps readers engaged from start to finish.
    • With its rich storytelling and meticulous research, Powers and Thrones offers a fascinating exploration of the complexities of power that is anything but dull.

    Who should read Powers and Thrones?

    • History nerds fascinated by the Middle Ages
    • Anyone curious about the history of pandemics
    • Sociologists, archeologists, and political scientists

    About the Author

    Dan Jones is a historian, broadcaster, and award-winning journalist. His books include Magna Carta, The Plantagenets, and The Templars, and have sold more than a million copies worldwide. He has written and hosted dozens of TV shows including the Netflix/Channel 5 series Secrets of Great British Castles. His writing has been published in newspapers and magazines including the Evening Standard, Sunday Times, and Spectator.

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    Powers and Thrones FAQs 

    What is the main message of Powers and Thrones?

    The main message of Powers and Thrones is about the rise and fall of Europe's medieval monarchies.

    How long does it take to read Powers and Thrones?

    The reading time for Powers and Thrones varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Powers and Thrones a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Powers and Thrones is a fascinating read that sheds light on the complex political landscape of medieval Europe.

    Who is the author of Powers and Thrones?

    The author of Powers and Thrones is Dan Jones.

    What to read after Powers and Thrones?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Powers and Thrones, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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