A monumental and exhilarating history of European thought, from the fall of Rome in the fifth century AD to the Scientific Revolution thirteen centuries later. The Awakening traces the recovery and refashioning of Europe's classical heritage from the ruins of the Roman Empire. The process of preservation of surviving texts, fragile at first, was strengthened under the Christian empire founded by Charlemagne in the eighth century; later, during the High Middle Ages, universities were founded and the study of philosophy was revived. Renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought provided the intellectual impetus for the Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, whose ideas ? aesthetic, political and scientific ? were disseminated across Europe by the invention of the printing press. Equally momentous was Europe's encounter with the New World, and the resulting maritime supremacy which conferred global reach on Europe's merchants and colonists. Vivid in detail and informed by the latest scholarship, The Awakening is powered not by the fate of kings or the clash of arms but by deeper currents of thought, inquiry and discovery, which first recover and then surpass the achievements of classical antiquity, and lead the West to the threshold of the Age of Reason. Charles Freeman takes the reader on an enthralling journey, and provides us with a vital key to understanding the world we live in today.