The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy

Peter H. Wilson, Author . Harvard/Belknap $35 (996p) ISBN 978-0-674-03634-5

From the Defenestration of Prague in 1618 until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, brutal warfare swept across Europe. In his monumental study of the causes and the consequences of the Thirty Years War, Wilson, a professor of history at the University of Hull in England, challenges traditional interpretations of the war as primarily religious. He explores instead the political, social, economic as well as religious forces behind the conflict—for example, an Ottoman incursion left the Hapsburg Empire considerably weakened and overshadowed by the Spanish empire. Wilson then provides a meticulous account of the war, introducing some of its great personalities: the crafty General Wallenstein; the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus, who preserved his state through canny political treaties and military operations; and Hapsburg archdukes Rudolf and Matthias, the brothers whose quarrels marked the future of Bohemia, Austria and Hungary. By the war's end, ravaged as all the states were by violence, disease and destruction, Europe was more stable, but with sovereign states rather than empires, and with a secular order. Wilson's scholarship and attention to both the details and the larger picture make his the definitive history of the Thirty Years War. 16 pages of color photos; 22 maps. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/24/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-0-230-24205-0
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-230-24206-7
Paperback - 996 pages - 978-0-674-06231-3
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