The Thirty Years War
C. V. Wedgwood
Summarizing the long, chaotic, and ultimately pointless struggle that ravaged various German states from 1618 to 1648 is an impressive enough achievement, but to do it before the age of 30 is nothing short of remarkable. The only reservation I had reading Wedgwood’s tour de force was with regard to her dismissal of the long-term effects of the calamity. The “facts” in every case don’t tell the whole story. Historical events have the ability to shape national psychologies out of all proportion to their reality (one has only to think of the English “conquest” of the French in this country as an example). That this happened to Germany, as the result of what was by any measure a great human catastrophe, seems pretty clear in retrospect. This doesn’t excuse later developments that Wedgwood was writing in the shadow of, but does go some way toward explaining them.