Pursuit of the Millennium

Norman Cohn 's The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages was first published in 1957. A revised and expanded edition was published in 1970.


In 1995, the Times Literary Supplement included The Pursuit of the Millennium in its list of the 100 most influential books since 1945.

The Pursuit of the Millennium remains in print and can be purchased here.

For a New Statesman article in 2009 on The Book That Changed My Life, John Gray chose The Pursuit of the Millennium. John Gray's article is available here.


The Middle Ages inherited from antiquity a tradition of prophesy and gave it fresh and exuberant life. This tradition foretold a Millennium in which humanity would enjoy a new Paradise on earth, free of suffering and sina Kingdom of the Saints. Generation after generation was intermittently seized by a tense expectation of some sudden, miraculous event in which the world would be utterly transformed. Often these expectations became enmeshed with social unrest and movements arose which sent tremors through the massive structure of medieval society.


Drawing on a huge variety of contemporary sources, this unique and compelling book tells the story of those Millenarian fanaticisms of the Middle Ages and points to their persistence in the modern world.

"Compelling and original" (Bettany Hughes The Times)


 "Important, original... Haunting and significant" (Times Literary Supplement)


 "It is a piece of great originality and power... It deserves study and emulation" (Isaiah Berlin)


"Full of rich, fascinating scholarship... What a field he covers" (Hugh Trevor-Roper)


"Great learning and an admirably lively style... Professor Cohn's work throws a flood of light into unexplored corners... A most stimulating book" (Christopher Hill)