- 89,00 kr
A Sunday Times History Book of the Year 2019
Shortlisted for The Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award
'No Briton has written better than Winder about Europe' - Sunday Times
In AD 843, 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 what became France, another Germany and the third Lotharingia: the chunk that initially divided the other two. The dynamic between these three great zones has dictated much of our subsequent fate.
In this beguiling, hilarious and compelling book we retrace how both from west and from east any number of ambitious characters have tried and failed to grapple with these Lotharingians, who ultimately became Dutch, German, Belgian, French, Luxembourgers and Swiss. Over many centuries, not only has Lotharingia brought forth many of Europe's greatest artists, inventors and thinkers, but it has also reduced many a would-be conqueror to helpless tears of rage and frustration. Joining Germania and Danubia in Simon Winder's endlessly fascinating retelling of European history, Lotharingia is a personal, wonderful and gripping story.
In this combination travelogue and history, third in a trilogy, Winder (Danubia) leads an informative, often funny, but overly long tour of part of Charlemagne's ninth-century empire, making a good case for its importance as "a key motor for so much of European history" up through WWII. In 843, Charlemagne's grandsons Charles, Louis, and Lothair divided his vast empire. The western swath became France, the eastern Germany and the "in-between" land, Lotharingia, gradually was absorbed into those two nations, plus Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, over centuries of political and military tug of war. Winder defines Lotharingia, which didn't last as a unit beyond Lothair's death, as extending from the Rhine's source in the north to the Alps in the south and guides readers to sites like Neuch tel, whose young women were sought-after as governesses in Russia due to their speaking pure French, and Metz, known for its fortresses, with stops at cathedrals, museums, tombs, and other sites along the way. He also tells of characters like France's "tiny, painfully awkward" Charles VIII, to whose futile conquest attempts in the 1480s and 1490s he credits the spread of both Parmesan cheese and syphilis. Readers may wish Winder's editors had insisted on excising some minutiae, but they will both learn from and be entertained by this enthusiastic, outside-the-box European history.