„A World Lit Only by Fire”, written by William Manchester and published in 1992, is a non-formal retelling of the history of the Middle Ages. The author is a journalist, and that is why the book is so interesting- the language is vivid and sparkling and the book is written in such an interesting manner that it seems like one is reading a work of fiction, not a book of history (but that can probably be explained by the fact that the most of the book-writing historians are not outstanding journalists).
The book consists of three parts: The Medieval Mind; The Shattering; One Man Alone. In each part of the book the author examines specific phenomena and events that took part during the Middle Ages, thus explaining the medieval man’s and woman’s thinking pattern and the chain of events that brought this way of thinking to its end.
In the first part of the book, “The Medieval Mind”, Manchester introduces the reader with the environment of the medieval times and the customs of that time as well as the medieval people’s access and understanding of Christianity, which is crucial in understanding the times.
The Middle Ages started with the collapse of the Roman Empire, which was initiated in 410 when the Visigoth Alaric led forty thousand Goths, Huns, as well as freed Roman slaves into Rome [1;4], demolishing a huge part of the city and destroying priceless pieces of art, thinking only of the material gain (they even melted down artefacts made of valuable metal).[1;5] After that, Huns, Goths, Alans, Burgundians, Thurigians, Frisians, Gepidae, Suevi, Alemanni, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Lombards, Heruli, Quadi, and Magyars saw their opportunity to steal, rape, and ravage as well, thus invading what was left of the Empire and destroying the remains of the Roman civilization and their way of thinking. However, the conquerors brought their own moral values and traditions with them, and it was in the shadow of their customs where the notorious brutality and bloodthirstiness of the Middle Ages was created [1;5]. However, as paradoxical as it may seem, the process of converting the barbaric tribes into Christianity was surprisingly fast, hence turning the medieval community into devout, yet ruthless Christians [1;6]. It was discovered that successfully converting them and successfully teaching them the lessons of the Bible were two different things, of which only the conversion could be achieved. Christ’s lessons were interpreted to fit their logic and way of thinking. As W. Manchester writes, “Medieval Christians, knowing the other cheek would be bloodied, did not turn it.”[1;7]
However, a phenomenon that earns recognition was the medieval man’s lack of ego. “Even those with creative powers had no sense of self. Each of the great soaring medieval cathedrals, our most treasured legacy from that age, required three or four centuries to complete. [..] Yet we know nothing of the architects or builders. They were glorifying God. To them their identity in this life...