John Adamson

Showing Her Metal

The Iron Princess: Amalia Elisabeth and the Thirty Years War

By

Harvard University Press 319pp £25 order from our bookshop

Even for contemporaries, the conflict that became known in retrospect as the Thirty Years War was a source of bafflement and bewilderment. What began in 1618 as a dispute between rival Catholic and Calvinist claimants to the Kingdom of Bohemia (roughly the modern-day Czech Republic) escalated by fits and starts into a conflict that embroiled most of western Europe. Over the following three decades, war aims metamorphosed. Combatants came and went. Peace treaties proclaimed, prematurely, the end of hostilities – only to be torn up, yet again, as the belligerents returned to the battlefield. By the time the conflict entered its third decade (which is when this new book takes up its narrative), the war had come to involve not only almost all the states of the Holy Roman Empire (the patchwork of principalities, large and small, that sprawled from Dunkirk in the west to the borders of Hungary in the east), but also the three greatest military powers of Europe: France, Spain and Sweden, each of which, at various times, had armies engaged in the fight.

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

    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,
    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,