A Unified Theory of Everything is the holy grail of the physical sciences, and, by the same token, a unified history of the European Middle Ages would be wonderful were it possible.
Robert Fossier's The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages aims to be just that. It is a grand-scale, breathless, dizzying tour, whisking us through a labyrinth of concepts, texts, authors and centuries in pursuit of the lives of the ordinary people who make up the world of medieval Europe.
But it is very much one man's idiosyncratic tour, and that man is an 80-year-old Frenchman. His perspective of the Middle Ages is not mine, and I wonder if it's a perspective that could be assimilated by Australian readers of the 21st century.
Click here to read the full review from The Australian