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The 500 year war

Since the 15th century Europe has been the bloody battleground in a continent-wide struggle for power. But today war seems a distant threat. What changed?

By Josef Joffe   April 2013

The battle of Pavia, 1525, at which the forces of Francis I of France were overwhelmed by those of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V © The Art Archive/Ashmolean Museum

Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present by Brendan Simms (Allen Lane, £30)

Diplomatic history—the history of interstate politics—has fallen on hard times in the academy. Half a generation ago, a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education claimed that the discipline had become boring, elitist or irrelevant. Its “corps is shrinking, losing academic prestige and tenured positions,”…

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