The significance of ransoming has long been recognised by students of medieval chivalry and diplomacy. Seen as key to the development of an international aristocratic ethic that mitigated some of the worst excesses of medieval combat the ransom system led to a pan-European conception of a chivalric brotherhood.
Whatever the medievalists might say when they think you’re not listening, 20th-century European history is hard, and post-1945 history can be the trickiest bit. The decades after 1945 are much less precisely understood, in historical terms, than the decades before. They are more subject to unchallenged platitudes and uninformed controversy: they are surrounded by white noise.
In 1975 Paul Kennedy wrote that ‘yet another survey of the much-traversed field of Anglo-German relations will seem to many historians of modern Europe to border on the realm of superfluity’.(1) Even so, the intervening 37 years has seen no slackening off of the interest of both scholars and the general public in this particular international relationship.
The word ‘hostage’ might immediately bring to mind hostile situations: the entrapment of a wealthy businessman’s daughter in exchange for money, a terrorist incident (1) or a manifestation of domestic abuse.(2) However, the meaning of hostageship has undergone many transformations over time, some of which are brought under the microscope Profe
‘If the Euro fails, Europe fails’, Angela Merkel boldly declared in September 2011; a potent reminder of how monetary integration lies at the heart of today’s European Union.(1) Yet the Eurozone has not been the first attempt at European monetary cooperation.
The sprawling geographic, linguistic, and ethnic polyglot of Habsburg Europe makes an unexpected point of comparison with the United States. Bordering, at its western extremity, the Untersee and Lithuanian-Swiss border; and, at its eastern limits, reaching Kronstadt on the Transylvanian-Romanian border, the Habsburg Empire was the economic and cultural dynamo at the heart of Central Europe.
Dynastic marriages were of crucial importance in early modern Europe. Looking at the international scenario, the consequences of a marriage agreement between European ruling houses could be compared to those generated by the outbreak of a war or the signing of a peace treaty.
Wellington: The Path to Victory, 1769-1814 is the first of two volumes based on exhaustive research on Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Rory Muir – to be precise, it is based on 30 years work on the subject.
Elena Woodacre’s book on the five female sovereigns of the medieval Pyrenean kingdom of Navarre is a timely study considering the latest scholarship on politically active queens in medieval Iberia. This scholarship on ruling women, however, has focused predominantly on individual queens.