Wednesday, 12 February 2014

17th century live - Levande 1600-tal by Gunnar Wetterberg

Another book from my TBR shelves and not even in my list to read! Maybe like someone said; once you make a list to read it feels like a burden and you are hesitant to read. Could be true, but as long as my TBR shelves are less crowded I am happy. The reason I am reading this book is also because I try to read up on the history of 17th and 18th century, Europe mainly. These were really extraordinary exciting times. A time for globalisation and travels to other countries; and not only because of all the wars!

Gunnar Wetterberg is a Swedish historian. He held a lecture in Brussels some years ago and that is where I bought this book, together with two books on Axel Oxenstierna. He was for three Swedish kings and a queen what Richelieu was for Louis XIII and Cromwell for Henry VIII. He more or less shaped Sweden during the 42 years he "was in charge". Luckily for us he was a very wise man. He started his career by reading the archives of what kings had done during the last centuries. From this reading he could see what went wrong and which mistakes not to repeat. However, the other two books is about him so I will not linger here to what he achieved but will read the books about him first.

This book contains essays that the writer could not fit in to his books about Oxenstierna. It gives an overview of the times in Sweden and Europe mostly in the beginning of the century. The biggest thing happening during this period was of course the Thirty Year War which ended with the piece of Westphalia in 1648.

Here we meet not only the kings, queens and the nobility but also the ordinary people. In Sweden in those days there were not that many people so there was even a chance for poor people who had an inclination to study to make a good career. There is a story about one of our famous first bishops Johannes Rudbeckius who was nothing but controversial. We meet one of our successful immigrants, Louis De Geer from Belgium who was a specialist on iron and business and became one of the richest men in Sweden. He produced cannons among other things and was a fantastic entrepreneur. We meet international actors during the war like Maximilian I of Bayern, Albrecht von Wallenstein and Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu. The coalitions, the diplomacy, the religious fights between the catholics and the protestants, the war efforts etc. It is indeed a time of changes.

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