The comparative history of empires has become a very popular subject in recent years, provoking interesting debates on the origins of the globalization process and on the future of post-Cold War international relations.(1) The focus on empires has also provided a constructive way to reassess the role of Europe in world history, going beyond the traditional great narrat
‘Shackled to a corpse’ is a quote widely attributed to General Erich von Ludendorff, which allegedly describes the alliance between Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
At the end of Miklos Banffy’s entertaining panoramic novel of pre-WWI Hungary, the protagonist Count Balint takes a final tour of Transylvania before joining his regiment. It is a personal and private farewell to his childhood home and to a whole generation of Hungarian nobles, of which Balint/Banffy was highly critical.
As April turned to May, the world stood on edge. From 1914-18, a worldwide conflagration claimed the lives of 16 million people and produced an additional 20 million wounded. Despite the end of hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, a final peace remained elusive – and the suffering continued.
The disintegration of communist federations at the end of the Cold War represented the most momentous reconfiguration of the boundaries of Eastern Europe since 1945.
The 70th anniversary of the Allied victory over the Nazi regime and of the liberation of the camps led to a renewed interest in the Nazi rule over much of Europe and, even more so, in the Holocaust. Unsurprisingly, a number of new studies were and still are being published, many of which discuss the meaning that the Holocaust holds for us today.
The history of the European Wars of Religion from the Crusades onward has provided fertile ground for study by historians, philosophers, and theologians of all ideological persuasions. The period from the 1520s forward particularly has served as the subject of an astonishing amount of research – with no discernable chronological gap in the historiography.
We have here two very different books utilizing two very different approaches to essentially the same period of history in Europe. And while the differences are enormous, each is excellent in its own way and both are major contributions to the historiography of Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
Why would a hardened band of foreign jihādi warriors agree to work for a self-proclaimed leader of the Christian world – especially one militantly opposed to Islam, who kept his own Muslim citizens under close surveillance? And why would such a ruler choose to keep that particular type of professional killer in his personal employ?
Louis VIII, king of France from 1223 to 1226, is not a monarch who has drawn significant attention from historians. His reign of just three years stands trapped between the nearly 43-year reign of his father, Philip Augustus, and the nearly 44-year reign of his son, Louis IX (later Saint Louis). Louis VIII inevitably draws somewhat unfavourable comparison with his predecessor and his heir.