Chapter

The Fear of an Apocalyptic Year 1000: Augustinian Historiography, Medieval and Modern

Richard Landes

in The Apocalyptic Year 1000

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780195161625
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849666 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161625.003.0013
The Fear of an Apocalyptic Year 1000: Augustinian Historiography, Medieval and Modern

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In the 1901 issue of the American Historical Review, George Lincoln Burr published an article in which he summarized for American historians a new consensus among their European colleagues that there were no apocalyptic expectations associated with the arrival of the first millennium since the Incarnation. This position represented a complete reversal of the previous view. In the mid-19th century, many historians, led by Jules Michelet, had drawn a dramatic picture of mass apocalyptic expectations climaxing in the year 1000. For Michelet, the liberating power of this eschatological fervor—arousing hope in the oppressed and terror in the oppressors—was the key to the transformations of 11th-century France. Both Romantic and Positivist historians overemphasized the importance of fear and relief as the defining emotions of apocalypticism. This chapter argues that the more significant and creative emotions at work in apocalypticism have always been hope and disappointment.

Keywords: year 1000; George Lincoln Burr; apocalypticism; hope; disappointment; Jules Michelet; France; fear; relief; millennium

Chapter.  15373 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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