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Lead book review

The Holy Roman Empire has been much maligned

The vast, sprawling entity, generally considered a byword for inefficiency, actually worked remarkably well, according to Peter H. Wilson

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History Peter H. Wilson

Allen Lane, pp.1008, £35, ISBN: 9781846143182

Last month in the Financial Times, Tony Barber closed a gloomy summary of the European Union’s future with this comparison:

Like the Holy Roman Empire which lasted for 1,000 years before Napoleon put it out of its misery in 1806, the EU may not disintegrate but slip into a glacial decline, its political and bureaucratic elites continuing faithfully to observe the rites of a confederacy bereft of power and relevance.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £29 Tel: 08430 600033. Jonathan Steinberg is a professor of modern European history and the author of an acclaimed 2011 biography of Bismarck.

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