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.
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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.
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).
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.
We are approaching a year since my book’s publication, and we are still awaiting the first review in a printed journal. However, we at least do have a scholarly review available on H-Net. This is also probably the only review that will be available for free on-line. The review brazenly asserts that Westphalia has faults, which is completely untrue, as it is the picture of perfection. Just kidding. When I write reviews, which have generally been positive, I always save a section for the end to mention problems with the book, and that is usually my favourite part. 🙂 It is a positive review that captures well what I was trying to do with the book.