9780713995152 / 0713995157

Empire, War and Faith in Early Modern Europe


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Publisher:Allen Lane, 2002



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About the book:

Failure is fascinating, partly because it is so common. In the 20th century, Enoch Powell claimed that "All political lives end in failure"; while, according the Winston Churchill, "Success is never final". This has always been true: Geoffrey Parker's new book examines ten cases, from the history of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Parker's reputation as a pre-eminent historian of the early modern world rests upon his work in two areas: the reign of Philip II of Spain and the "military revolution" of the 16th and 17th centuries. This collection includes some of his outstanding contributions in both fields. Four chapters on Philip II and his problems beautifully illustrate how even the greatest empires fall apart when undermined by internal contradictions or unrealistic ambitions. Four more studies examine the character of early modern warfare, stressing how military innovations can provoke resistance that eventually overwhelms their creators. Parker is never afraid to place his arguments in a wider context: he contrasts the failure of the Spanish Armada of 1588 with the success of the Dutch Armada just a century later and compares the use of stategic terror in 16th-century Netherlands with that in 20th-century Yugoslavia. Finally, two original essays examine the failure of the Protestant Reformation to grow beyond its original, urban milieu and uncover the insecurity of the church, even when its ideology went unchallenged (as in early modern Scotland).

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