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Between 1095 and 1229, Western Europe confronted a series of alternative cultural possibilities that would fundamentally transform its social structures, its intellectual life, and its very identity. It was a period of difficult decisions and anxiety rather than a triumphant 'renaissance'. In this fresh reassessment of the twelfth century, John D. Cotts: * shows how new social, economic and religious options challenged Europeans to re-imagine their place in the world * provides an overview of political life and detailed examples of the original thought and religious enthusiasm of the time * presents the Crusades as the century's defining movement. Ideal for students and scholars alike, this is an essential overview of a pivotal era in medieval history that arguably paved the way for a united Europe.