Vanished Kingdoms The History of Half Forgotten Europe PDF

'The past is a foreign country' has become a truism yet we often forget that the past is different from the present in many unfamiliar ways and historical memory is extraordinarily imperfect We habitually think of the European past as the history of countries which exist today France Germany Britain Russia and so on but often this actually obstructs our view of the past and blunts our sensitivity to the ever changing political landscape Europe's history is littered with kingdoms duchies empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age 'the Empire of Aragon' which once dominated the western Mediterranean the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for a time the largest country in Europe the successive kingdoms and one duchy of Prussia much of whose history is now half remembered at best This book shows the reader how to peer through the cracks of mainstream history writing and listen to the echoes of lost realms across the centuries


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    Some books stay on your shelves so long they get squatters’ rights and you get the idea they’re part of the décor rather than something to read This was one of thoseI took a look at it this week I had a go And one of those things I like to geek out on occasionally is obscure history The Empire of Trebizond The Khanate of the Golden Horde Timbuctoo Faraway places with strange sounding names I have to recognise that to the 54450 inhabitants of Timbuctoo it's actually Nottingham England that’s faraway and strange sounding so it’s all relative But I digressThis Norman Davies is some giant history professor and what not but I think he had too much time on his hands with this tome it’s like something he looked forward to getting round to when he retired and now here he is retired and here’s his huge project And he must have coshed his editor and tied him up and stashed him in the broom cupboard unless his editor was the kind of person who kept saying “put irrelevant stuff in Norman” As a handy implement to batter a home intruder Vanished Kingdoms is just the thing As a good read not so much He rambles He brags about his research He throws in all kinds of crap – poems lineages long descriptions of medieval cities which sound like all other medieval cities And these chapters are not what I consider histories they’re essays on a particular place Sabaudia Alt Clud Tolosa and 12 So I was skipping like a young lamb in spring but without so light a heart because of many sentences like this – and truly – I opened this book at random The Casa Savoia was not alone in its dissatisfaction with its gains from Utrecht and during the territorial redistribution that took place during preparations for the Treaty of The Hague 1720 it proved possible to do business with the Austrians specifically to swap Sicily for Sardinia Or again at random Despite the political tensions and the social unrest Princess Duchess Grand Duchess Elisa Bacciochi thrived Separated from her husband she applied herself to the administration and adornment of her extended realms showing signs of her brother’s flare and energy Her pet project was the complete refurbishment of the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens which she raised to the condition which has distinguished them ever sincePlease note – Duchess is used twice don’t know why and flare should be flairStill awake? There is a serious point to be made also Until the English Revolution and French revolutions states in Europe were made and unmade by dynasties either by force of arms or by negotiation Poking and chipping and fiddling with the borders of the duchies of France Germany and Poland which is what most of Vanished Kingdoms is concerned with must have been a delightful pastime akin to petanque or boules but it was of no great import to the vast swathe of the people No ideology was involved It was the revolutions from below – after the English and French came the American and Russian – which made the making and unmaking of states meaningful and made the onrush of history into a powerful moving and essential study