A People’s History of Modern Europe by William A. Pelz

By William A. Pelz

The starting place of capitalism and glossy industrialism—and, now not unrelated, the birthplace of Marxism—modern Europe supplied definitely the right stipulations for plenty of political revolutions. From the monarchical terror of the center a while to the mangled Europe of the twenty-first century, A People’s heritage of recent Europe tracks the historical past of the continent in the course of the deeds of these whom mainstream historical past attempts to forget.
 
alongside the best way, William A. Pelz examines the German peasant wars of Thomas Müntzer, the bourgeoisie revolutions of the eighteenth century, the increase of the commercial employee in England, the turbulent trip of the Russian Soviets, the position of the eu operating classification in the course of the chilly struggle, and the progressive scholars in 1968. He then brings his tale to the current day, the place we proceed to struggle to forge an alternative choice to a heartless and sometimes barbaric monetary system. 
 
As Germany and Greece argue over who owes what, with the very proposal of Europe crumbling round them, Pelz’s available, provocative heritage couldn't be timelier. bound to resonate with lovers of books like Howard Zinn’s A People’s historical past of the United States, this people’s historical past sweeps away the drained platitudes of the privileged and gives a chance to appreciate the tale of Europe from the floor up.

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A population explosion in the 150 years before 1640 resulted in an almost 300 percent increase in the number of stomachs that needed to be filled. Food production had not kept pace; as a result, food prices increased more rapidly than those of other commodities. The price of cheap grains, the mainstay of poorer English people, increased most of all. Had the vast majority of the people still had access to at least some agricultural land, the impact would have been mitigated. Throughout the Tudor era, vast sections of the populace had been forced from the land and were ever more dependent on wage labor.

The Portuguese raided the African coastal areas for gold, while their Spanish neighbors crossed the formidable Atlantic Ocean in search of the precious metal. Although this frantic scramble was conducted by feudal powers, the new emphasis on money was incompatible with a system that had arisen on the non-monetary foundation of land, bound labor and obligation. The cycle of petty, if not pointless, wars that had always plagued Europe in the Middle Ages seemed more and more outdated. If warfare was an important part of the feudal ethic and the rubric by which lord and knight proved their worth, to most of the common people it seemed a brutal and pointless exercise in destruction.

Of course, that fundamental differences in theology played a part is clear, but far from the whole story. Correctly or not, those they called Anabaptists were seen as the seed of the 1525 German Peasant Revolt and as such, a threat to established order—be it Catholic, Lutheran, or Calvinist. Luther and Calvin were both in the process of carving out zones of power and influence outside the writ of the Roman Catholic Church. This took place with the blessing of many local nobles and the wealthy—neither man was anxious to bite the hand that fed them by appearing to be soft on those seen as rebels against property and position.

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