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The Holy Roman Empire 1495-1806 (Studies in European History) Paperback – July 19, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0230239784 ISBN-10: 0230239781 Edition: 2nd Revised edition

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The Holy Roman Empire 1495-1806 (Studies in European History) + Germany and the Holy Roman Empire: Volume I: Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia, 1493-1648 (Oxford History of Early Modern Europe) (Volume 1) + The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in European History
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2nd Revised edition edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230239781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230239784
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.4 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'Peter Wilson's book provides solid and reliable information on the complex history and structures of the Empire, reflecting the current state of the historiography.' - Robert Rebitsch, German History

About the Author

PETER H. WILSON is GF Grant Professor of History at the University of Hull, UK.

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By S. Lieb on February 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
The 'book's' description: "The Holy Roman Empire lasted for over a millennium, yet its development and institutions are still commonly dismissed as largely irrelevant to broader historical issues. Recent scholarship challenges this view but until now has failed to provide a convincing interpretation of the political structure which provided the framework within which such major events as the Reformation and the Thirty Years War developed. Drawing on a wealth of specialist studies, Peter Wilson offers an alternative way of looking at the Empire, seeing it not as a failed monarchy or flawed forerunner of a later German nation-state, but on its own terms as a multi-layered structure combining monarchical, hierarchical and federal elements. Key stages in the Empire's development are explained within the context of wider European history." is fine as far as it goes, except that:

a) this is a massive overstatement

b) it's a significant fraction of the length of the 'book' itself.

I'll confess: caveat emptor. For $27 I had an expectation of a Toynbee or Norwich-sized volume on the History of the Holy Roman Empire. I did NOT expressly look at the length of the work, and had I done so I'm certain I'd have passed on this purchase.

Saying this is 112 pages is massively overstating it - discounting the extensive bibiliography, there are only about 70 pages of actual text - roughly $0.40 PER PAGE.

As the author states in his concluding paragraph: "The lack of a suitable framework to do justice to the Empire's diverse elements has proved a major stumbling block [to writing an all-encompassing history]; an obstacle this book has attempted to smooth out of the way."

So there you have it. This is NOT a history, as the blurb purports.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peter A. York on December 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am an academic in a different field. I am no expert, but I have been interested in the Holy Roman Empire for about three years now. No, this is not a comprehensive history of the Holy Roman Empire. To the best of my knowledge, none exists in English. And with good reason. If you count the "knights of the Empire" (landowners possessing on average a hundred acres), then the Holy Roman Empire was composed of 2,000 "sovereign" states post 1648 (Palmer, A History of the Modern World). In other words, the empire was so fragmented (even before 1648) that a historian can only realistically focus on political units smaller than the entire empire: specific regions, independent cities, etc.

Even more frustrating is that these "sovereign" states were nevertheless part of a larger, yet extraordinarily weak, institutional structure (the Holy Roman Empire). So, we are not dealing with truly sovereign states, but relatively autonomous polities whose rulers focused a great deal of their attention and resources on empire-wide politics. Therefore, understanding each autonomous polity requires an understanding of the insanely complex web of political interactions across these polities.

Moreover, because the empire was quite weak, its internal politics were "porous," subject to encroachment by Europe's kingdoms, city-states, etc. Hopefully you are beginning to see the problem of a single, comprehensive history.

Wilson's work is part of Palgrave's "Studies in European History" series, which provides brief overviews of historical topics. The brief book is an excellent INTRODUCTION which primarily focuses on the institutional organization of the empire.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I will readily agree that this is a well written paper with a great deal of information. However, it is basically a doctoral paper rather than a true book. I expect I could find something similar in a college archive. The price is extraordinarily high for what amounts to a 70 page paper. I wouldn't buy it for more than $10.
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