Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years’ War


The Thirty Years’ War ravaged Europe from 1618 to 1648, splitting the Holy Roman Empire into opposing confessional camps and drawing almost every major power into conflict. With Europe’s Tragedy, the first major history of the war in English for seventy years, Peter H. Wilson has produced a magisterial work that eloquently covers the causes, the main events and the consequences of this conflagration, perhaps the most terrible period in European history between the Black Death and the Second World War.’

Wilson shows there was nothing inevitable about the war that broke out in 1618 and argues that there were many opportunities for peace throughout the period. The longer the war continued however, the harder it became to stop with none of the numerous participants able to muster enough strength to force a conclusion, leading to atrocities like the sack of Magdeburg and to a loss of life from plague and famine on an unimaginable scale.

The quality and plenitude of maps and illustrations are a great aid in following the often highly complex narrative. While at nearly 1,000 pages this book is a significant investment of time, it is one that repays that investment ten fold. Recommended.

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(US) 9780674036345
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