• Heart of Europe

  • A History of the Holy Roman Empire
  • By: Peter H. Wilson
  • Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
  • Length: 34 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 06-13-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars 3.9 (130 ratings)

Regular price: $55.99

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Publisher's Summary

The Holy Roman Empire lasted 1,000 years, far longer than ancient Rome. Yet this formidable dominion never inspired the awe of its predecessor. Voltaire quipped that it was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire. Yet as Peter H. Wilson shows, the Holy Roman Empire tells a millennial story of Europe better than the histories of individual nation-states.
Heart of Europe traces the empire from its origins within Charlemagne's kingdom in 800 to its demise in 1806. By the mid-tenth century, its core rested in the German kingdom, and ultimately its territory stretched from France and Denmark to Italy and Poland. Yet the empire remained abstract, with no fixed capital and no common language or culture. The source of its continuity and legitimacy was the ideal of a unified Christian civilization, but this did not prevent emperors from clashing with the pope over supremacy. Though the title of Holy Roman Emperor retained prestige, rising states such as Austria and Prussia wielded power in a way the empire could not. While it gradually lost the flexibility to cope with political, economic, and social changes, the empire was far from being in crisis until the onslaught of the French revolutionary wars.
©2016 Peter H. Wilson (P)2017 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Hugely impressive...Wilson is an assured guide through the millennium-long labyrinth of papal - imperial relations." ( Literary Review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Ambrose Seymour on 09-19-17

Mixed feelings on this one.

I enjoy the material, and the work is solid overall. But there are occasional lazy swipes at parallel history that undermined my confidence in the scholarship. One specific example, his brief discussion of Empress Matilda of England massively oversimplifies the facts and the context of her conflict with Stephen of Blois, saying effectively "Matilda defeated her enemies in England" - which just isn't the case. Matilda's son eventually fought to a negotiated conclusion of this early English civil war, but her enemies were not "defeated" and to the extent that they were, she had already left.

Not to go over-granular, but this is one example of several where things happening on the margins of the HRE are reduced in ways that distort the relevant history.

I also didn't love the narration, but that's often a matter of taste.

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23 of 24 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Cody L. Jones on 01-19-18

Non-Linear, Dry

What disappointed you about Heart of Europe?

I normally like dry history books but I found it very difficult to get into this one. Rather than tell the story of the Holy Roman Empire from start to finish as would have made sense to me it constantly jumps around, talking about events in the 9th century and events in the 14th century in the same paragraph throughout the book. Sorry you lost me. Would have liked to hear more about the characters and their lives.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Andrew on 09-28-17

Rather plain, not going to win any converts.

This is a book written in a moderately academic manner. Not terrible, but certainly not a populist style.
The reader, although clear , does not show any warmth for the subject, and it is presented in a faintly pleasant but emotionless tone. Its not a monotone by by means, but all the facts are presented without any real emphasis.

The result is a fairly characterless listen that while not awful is rather plain. If you are specifically in need of something that covers this exact subject for a professional or academic study, you will find it useful and it certainly could be worse.

However, if you have a more general interest in either historical audiobooks or just audiobooks in general , there are large numbers of such out there that are considerably better and I would recommend trying any number of those over this.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Thomas on 02-05-18

Probably better to read than to listen

Really fascinating and well narrated audiobook, lots of well researched information with well balanced interpretations and conclusions. However I would prefer to have read it physically I think. Because of how hard it is to flick back and forth, I find more linear history audiobooks easier to listen to, whereas this one was arranged by themes, and timelines were hard to follow at times. Still, a good book overall, well worth investing some hours into!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jack Fleming on 12-07-17

Deep dive into The Holy Roman Empire

Very enjoyable linkage of the history of the church and empire at start. Given the vast expanse of the history of the emperor it has a number of interesting interactions with the history of the reformation, the conceptualisation of imperialism and the French revolution. Overall does much to counter the narrative of the Empire being an institution that long outlasted it's usefulness. The 20th century historical interprations have come at the Empire with a nationalist focus or a nation state interpretation nor a progressive constitutional center of reform. well worth a read I certainly walked away knowing far more and being far more interested in the subject matter overall

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Daniel on 11-29-17

Absolutely disjointed, pointless, mind-numbing

Dull and mostly irrelevant jumpings from this to that with no congruence

Not even interesting. Droning narrator doesn't help much either.

I cannot go on I must return this title and get Durant or something instead.


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