Rebels & Rulers, 1500-1660: 2 — Conspectus, typology, causality by Perez Zagorin

Germany’s Peasant Revolt of 1524 to 1525 was the largest and bloodiest popular uprising in Europe until the French Revolution of 1789. (WikiCommons)

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The revolutions selected for consideration in this book almost all occurred in the century and a half between the beginning of the sixteenth and the middle of the seventeenth century. Moreover, with the main exception of the German peasant war, they belong almost entirely to the history of three states: England, France, and the Spanish empire. The rationale for this choice of locale in space and time as the basis for a study of early modern revolutions is explained by a number of reasons.

Far across the abyss of time, before the French revolution and the emergence of industrial society, lies spread out and stretching backward into the past the Western Europe of the old society. Dominated in its polities by monarchies and princes and in its social structures by nobilities and aristocracies, still rural despite its great capital cities, still agricultural despite its commerce, manufactures, and bourgeoisie, this is the society that grew out of the feudal world and was eventually to be transformed during the nineteenth century into the industrial world. One phase of its life history, the last, which was disrupted by the French revolution, is usually known as the ancien régime. The whole of its history is commonly described as the early modern era, extending from about 1500 to the late eighteenth century and the outbreak of the French revolution.

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A DOMINIE ABROAD by A.S. Neill eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

A.S. Neill’s experiences setting up a ‘Free school’ in the pre-Hitlerian Germany of the Weimar Republic. Dissatisfied with traditional schooling, with its lack of freedom, democracy, and self-determination, Neill searched for a place to establish his own school and to experiment with his developing ideas, gathering what was best in the educational systems of various nations. In 1921 he became a co-director of the Dalcroze School, part of an international school, called Neue Schule, in Hellerau, a suburb of Dresden, Germany. His first step was to buy a dictionary and start to learn the language, the next was to record his impressions. His difficulties were many. With cheery optimism the bohemian teacher overlooked the fact that he was in a community with definite laws on education; he also forgot the difficulties of finance and that his favourite tobacco was unobtainable within five hundred square miles.

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DER FÜHRER Hitler’s Rise To Power by Konrad Heiden. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

FuhrersmallDER FÜHRER  Hitler’s Rise To Power by Konrad Heiden

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Cover illustration by Flavio Costantini. ‘Oranienburg, July 10th 1934. Erich Mühsam.’ “…The following morning he (the overseer) went to enquire after M. When no one replied he said, cynically — ‘If he is not here then he’s dead.’” (K. Mühsam). From ‘The Art of Anarchy’, Cienfuegos Press, 1975. Mühsam was arrested as part of the ‘First Solution’ — on unspecified charges — in the early morning of 28 February 1933, a few hours after the Reichstag fire in Berlin. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, labelled him as one of “those Jewish subversives.”… Over the next seventeen months, he was imprisoned and brutally tortured in the concentration camps at Sonnenburg, Brandenburg and finally, Oranienburg, where he was murdered.

“IT IS TWENTY-THREE YEARS now since I first attended a National Socialist meeting, saw (without particular enjoyment) Herr Hitler at close range, and listened to the flood of nonsense—or so it then seemed to me—that he was spouting. It was only gradually that the effects of these speeches made me realize that behind all nonsense there was unrivaled political cunning.

“In 1923, as the leader of a small democratic organization in the University of Munich, I tried, with all the earnestness of youth, and with complete lack of success, to annihilate Hitler by means of protest parades, mass meetings, and giant posters. And so I am entitled to call myself the oldest —or one of the oldest —anti-Nazis now in the United State, for there cannot be many in this country who came into conflict with Adolf Hitler and his handful of followers at so early a date.

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A Spanish Company in the Battle for France and Germany (1944-45) Raymond Dronne. Translated by Paul Sharkey. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

DronneCoversmallA Spanish Company in the Battle for France and Germany (1944-45) by Raymond Dronne (Translated by Paul Sharkey) 

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Captain Raymond Dronne‘s memoir of the regular army unit he commanded from the summer of 1943 to the spring of 1945, No. 9 Company of the Chad March Regiment, also known as ‘La Nueve‘, a company made up almost entirely of Spanish veterans of the civil war and social revolution of 1936-1939 — anarchists, socialists, republicans. It was Dronne’s column that was ordered by General Leclerc to liberate Paris, which it did — flying the Spanish Republican flag from their Sherman tanks and half- tracks — on 24 August 1944. Of the 146 men of ‘La Nueve’ who landed in Normandy, only 16 survived to be the first to enter Hitler’s Berchtesgaden Eagle’s Nest.