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Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe by Simon Winder
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“In Transylvania it was memories of the Romanian revolt that stalked the Hungarian aristocratic imagination.. In Galicia it was memories of Tarnow that performed a similar service for the surviving Polish noble families. Both societies shared something of the brittle, sports-obsessed cheerfulness of the British in India - or indeed of Southerners in the pre-1861 United States. These were societies which could resort to any level of violence in support of racial supremacy. Indeed, an interesting global history could be written about the ferocity of a period which seems, very superficially, to be so 'civilized'. Southern white responses to Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion in 1831, with Turner himself flayed, beheaded and quartered, can be linked to the British blowing rebel Indians to pieces from the mouths of cannons in 1857.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“Rather than defeat the reader with a family tree which would look like an illustration of the veins and arteries of the human body drawn by a poorly informed maniac, I thought it better to start with this summary of just the heads of the family, so the sequence is clear. I give the year each ruler became Emperor and the year the ruler died. It all looks very straightforward and natural, but of course the list hides away all kinds of back-stabbing, reckless subdivision, hatred, fake piety and general failure, which can readily be relegated to the main text. To save everyone’s brains I have simplified all titles. Some fuss in this area is inevitable but I will cling under almost all circumstances to a single title for each character. To give you a little glimpse of the chaos, the unattractive Philip ‘the Handsome’ was Philip I of Castile, Philip II of Luxemburg, Philip III of Brabant, Philip IV of Burgundy, Philip V of Namur, Philip VI of Artois as well as assorted Is, IIs, IIIs and so on for other places. So when I just refer to Philip ‘the Handsome’ you should feel grateful and briefly ponder the pedantic horror-show you are spared.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“The bags full of Turkish noses sent by the Uskoks from Senj to Charles V in 1532 may have been one of those gifts more fun to send than to receive,”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“The entire Habsburg landscape was given a deep, even coating of musical interpretation, whether Smetana and Dvorak in Bohemia or Haydn and Schubert in Austria or Bartok and Kodaly in Hungary. As soon as you head south from Hungary or the Carpathians this music stops. And with food, the greedy, complex and extravagant Habsburg world of layered cakes, a mad use of chocolate, subtle soups and fine wines goes off a cliff. This is obviously an enormous subject, ludicrously compressed here, but the very idea of such complex foods trickled down in the west from royal courts, famously with the development of the idea of the 'French restaurant' in the aftermath of the Revolution. Indeed, we all eagerly guzzle a range of court foods - with many Indian and Chinese restaurants in the west also serving essentially court Mughal or Qing banquet foods, albeit in mutilated forms.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“otherwise the remainder of this book would be a trackless waste. The mayhem of the 1790s tends naturally to focus on France and its Revolution, but there is an equally strong argument for seeing a Europe-wide failure in this period which more broadly promoted irresponsibility and chaotic aggression. In the short time since the glory days of helping the United States gain independence, France had collapsed as a great power – demoralized, humiliated and financially broken down – and this had provided a peculiar and unaccustomed space for Austria and Prussia to muck about in without fear of French vengeance. Indeed one of the motors of the French Revolution was a new sense of national rather than merely dynastic humiliation: that the Grande Nation’s borders were being mocked by countries who would have previously shown much greater respect – most egregiously the Prussian invasion of the Dutch Republic in 1787 and the Habsburg crushing of revolution in the Austrian Netherlands in 1790. Joseph”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“It is the last place heading south before the landscape gets terminally dusty, glum and thinly settled, so it has an oasis or frontier atmosphere and a sense that the cappuccinos are a bit hard-won.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“The Golden Apple for Margarita Teresa’s seventeenth birthday (a special present from ‘uncle’), to which Leopold himself contributed several genuinely beautiful arias. This opera must have been something to see, so scenically unwieldy that it took two days to put on, but with spectacles of flames, thunderclaps, flying dragons and shipwrecks of a dangerousness and scale that we are sadly sheltered from today. Cesti’s”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“Museums are obliged to denature and make dreary the impulse which led to an object’s original creation. Serried rows of coins are like Panini football stickers in a more ponderous form. But as objects to be handled they tell an extraordinary story, from the most over-the-top gold monster to a clipped, almost featureless little square of rough metal used as emergency currency in the Siege of Vienna.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“all of whom radiated level-headed competence, physical fitness and pride in appearance, and lived on a different planet from the one defined by general weak tittering, the oxygen levels of which I was more used to.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“example”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“For much of the seventeenth century the border between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans had been relatively quiet – relatively in the sense that large-scale raiding did happen (baking in a level of violence which we would consider scarcely credible) but it was not by the standards of the time serious.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
“A new austerity and prayerful privacy reigned. Oddly, this shift moved almost in lockstep with the growth of public musical theatre, as through the now idle impresarios o f the Catholic Church found fresh work in opera and oratorio.”
Simon Winder, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe