✍ The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy pdf ✎ Author Peter H. Wilson – Writerscompany.co.uk


The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy Nine hundred pages on one of the bloodiest wars in European history A considerable portion of Germans, when polled, consider this to be the worst war in Germany s history, including both World Wars Perfect Christmas time reading.This is a very thorough one volume overview of the Thirty Years War, providing some 290 pages of background before finally reaching the Defenestration of Prague.The machinations of the Swedes, the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs, the French, and the separate duchies, kingdoms, and bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire are a bit hard to follow at times, although the author does try extremely hard to make it all follow some chronology The battles and tactics are described well, as is society before, during, and the aftermath of this long struggle.Out of all of this mess, the Dutch finally received their independence, and the very idea of the nation sta Only upon reading the first chapeter of Europe s Tragedy did I realize how little I actually knew about the 30 Years War Usually when I pick up a history book, I have a general idea of the subject matter I might not have a firm grasp of the details but I m aware of the major events, and players The Thirty Years War was a almost completely dark gap in my knowledge It was jumbled up with several other European Wars that took place between the Reformation and the French Revolution I knew it lasted approximately three decades, and that it involved much of Europe I was pretty sure religion was probably an issue and that the Dutch were involved.Having finished Peter Wilson s massive study, I consider myself adequately informed Within the first few chapters, Wilson argues convincingly against several widely held misconceptions about the conflict Wilson then effectively introduces the framework of the conflict Wilson is at his best as a writer when he refrains from the details and gives a broad overview With this subject, providing such a broad overview is no small task Wilson s argument is that the War was much less a religious Crusade of any kind than a conflict over the exact workings of government in the Holy Roman Empire In order to convince the reader of this fact, he has to introduce the enormously complicated structure of the Empire, as well as incorporate about a hundred years of buildu Writing a history of the Thirty Years War 1618 1648 presents the historian with many problems because of the complexity of the conflict Major stumbling blocks to the study of the war include the need to work with at least fourteen languages, study thousands of published works, and toil in numerous archives to produce a study that would cover all aspects of a conflict that involved much of Europe As such, there are few full length general accounts of the Thirty Years War Most of the published literature is meant for specialists, and many of the brief overviews are geared for students.Dr Peter H Wilson, Professor of History at the University of Hull, and a leading historian of Early Modern Germany, has taken up this task, and given us the first general account of the conflict since Geoffrey Parker s The Thirty Years War 1984 Wilson s previous studies include War, State and Society in W rttemberg, 1677 1793 1995 , German Armies War and German Society, 1648 1806 1998 , The Holy Roman Empire, 1495 1806 1999 , From Reich to Revolution German History 1558 1806 2004 , as well as a recently published document collection The Thirty Years So how does someone review a book as large, in depth, and complex as this one This conflict, which I certainly learned less than nothing about in school, was a brutal, long, and devastating war that ravaged many parts of Central Europe Modern estimates put total losses at 15% 20% of the Holy Roman Empire s population, a loss rate greater than that suffered by the Soviet Union during WWII.I still cannot conceptualize just how terrible this conflict was There were domestic armies crisscrossing the land, taking what they needed to sustain itself like a heavily armed swarm of locusts, foreign armies taking advantage of the Empire s weakness to pick off territory, economic collapse, the plague , and massive population displacements over the course of 30 years The land was so devastated that by the later parts of the war military strategy had to take into account what regions were still even capable of supporting an army Wilson does an excellent job walking the reader through the immense complexity of the war though the book would have been immensely i THIRTY YEARS WARS2014 marks one hundred years since the outbreak of the Great War, which was itself the beginning of a conflagration which some historians have referred to as the Second Thirty Years War 1914 1945 Yet while the Second Thirty Years War continues to transfix our collective consciousness, hardly any of our contemporary political discourse in the West reflects on the original Thirty Years War, or even seems to acknowledge the fact that the horrors Europe experienced in the twentieth century represented merely the latest European general war in a tradition of such periodic calamities stretching back through the centuries The Napoleonic Wars, the Seven Years War, and the Thirty Years War are but the most prominent examples But what could we in the West stand to learn from studying a conflict which began nearly four hundred years ago Quite a lot, it seems to me The Thirty Years War is often dismissed as the grotesque death rattle of European medievalsim a struggle between culturally an There are a few problems with this book but the main one is that it is simply too long 800 pages on the Thirty Years War is just too much unless you have an extreme interest in the topic I was interested in learning about the war because it is one of those topics that are skimmed over in European history classes and there really isn t that much out there to read Plus the start of the book makes it seem like it will be fun reading as he discusses how the war was started because of some Bohemian Protestants tossing the Emperor s representatives out a window But the book quickly drags with incredible unnecessary detail that for most people will be out of their head three pages later anyway Yes, I did learn a lot about the war but with so much detail I didn t enjoy learning it and a lot of what the book covered I have no memory of whatsoever.Let s compare this book to Desmond Seward s book on the Hundred Years War Seward covers his topic in sufficient detail in only 300 pages That book moves quickly and is fun and interesting But it takes Wilson eight chapters almost 250 pages to even get to the beginning of the Thirty Years War And Wilson throws so many people and places at us without enough maps or family trees that trying to remember who s who and where s where makes the Winner Of The Society For Military History Distinguished Book Award 2011 The Horrific Series Of Conflicts Known As The Thirty Years War 1618 48 Tore The Heart Out Of Europe, Killing Perhaps A Quarter Of All Germans And Laying Waste To Whole Areas Of Central Europe To Such A Degree That Many Towns And Regions Never Recovered All The Major European Powers Apart From Russia Were Heavily Involved And, While Each Country Started Out With Rational War Aims, The Fighting Rapidly Spiralled Out Of Control, With Great Battles Giving Way To Marauding Bands Of Starving Soldiers Spreading Plague And Murder The War Was Both A Religious And A Political One And It Was This Tangle Of Motives That Made It Impossible To Stop Whether Motivated By Idealism Or Cynicism, Everyone Drawn Into The Conflict Was Destroyed By It At Its End A Recognizably Modern Europe Had Been Created But At A Terrible Price Peter Wilson S Book Is A Major Work, The First New History Of The War In A Generation, And A Fascinating, Brilliantly Written Attempt To Explain A Compelling Series Of Events Wilson S Great Strength Is In Allowing The Reader To Understand The Tragedy Of Mixed Motives That Allowed Rulers To Gamble Their Countries Future With Such Horrifying Results The Principal Actors In The Drama Wallenstein, Ferdinand II, Gustavus Adolphus, Richelieu Are All Here, But So Is The Experience Of The Ordinary Soldiers And Civilians, Desperately Trying To Stay Alive Under Impossible Circumstances. This work is a very good read on the Thirty Years War It details all of the conflict very well and contextualizes it in early Modern Europe The author has a great knowledge of his matters and gives examples when he claims something, making his argumentation very strong He just has some small issues with early modern history outside of Central Europe like describing the Ottoman court as very similar to the medieval Roman one, despite all the obvious influences, or confusing between principality, earldom and Kingdom regarding Catalonia , but from what I realize this is mostly due to his highly specialized studies on early modern Central Europe and his narrowing of historical perspective although he covers in an aproppriate way many of the other related conflicts on his work , but that s compensated by his almost encyclopedic knowledge about the inner workings of the Holy Roman Empire it s needed a huge study to master such a complex topic He also arguments against seeing the Thirty Years War as the last confl This 30 year period of European History is sadly neglected, but it seems I have found the right book for unraveling the turbulent times of 1618 1648 This war, incidentally, was the one that launched the Finns onto the world scene King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden employed Finnish horsemen, whose war cry, HAKKAA P LLE up and at em was turned into the name of the troops, the Hakkapelites Now that I have finished it, I must say, Prof Wilson has produced a massive, yet approachable tome, which fully covers all the facets of this thorniest of wars The Bohemian Revolt, the Catholic Lutheran schishms, Sweden s run for superpower status in Europe and France s meddling in just about everybody s business are all explained in detail.This is a book I can recommend to any serious fan of military and social history, but it will not appeal to the casual reader There s simply too much of everything here, so if A Little Learning May Be a Dangerous Thing, but a Lot of It Can Prove too Much for a Writer s CraftI picked up Peter H Wilson s massive volume Europe s Tragedy A New History of the Thirty Years War last summer, and it took me until a few days ago to finish it, mainly because there was a long spell of time when the book, half read or rather, half unread was just lying on my desk, collecting dust and heaping silent reproaches on me, but also because the reading process itself was extraordinarily slow, Wilson s style being extremely dense and also quite dry.Starting this book with high hopes, which seemed to be justified given the careful preparation of the stage Wilson does a wonderful job at explaining the situation in the Empire and in its surrounding states before the war, which enables him to prepare the ground for an analysis of the political crises leading to the war and which were also encouraged by his introductory chapter in which he compares various interpretations the Thirty Years War received among historians, I soon had to admit to myself that my enthusiasm was, in fact, withering the I read on The simple reason for this seems to me that Wilson is unable or unwilling to submit the plethora of detail he has amassed to the point he wants to make And so, instead of making a point, he makes at least a million of


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About the Author: Peter H. Wilson

Peter H Wilson was G E Grant Professor of History at the University of Hull He is now the Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford.