Not only does Gilion host the European Reading and TBR 22 in 22 on her Rose City Reader blog but also Book Beginnings on Friday. While I’m no stranger to her European Reading Challenge, finally in 2022 I decided to participate in Book Beginnings on Friday. This week I’m back with another post.
For Book Beginnings on Friday Gilion asks us to simply “share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week, or just a book that caught your fancy and you want to highlight.”
MY BOOK BEGINNING
Our story begins on the east coast of Italy on a sunny day sometime around the year 430 CE, when artisans entered a small chapel and turned the sky blue. The workers labored in the city of Ravenna at the behest, we think, of a woman by the name of Galla Placidia, sister of a Roman emperor, queen of the Visigoths, and eventually regent herself of the Western Roman Empire.
Last week I featured Johny Pitts’s 2019 Afropean: Notes from Black Europe. Before that it was Robert D. Kaplan’s 2022 Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age. This week it’s The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe by Matthew Gabriele and David Perry.
The word “medieval” conjures images of the “Dark Ages”—centuries of ignorance, superstition, stasis, savagery, and poor hygiene. But the myth of darkness obscures the truth; this was a remarkable period in human history. The Bright Ages recasts the European Middle Ages for what it was, capturing this 1,000-year era in all its complexity and fundamental humanity, bringing to light both its beauty and its horrors.