While Catholic doctrine increasingly moved away from end-time speculation, apocalyptic thinking survived. In his 1970 work, The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mythical Anarchists of the Middle Ages, Norman Cohn focused on the proliferation of millenialism in ‘the obscure underworld of popular religion’ among ‘the underprivileged, the oppressed, the disoriented, and the unbalanced.’ Cohn’s medieval Europe, far removed from the society Henry Adams imagined as united in veneration of the Virgin in vast cathedrals such as Chartres, is a veritable cauldron of hermit messiahs, wandering visionaries, self-taught prophecy interpreters, and doomed social revolutionaries inflamed by apocalyptic expectations. For Cohn, the fearful speculation aroused by the approach of the year 1000 was only one incident in a succession of turbulent mass movements that germinated in a rch loam of popular millennialism.
In reality, as Bernard McGinn and other scholars have made clear in recent years, apocalyptic speculation flourished at all levels of medieval society. Eschatological hope formed part of the ground of Christian belief, and thus of the medieval mentality. . . .
Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1992), pp.49-50.