Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517–1648 by Mark Greengrass - review by Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall

Winds of Change

Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517–1648

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 722pp £30 order from our bookshop
 

It is entirely possible that after the next general election the British will be invited to vote on whether they want their country to ‘stay in Europe’. The way this issue is conventionally framed reveals that for many of us Europe is not so much a geographical location as an idea and a concept – and a deeply contested one. How the peoples dwelling at the western end of the Eurasian landmass (including its off-shore islands) thought about their identity – in relation to each other and in respect of the world beyond – is the principal theme of this learned and satisfying book, the fifth volume in Penguin’s ongoing History of Europe series and the work of a distinguished historian of early modern France.

The dates Mark Greengrass chooses are conventional ones, instantly recognisable to any student of history: 1517 was the year Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses, the moment generally taken as the start of the Protestant Reformation; 1648 marks the ratification of the Treaty of Westphalia and the ending of the

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