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Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe's Lost Country

Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe's Lost Country

Написано Simon Winder

Озвучено Jonathan Cowley


Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe's Lost Country

Написано Simon Winder

Озвучено Jonathan Cowley

оценки:
3.5/5 (5 оценки)
Длина:
18 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Apr 23, 2019
ISBN:
9781541405615
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Описание

Following Germania and Danubia, the third installment in Simon Winder's personal history of Europe.

In 843 AD, the three surviving grandsons of the great emperor Charlemagne met at Verdun. After years of bitter squabbles over who would inherit the family land, they finally decided to divide the territory and go their separate ways. In a moment of staggering significance, one grandson inherited the area we now know as France, another Germany, and the third received the piece in between: Lotharingia.

Lotharingia is a history of in-between Europe. It is the story of a place between places. In this beguiling, hilarious, and compelling audiobook, Simon Winder retraces the various powers that have tried to overtake the land that stretches from the mouth of the Rhine to the Alps and the might of the peoples who have lived there for centuries.

Издатель:
Издано:
Apr 23, 2019
ISBN:
9781541405615
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Также доступно как...

Также доступно как книгеКниге

Об авторе

Simon Winder is the author of the highly praised The Man Who Saved Britain and a trilogy of books about the history of Central Europe--the Sunday Times (London) Top Ten Bestseller Germania, Danubia, and Lotharingia. He works in publishing and lives in Wandsworth Town, London.


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  • (4/5)
    This is a highly entertaining, idiosyncratic, and apparently random tour of the kingdom that Lothair II inherited from father Lothair I, which was cut down from what Lothair I inherited from his grandfather Charlemagne. Today we call it the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Lorraine parts of France, and much of the Rhineland parts of Germany. Simon Winder just wanders around this part of the world for about ten years and produces this smart and frequently funny book.
  • (3/5)
    PEARL RULE 10 (p76)"The Cistercians" did it. ...it was always part of Cistercian practice to battle with the commitment to a near-inhuman level of asceticism and to sometimes fail. But these great institutions were for centuries the motor for Europe's spiritual, cultural and economic hopes, places of pilgrimage, guardians of the past and guarantors of the future. Even the most sybaritic lay magnate understood that mere castles, towns and palaces were minor spin-offs. Indeed, it could be that the once-haughty crusading rulers of Berg would be thrilled to know that they have wound up abused as mere platforms for a Christmas crib.A lot of that's context-free for y'all, but the lack of series commas (called Oxford commas among the Anglophilic) in this incredibly rapid-fire sequence is what tipped me over the edge. (I, with context, found the Berg reference inelegantly phrased.) It is not an affectation to put a comma after a dependent clause or a list item. It is a means of explaining a thought or delineating items on a list as discrete. "Cultural and economic" sound like one thing, one parcel of meaning; they are not meant to. "...cultural, and economic..." makes the two items separate, understood as different concepts in a list of several.Anyway. Five hundred or so pages without series commas in a non-fictional work of dense information content would reduce me to a gibbering heap of misery and headaches. So no more. Dammit all, I was really, really interested in this book! The topic is very interesting to me. But I am not going to flinch twenty-three thousand times while this affront to clarity is perpetrated before my appalled eyes.
  • (4/5)
    By the time Charlemagne died in 814, he had united most of western and central Europe into a vast (for the time) political entity that became known as the Holy Roman Empire. How the Empire was to be ruled after his death was not immediately apparent. His progeny (and others) squabbled over control until coming to an agreement in the Treaty of Verdun in 843, whereby the Empire was divided into three roughly equal parts, divided along north-south axes, each to be ruled by one of the great man’s surviving grandsons. The westernmost domaine was granted to Charles the Bald and was called West Francia; it corresponded roughly to modern day France, and became and remained pretty much united over the centuries. The easternmost domain was granted to Louis the German and was designated as East Francia. It corresponded roughly to modern day Germany and Austria, but was not effectively united until the 19th century. The third, middle area, called Middle Francia, was granted to Charlemagne’s eldest grandson, Lothair I. It corresponded to modern Belgium, Holland, Western Germany, Eastern France, Northern Italy, and Switzerland. It proved to be exceeding difficult to govern, right from the beginning. Not only did it lack prominent physical boundaries, but it was troubled by civil war, Viking raids in the north, and Saracen raids in the south. Lothair’s son, Lothair II, took over the kingdom in 855 at his father’s death. What was left of the kingdom became known as Lotharingia. Scholars claim the kingdom was named for Lothair II, but from my coign of vantage, it could have been named after either Lothair. In any event, the name of the kingdom dropped the “i” in “Lothair” for reasons I have not bothered to ascertain.Control of various parts of Lotharingia fluctuated between the growing French state to the west, the Holy Roman Empire (principally under the Hapsburg family) to the east, numerous counts and dukes (principally the Dukes of Burgundy) somewhere in the middle, and frequent interventions from Spain (again, from the Hapsburgs). The story is much too convoluted (with far too many men named Charles) to keep straight or to summarize, but Simon Winder has attempted to construct a coherent narrative about the complex history of this important, but never unified, stretch of territory, the map of which he describes as looking “like a jigsaw a dog had tried to swallow and then thrown up.” Winder’s approach to writing history is a cross between that of an academician and a stand-up comic. But what a fun way to (sort of) learn history (or something resembling it) . Lotharingia is Winder’s latest romp through European history; his previous books in this vein were Danubia and Germania, each a very entertaining mix of travelogue and collection of historical anecdotes.In this book, Winder tackles twelve centuries of European history focused on a geographical subset that never did become, but maybe could have become, a country. Winder sprinkles his account with his own reminiscences, and impressions of the area’s art, music, and architecture. For example:"Perhaps the only poignant feature of the halls is the way that they accidentally preserve the bottoms of various models obliged to shiver for hours pretending to be a goddess or classical heroine or one of the Arts. . . . And how startling it would be to find an elaborate sculpture of a nymph on her way to the bath, with a sensible gown on and a little basket for her shampoo, rather than being ‘surprised’ in the bath in a skittish naked pose."Except for the occasional cultural interlude, the story of Lotharingia is a long series of shuffling of control of various areas, either through warfare or the vagaries of dynastic succession. But after describing the horrors of the two world wars of the 20th century, Winder ends on an optimistic note with the formation of the European Union. He concludes:It will not surprise the reader that I think of this in terms of Lotharingia. The six Lotharingian or part-Lotharingian successor states—the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Italy—having been beaten to the ground by the horrors of nationalism and ideology decided to stop any further enmity by joining together. They would go on to make three core Lotharingian cities into their capitals: Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. In addition the Charlemagne Prize was set up by the City of Aachen to be awarded to whoever its judges viewed as contributing most to the promotion of unity in Europe. And that is probably as good a place as any to end."Discussion: While this book is informative and entertaining, I have two complaints.My first is that it is rather difficult to keep track of the dramatis personae, especially with no chart or timeline provided by the author. Not only are there such names to keep track of as Philip the Good, Philip the Handsome, Philip the Bold, and Philip the Fair, among other Philips, but also Charles the Bold, and Charles the Bald, and Charles from I through X, with at least a couple of numerical repetitions. For example, there was a Charles III “The Fat,” and a Charles III “The Simple.” There were three Charles IVs, two Charles Vs, two Charles VIs, and so on through the numbers. Henrys and Louis’s are also well-represented. (Louis "the Child" was crowned at age six. I'm not sure how descriptive the other epithets are. One wonders in particular about "Arnulf the Bad." Googling images of "Philip the Handsome" leads one to question the whole process. At any rate, it makes the story difficult to follow.)My second complaint is that Winder spends a lot of time analyzing famous (and not so famous) paintings, but does not include pictures of them. It can be a bit annoying to read his observations about the paintings without being able to view them. On the other hand, he does include several very good maps—and he is right about the jigsaw puzzle and the dog (see paragraph 4, above).Evaluation: Winder’s knowledge of the history of Europe is impressive, and he is a good raconteur with a nice sense of humor. While I did not enjoy this book as much as either Danubia or Germania, this quirky book contains a lot of factual information as well as an often delightful and decidedly unique guide to the region and its history.
  • (3/5)
    Een boek met veel interessante weetjes maar het springt te veel van de hak op de tak waardoor het minder vlot leest en het soms wel heel verwarrend wordt. Ook de talloze persoonlijke intermezzo's stoorden me nogal omdat die weinig bijbrachten aan het verhaal. De vertaling zelf getuigt van haastwerk met talrijke taalfouten tot gevolg. De redactie kon daaromtrent beter. Talrijke zetfouten en historische onnauwkeurigheden hadden daardoor gemakkelijk kunnen vermeden worden. vb. sterfdatum van Rubens is niet 1649 maar 1640. En dat is maar één voorbeeld. Daarom ook maar 3 sterren en geen 4 of 5.
  • (4/5)
    I read Simon Winder’s previous book, “Danubia” twice; parts of that richly layered account of the Hapsburgs and their vast lands around the Danube, I read even a third time and more, as it accompanied me on a trip to south-eastern Europe last year. So I was very excited at the appearance of Winder's latest book. "Lotharingia". Lotharingia was one of the three kingdoms created when Charlemagne's three grandsons - one of whom was named Lothar - carved up his Europe-wide empire between them in the 9th century CE. The other two kingdoms eventually became - more or less - France and Germany, while Lotharingia consisted of the territory between them, now comprising the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Alsace-Lorraine, parts of Switzerland even northern Italy. Like "Danubia", this is history for people who don’t read history books; although it does roughly follow a chronology, the reader is not aware of the usual historiographical sequence of kings, wars and battles. The author deliberately eschews this approach, and focuses instead on the personalities of various kings, queens, dukes and others who shaped the eventual fate of the many different places in the original territory of Lotharingia. The author has clearly spent a lifetime walking around Dutch, Flemish and French towns, exploring obscure museums and libraries and discovering both masterpieces and lesser works, all of which he weaves into a rich tapestry which is often decorated with anecdotes from his own life and family. You do tend to get lost among the multitude of characters such as Philip “the Good”, Charles “the Bald” or Mary “the Rich” and the many dreadful kings Louis Charles or Philip of France; but it is all good fun.Winder often likes to introduce a new chapter with a personal reminiscence; for example, his fascination with dinosaurs. His favorite is the “mosasaur”, meaning “lizard of the Meuse”, and records the fact that the first specimen of this creature was dug up just outside a town called “crossing of the Meuse” – better known today as Maastricht. This leads into discussion of how industrialization and mining - which is how many fossil specimens were first discovered - caused the vast expansion, during the 19th century, in the populations of what had previously been small towns. It is this anecdotal introduction to historical “factoids” that makes Winder’s books so easy to read, easy to put down when you have had enough for now, and then easily picked up again without having to do much backtracking.Unfortunately, this book does not have quite the appeal of "Danubia"; perhaps because Lotharingia is too remote and theoretical a place to relate to; it is just too many different places now. Perhaps it is also because it lacks a continuous thread of human interest, like the Hapsburg emperors, whose family oddities and personal idiosyncrasies provided a unifying background theme to "Danubia". Winder’s knowledge of both the history and the places, his broad and deep historical sensibility, and great sense of humor make this book very readable. But it does not cohere into a recognizable portrait of a distinct part of Europe. Winder's first book was "Germania", which met with great critical acclaim; I have not read that book - and probably will not; but any future Winder book - maybe "Francia" and, hopefully, "Italia"- will definitely be on my reading list.