In this seminal book, Bent Sorensen views human society as driven by the quest for, and control of, energy. From allowing our prehistoric ancestors to survive harsh northern European winters to more recent global energy security and climate concerns, the control and effective harnessing of energy sources has played a central role in human development. Using the written and archaeological record and, from earlier times, inferring the energy needs of humans through modeling of climatological conditions and other indirect parameters, Sorensen unwraps this previously little-explored field. Based on detailed studies of northern Europe - and in particular the case of Denmark - the focus moves from the stone age, through the development of agriculture and trade, migration and exploration, medieval society and the renaissance, into industrial times and present-day debates around the transition to low-carbon forms of energy supply. This riveting examination of a nascent field of study provides a new perspective for historians and those wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the background to present-day energy debates.