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Drowning in the Danube

J.H. Elliott, 24 March 1994

Marsigli’s Europe 1680-1730 
by John Stoye.
Yale, 356 pp., £29.95, February 1994, 0 300 05542 0
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... his failings and foibles, by the magic touch of a sympathetic but far from uncritical biographer, John Stoye. Why should Dr Stoye, or for that matter we, spend time on the life of a man who at best rates no more than a walk-on part on the stage of European history? A prickly, bombastic and hot-headed minor Italian nobleman, he would hardly seem at first sight ...

Here Be Fog

J.H. Elliott: Mapping the American West, 23 February 2012

The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-63 
by Paul Mapp.
North Carolina, 455 pp., £44.50, February 2011, 978 0 8078 3395 7
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... Has heaven reserv’d, in pity to the poor. No pathless waste, or undiscover’d shore; No secret island in the boundless main? No peaceful desart yet unclaim’d by Spain? The answer to the question posed in these lines quoted by Paul Mapp in The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire turned out to be a resounding yes. In 1738, when Dr Johnson wrote his poem, some two-thirds of North America was still terra incognita, as far as Europeans were concerned ...

Beasts or Brothers?

J.H. Elliott: When Columbus Met the Natives, 3 July 2008

The Discovery of Mankind: Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus 
by David Abulafia.
Yale, 379 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 300 12582 5
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Hans Staden’s True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil 
edited and translated by Neil Whitehead and Michael Harbsmeier.
Duke, 206 pp., £12.99, September 2008, 978 0 8223 4231 1
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... by Herodotus and Pliny, whose existence, apparently validated by the traveller’s tales of John Mandeville, haunted the medieval imagination, including that of Columbus? If they were in fact rational human beings, in the full sense of these words, why had they never heard of the Christian gospel, which, it was assumed, had been preached to the ends of ...

Masters or Servants

Conrad Russell, 5 July 1984

The Young Richelieu: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Leadership 
by Elizabeth Wirth Marvick.
Chicago, 276 pp., £27.20, December 1983, 0 226 50904 4
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Richelieu and Olivares 
by J.H. Elliott.
Cambridge, 189 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 521 26205 4
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... is hard not to respond to attempts to discover them with a hesitant ‘well, maybe’. Professor Elliott, in his Richelieu and Olivares, is constantly aware that a psychological dimension exists, yet his concern is much more with political history widely interpreted. His interest is in a comparative study of the two great gladiatorial opponents of the early ...


Peter Burke, 21 May 1987

The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline 
by J.H. Elliott.
Yale, 733 pp., £19.95, August 1986, 0 300 03390 7
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Philip IV and the Decoration of the Alcazar of Madrid 
by Steven Orso.
Princeton, 227 pp., £36.70, July 1986, 0 691 04036 2
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... to have some justification. Yet it is rarely so obviously justified as in the case of Professor John Elliott’s rediscovery of a major Spanish statesman of the 17th century, the effective ruler of Spain for more than twenty years and the contemporary, the rival and the opponent of Cardinal Richelieu. A choleric man, obsessed with honour and ...

Best at Imitation

Anthony Pagden: Spain v. England, 2 November 2006

Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830 
by J.H. Elliott.
Yale, 546 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 300 11431 1
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... what in the 1930s the American historian Herbert Bolton called ‘the epic of Greater America’. John Elliott’s long awaited book is just that. It not only fills an obvious gap – more like a chasm – but sets the pattern for a whole new historiography of the European colonial empires. As with all Elliott’s ...

Playboy’s Paperwork

Patrick Collinson: Historiography and Elizabethan politics, 11 November 1999

The World of the Favourite 
edited by J.H. Elliott and L.W.B. Brockliss.
Yale, 320 pp., £35, June 1999, 0 300 07644 4
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The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-97 
by Paul Hammer.
Cambridge, 468 pp., £45, June 1999, 0 521 43485 8
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... had been at least part of the inspiration for a book by one of the editors of this volume, John Elliott: his Richelieu and Olivares (1984). For all that this volume is produced with the lavishness we have come to expect from Yale University Press, with no less than 74 illustrations, most of them portraits of 37 ‘favourites’ and of the monarchs ...

The Macaulay of the Welfare State

David Cannadine, 6 June 1985

The BBC: The First 50 Years 
by Asa Briggs.
Oxford, 439 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 0 19 212971 6
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The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. I: Words, Numbers, Places, People 
Harvester, 245 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0094 0Show More
The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. II: Images, Problems, Standpoints, Forecasts 
Harvester, 324 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0510 1Show More
The 19th Century: The Contradictions of Progress 
edited by Asa Briggs.
Thames and Hudson, 239 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 04013 3
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... textbook, and his admiring biographies of Lord Grey of the Reform Bill, Sir Edward Grey and John Bright. And there was G.M. Young’s masterly if elusive Portrait of an Age. As Briggs gratefully and graciously acknowledges in two of the essays reprinted here, both of these patriarchs influenced him profoundly: Trevelyan by urging the links between ...

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