Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy from 1453 to the


Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy from 1453 to the Present ➿ [Download] ➽ Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy from 1453 to the Present By Brendan Simms ➵ – Thomashillier.co.uk If there is a fundamental truth of geopolitics, it is this whoever controls the core of Europe controls the entire continent, and whoever controls all of Europe can dominate the world Over the past fi If there is a fundamental truth Struggle for PDF/EPUB À of geopolitics, it is this whoever controls the core of Europe controls the entire continent, and whoever controls all of Europe can dominate the world Over the past five centuries, a rotating cast of kings and Europe: The PDF/EPUB ² conquerors, presidents and dictators have set their sights on the European heartland, desperate to seize this pivotal area or at least prevent it from falling into the wrong hands From Charles V and Napoleon to Bismarck and Cromwell, from Hitler and Stalin to The Struggle for PDF ↠ Roosevelt and Gorbachev, nearly all the key power players of modern history have staked their titanic visions on this vital swath of land In Europe, prizewinning historian Brendan Simms presents an authoritative account of the past half millennium of European history, demonstrating how the battle for mastery there has shaped the modern world Beginning in , when the collapse of the Byzantine Empire laid Europe open to Ottoman incursion and prompted the dramatic expansion of the Holy Roman Empire, Simms leads readers through the epic struggle for the heart of Europe Stretching from the Low Countries through Germany and into the North Italian plain, this relatively compact zone has historically been the richest and most productive on earth For hundreds of years, its crucial strategic importance stoked a seemingly unending series of conflicts, from the English Civil War to the French Revolution to the appalling world wars of the th century But when Europe is in harmony, Simms shows, the entire world benefits a lesson that current leaders would do well to remember A bold and compelling work by a renowned scholar, Europe integrates religion, politics, military strategy, and international relations to show how history and Western civilization itself was forged in the crucible of Europe.


10 thoughts on “Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy from 1453 to the Present

  1. Stuart Kinross Stuart Kinross says:

    In this impressive survey of European power politics since the fall of Constantinople, Brendan Simms builds on a theme familiar from his earlier works on Prussia the primacy of foreign policy over domestic politics However, the main thread running through the book is the thesis that the German speaking lands of central Europe are the key to the balance of power on the continent and in the wider world.At the outset, Simms puts forward the argument that the Holy Roman Empire and its successor st In this impressive survey of European power politics since the fall of Constantinople, Brendan Simms builds on a theme familiar from his earlier works on Prussia the primacy of foreign policy over domestic politics However, the main thread running through the book is the thesis that the German speaking lands of central Europe are the key to the balance of power on the continent and in the wider world.At the outset, Simms puts forward the argument that the Holy Roman Empire and its successor states have been the principal source of political legitimacy for anybody who wants to speak for Europe Consequently, his interpretation of every major conflict in European history over the last 500 years is made through a German prism The Treaty of Westphalia 1648 , which brought an end to the Thirty Years War, is seen not so much as the beginning of the sovereign state system that we still know today, but rather as the vehicle for which the Empire was given a constitution that would reconcile the political aspirations of Germans with the requirements of the international state system The wars of Louis XIV are seen by Simms as a means of ensuring that France would control the resources of the Empire as much as being the product of the Sun King s quest for grandeur The outcome of the Seven Years War in which the Prussia of Frederick the Great had almost been brought to its knees is seen in retrospect as the point at which two ideal types of European parliamentary and absolutist regimes, Britain and Prussia emerged victorious The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were driven as much by the pursuit of a geopolitical agenda centred on Germany as they were by ideology When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, his consequent ejection from Germany meant that the game was up even though the campaigns of 1814 and 1815 were yet to come.Simms s argument that the Vienna Settlement of 1815 and the European Revolutions of 1848 9 were centred on the destiny of Germany is persuasive His account of the growing sense of German nationalism which culminated in the Wars of Unification between 1864 and 1871 concludes with the observation that with the mastery of Germany assured, a new phase in the struggle for European supremacy was about to begin This brings us on to the Hohenzollern and National Socialist attempts to achieve German hegemony in Europe The story of Bismarck s posthumous failure to prevent the existence of a powerful alliance against Imperial Germany, the post war dislocation wrought by the Treaty of Versailles, and Hitler s rise to power and subsequent aggressive foreign policy to Germanise Europe are all familiar Simms places all of this in a wider context With the fall of France in 1940, the United States was aware that this had led to a fundamental change in the European and, hence, global balance of power By the end of the following year, Hitler had contrived to ensure that the most powerful coalition of powers imaginable now opposed Germany making his downfall inevitable.Although Germany was partitioned in 1945, it remained the fulcrum of European power politics during the Cold War As Simms puts it, each side sought to win over the Germans, or at least to deny them to the other side They were also determined to prevent the re emergence of German power The parallel projects of NATO and European integration were designed with this twin purpose in mind With the end of the Cold War and the re unification of East and West Germany, the German problem has re emerged in another guise given the nation s economic superiority Simms argues that only Britain, because she possesses the most credible fighting force on the continent at the moment and Germany because her economic strength is vital to the functioning of the Single Market and the Euro can bring about deeper integration in Europe This would appear unlikely because British Euroscepticism is well entrenched while opposition to the European project is becomingpopular in Germany Simms concludes that his thesis of the primacy of foreign policy no longer holds in Germany and other western European countries as a result of the uncoupling of western European state and society from the project of making war since the mid 1960s Therefore, it follows that only a major external threat will unite Europeans today Simms postulates that such a threat could emerge through Russia, China or radical Islam In summary, Simms s work is an excellent read that should be of equal value to the general reader and to the historian withof a specialist interest in European power politics during the past half millennium


  2. Robert Morris Robert Morris says:

    A lot of learning can be a dangerous thing This is the second recent sweeping history of war and Europe that I ve enjoyed thoroughly until the closing pages As with Ian Morris s War What is it good for roughly 90% of this book would have received a 4 or even 5 star rating The problem comes at the end, when these learned historians of completely different styles and levels of seriousness attempt to apply their knowledge to the present day and just miss the point entirely Before my massi A lot of learning can be a dangerous thing This is the second recent sweeping history of war and Europe that I ve enjoyed thoroughly until the closing pages As with Ian Morris s War What is it good for roughly 90% of this book would have received a 4 or even 5 star rating The problem comes at the end, when these learned historians of completely different styles and levels of seriousness attempt to apply their knowledge to the present day and just miss the point entirely Before my massive problem, one small quibble The book is billed as telling the story from 1453 to the present In fact, the first four and a half centuries are done with by the halfway point I would have enjoyedcoverage of those earlier years, that birthed the nation state system, and so much of what we consider modern Europe The narrative throughout was readable, detailed and enjoyable There is of course vastlyinformation of contemporary relevance the closer you get to the present day, but I felt a bit cheated Like I said a quibble, and it only slightly detracted from my enjoyment of the book When the book makes it to the 20th century grand strategy and wars that I sense Simms actually wanted to write about, the treatment is excellent He effortlessly dips back and forth between domestic politics and the international struggle of what feels like dozens of countries He expertly manages to incorporate the planet wide conflicts that mattered, while sticking to his focus on the struggle for the European continent TheI think about the feat, theimpressed I am It s an almost year by year recounting of world events in the 20th century, and it s never boring or flabby He s got two points that he hammers home repeatedly One is the way that foreign policy drove all manner of domestic changes, from administrative reform to social legislation, and the Second is the centrality of the struggle to control Germany, the European heartland, over the entire period discussed These are perhaps not the most ambitious of points, but they are proven well His narrative of the World Wars and the Cold War is just fantastic The problems come after the Cold War ends The timbre of the narrative changes dramatically Our sober guide to history s greatest horrors and triumphs disappears Every minor reversal and savage little cold war hangover is described as a colossal and or massive crisis The continued failure of the European public to take an interest in military aggrandizement and defense spending is lamented in frankly ludicrous terms Here let me quote a bit the European peoples had failed even in this hour of crisis to assert their right to participate in the defense of their common prosperity and security The crisis he s referring to is I assume either Russia s ridiculous little war with Georgia or the financial crisis that took place in 2008 It s hard to see how defense spending would have helped with the financial crisis, and it s quite easy to see exactly how the NATO saber rattling Simms wantsof led to the war between Russia and Georgia The point he s missing is this The pacification of Europe, accomplished at tremendous cost and existential risk to human civilization is one of mankind s greatest victories I made a video on it once The fact that most of the European public now caresabout quality of life than the petty grandeur of killing the folks the next country over is something to be celebrated My sense is that like many in the academic branch of the military industrial complex he sees a waning interest in grand strategy and geopolitics as a threat to his job security, or perhapsimportant if less tangible, his job significance I d imagine that seat at Cambridge is pretty secure Unlike many of his ilk, Simms does at least acknowledge that Russia expected NATO expansion to stop with Germany after it allowed the USSR to collapse He acknowledges it with one sentence It s probably the shortest sentence in the book The closing pages then lovingly chronicle NATO s relentless expansion, in tandem with the faruseful and benign European Union, with essentially zero analysis or explanation of why this should be so, and why these organizations are so uselessly but seemingly irrevocably connected Here s a helpful vid on how NATO started the crisis in Ukraine NATO are our guys, so Russia couldn t possibly have a legitimate objection to the expansion to its borders of world history s most powerful military organization, an organization founded explicitly to combat Russia Objective history is impossible, but this degree of partisanship is just too much I would have perhaps forgiven this unfortunately common affliction if it weren t for the ridiculousness of the book s final sentences Keep in mind that in the run up to World War I, the cataclysm that started off Europe s horrific 20th century, the European people marched eagerly off to war To be sure there was all manner of manipulation by elites, but much of the continent really believed that the war was right and good, and their side, their national blood and steel, would prevail This is how Simms closes the book, referring to the present day In short, at the start of the third decade of the second millennium, sic, he ain t talking about 1021 Europeans were no less preoccupied by how the vital space at the heart of the continent was to be organized than they had been in times gone by The German Question, eclipsed forthan a decade after unification, was back That s simply not true Angst over a financial management is not the urge to march off and blow somebody up That s not history


  3. W W says:

    The Soviet Union, in short, did not have a military industrial complex like the United States, it was a military industrial complex This brilliantly placed line signifies the book s ability to spark off vivid understandings of Europe s various historical situations It is a thoughtful and fair minded piece of work, usually fast paced and often exhilarating, sometimes sloggy, overall seeming to make the most of its material It has an argument, a carefully trained perspective, and I m sure anyb The Soviet Union, in short, did not have a military industrial complex like the United States, it was a military industrial complex This brilliantly placed line signifies the book s ability to spark off vivid understandings of Europe s various historical situations It is a thoughtful and fair minded piece of work, usually fast paced and often exhilarating, sometimes sloggy, overall seeming to make the most of its material It has an argument, a carefully trained perspective, and I m sure anybody would learn a great deal from it, while having some moments of real pleasure along the way Simms captures Europe as an entity in the midst of history, wilfully perceiving centuries of twists and turns through the filters associated with current recent issues.CriticismsThere are a couple of overbearing issues with the style Early on there is some awkward, seemingly unedited, diction and syntax There are even instances of elementary mistakes which even a total novice like me can spot like referring to the Dutch Estates General , which is the French term, or saying that Baldwin was the leader of the opposition in 1934 And throughout, paragraphs begin with either The real issue was not insert event , but Germany and the whole balance of power , or This international development had a profound effect on domestic politics in many countries I like repetition of ideas because it ingrains the essential message of such a long book, and shows self confidence But this is far too much, and that becomes apparent early on There are also moments when Simms clearly over eggs the primacy of foreign policy, for example declaring that the British revolution was entirely a function of the debate around participation in the European wars Finally, the book inevitably struggles with the breadth and depth of such a vast and intricate period of history Even though it is massively lopsided towards the final 100 years, some areas are list like and don t leave much impression or understanding There are some other issues, but no one interested in the topic or attracted by the idea of the book should really be discouraged If you re still uncertain, let one or two of Simms s genius pieces for the New Statesman convince you, particularly


  4. Zach Zach says:

    There are two major theses in this book One is presented right at the outset due to its central position and massive potential, he who controls Germany dominates Europe For the first part of this book, the active powers deliberately prevent anyone, including the Germans, from controlling Germany, in order to maintain the balance From 1870 1944, however, Germany is unified and attempts to prove that a dominating Germany dominates Europe, and was prevented from doing so only at great cost The There are two major theses in this book One is presented right at the outset due to its central position and massive potential, he who controls Germany dominates Europe For the first part of this book, the active powers deliberately prevent anyone, including the Germans, from controlling Germany, in order to maintain the balance From 1870 1944, however, Germany is unified and attempts to prove that a dominating Germany dominates Europe, and was prevented from doing so only at great cost Then, of course, Germany is divided again and becomes the most important front of the Cold War After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the book sort of peters out it s difficult to do a whole lot of analysis on recent history, but the centrality of Germany to the EU is obvious, even if some of the other discussion of the last 20 years may not be.The second theses, moving beyond geography is history, is that foreign policy drives social and economic changes in the name of beingefficient for the next war Sometimes, this resulted indemocracy, sometimes inabsolutism or autocracy, but the goal was always to be strong enough to win usually in, against, or as Germany This is, perhaps,than a bit reductionist, but the author does a fairly good job of arguing for it It also explains the heavy focus on international relations, which shouldn t be surprising given the title, and the short shrift given to the rest of history from 1453.My major quibble with the book is that when European politics goes global, some parts of the non European map get a lot of focus and some are almost completely ignored Japan, for instance, is barely mentioned before or after the Russo Japanese War of 1905, and China is largely ignored outside of it being a pain to Khruschev in the 1950s Meanwhile we get a surprisingly detailed amount of Afghan politics and Middle Eastern and Jewish foreign relationsgenerally Current events and all, but it s a bit weird given the wide scope of the book


  5. Julian Julian says:

    The copy I read was some 530 pages making it almost 550 years in 550 pages An excellent book I now understand the significance of the Holy Roman Empirethan I ever did before.Simms s is pushing the thesis that Germany by dint of its central position has been central to European history and all theso when it was fragmented and also that foreign policy trumps domestic policy to the extent that the English Civil War was a result of the Stuarts failure to sufficiently support Pr The copy I read was some 530 pages making it almost 550 years in 550 pages An excellent book I now understand the significance of the Holy Roman Empirethan I ever did before.Simms s is pushing the thesis that Germany by dint of its central position has been central to European history and all theso when it was fragmented and also that foreign policy trumps domestic policy to the extent that the English Civil War was a result of the Stuarts failure to sufficiently support Protestants in the low countries It is not altogether convincing but it provides a good focus for his narrative.He even reverses the causes of WWII, in that where we tend to think that the economics in the form of the 30s depression drove foreign policy troubles in the form of an aggressive Germany he argues that foreign policy triggered it by triggering the depression through the French reaction to Curtius policies that drove the Wiener Kreditanstalt to default.As far as current affairs go, it is notable how often an expansionist Russsia was the source of the continent s instability.A slog, given the length, but well worth it


  6. Jbondandrews Jbondandrews says:

    I thought this book was quite interesting, however I object to Pancho Villa being considered a warlord It was a bit to pro American and findingfault with the Soviet than WWII Germany and there were other issues.


  7. Julian Douglass Julian Douglass says:

    This book is not for the weak This book is a 700 year epic that is split up into only 8 chapters and 535 pages of actual content, about 200 of them are notes and the index Because of this power dynamic, the information inside each chapter is heavy and really requires a background knowledge in each of the 8 eras that are being described Mr Simms has packed in a lot of dates, wars, alliances, and names within each chapter that it can be hard to keep track of, especially in the early chapters This book is not for the weak This book is a 700 year epic that is split up into only 8 chapters and 535 pages of actual content, about 200 of them are notes and the index Because of this power dynamic, the information inside each chapter is heavy and really requires a background knowledge in each of the 8 eras that are being described Mr Simms has packed in a lot of dates, wars, alliances, and names within each chapter that it can be hard to keep track of, especially in the early chapters I amof a fan and scholar of modern history, for both world and US American Revolution to present The first 3 or 4 chapters were a bit difficult to understand, but then the last 4 were easy because I have prior knowledge in the events I would not read this book if you want an introduction to the history of the continent because this reads like a college level textbook Besides the content part, this book could have easily been split up intothan 8 chapters Reading almost 70 100 pages of in depth European History can be very exhausting and would probably draw acasual reader of history to this book Also, the timeline of events can be very sporadic and get out of hand He can be talking about something that happened in 1593 for example, and then on the next page talk about a series of wars that lasted from 1575 1586 It can get very confusing then for readers who are not as well schooled on the period that he covers Overall an ambitious project, but there are better books of European history that can attract the casual fan to the topic


  8. Florin Tiran Florin Tiran says:

    An immersive story of the last 500 years of European conflicts and interlaced events.Even tough the author seems a bit obsessed by the German role in most of the important developments of recent history, I strongly believe this remains an amazing read I would have also loved athorough approach of contemporary issues.


  9. Huw Evans Huw Evans says:

    Q What is the most important part of Europe over which control must be exerted to maintain peace, democracy and prosperity This book is a monster to read 535 pages of small print, denser to read than the average insurance document To be honest it has taken me ages to read it I can manage about three pages at a time before my head swims and I have to put it down Thank the gods for my habit of readingthan one book at a time there have been occasions when I became so bogged down in Euro Q What is the most important part of Europe over which control must be exerted to maintain peace, democracy and prosperity This book is a monster to read 535 pages of small print, denser to read than the average insurance document To be honest it has taken me ages to read it I can manage about three pages at a time before my head swims and I have to put it down Thank the gods for my habit of readingthan one book at a time there have been occasions when I became so bogged down in European geopolitics that I wanted to give up reading this.Brendan Peter Simms is an Irish historian and Professor of the History of International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge In this book he covers the major events that have created the Europe we recognise from 1453 to the present day This is no mean feat in itself and to make it readable, even if in small pieces, doubly so It covers a huge array of subject matter and his references cover nearly a hundred pagesEven at a year a page approximately there is so much raw meat that I found it pretty difficult to digest at times This is another book that needs an accompanying pencil and paper to keep notes on what happens when and who is who I confess to getting very confused between my Louis, Ludwigs, Wilhelms and Williams.It is a masterpiece of scholarly work and I am sure that I am not able to judge any of the conclusions he draws As much as anything else my knowledge of European history is scant the reason for reading this book after all and my acquaintance with English history between 1603 and 1900 is equally glancing due to the syllabus I was taught in school So from that point of view this book was fascinating, enjoyable and a huge learning curve.The writing is not without its difficulties It is very dense and pared down to bare essentials This is understandable bearing in mind the subject matter but it does make the whole thing very relentless, occasionally oppressive As the centuries roll on the increased impact of the rest of the world becomes apparent and by the late twentieth century everything from East Timor to the Iraq crisis plays a role in determining the politics of Europe, with or without American or Soviet pressure In fact the last fifty years has been a meteor storm impacting on the way Europe behaves and is governed and the pace of the writing increases accordingly.There are no real synonyms for the word geopolitic This is a pity because the word is used so often throughout the book that it engendered a nervous tick and loss of concentration when I saw it I admit this sounds silly, and probably is, but when one word is used repeatedly it becomes jarring and disruptive In a book that is ONLY about five hundred years of geopolitics need it have been used so often However, if that is my only criticism of this book, I accept that it is plausibly puerile It is a magnificent read, as long as you take it slowly.A Germany but we have known this five hundred years


  10. Gumble& Gumble& says:

    The book reviews 500 years of European geo political and military history, chronologically and in exhausting factual detail albeit without really enough detail on any area or period to fully understand what was going on without reference to specialist sources The book has a small number of chapters each covering decades or sometimes centuries of history and each with a helpful introduction and conclusion covering the meta theme of the period The book has a very clear and explicit theme t The book reviews 500 years of European geo political and military history, chronologically and in exhausting factual detail albeit without really enough detail on any area or period to fully understand what was going on without reference to specialist sources The book has a small number of chapters each covering decades or sometimes centuries of history and each with a helpful introduction and conclusion covering the meta theme of the period The book has a very clear and explicit theme that of the central tension between centralisation and independence andparticularly of the critical role of the Germanic area over 500 years, another key theme is the obsession of both central andoutlying players with maintaining the balance of power on the Continent which often lead to periodic changes of alignments as if for example France was too heavily supported to counter Austro Hungary, the reverse was almost certainly necessary a little later the book also takes it as read that foreign policy dictates domestic policy rather than the other way round social advancements and debates about optimal forms of society are routinely explained as being based around increasing the ability to fund and raise war At times the author s keenness to make it clear that all major historical events, even those in the US or those popularly believed to have a muchobvious cause originate in some policy decision about Germany, is almost comical He argues for example that Germany was the cause of the great depression rather than a victim based on an argument around an Austrian bank the French allowed to fail to thwart a German Austrian union and which tipped the US over the edge that the English Civil war was fought because Charles was seen as not protecting German princes He never misses an opportunity to quote a contemporary reference to the importance of Germany, while not ever acknowledging that there may be lots of references saying the opposite Interestingly the fall of communism, while clearly happening in Germany he attributes muchto the rise of Islamic fundamentalism supported by the US and the resulting distraction and diversion of Soviet resource into Afghanistan The book concludes with a list of questions at what he sees as a critical juncture for Europe in 2012 and posits that perhaps only an external threat can draw Europe together Overall not an enjoyable read as the book is simply too dry and the deluge of facts names wars political alliances overwhelming but a very worthwhile and intelligent one


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