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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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... an 18th-century manuscript copy. But now he has been somewhat improbably restored to life, with all 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 ...

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 ...

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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... were they; and indeed, were they people at all, or did they belong to those monstrous races described 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 ...


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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... been unjustly neglected by their predecessors. The claim, usually exaggerated, occasionally turns out to have some justification. Yet it is rarely so obviously justified as in the case of Professor JohnElliott’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 ...

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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... characters had psychologies, as much as any later characters, may be instantly conceded. Yet it 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 ...

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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... not surprising that there have until now been few, if any, sustained or systematic analyses of what in the 1930s the American historian Herbert Bolton called ‘the epic of Greater America’. JohnElliott’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 ...

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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... models for the rise of the modern nation state. They were a ‘European phenomenon’. Evidently Bérenger had been at least part of the inspiration for a book by one of the editors of this volume, JohnElliott: 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 ...
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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... People in the 19th Century, but it did not cover the crucial middle decades. There was G.M. Trevelyan’s 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 ...

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