Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648: Europe 1500-1650 Bk. 5 (Allen Lane History) Hardcover – 3 Jul 2014
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Mark Greengrass succeeds brilliantly in bringing to life a vanished world that is consistently strange and surprising-and sometimes disturbing and repellent-even as he encourages us to recognise the ways in which it prefigures our own (Peter Marshall Literary Review)
The Penguin History of Europe series ... is one of contemporary publishing's great projects (New Statesman)
With five volumes now out, the Penguin History of Europe series ... is shaping up to be the best general account available, superseding all previous ones (Economist)
Greengrass's learned book explores the bloody history of Europe . . . Nothing escapes Greengrass's gaze, from the arrival of pineapples to the making of maps. For sheer scholarly breadth, there is nothing to touch it this year (Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times BOOKS OF THE YEAR)
The political and religious conflicts of early modern Europe receive high-quality treatment from Greengrass . . . But he also gives a detailed account of changes in ordinary people's lives, from diet and clothes to language, making the book an excellent addition to the new Penguin History of Europe (Tony Barber Financial Times BOOKS OF THE YEAR)
Christendom Destroyed captures a great deal of truth about the wrenching transitions of the early modern age. As difficult as this history is, Mr. Greengrass narrates it with admirable clarity and a notable lack of condescension (Jeffrey Collins Wall St Journal)
About the Author
Mark Greengrass is Professor Emeritus at the University of Sheffield. His books include Governing Passions: Peace and Reform in the French Kingdoms, 1576-1585, France in the Age of Henri IV and The European Reformation, c.1500-1618.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Christendom that is destroyed is the concept of belonging to a single community. The reformation and the counter-reformation resulted in a series of political battles that have marked Europe to this day. And in the ensuing conflicts, people suffered. Their suffering was compounded by climatic conditions that resulted in years of poor harvests. This book covers the English Civil War, the Thirty Years War, the wars against and the alliances with the Ottomans, and the power struggles in central Europe.
A very rewarding read, if one that requires concentration.
The book starts with a dense detailed overview of European demography, economy, society and culture from the Renaissance to the seventeenth century. The following chapters then describe how Europe was shaped by the Reformation, the growth of state power and by the diplomacy which culminated in the tragedy of the Thirty Years War.
Greengrass builds a panorama stretching from Galway to Moscow. His account draws on copious sources from contemporary memoir to recent scholarship. The book's wide ranging approach is a major strength. Unfortunately, sometimes the writing style can be rather over-complicated, with chronologies switching back and forwards, meaning that this reader, at least, found it hard to always follow the narrative.
Whilst there will be other histories with better accounts of, for example, the Reformation or the Thirty Years War, readers looking for a broad overview of the forces that built early modern Europe will find this an interesting, useful, book.
Elton published his history in 1963, and one might have thought that the seismic cultural shifts of the intervening 50 years would have provided the opportunity for a bit of sober revisionism, but apparently not. This is supposed to be a survey of the sweep of European history, and it will someday - I hope - finish with Ian Kershaw discussing the catastrophe of the 20th century. Given that end goal, it is remarkable that in spite of hundreds of pages of discussion of the Reformation, Greengrass manages never to mention that Martin Luther was an gibbering eliminationist anti-Semite, who variously called for jews to be driven from the state by violence, be enserfed, or simply murdered. In fact it barely mentions european antisemitism at all (there is one entry in the index, and there is one - unindexed - remark about how 'Christendom's panic about its integrity turned into spasmodic pogroms' - but this remark is not enlarged upon).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As the title of the review suggests, I so want to like this book more than I actually did. The premise of the book is full of promise; a comprehensive history of a turbulent time... Read morePublished 1 month ago by A bookworm
Easy to imagine many readers not taken with this book, which occupies seriously unusual territory in unusual ways. Read morePublished 13 months ago by lwuzzo
Most interesting book, if inevitably rather heavy going.Published 13 months ago by Robert Sebag-Montefiore
An excellent study of this transition period in European history.Published 15 months ago by sergio miller
A bit heavy going for the amateur historian but very erudite and absorbing for the more academically inclined.Published 24 months ago by Peter Joseph Bull