Virtual Event: Stella Ghervas


Conquering Peace:
From the Enlightenment to the European Union

in conversation with DAVID ARMITAGE


June 11, 2021
12:00 PM ET


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Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes STELLA GHERVAS—Professor of Russian history at Newcastle University and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society—for a discussion of her latest book, Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union. She will be joined in conversation by DAVID ARMITAGE, the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University and author of A Cultural History of Peace in the Renaissance.

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About Conquering Peace

Political peace in Europe has historically been elusive and ephemeral. Stella Ghervas shows that since the eighteenth century, European thinkers and leaders in pursuit of lasting peace fostered the idea of European unification.

Bridging intellectual and political history, Ghervas draws on the work of philosophers from Abbé de Saint-Pierre, who wrote an early eighteenth-century plan for perpetual peace, to Rousseau and Kant, as well as statesmen such as Tsar Alexander I, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Robert Schuman, and Mikhail Gorbachev. She locates five major conflicts since 1700 that spurred such visionaries to promote systems of peace in Europe: the War of the Spanish Succession, the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Each moment generated a “spirit” of peace among monarchs, diplomats, democratic leaders, and ordinary citizens. The engineers of peace progressively constructed mechanisms and institutions designed to prevent future wars.

Arguing for continuities from the ideals of the Enlightenment, through the nineteenth-century Concert of Nations, to the institutions of the European Union and beyond, Conquering Peace illustrates how peace as a value shaped the idea of a unified Europe long before the EU came into being. Today the EU is widely criticized as an obstacle to sovereignty and for its democratic deficit. Seen in the long-range perspective of the history of peacemaking, however, this European society of states emerges as something else entirely: a step in the quest for a less violent world.

Praise for Conquering Peace

“Once considered just a utopian idea, lasting peace has been a serious aspiration, as Ghervas documents in this elegant book. Her learned and artful account follows the major European international settlements from the early eighteenth century to the European Union, as well as the contemporary thinkers who articulated their premises. An original defense of the role of diplomacy.” —Charles S. Maier, author of Once Within Borders: Territories of Power, Wealth, and Belonging since 1500

“How has Europe achieved peace without becoming an empire? With amazing elegance of style and argument, Ghervas answers the question in an impressive work of intellectual, political, and diplomatic history.” —Ivan Krastev, author of After Europe

“By shedding new light on key historical episodes, political figures, and philosophical ideas, Ghervas tells the fascinating story of the engineering of peace in Europe. A lively, inspiring, and useful read for all those who are committed to a lasting peace in Europe—and beyond.” —Michel Barnier, EU Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom

David Armitage
David Armitage

David Armitage

David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University and an Affiliated Faculty Member at Harvard Law School. A prize-winning writer and teacher, he is the author or editor of eighteen books, among them Civil Wars: A History in Ideas, Foundations of Modern International Thought, and The Declaration of Independence: A Global History.

Stella Ghervas
Stella Ghervas

Stella Ghervas

Stella Ghervas is Professor of Russian History at Newcastle University and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Her main interests are in intellectual and international history of modern Europe, with special reference to the history of peace and peace-making, and in Russia’s intellectual and maritime history. Among her many publications are Réinventer la tradition: Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance, which won the Guizot Prize from the Académie Française and A Cultural History of Peace in the Age of Enlightenment.

Photo Credit: David Elmes


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Friday Forum

Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars.

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