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Europe Crisis 1598-1648 2e (Blackwell Classic Histories of Europe) Hardcover – 5 Dec 2001
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"Geoffrey Parker's book is characteristically lucid, lively and vigorous. In its updated form it makes the best introduction to the period I know."
--Peter Burke FBA, Professor of Cultural History, University of Cambridge
"This is no ordinary textbook, but one that can be read and enjoyed again and again. Thanks to the breadth of the author's knowledge of the primary and secondary material, even scholars of the period will continually find new nuggets of information and fresh insights to set them thinking."
--Laurence Brockliss, Magdalen College, Oxford
"This textbook is witty, lively and provocative. Unlike so many anglophone historians, Professor Parker thinks Moscow and Mecklenburg are as interesting as Madrid or Marseilles: this is a genuinely European history of Europe."
--Robert Frost, King's College, London
"The 2001 version of Europe in Crisis is much more than the 1979 [edition] with a few additions or amendments: the text has been revised thoroughly and comprehensively, many passages in the 2001 bear little resemblance to their predecessors, and the presentation and style of the book are emphatically 'new millennium' rather than '1970s'... Students and other reders who came to the period 1598-1648 through Europe in Crisis will find the new edition equally instructive, enjoyable, enlightening and essential; it thoroughly deserves the appellation of 'Modern Classic' and will long remain a standard text." (Reviews in History)
"The new edition [is] equally instructive, enjoyable, enlightening and essential; it thoroughly deserves the appellation of 'modern classic' and will long remain a standard text"
--David J Sturdy (Reviews in History, Sept 2002)
In the new edition of this classic book, Geoffrey Parker draws on material from all over Europe to provide an authoritative and exciting account of the eventful first half of the seventeenth century. The continent enjoyed scarcely a year of peace during this period. Instead revolution, civil war and complex international conflicts brought many states to the edge of collapse in the 1640s. Professor Parker examines three crucial conflicts: the desperate struggle of the Habsburgs with France and the Dutch Republic: the rivalry of Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Poland for control of the Baltic, and the confrontation between the Austrian Habsburgs and their subjects which escalated into the Thirty Years' War. He also illuminates the leading social, economic and intellectual developments of the period. The new edition has been revised throughout and includes an updated bibliography.See all Product description
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Despite Geoffrey Parker's excellent writing I have to admit I am still a bit dizzy.
There were just so many wars in this 50 year period, between so many combatants, fought in so many theaters, all of them influencing each other. For example, a change in fortune in favor of the Poles in a Polish-Russian conflict fought somewhere deep in current-day Russia would impact the 30 years' war in Germany (Poles beat Russians --> Swedes become afraid of Poles & move soldiers from Germany to the Baltic --> Imperialists beat Swedes) - or a row between the French king and his mother would affect the Dutch struggle against the Spanish (Louis XIII needs to concentrate troops against mummy --> Spanish can move troops from Germany or Italy to Flanders to employ against the Dutch --> Dutch lose all their hard-fought gains).
Making sense of these wars becomes even more difficult considering seemingly absurd - and at least completely unexpected - events like the French making peace with the Imperialists in 1648 just when the latter are down on their knees (Parker's explanation is that French finances were in ruins at this time).
But as I said, the writer did a stirling job in extracting the pith from this multitude of interrelated conflicts. Furthermore, the book covers not just the wars but topics as varied as literature, witchcraft, university life, attitudes to women and climate change. It is as witty as it is well-researched. I think the highest compliment I could give is that this book is to the 1598-1648 period what Blanning's 'Pursuit of Glory' is to the 1648-1815 period.
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The book is primarily concerned wit the political and religious conflicts in Europe during this period. In 1598, states went to war for religious as well as political reasons. By 1648, political concerns had become significantly more important. Much of the book deals with the politics of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, an unworkable super-state. The author also discusses the effects of the rivalry between France and the domains of the House of Austria on the rest of Europe. This period was an age of great statesmen such as Richelieu, Olivares and Gustavus Adolphus. The struggles of the Protestant churches and the Catholic Reformation are skillfully considered.
The only criticism I have is that the discussion of the economic history of the period is not as good as it might have been. Nevertheless, this is a first rate book for readers seeking an understanding of this complex period.