Looking for reading on early modern Europe
August 14, 2010 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Having just read Robert K. Massie's excellent biography of Peter the Great, I'm not looking for more reading on 17th and 18th century Europe. Suggestions?

I'm generally looking for broader historical accounts of countries or time periods. Especially of interest to me are William of Orange and Louis XIV. So good biographies of them would be especially welcome.
posted by resiny to Education (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh jeez. Should be "now looking" instead of "not looking."
posted by resiny at 1:28 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Its fiction, but if you are interested in the time period, I highly recommend the Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver, The Confusion and The System of the World. Both William of Orange and Louis XIV have large cameos in it and I think Peter the Great shows up as well. Pretty much every scientist, mathematician and ruler from the time period shows up in it at some point.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2010

Voltaire's The Age of Louis XIV (Le Si├Ęcle de Louis XIV), written in the 18th century. There are some boring gossipy parts, but it's pretty interesting otherwise.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:53 PM on August 14, 2010

Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815 (2007) is the best, most readable and most up-to-date general history of the period. Older, but still a classic, is C.B.A. Behrens, The Ancien Regime (1967).

Anthony Levi, Louis XIV (2004) is currently the standard scholarly biography, though for lively storytelling you might prefer Nancy Mitford's classic The Sun King (1966), or, for a study of art and culture at the royal court, Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (1994). William of Orange is a tricky subject, because not many historians have full mastery of both the Dutch and the English sources, but Tim Harris, Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720 (2006) is a good account of the Glorious Revolution from a British perspective, or, if you're up for a more ambitious, in-depth scholarly study, Steve Pincus, 1688: The First Modern Revolution (2009).
posted by verstegan at 2:44 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recommend it time and time again, but here goes:

The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, by Simon Schama.
posted by Sara C. at 4:02 PM on August 14, 2010

I am currently working on my automatic Will & Ariel Durant button.
posted by ovvl at 6:16 PM on August 14, 2010

Good God, do I love the Baroque Cycle. Seconded.
posted by Kwine at 8:49 AM on August 15, 2010

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