Reviews of Books

Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe

Wednesday 21 December 2011 History Today, Michael Bloch
Vanished Kingdoms

In fact this book does not need a theme; its delight is in its discursiveness. Davies ranges far and wide, giving each chapter its own special thought-provoking point. In the case of Burgundy it is the magic of a name: ‘Burgundy’ has meant so many things at different times and places that few who mention it know what they are talking about. In case of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha it is the efforts (humorously described) of the House of Windsor to disguise it German origins. In the case of Ruthenia, it is the pathos of a small nation that failed to realise its aspiration, while an ignorant West dismissed it as ‘quaint’. The the case of Lithuania it is the attempt to locate and reassemble the scattered archives of a great state two centuries after it disappearance.

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