Christopher Dawson

Christopher Dawson

Christopher Dawson

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Christopher Henry Dawson (1889 – 1970) was an English independent scholar, who wrote many books on cultural history and Christendom. Christopher H. Dawson has been called "the greatest English-speaking Catholic historian of the twentieth century.


Brought up at Hartlington Hall, in Yorkshire, Dawson was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Oxford. His background was Anglo-Catholic, but he became a Roman Catholic convert in 1914. As a post-graduate student, he studied economics, and then at Oxford history and sociology. He also read in the work of the German theologian Ernst Troeltsch. In 1916, Dawson married Valery Mills.


He began publishing articles in The Sociological Review, in 1920. His starting point was close to that of Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee, others who were also interested in grand narratives conducted at the level of a civilization. His first book, The Age of the Gods (1928), was apparently intended as the first of a set of five tracing European civilization down to the twentieth century; but this schematic plan was not followed to a conclusion.

His general point of view is as a proponent of a 'Old West' theory, the later term of David Gress, who cites Dawson in his From Plato to Nato (1998). That is, Dawson rejected the blanket assumption that the Middle Ages in Europe failed to contribute any essential characteristics. He argued that the medieval Catholic Church was an...
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