Synopses & Reviews
Cardinal Richelieu is one of the best known and most studied statesmen in European history; his Spanish contemporary and rival, the Count-Duke of Olivares, one of the least known. The contrasting historical fortunes of the two men reflect the outcome of the great struggle in seventeenth-century Europe between France and Spain: the triumph of France assured the fame of Richelieu, while Spain's failure condemned Olivares to historical neglect. This fascinating book by the distinguished historian J. H. Elliott argues that contemporaries, for whom Olivares was at least as important as Richelieu, shared none of posterity's certainty about the inevitability of that outcome. His absorbing comparative portrait of the two men, as personalities and as statesmen, through their policies and their mutual struggle, offers unique insights into seventeenth-century Europe and the nature of power and statesmanship.
"Nothing quite as historically powerful or poignant about that period of trial and turmoil in European history has appeared until the publication of this book." International History Review"In every respect this is a remarkably clear and compact book. Above all, it is a convincing demonstration of the value of comparative history. No number of separate national or biographical histories could have achieved the integration and penetration that he has achieved by asking the same questions about each man and probing equally in both Spanish and French sources for answers to those questions. Elliott's scholarship is wide-ranging as well as meticulous, and his insights are both thoughtful and thought-provoking." American Historical Review
Table of Contents
List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Statesmen and rivals; 2. Masters and servants; 3. Restoration and reform; 4. Mantua and its consequences; 5. War and raison d'etat; 6. Failure and success; Bibliography; Index.