Cluny: In Search of God’s Lost Empire

Cluny: In Search of God’s Lost Empire

One thousand years ago, the French abbey of Cluny was the hub of one of the most powerful empires of the Middle Ages and the spiritual heart of Europe. Cluny was a Benedictine monastery in Burgundy, its church a breathtaking structure of towers, roofs, walls, and windows almost 600 feet long and 100 feet high—a true wonder of the world. Reconstructing the lives, beliefs, and ambitions of Cluny’s countless monks and legendary abbots, such as Hugh the Great and Peter the Venerable, this book dis

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3 thoughts on “Cluny: In Search of God’s Lost Empire

  1. 23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Good material marred by factual errors and lack of perspective, December 30, 2007
    By 
    Geoff

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    The story is fascinating and worthy of a five star book. This isn’t that book.

    Why not?

    One star off for factual errors. Even little things add up. For example, Mullins at one point calls Cluny an ally of the Vatican. Politically and religiously, that may be true–but the Holy See was run out of the Lateran Palace, not the Vatican, until the 14th century. A minor point, to be sure, but it’s far from the only such lapse. And inattention to little details I know about makes me wonder how much I can trust details I don’t know about.

    One star off for lack of perspective. One need not be a medieval Catholic to write about Cluny. But it helps, considerably, to have thought more about the medieval era and its perspective than Mullins seems to have done. What we are given is the reflexive prejudices of the early 21st century, and only lip service to the idea that religious faith and love of God may have had as much–or more–to do with goings-on at Cluny than money, power, misogyny, and a “morbid fear of death.” Every author brings his views to his books. A good author should at least make an attempt to understand his subject’s views as well, and I didn’t see much evidence of that here.

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  2. 22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    An excellent read, December 27, 2006
    By 
    A. Brockhaus
    (REAL NAME)
      

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    This book is well written and worth reading. As it explores the Cluny monastery, it covers a number of other subjects including politics, life styles, art, and of course religion. The prose is creative and accessible, and I especially liked the focus on architecture and art. The book really shines when the author rhapsodizes about tympanums, columns and sculptures found in the medieval churches. This book is even more valuable because so little of Cluny remains today, making this an essential read if you’re interested in understanding more about medieval life and religion. My only quibble is that there aren’t more images of churches, art etc. There are a few pencil drawings, but not nearly enough. I made up for it by googling the images as I read, and surprisingly many of them can be found online. In any case, it’s only a small problem. I’d have given this book 4 1/2 stars rather than 5 because of it if the rating system would have allowed it.

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  3. 7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    These were the dark ages? …Hardly., March 18, 2007
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    Very well written and fascinating story of what was the greatest church in the world before St. Peters and the order that ran it and much of Europe. It really fills in a definite blank spot in history as far as I am concerned. By “greatest” I mean largest and most important. Until tbe construction of St. Peters, Cluny played at least as major a role in Christendom as did Rome. As far as Europe is concerned, Cluny and its clergy were probably more influential among all but the ruling class.

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