The following is a list of various books on the Thirty Years War, participants in the war and Early Modern history generally. I have provided my own (somewhat idiosyncratic) annotations for some of them.

For a scholarly bibliography, please be sure to review the relevant section of Parker’s The Thirty Years War.

General Histories

Cambridge Modern History

Title: The Cambridge Modern History, Volume IV, The Thirty Years' War
Editors: Ward, Sir A.W.; Prothero, Sir G.W.; Leathes, Sir Stanley KCB
Authors: Ward, Sir A.W.; Brown, Horatio F.; Leathes, Sir Stanley KCB; Reddaway, W.F.; Prothero, Sir G.W.; Lloyd, E.M.; Shaw, W.A.; Tanner, J.R.; Brown, P. Hume; Dunlop, R.; Firth, C.H.; Hume, Martin; Brosch, Moritz; Edmunson, George; Egerton, H.E.; Clutton-Brock, A.; Boutroux, Èmile
Publisher: The Cambridge University Press
ISBN: None
Print Status: Out of print

The best straight narrative history available. In level of detail, and (relatively) dispassionate presentation of facts, it is unequalled by any of the other works cited. Despite the cast-of-thousands authorship of the book as a whole, the portion representing the history of the Thirty Years War itself is written by A.W. Ward. This individual authorship avoids the inconsistency that mars Parker's book.

The book is, however, brutally long. If you are looking for a survey of the war or are unwilling to devote a significant amount of time to a book on it, steer clear. Also bear in mind that the book is arranged as a series of essays, with those on the war being interrupted by long stretches on other (often useful) topics. My recommendation would be to read the portions on the war seriatim and then return to the other essays.

Asch, The Thirty Years War

Title: The Thirty Years War: The Holy Roman Empire and Europe, 1618-1648
Author: Asch, Ronald G.
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, Inc.
ISBN: 0-312-16585-4 (paperback); 0-312-16584-6 (hardcover)
Print Status: In print

Asch’s recent work is an admirably clear introduction to the war. This is partly a result of his unique approach to the “story arc” of the War. He anchors his narrative on the Bohemian Rebellion, the Edict of Restitution and the Peace of Prague. The effect is refreshing.

Lee, The Thirty Years’ War

Title: The Thirty Years' War
Author: Lee, Stephen J
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 0-415-06027-3
Print Status: In print (2d ed.)

Part of the Lancaster Pamphlets series designed to assist British students in “swotting up for the A-levels,” this gives a summary of the war, short biographies and a summary of the “major issues”. It provides a very good seventy-odd-page introduction: think of it as “Parker Lite”.

Pagès, The Thirty Years War

Title: The Thirty Years War: 1618-1648
Author: Pagès, Georges
Translators: Maland, David; Hooper, John
Publisher: Harper & Row
ISBN: 06-136034-1
Print Status: Out of print

Parker, The Thirty Years’ War

Title: The Thirty Years’ War
Editor: Parker, Geoffrey
Authors: Adams, Simon; Benecke, Gerhard; Bonney, Richard J.; Elliot, John H.; Evans, R.J.W.; Freiderichs, Christopher R.; Nischan, Bodo; Parker, Geoffrey; Petersen, E. Laedwig; Roberts, Michael
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 0-415-12883-8 (paperback); 0-415-15458-8 (hardcover)
Print Status: In print (2d ed.)

Parker’s work is, as it cover blurb proclaims, “the best as well as the most up to date introduction to the war”. A virtuoso display of cat-herding by Editor Parker, welding together a (relatively) unified work out of separate essays by multiple academics.

The book has virtues other than as a narrative history, as well. The chronological table, the extensive annotated bibliography and the brief biographical data (buried away in the index) are all very useful. A particular favorite of mine is the “whose side are they on” chart, showing who was allied with or against the Emperor at any given moment.

However, the work does have its problems: the first is sheer density of information, resulting in some difficulty in following the (not uncomplicated) narrative. This is a result of the book’s pan-European view of the conflict, and the comparative brevity of the sections actually narrating the war’s history (about 140 pages in the second paperback edition).

The second results from the multiple-author format: the work adopts a he-said/she-said approach to the years 1621-29, presenting first the Protestant and then the Catholic point of view, each segment being written by a different author. This results in such confusing phenomena as Wallenstein’s army crushing Mansfeldt scores of pages before it is mustered in.

Wedgewood, The Thirty Years War

Title: The Thirty Years War
Author: Wedgewood, Dame C.V.
Publisher: Methuen & Co.
ISBN: 0-416-32020-1 (paperback)
Print Status: Out of print

Biographies (Excluding Richelieu)

Elliot, The Count-Duke of Olivares

Title: The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline
Author: Elliot, J.H.
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0-300-04218-3 (paperback)
Print Status: In print (?)

Kleinman, Anne of Austria

Title: Anne of Austria: Queen of France
Author: Kleinman, Ruth
Publisher: Ohio State University Press
ISBN: 0-8142-0429-5 (paperback)
Print Status: In print

Mann, Wallenstein

Title: Wallenstein: His Life Narrated
Author: Mann, Golo
Translator: Kessler, Charles
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
ISBN: 0-03-091884-7
Print Status: Out of print

A brilliantly written biography. The beginning is rather better than the end: Mann becomes bogged down in trying to figure out whether or not Wallenstein was, in fact, a traitor to the Emperor.

Moote, Louis XIII

Title: Louis XIII: The Just
Author: Moote, A. Llloyd
Publisher: University of California Press
ISBN: 0-520-06485-2 (hardcover)
Print Status: In print (?)

Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus

Title: Gustavus Adolphus (2d. Edition)
Author: Roberts, Michael
Publisher: Longman Publishing Group
ISBN: 0-582-09000-8 (paperback)
Print Status: In print

Weygand, Turenne

Title: Turenne: Marshall of France
Author: Weygand, Gen. Max
Translator: Ives, George B.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
ISBN: None
Print Status: Out of print

Spends very little time on Turenne’s campaigns in Germany, viewing them mostly as Formative Incidents in Our Hero’s Career. What little is there is marred by factual error: the French did not recapture Freiburg-im-Bresgau after the battle of Freiburg and Amalie-Elisabeth was a her not a him.


Bergin, Cardinal Richelieu: Power and the Pursuit of Wealth

Title: Cardinal Richelieu: Power and the Pursuit of Wealth
Author: Bergin, Joseph
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0-300-03495-5 (paperback)
Print Status: In print

Bergin, The Rise of Richelieu

Title: The Rise of Richelieu
Author: Bergin, Joseph
Publisher: Manchester University Press
ISBN: 0-7190-5238-6 (paperback)
Print Status: In print

Burckhardt, Richelieu and His Age

Title: Richelieu and His Age (III Vols.)
Author: Burckhardt, Carl J.
Translator: Hoy, Bernard
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanonvich, Inc.
ISBN: 0-15-177158-8
Print Status: Out of print

Richelieu, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu

Title: The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu
Author: du Plessis, Armand Jean, Cardinal of Richelieu
Translator: Hill, Henry Bertram
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
ISBN: 0-299-02424-5 (paperback)
Print Status: In print

Regional Histories

Holborn, A History of Modern Germany

Title: A History of Modern Germany: The Reformation
Author: Holborn, Hajo
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0-691-00795-0 (paperback)
Print Status: In print

Lockhart, Denmark in the Thirty Years’ War, 1618-1648

Title: Denmark in the Thirty Years’ War, 1618-1648: King Christian IV and the Decline of the
Author: Lockhart, Paul Douglas
Publisher: Susquehann University Press
ISBN: 0-945636-76-8
Print Status: Out of print

Porchnev, Muscovy and Sweden in the Thirty Years War

Title: Muscovy and Sweden in the Thirty Years' War: 1630-35
Author: Porchnev, B.F.
Translator: Pearce, Brian
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0-521-45139-6 (hardcover)
Print Status: Out of print

Polišenský, The Thirty Years War

Title: The Thirty Years War
Author: Polišenský, J.V.
Translator: Evans, Robert
Publisher: University of California Press
ISBN: 0-520-01868-0 (hardcover)
Print Status: Out of print

A history on three levels, this book gives a mediocre history of the Thirty Years War in general, an interesting history of the war in Bohemia in particular, and a history of the war in the town of Zlín in southern Moravia which is only slightly less dull than it sounds.

Special Topics

Barker, Army, Aristocracy, Monarchy

Title: Army, Aristocracy, Monarchy: Essays on War, Society and Government in Austria, 1618-1780
Author: Barker, Thomas M.
Publisher: Social Science Monographs, Inc.
ISBN: 0-300-03495-5 (hardcover)
Print Status: In print

Contains a sketch of the life of Ottavio Piccolomini, with particular emphasis on his machinations at the time of Wallenstein’s assassination. Other essays cover the life of Habsburg loyalist Václav Lobkovic and the fate of the foreign military aristocracy grafted onto Bohemian society after the Battle of White Mountain. On the last, I find particularly fascinating his summary of the House of Taafe, which maintained itself as aristocrats in both Bohemia and their ancestral County Sligo Ireland until from the time of the Thirty Years War until shortly after World War One.

Barker, The Military Intellectual and Battle

Title: The Military Intellectual and Battle: Raimondo Montecuccoli and the Thirty Years War
Author: Barker, Thomas M.
Publisher: State University of New York Press
ISBN: 0-87395-205-2 (hardcover)
Print Status: Out of print

Really three books in one.

The first is a biographical sketch of Montecuccoli’s career, primarily during the Thirty Years War, which constitutes a useful “Raimondo’s-eye” walk through the war. This is particularly useful, since, as Parker points out in his book, the war is infrequently looked at from the Imperial perspective. Thus, a view of the war as seen by one of the Emperor’s better commanders is necessarily useful.

I found myself annoyed by one glaring error in this portion of the text: Barker seems convinced that Ferdinand III was made King of the Romans at the 1630 Regensburg Diet. Since I’ve always thought that the truly humorous thing about the Diet was that Ferdinand gave up Wallenstein and got absolutely nothing in return, I will admit to being oversensitive on the point.

The second portion of the book is a translation of a Montecuccoli manuscript, Sulle Battaglie. This is interesting from the perspective of tactical theory. It is also interesting since it shows what a well-informed and intelligent observer thought about the major battles of the day (incidents from which are given as examples for one or another of Montecuccoli’s points).

The last portion of the book is a detailed tactical description of Breitenfeld, Lützen, Nördlingen and Wittstock.

Bireley, The Jesuits and the Thirty Years War

Title: The Jesuits and the Thirty Years War: Kings, Courts, and Confessors
Author: Bireley, Robert, S.J.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0-521-82017-0 (hardback)
Print Status: In print

Croxton, Peacemaking in Early Modern Europe

Title: Peacemaking in Early Modern Europe: Cardinal Mazarin and the Congress of Westphalia
Author: Croxton, Derek
Publisher: Susquehanna University Press
ISBN: 1-57591-017-9 (hardcover)
Print Status: In print

An excellent book. It provides the most cogent explanation I have read of the complicated French and Bavarian campaigns in southwest Germany in 1643-46, as well as the complex negotiations at Westphalia during the same period.

It examines the inter-relationship between success on the battlefield and political posture, concluding that French policy remained remarkably constant while that of Bavaria was highly sensitive to the military situation. It examines the question of what exactly the French meant by their various demands for territorial recompense in Alsace (they hadn’t a clue). It also examines the reasons for the deliberately contradictory formulation finally included in the Peace, which Croxton determines was included less because of respect for Habsburg power than out of French concern for the susceptibilities of their German allies.

Poyntz, The Relation of Sydnam Poyntz

Title: The Relation of Sydnam Poyntz 1624-1636
Editor: Goodrick, A.T.S.
Author: Poyntz, Sydnam
Publisher: Camden Society
ISBN: None
Print Status: Out of print

An account of the war by one of the participants, an Englishman in the service first of Mansfeldt, then the Saxons and lastly the Emperor. It comes with a rather snippy forward by an Edwardian English divine, pointing out all of the various things Poyntz made up (and the rather lesser number he didn’t).

It becomes clear that even an officer like Poyntz (he rose to the rank of captain) marched where he was told and hadn’t a clue where he was or why. A salutary lesson to the re-enactor community: ignorance of the war is the ultimate authenticity.

Rabb, The Thirty Years’ War

Title: The Thirty Years' War
Editor: Rabb, Theodore K.
Authors: Various
Publisher: University Press of America, Inc.
ISBN: 0-8191-1747-1 (paperback); 0-8191-1746-3 (hardcover)
Print Status: In print (2d ed.)

Not a history of the war, rather a history of the historiography of the war over the last two centuries. Rabb includes excerpts from various historians discussing the war generally, as well as Gustavus, Wallenstein and Richelieu.