Paperback and new review

I’m pleased to say that the paperback version of my book is now available online.  You will probably notice that the subtitle has become the title, and there is a new and more descriptive subtitle.  The book, however, is the same, except for two or three almost trivial changes.  I have never heard of a paperback having a different title than the hardcover, but I like this title better, so I am not complaining.  I also really, really like the cover design better than the hardback, which I found far too vertical and hard to read.  I had the same problem with the text, so I hope the paperback will be different in that regard as well.  I don’t know yet, because I haven’t received my copies, so I’ll just have to wait and see.  Available for $35 (list) down to about $26 if you get it from Wal-Mart.

I also found another review that has been published, this one by Claire Gantet in the Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine.  It is in French so perhaps out of reach of much of my audience.  It is a nice review, rather brief but fair.  My favourite part was her description of my “faultless erudition.”  The biggest criticism was the absence of a list of primary sources, and the use of “The Three Musketeers” as a source.  Well, it’s not so much a source as a means of helping people understand the time period, but I admit it is an odd thing to find in a footnote.logo

More on the review

I have now learned that the AHR review was written by Peter Wilson, one of the foremost scholars on the period.  I have also been able to read the rest of the review, and I can say that Professor Wilson understands my arguments and summarizes them admirably.  It is a very good review (in the sense of conveying what the book is about).

New review

It took nearly two years, but a review of my book “Westphalia: The Last Christian Peace” has finally appeared in a scholarly journal.  The link will only take you to the first page of the review unless you are subscribed to the American Historical Review, which I am not.  However, since it says the book fills a gap “admirably” and describes it as “important,” I’m happy.  I wonder if the other dozen journals that received review copies will start coming out with reviews now?  Perhaps two years is about the time it takes a scholarly journal to publish a review.

Republican Senators’ Letter to Iran and the Congress of Westphalia

The recent letter that 47 Republican Senators sent to Iran concerning President Obama’s authority to negotiate has a distant echo in events leading up to the Congress of Westphalia.  At the Diet of Regensburg in 1641-42, Imperial estates were disappointed with Emperor Ferdinand III’s unwillingness to accept negotiations with France and Sweden to end the war.  While they pressured him to accept the Treaty of Hamburg (1641), which established the framework for a peace conference, they also took direct action by writing to the governments of France and Sweden.  Their purpose was to encourage the foreign powers to make peace, at least in part by signalling the willingness of Imperial estates to negotiate, regardless of whether the Emperor seemed to be equally well disposed.

The two events, historical and contemporary, both have their roots in a government where power is shared among different branches.  The Emperor had long claimed exclusive authority to conduct foreign policy, but the estates also insisted that they had an advisory role, much as the United States’ Senate must give its advice and consent before a foreign treaty can become law.  While no one disputes that the Senate has this role in the United States, it is uncertain whether the letter crosses into the president’s domain of conducting negotiations.  The letter also addresses the distinction between an executive agreement, which can be made without the Senate’s consent but which lacks the force of law, and a duly ratified treaty.

One distinction between the events of 1642 and 2015 is that the Imperial Diet wrote in its official capacity as a body representing the Empire.  The Republicans’ letter was sent by individual members of the Senate and not in the form of an official act.Everything Peace of Westphalia

First (?) book excerpt

After a year and a half, I finally read a short excerpt from my book “The Last Christian Peace,” added some images, and put the resulting video on YouTube.  It took a lot longer than I had expected, and it isn’t perfect by any means, but I think it is an improvement over my last attempt at a video.  Let me know what you think.Everything Peace of Westphalia

Christmas Shopping and Westphalia

Letter from Ferdinand III
I just noticed that you can buy the letter signed by Emperor Ferdinand III (shown left) at Amazon.com. My first thought was, who would want a letter signed by Ferdinand III? Charles I, maybe, or Louis XIV, or Richelieu, but Ferdinand III? He is not exactly a monarch whose name is known to a lot of people outside of period specialists.

Then I noticed the price of the letter — $3,999. So presumably this is not a replica, but the actual letter signed by Ferdinand himself. And a lovely signature it is, I might add.  You don’t see those beautiful swirls anymore. If you don’t fancy all the hand printing, or if the price seems a bit low for your tastes, you can acquire this other printed document signed by Ferdinand for the bargain price of $5,499. “A memorable & special gift!” the advertising text notes. “A unique centerpiece for the home or office! Only 100% Authentic Autographs & Manuscripts – Certificate of Authenticity Provided.” Well, I can’t argue with that. If anyone is looking to get me a Christmas present and can’t find any appropriately themed Westphalia merchandise that I don’t already have, look no further. (I should clarify that these documents don’t appear to have anything to do with the Peace of Westphalia itself other than bearing the signature of one of the peace’s signatories. I can’t tell for sure because I can’t get a large enough version to read the text.)Everything Peace of Westphalia

Logo

Everything Peace of Westphalia
Today I came up with a logo, left, and am beginning to incorporate it into the site.  The letters are “epw” and stand for “Everything Peace of Westphalia.”  The post horn that makes up part of the letter “p” is for the “peace rider” (Friedensreiter) motif, a postillion riding into towns to bring news of the peace.  This was commonly used after the war as a symbol of peace (see image, below).Everything Peace of Westphalia

 

Peace Rider

Comparative Religious Wars

Last Friday was Peace of Westphalia Day — the 366th anniversary of the signing of the treaties.  I was, appropriately enough, delivering a paper on the Peace of Westphalia.  I was at a conference at Columbia University that brought together specialists to compare early modern Europe’s religious wars with the current religious conflicts in the Middle East.  This seems like a bit of a stretch for historians, but not so much for political scientists.  Fortunately, both I and the other member of my panel, Wayne Te Brake, were open to the comparative perspective.  Professor Te Brake is most known for Shaping History: Ordinary People in European Politics, 1500-1700, but he is currently working on a book on the ends of Europe’s religious wars.  Hopefully there will be a publication coming out of this conference some time next year.

I recently bought and started to read Henry Kissinger’s latest book, World Order, which begins (of course) with the Peace of Westphalia.  Perhaps ironically, he also compares the Thirty Years’ War to contemporary Islamic wars, although from a cynical perspective:  “Much like the Middle Eastern conflagrations of our own period, sectarian alignments were invoked for solidarity and motivation in battle but were just as often discarded, trumped by clashes of geopolitical interests or simply the ambitions of outsized personalities” (pp.25-26).  You can read my comments on it here.Everything Peace of Westphalia

The Peace of Westphalia and…the Constitution?

I’ve been reading The Federalist Papers recently, and I was a little surprised to find that they talk about the Holy Roman Empire, and, peripherally, the Peace of Westphalia.  I expected them to mention the Dutch and Swiss constitutions, but I did not expect the Imperial constitution.  Publius (Madison and Hamilton) offers the Imperial confederation as an example of what happens when the central government has too little power, eventually coming to the following:

Previous to the peace of Westphalia, Germany was desolated by a war of thirty years, in which the emperor, with one half of the empire, was on one side, and Sweden, with the other half, on the opposite side. Peace was at length negotiated, and dictated by foreign powers; and the articles of it, to which foreign powers are parties, made a fundamental part of the Germanic constitution.

He then raises the question, “It may be asked, perhaps, what has so long kept this disjointed machine from falling entirely to pieces?”  But if this judgment seems harsh, he is if anything harsher regarding the Dutch Republic, whose constitution, he says, has resulted in “imbecility in the government; discord among the provinces; foreign influence and indignities; a precarious existence in peace, and peculiar calamities from war.”  The peace of 1648 is also mentioned here, where he correctly mentions that “the treaty of Westphalia, in 1648, by which their independence was formerly and finally recognized, was concluded without the consent of Zealand.”

It is easy to forget that our nation was conceived during the ancien régime, when people had very different views of government than they do now.  Not that much of the Federalist Papers would sound out of context in a modern political debate (when suitably reworded), but that they had such different models to look to.  Even the French Revolution had not begun during the majority of the debates on the Constitution, much less all the other trends of the 19th and 20th centuries that our so central to our understanding of politics and political societies.

More history garments

In addition to the nerd onesie (see below), we now have the arrogant history-major t-shirt.  You don’t get much else from a history major, so in that sense, this shirt is entirely understandable.  One of my professors told me that everyone else wants to be an historian, which is the consolation for going into a profession that has so little pay and prestige.  And he actually got a job in history.

I majored in history, so assume I’m right