- Publisher: Random House (2011)
- ISBN-10: 1588369048
- ISBN-13: 978-1588369048
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
Hugh Thomas has authored two brilliant books about the Spanish conquest of the Americas, The Conquest of Mexico and Rivers of Gold, the latter work being the first volume of a trilogy about Spanish history from Columbus to Philip II. Unfortunately this second volume comes nowhere near the quality of those earlier works.
Thomas has always been fascinated by people's family pedigrees in his works. What used to be an eccentricity, is now a hindrance disrupting the narrative flow. The reader is constantly distracted by lengthy descriptions of the newly introduced men's family origins. As the book has a large cast of characters, those digressions really tax the reader's patience without really adding anything to the story.
But the problems go deeper than that. The whole structure of the book is disjointed: one story is started, only to be interrupted by another, and it might take hundreds of pages before the original narrative's thread is picked up again. A lot was going on in the Americas during the time span of this book, and as a result the book is a bewildering collection of raids, nasty little wars and civil wars, daring treks of exploration as well as the most famous story of them all, Pizarro's conquest of the Incas. Thomas would have done well to concentrate on the most important of these ventures and devote less detail to others.
The book also has some editorial mistakes, the most obvious being the title of Book IV (Book III in the US edition), 'Counter Reformation, Counter Renaissance' - there is not a word of these subjects in that book! (Nor anywhere else in The Golden Age.)
The Golden Age could have been so much better: research is still sound, and maps again are great. But while Thomas's earlier works were a pleasure to read, this one was a chore.
"The Golden Empire" is British historian Hugh Thomas' latest work. It is, like most of Thomas' books, big and sweeping, peopled by dozens of historical characters, some of whom are familiar, many of whom are obscure." -- Robert Siegel, NPR
The second volume in Thomas's monumental history of the Spanish empire in the Americas, follows its critically acclaimed first volume, Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan, reprinted to support the launch of The Golden Age. The view of historian Thomas's on the Spanish empire is beginning now to take shape, and there seems to be little doubt that upon the completion of the projected trilogy, it will become the definitive study of the that empire's history in the Americas, for years to come.
"The Golden Empire," covers the years of the reign of Charles V, who was king of Spain and Europe's last emperor in the 1500's. Mockingly illustrating the complexity of his inheritance, he once remarked, "I speak German to my horse, French to my ministers and Spanish to my God." Through his mother he would inherit Spain and the bloodstained kingdom of Naples as well. The book picks up a couple of decades after the spectacular stories of the unification of Christian Spain, the Inquisition, Columbus, and that it ends a couple of decades before the defeat of the Armada, which I can still remember from history class.
This is a period when Charles V was in effect the last European emperor, the universal one. He thought he might run the world, and was in a sense a 'sort of' president of the United States 'in waiting'. His multinational, multicultural empire is not quite different from the variety of states which the United States is now.Read more ›
Orellana asked an Indian who the women were who had attacked his expedition. The Indian replied that there were 70 pueblos inhabited only by women. Orellana asked if these women had children. The reply was: "The lord who lived next door carried the women to his own land, his men impregnated them and returned them to their own residence. If they had a son, he would be killed but, if they had a daughter, she would be well looked after and trained for war."
If you are researching the early Spanish exploration of America or looking for detailed descriptions of why and how events occurred involving either the Spanish or indigenous tribes, this is a 5 star book. I got bored at times so I'm only giving it 4 stars- but that is me.
Here's some things I learned:
Men from all over Charles' realm-Netherlands, German, and Italy-went to New Spain.
P.39 Cortes 1522 letter to Charles V-"We beg the king also not to send us lawyers because by coming to this land they would put it in turmoil."
P.40 "In 1517, Cardinal Cisneros, Regent of Spain, received a letter from Las Casas suggesting that the Inquisition be sent to the Indies" (America).
P.51 There were 8 councils that governed Spain (like the US cabinet departments).
P.99 Cortes sent Alvarado to explore Guatemala. He so loved the diverse topography, fertile and beautiful land that he wanted to become its governor.
P.148 Charles had borrowed from the German banker family, the Welsers, because he was always short of funds for the wars against France.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I concur with the other negative reviewers. It's what we old-time newspaper people would identify as a "notes-dump," an unreadably long piece including every detail because... Read morePublished 5 months ago by OneIsTwo
Must add to your library. Read this and watch the Spanish TV series on Isabel la Catolica.Published 10 months ago by laprofe1
Excellent, integral treatment of the Spanish conquest and abuse of the Americas indigenous civilizations, especially for an extensive coverage of the Inca culture of Peru.Published 17 months ago by Literary Critic
Tedious and hard to follow book. I thought with this title and about Carlos I and the Spanish empire of the sixteenth century the book would be fascinating. Read morePublished 21 months ago by A. G Provencal
It is an excellent story of Carlos V, the first Austria. Hugh Thomas has extensively researched original sources and is an excellent writer. Read morePublished on July 29, 2014 by Eric Mascarin Perigault
This is a book that really belongs among the best in this genre, because it provides a description of the conquest in a very unbiased way, both the intentions and actions of the... Read morePublished on June 15, 2014 by Klaus Mengelbier
This book would be better named 'Conquest Redux.' I'm referring to Thomas's excellent book on the conquest of the Americas by Spain. Read morePublished on January 31, 2013 by J. Boland
You really need to know your Spanish and have some grasp of Mexico and locations pronunciations to follow this book. Read morePublished on November 6, 2011 by Amazon Customer
I read it all, but there was time when I was a professional historian. It's informative. To me, the major problem was that there was no selectivity. Read morePublished on September 27, 2011 by Dr. S. R. Hill Jr.