1492: The Year the World Began

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9780061132278: 1492: The Year the World Began

1492: The Year the World Began is a look at one of the most fascinating years in world history, the year when many believe the modern world was born. Historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of Millennium, covers such iconic figures as Christopher Columbus and Alexander Borgia and explores cultures as diverse as that of Spain, China, and Africa to tell the story of 1492, a momentous year whose lessons are still relevant today

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The world would end in 1492—so the prophets, soothsayers, and stargazers said. They were right. Their world did end. Ours began.

In this extraordinary, sweeping history, Felipe Fernández-Armesto traces key elements of the modern world back to that single, fateful year. Everything changed in 1492: the way power and wealth were distributed around the globe, the way major religions and civilizations divided the world, and the increasing interconnectedness of separate economies that we now call globalization. Events that began in 1492 transformed the whole ecological system of the planet. Our individualism and the very sense we share of inhabiting one world, as partakers in a common humanity, took shape and became visible in 1492.

In search of the origins of modernity, 1492 takes readers on a journey around the globe of the time, in the company of real-life travelers, drawing together the threads that came to bind the planet. The tour starts in Granada, where the last Islamic kingdom in Europe collapsed, then moves to Timbuktu, where a new Muslim empire triumphed. With Portuguese explorers, we visit the court of the first Christian king in the southern hemisphere. We join Jews expelled from Spain as they cross the Mediterranean to North Africa, Italy, and Istanbul. We see the flowering of the Renaissance in the Florence of Lorenzo the Magnificent and go to the corrupt Rome of Alexander Borgia. We see the frozen frontiers of the dynamic, bloody Russia of Ivan the Great and hear mystical poets sing on the shores of the Indian Ocean. We sail the Atlantic with Columbus. In the depths of an old volcanic crater in the Canary Islands, we witness the start of the first European overseas empire. We observe the Aztecs and Incas laying the foundations of a New World in the Americas.

Wars and witchcraft, plagues and persecutions, poetry and prophecy, science and magic, art and faith—all the glories and follies of the time are in this book. Everywhere, new departures marked the start of a new configuration for humankind, revealing how and why the modern world is different from the worlds of antiquity and the Middle Ages.

History seems a patternless labyrinth—but a good guide can trace our paths through it back to the moment when some of the most striking features of today's world began.

About the Author:

Felipe Fernández-Armesto is currently the William P. Reynolds Professor of History at Notre Dame University, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Global History. Fernández-Armesto is also a member of the history faculty at Queen Mary College, University of London. The author, coauthor, or editor of more than twenty-five books, Fernández-Armesto's work has been translated into twenty-two languages. His books include Before Columbus; The Times Illustrated History of Europe; Columbus; Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years (the subject of a ten-part series on CNN); Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature; Near a Thousand Tables; The Americas; Ideas That Changed the World; Humankind: A Brief History; The Times Atlas of World Exploration; Reformations; Truth; and The Times Guide to the Peoples of Europe.

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