A Social History of Germany, 1648-1914

A Social History of Germany, 1648-1914

A Social History of Germany, 1648-1914

A Social History of Germany, 1648-1914

Synopsis

When it first appeared in 1977, A Social History of Germany 1648-1914 was one of very few studies in English that spanned the years from Germany's religious wars to the fall of her Second Empire. It was also the fi rst to attempt to integrate in a systematic manner the autobiographical records of contemporaries in assessing the work of modern German social historians. In a manner new to German historiography, Eda Sagarra used imaginative literature as a key record of contemporaries' perceptions of social history. Thus, by integrating concrete, individual experience with larger historical processes, her work addresses itself equally to the student of Germany's literature and society.

Excerpt

Almost a century of German historiography, up to the end of the Second World War, based on the virtually uncontested assumption that the nation state was the only desirable form of government, has prejudiced many generations in their view of the Holy Roman Empire. According to this line of argument, the Empire inhibited Germany's political development, delayed unification and generally placed her at a disadvantage by comparison with France, England or Holland. From the time of the founding of the Second Empire in 1871 — whose very title sought to exploit the traditions of the previous Empire while denying its authority - national unification under Prussia was presented as a kind of apotheosis of German history. It is not surprising that institutions and governments which had stood in the way of this end should have been open to misrepresentation. This certainly has been the fate of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly with regard to its later years. Indeed for the period 1648-1806 many German historians chose to ignore it altogether, preferring in their researches to concentrate on the history of the different states, and quoting with evident relish Pufendorf's dictum that the Empire was an 'irregulare aliquod corpus et monstro simile'.

Irregular it certainly was. the multiplicity of sovereignties, and the variety of legal relationships within its borders was, to say the least, confusing, though not senseless, to those who formed part of it and . . .

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