Grimey, gaunt-eyed throngs are groping their way across the world. Europe–the object of their longing–offers all. The black and brown masses, hearing her Siren-call, know that they will be welcomed. Europeâ€™s ancient populations are tired. They see no reason to resist.
Such is the premise of Camp of the Saints, the 1973 novel of Jean Raspail. It has rightly received a lot of attention lately, as swarms of Syrians and Somalis, Nigerians and Sudanese, Eritreans and Iraqis begin to infest the Old Continentâ€™s cities. But Raspail was not the first to imagine an ignominious and anticlimactic end to Western Civilization in its homeland. Forty years earlier, another had imagined the same scenario.
Not only imagined, but predicted. In 1933 Oswald Spengler, Germanyâ€™s most celebrated philosopher of history, published his last major work TheÂ Hour of Decision. Spengler is known primarily for Decline of the West, his two-volume, thousand-page meditation on the meaning of history. But perhaps he should be better known for Hour of Decision, because in it, he prophesies many aspects of the current crisis.
The Hour of Decision, at 230 pages in English, is much shorter than Spenglerâ€™s magnum opus. Decline of the West explains why and how the West has reached its spiritual and cultural peak, and will remain largely stagnant for the next few centuries, before it collapses totally. Hour of Decision is more specific. It describes what exactly will happen as a result of this inner decay. Continue reading Spengler’s Last Prophecy
Flip through a historical atlas of Europe. Starting at AD 100, there is only Rome. North of the Danube circle dozens of obscure Latinate names designating Germanic tribes.
Fast forward 900 years and a vaguely recognizable Europe seems to be taking shape. France, England, Poland are all there, albeit a bit contorted. If your curiosity was piqued, you could easily find an entire book, dedicated to the history of any one of those countries, including its early development:
On that same map, c. 1000, you would also find a quite novel political entity–The Holy Roman Empire. It dominates central Europe, what is now Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and Franceâ€™s eastern borderlands. But now try to find out more. Where can you turn?
Sure, there are general histories of Medieval Europe. There are also histories of Germany that cover its pre-unification metamorphosis. But rare are books dedicated to the Holy Roman Empire explicitly, although there are a few. Most recently came Joachim Whaleyâ€™s two-part Germany and the Holy Roman Empire (2012). Whaleyâ€™s book is packed with information and analysis, which is exciting for history buffs and academics. But those with a more casual interest are out of luck.
That changed last month. Heart of Europe, A History of the Holy Roman Empire by Oxford professor Peter H. Wilson at last filled the gap. It is a readable, non-specialist book on the â€œotherâ€ Roman Empire. But you will be disappointed if you are looking for an enthralling, narrative history. While readable, Wilsonâ€™s book fails to bring much order from the chaos that was the Holy Roman Empire. Continue reading Book Review: Heart of Europe, A History of the Holy Roman Empire
Podcast: Teutonic Terror
Imagine tramping through knee-deep snow in the primeval forests of Central Europe, weighed down by steel-cold armor and weapons. Sneaky Lithuanians stalking your every movement. It’s the Northern Crusades! Beat some civilization into these hillbilly hold-outs, the last pagans in Europe.
Greg Ritter takes you to the late medieval Baltic in his latest podcast: Teutonic Terror. Learn about the Lithuanians and Old Prussians, Refight Tannenburg and Lake Peipius, and find out how the Teutonic Order helped build Europe.