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Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Norman Davies

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5401118,588 (3.92)23
Member:elimatta
Title:Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
Authors:Norman Davies
Info:Penguin (2012), Paperback, 848 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:History

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Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations by Norman Davies (2011)

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English (10)  Polish (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Still a bit mystified by the inclusion of Eire, and a bit disappointed not to get more of Byzantium, but overall informed and entertained by this collection. ( )
  sloopjonb | May 24, 2014 |
"This too shal pass". Impressive history of states, some insignificant, some most powerful, some small, some covering a huge area - but all of them extinct. From an almost forgotten Celtic kingdom in the early Middle Ages to the demise of the USSR, Davies describes their apogee and end with clarity and insight. States may implode, explode, be conquered or meet another end (Davies seems quite convinced that the days of the United Kingdom are numbered, too). There is a slight emphasis on Eastern Europe (Prussia, Galicia, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Estonia) since that is Davies' specialisation, but that makes this history only more interesting. Recommended for anyone interested in European history. ( )
  fist | May 15, 2014 |
Excellent book. An absolute must for everybody who needs or wants to understand European history. Especially recommended for EU civil servants and diplomats serving in Europe. ( )
  Hiensch | Aug 10, 2013 |
This is my fourth book by Norman Davies and not only is it written in his attractive and accessible style, it presents a set of European histories that it is impossible to find together anywhere else.

As he points out, history is written by the winners, so it is doubly useful to record the stories of kingdoms/ peoples that were once well-known but are now almost forgotten. They influenced their epoch and their millions of citizens had lives the same as those of the winners.

In the last chapter he reflects on his "Vanished Kingdoms" saying that historians are not comfortable with the idea of random causation, and that some sort of analysis, however tentative, is desirable and he goes on to categorize the various internal and external ways that kingdoms/ peoples can be overwhelmed.

A few private reflections triggered by the book would include the following:

He shows how larger geographic kingdoms often break up along ethnic lines when central control weakens but somehow England managed to integrate invaders a varied as Saxons, Normans, Scandinavians and Celts with the original Old British (Welsh) inhabitants in what is now the English part of the British Isles. The same would go for Spain in integrating Basques, Moors, Carthaginians, Greeks and Visigoths in most of the Peninsula. Possible reasons could include the newcomers plans to settle and how long they live together under central control.

Davies perhaps shows that the old European late monarchic system was ready to collapse after the blows of the French Revolution, the rise of commercial middle classes and new democratic egalitarian ideas, so maybe it only needed a good push when traditional authority was gravely weakened after WW1, particularly in Russia after its military defeat by the central powers.

There is no doubt after reading the book that the business of the Communists was destruction, and their explicit aim was to extend their dictatorship to all Europe and liquidate whole sections of the population there in the same way that they did in Russia (15 million people in the extreme violence of the Great Terror according to Robert Conquest). They were nothing like as effective at building society (if they cared) as Davies shows by his account of the economic failure and implosion of the USSR.

Finally, he also follows the well trodden path of remaining silent about the fact that the Bolsheviks were not Russians.

As David R. Francis, the US ambassador to Russia at the time, said in a 1918 dispatch, "The Bolshevik leaders here, most of whom are Jews and 90 percent of whom are returned exiles, care little for Russia or any other country but are internationalists and are trying to start a worldwide social revolution." Almost all of the top leadership was Jewish as were the heads of the NKVD (Genrikh Yagoda and his deputy Yakov Agranov) and all the heads of the Gulag (Aron Solts, Yakov Rappoport, Lazar Kogan, Matvei Berman and Naftaly Frenkel) according to Solzhenitsyn in "The Gulag Archipelago". It was Lazar Kaganovich who organized and executed the Holodomor (3 million+ deaths in the Ukraine) and Jews who were the leading activists/administrators with a special protected status until the last days of the Stalin dictatorship as is amply demonstrated in Slezkine's recent book, "The Jewish Century".

In the 20th century they switched from being the primary aggressors to the primary victims but maybe this is outside the scope of the text.

I found "Vanished Kingdoms" to be another great book from Norman Davies and it ought to be of interest to all Europeans. It seems to be resonating more in the UK than it does in the US judging by Amazon reviews.

. ( )
1 vote Miro | May 26, 2013 |
Norman Davies já nos tinha entusiasmado com obras como “Europe at war”, “Europe: a history” e a muito interessante “God’s playground: a History of Poland”.
Em 2011 publicou este “Vanished Kingdoms – The history of half-forgotten Europe” uma visão caleidoscópica de estados que ocupam apenas breves linhas nos tomos de história da Europa ou dos quais é apenas apresentada uma visão restrita.
Os estados analisados nesta obra são de vários tipos: alguns com duração de vários séculos, outros com duração de apenas breves anos antes de serem engolidos pelos vizinhos mais poderosos.
Alguns são nossos conhecidos como o Reino Visigótico de Tolosa (418 – 507), os reinos de Burgundia (411 – 1795) , o Reino de Aragão (1137 – 1714) ou o Eire.
Outros são mais obscuros e desconhecidos como Alt Clud – o Reino da Pedra (sec. V – sec. XII), a Etrúria (1801 – 1814), a Sabaudia – o Reino que Humberto construiu (1033 – 1946) ou Rosenau (1826 – 1918).
Especialmente apaixonantes são as vidas dos estados do leste da Europa, estados devorados e regurgitados várias vezes ao longo de conflitos, estados com povos com uma consciência nacional que durante anos parece adormecida para renascer poderosa em certas épocas.
Espantosa é a história da Lituânia, a dos seus reis estrangeiros contratados e a sua fusão com o Reino da Polónia para se tornar um dos poderosos estados da zona.
Dos bélicos vizinhos da Lituânia encontra-mos a história da Borussia – a terra aquosa dos Prusai, aniquilados pelos seus conquistadores; a Irmandade dos Cavaleiros Teutónicos da Virgem Maria.
Lê-mos também sobre Tsernagora – o Reino da Montanha Negra, no Montenegro, com a sua breve existência de 1910 a 1918 ou a ainda mais breve existência de um dia de Rusy – A República de 1 dia.
Da Alemanha de hoje vem-nos o Reino da Galicia – O Reino dos nus e dos esfomeados (1773 – 1918).
Norman Davies é um historiador e um escritor dos pormenores que levam aos grandes panoramas históricos. São mais de 800 páginas de escrita elegante que nos leva ao mais profundo da vida destes efémeros estados que analisa.
Nós, portugueses, que vivemos com a carga pesada e estabilizada de séculos de existência e de história, temos, por vezes, dificuldades em compreender a vida e a mentalidade destes povos que passaram tantas vezes de mão em mão, que um dia tinham uma nacionalidade para no dia seguinte terem outra. Poucas obras nos dão esta visão de como os estados, as sociedades e as culturas são efémeros, nascendo e morrendo ao longo dos anos. Nada é eterno nesta manta de retalhos da história da Humanidade.
A bibliografia é abundante e com indicação de sítios na Internet onde mais informação pode ser obtida.
Quando olho para os escaparates dos livros de história das nossas livrarias como sinto a falta das traduções de obras grandes como este “Vanished Kingdoms – the history of half-forgotten Europe”

http://umlivrodia.blogspot.pt/2013/04/vanished-kingdoms-history-of-half.html ( )
  labirinto | Apr 23, 2013 |
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I'r anghofiedig
Dla tych, o których historycy przeważnie zapominają
I'r anghofiedig

For those whom historians tend to forget
First words
(from Introduction)

All my life, I have been intrigued by the gap between appearances and reality. Things are never quite what they seem. I was born a subject of the British Empire, abd as a child, read in my Children's Encyclopaedia that 'our empire' was one 'on which the sun never set'.
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Book description
Contents:
Tolosa : soujourn of the Visigoths (AD 418-507) --
Alt Clud : Kingdom of the Rock (fifth to twelfth centuries) --
Burgundia : five, six, or seven kingdoms (c. 411-1795) --
Aragon : a Mediterranean empire (1137-1714) --
Litva : a grand duchy with kings (1253-1795) --
Byzantion : the star-lit golden bough (330-1453) --
Borussia : watery land of the Prusai (1230-1945) --
Sabaudia : The house that Humbert built (1033-1946) --
Galicia : kingdom of the naked and starving (1773-1918) --
Etruria : French snake in the Tuscan grass (1801-14) --
Rosenau : the loved and unwonted legacy (1826-1918) --
Tsernagora : Kingdom of the Black Mountain (1910-1918) --
Rusyn : the republic of one day (15 March 1939) --
Éire : The unconscionable tempo of the Crown's retreat (1916-2011) --
CCCP : the ultimate vanishing act (1924-1991) --
How states die.
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Chronicles the history of fourteen lost European kingdoms and what their stories can teach the modern world, providing narrative accounts of the rise and fall of nations ranging from Tolosa to the Soviet Union.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1846143381, 0141048867

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