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Richelieu and Olivares (Canto original series)

Richelieu and Olivares (Canto original series)

"This parallel study of the great (and sometimes terrifying) rival statesmen who virtually ruled France and Spain in the early 17th century is one of my Top 20 'desert island' history books. Serving kings who were expected to rule personally but were not quite up to the job, the two prime ministers waged a lifelong struggle to maintain power while sabotaging each other's objectives whenever possible. The brief introduction and the chapter 'Mantua and its consequences' alone are masterpieces of historical writing. 'They shared many of the same problems; they came up with many of the same answers; and in the end they reached the conclusion that the world was too small to contain them both.'"

Alan H.

See all my recommendations »

Author J. H. Elliott
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Publication Date 1991-07-26
Section European History / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Alan H.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780521406741

Cardinal Richelieu is one of the best known and most studied statesmen in European history; his Spanish contemporary and rival, the Count-Duke of Olivares, one of the least known. The contrasting historical fortunes of the two men reflect the outcome of the great struggle in seventeenth-century Europe between France and Spain: the triumph of France assured the fame of Richelieu, while Spain's failure condemned Olivares to historical neglect. This fascinating book by the distinguished historian J. H. Elliott argues that contemporaries, for whom Olivares was at least as important as Richelieu, shared none of posterity's certainty about the inevitability of that outcome. His absorbing comparative portrait of the two men, as personalities and as statesmen, through their policies and their mutual struggle, offers unique insights into seventeenth-century Europe and the nature of power and statesmanship.

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