The Prophetic Sense of History in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Prophetic Sense of History in Medieval and Renaissance Europe

1st Edition

By Marjorie Reeves


316 pages

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Hardback: 9780860788058
pub: 1999-08-09
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The essays here collect the author’s further researches since the publication of her pathbreaking Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages in 1969. In part stimulated by responses to the book, they also show the extent to which the field then opened up has now expanded. In the last forty years a cultural shift in the meaning of ’history’ has brought to the forefront an interest in how people have charted their future by the signs given in their historical heritage. Both pessimistic and optimistic readings of history meet in medieval Western Europe and colour the thought, art, even the politics of the Renaissance. In particular, the powerful vision of Joachim of Fiore activated a reading of history which culminates in a flowering of a ’third age’. These essays attempt to portray some of the strange and moving shapes which thronged the imagination as men and women looked to their prophetic future.


'Marjorie Reeves was the acknowledged master of medieval apocalypticism, and the twelve papers collected in The Prophetic Sense of History in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, […] shows the range and depth of her scholarship.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Table of Contents

Contents: The development of apocalyptic thought: medieval attitudes; Pattern and purpose in history in the later medieval and Renaissance periods; The Bible and literary authorship in the Middle Ages; The originality and influence of Joachim of Fiore; The Abbot Joachim’s sense of history; Some popular prophecies from the 14th to the 17th centuries; The Vaticinia de summis pontificibus: a question of authorship; Dante and the prophetic view of history; The Third Age: Dante’s debt to Gioacchino da Fiore; Prophecy and history: Edigio da Viterbo’s Historia viginti saeculorum; History and eschatology: medieval and early Protestant thought in some English and Scottish writings; English apocalyptic thinkers (c.1540-1620); Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General