Vanished Kingdoms

Vanished Kingdoms

The Rise and Fall of States and Nations

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
An evocative account of fourteen European kingdoms-their rise, maturity, and eventual disappearance.

There is something profoundly romantic about lost civilizations. Europe's past is littered with states and kingdoms, large and small, that are scarcely remembered today, and while their names may be unfamiliar-Aragon, Etruria, the Kingdom of the Two Burgundies-their stories should change our mental map of the past. We come across forgotten characters and famous ones-King Arthur and Macbeth, Napoleon and Queen Victoria, right up to Stalin and Gorbachev-and discover how faulty memory can be, and how much we can glean from these lost empires. Davies peers through the cracks in the mainstream accounts of modern-day states to dazzle us with extraordinary stories of barely remembered pasts, and of the traces they left behind.

This is Norman Davies at his best: sweeping narrative history packed with unexpected insights. Vanished Kingdoms will appeal to all fans of unconventional and thought-provoking history, from readers of Niall Ferguson to Jared Diamond.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2012
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780670022731
Branch Call Number: 940 DAVIES
Characteristics: xvii, 830 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 05, 2018

Being educated in Europe, I thought I had a pretty good overview of our history, but Vanished Kingdoms really opened up parts of Europe's history I did not know. Especially what has happened in Eastern Europe was quite new for me. I kind of knew about its history, but could never place it in a proper context. Mr Davies writes in a very pleasant style, mentioning some of the horrors but rarely going into the gore, and even manages to add some light comments in there. The book reads really well. Don't be put off by the hundreds upon hundreds of names that appear in the book. I though the Prussia story was very interesting as was the whole chapter on Aragon and the eye opener that the Roman empire really was much more focused on the eastern Mediterranean then western Europe. The House of Savoy, which he compares with a multi national (getting rid of some brands and adding others) , the disappearance of Poland and the rebirth of the country, the story about Montenegro and the incomprehensible cruelties over the centuries are all very interesting reads. It makes you realise that human life has very little value and I bet the book will make you draw comparisons with today's life on earth. I strongly recommend this book, but I have to warn you it takes time to get through it. I was able to extend the borrowing time twice as I found I could only process so much in an evening. It definitely makes you wonder if people really change and what could come in the centuries ahead.

Aug 18, 2017

The U.S.A. as we know it today will disappear after the nuclear war with China later this century, reverting to regional governments; China will revert to multiple kingdoms as it was before the First Emperor. Canada will become several nations, depending on the severity of the nuclear Winter and radiation going North. A century of smaller (regional) wars to settle old (or new) grudges. Australia, South Africa and India become the new Super Powers.

Jul 24, 2017

What a piece of work this is! How could one resist an account of the "Kingdom of the naked and starving" or "The Republic of one day"? At well over 800 pages, this book might be seen as a collection of 15 short books, each of which almost stands on its own, so they can be read in any sequence. Davies begins each of the 15 tales with a visit to the locale as it exists today and then proceeds to describe in wonderful (and sometimes fanciful) style the origins and denouement of the long vanished regime that once existed there. Most of the kingdoms described arose during or following the collapse of a major empire (e.g.Rome, Ottoman etc.). In some cases, barely a trace of the kingdom's existence remains. I found it impossible to read this tome without being distracted into byways of arcane research into the languages, power structures and cultures of related entities, so I cannot honestly say that I'm truly "finished" with it and will undoubtedly return to it again, leafing forward and backward and running off in other directions. Apart from the kingdoms themselves, an overview of the origins and relationships among their various languages could alone easily grow into another book the size of this one.
A footnote: I found it handy to have available a copy of Cassell's Chronology of Work History to place some of the more obscure events in context with what was taking place elsewhere at the time.

Jul 16, 2016

Davies' theme is that national boundaries change over time. Some nations grow, others shrink or disappear. Some divide, others merge. The present is not the final result of history. Everything is a transitional phase.
This is all true and obvious except to deluded believers in American Exceptionalism. The US will go the way of other large empires, most likely splitting apart by 2050.
Beyond that, the book is of little use. It is badly overwritten, self-indulgent, and disorganized. Davies wanders tediously through details of minor states, skipping erratically from point to point, while omitting major empires like the Ottoman (except scattered references) and Mughal. His formless ramblings will bore all but a few readers.

May 27, 2012

Fine, throughly documented, historical review of nations of Europe that have disappeared from the map, but nevertheless have played a large part in our history and the mythos of the present day. Read about Aragon, Burgundy, Galicia, and more.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at Arapahoe Libraries

To Top