How do we estimate what a person is primarily interested in? Perhaps by seeing how often they return to the subject, or what they mention on important occasions. And perhaps, also, by the manner in which people write about things: is it detached, or is it impassioned — “urgent,” as Wright says?
As the end of the tenth century approached and the year 1000 loomed closer and closer, how did Christians react? Were they convinced that the end was near? Was there fear? Hope? A mixture of both? In the nineteenth century, historians described a scene of great apprehension and expectation as the year 1000 approached, with entire populations terrified of the imminent arrival of judgment day. For most of the twentieth century, the consensus among historians was exactly the opposite. The year 1000, they argued, was a year like any other year, and people at the time were indifferent about the …