In the 4th century AD, a new faith exploded out of Palestine. Overwhelming the paganism of Rome, and converting the Emperor Constantine in the process, it resoundingly defeated a host of other rivals. Almost a thousand years later, all of Europe was controlled by Christian rulers, and the religion, ingrained within culture and society, exercised a hold over its population. This was medieval Christendom: a springboard for the great eras of European colonisation and imperialism that followed. But, Peter Heather shows in this compelling new history, there was nothing inevitable about Christendom’s rise and eventual dominance.

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