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.
"Cohn uncovers interesting historical connections between millennial ideas and their use in furthering revolutionary movements started by the engine of social unrest."--The Catholic World
"Cohn's book is even more relevant today. He has added a conclusion relating [these movements in medieval Europe] to the contemporary scene....The mirage of a secularized millennium now appeals, he considers, both to the 'disoriented and desperate' in underdeveloped countries, and to an equally disoriented minority on the fringes of the social democratic state."--Times Literary Supplement
"A work of the first water...of great originality and power."--Sir Isaiah Berlin, Twentieth Century
"As valuable as it is interesting...full of historical facts which are passed over in silence in most histories."--Bertrand Russell
"Now we can understand the origins of twentieth century idiologies."--Dr. Wayne Allen, Delta State University