A new Europe was born at the Congress of Vienna. A Dutch–Belgian composite state, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, appeared in the north-west. Norway was transferred from Denmark to Sweden. Austria relinquished forever its foothold in the Netherlands and struck deep inroads into Italy with the acquisition of Lombardy-Venetia and the installation of Habsburg dynasts on the thrones of Tuscany, Modena and Parma. The kingdom of Prussia became a colossus that stretched across the north of Germany, broken only by one gap, forty kilometres wide at its narrowest point. Of the 300-odd principalities and statelets that had inhabited the old Holy Roman Empire, only thirty-nine German territories remained. The borders of the Russian Empire, redrawn to encompass the bulk of eastern and central Poland, extended further westwards than at any time in European history.
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'Thirkell was a product of her time and her class. For her there are no sacred cows, barring those that win ribbons at the Barchester Agricultural.'
The novelist Angela Thirkell is due a revival, says Patricia T O'Conner (£).
'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.