Blair Worden

Of Margraves and Massacres

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

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 992pp £35 order from our bookshop

When Albert Speer broadcast to the German nation in May 1945 to explain the decision of Admiral Dönitz, Hitler’s successor, to surrender, he declared that the destruction visited on Germany by the war ‘can only be compared to that of the Thirty Years War. The decimation of our people through hunger and deprivation must not be allowed to reach the proportion of that epoch.’ The German civil war of 1618–48, fought between Catholics and Protestants, and between the Habsburg emperors and mutinous princes below them, has been one of that nation’s innermost memories, even if the longevity of the European peace since 1945 has removed some of its potency. The pain of recollection was deepened in the nineteenth century, first through the influence of Schiller and other Romantics, who had dwelled on the suffering and destruction, and then by the movement for German unification, which blamed the war on the jumbled and archaic machinery of Habsburg rule. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'To be clever without wanting to glory in it, put dimmer people down or make an act of covering it up (viz Boris Jo… ,
    • 'Her favourite design included a body in the shape of a horse, with a steam engine inside ... The passenger would t… ,
    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,