Thursday, May 21, 2009

What a Mess!

It seems like whenever a young 18th century prince was in need of some heirs a German princess of some sort came forth. But never a princess of Germany or the "Holy Roman Empire" as it was known. Instead it would be a princess of Bohemia here an electress of Saxony there.

Did you ever wonder where the heck all these modge-podges of countries came from? And were they really "countries?" Well they were imperial estates which were ruled by dukes, kings, etc. but they all feudally responded to the Holy Roman Emperor. This made for this sort of map hanging above the blackboard:Yuck.

But then again Europe was also a bit of a modge-podge itself. It's various empires and monarchies made for a much different map than what we have today. Take a look at Europe's borders in the 18th century here.


  1. Funny thing: remnants of many of those lilliput kingdoms exists even today, at least in the gossip press: In the 'royal pages' there's often mentions of duke N/N of Heissen-Schweissen getting married, or prince N/N of Slachsen-Sachsen getting divorced etc.

  2. What a tangle! Thanks a lot for posting this. It gets so complicated when I read a book and authors never seem to feel such a map necessary. I'm going to keep this for future reads, though I know it's just the tip of the iceberg. Who was married to whom, who was warring with whom, trading goods, etc. Yikes!

  3. That map hurts my eyes >_<

    Have you ever seen the movie 'The Slipper and the Rose'? It's basically a musical about Cinderella, but it's set in the 18th century, and it has a very amusing take on the multiplicity of kingdoms at the time.

  4. I'm not even going to try to keep all that straight! It reminds me of my medieval history class, which was broken into four units, one of which was a general outline of medieval history. Europe broke up and joined back together so so many times in that 1000 years!! It was impossible to remember which kingdom was which, and when!

    Off-subject, but, Heather, have you done something to your blog in the last day or two? I suddenly can't access it (or Lauren's) anymore--it loads, but then an error message comes up saying it can't open the site, and the screen goes blank. Sometimes when I hit refresh the site loads (like just now, which is how I'm able to comment), though most of the time it doesn't. I can get on to other Blogger sites just fine. Do you have any idea why that might be happening?

  5. @Madame B- Really?! That's so very interesting!

    @Polonaise- I am one of those people who just needs visuals, thats how I ended up posting this!

    @Mythosidhe- No! But I HAVE TO see it now. You always seem to find such rare movies that are totally up my alley.

    @Eliza- That breaks my heart. I don't think I've done anything different. It's esp weird that it's happening with Lauren's blog too. I'll rack my brain but please keep me updated! I hate the idea of it not being accessible.

  6. These maps are great! It's interesting to think of how fluid political boundaries actually have been.

  7. Just want to say what a pleasure I have had since stumbling across your site and Lauren's as well. I have learned so much! Both sites are now my morning fix.
    Also I have been unable to log on for the past two days (poor co-workers suffered with me). I seem to have had the same problem as Eliza Ward.

    The maps are fantastic and oh so very helpful.

  8. I also have the site access problem when trying from home. I'm at an internet cafe now and it's all OK, but something is definately different about both sites over the last two days.

    Love these blogs and would hate not to be able to access them for an ongoing time!


  9. And that is why Portugal is the oldest country in Europe, since it was the first to have fixed frontiers, that remain the same until today. But we only had Spain to worry about.

    Post scriptum- I do not dare to comment often here because I fell so ashamed of my poor domain of the English language. But I visit you here on a regular basis and I am always pleased to read your texts. Thank you for posting.

  10. @Fabulastic: Poor domain of the English language!? Foolishness and poppycock! I read your English-language blog and know just how good your English is. You are too humble, sir!

    @Ladies having trouble with access-
    This is breaking my heart! I don't know what is wrong but I contacted blogger about it. Please keep me updated!! Are you using Internet Explorer as your browser?

  11. This map shows only the bigger guys. There were approx. 300 of them at one point. As Voltaire said it was 'Neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire'. By the 18th century the emperors have long lost on significance. In case of war the various countries would ally with anyone else rather than each other.

    They were no great choice on the royal marriage market, but the English royalty needed to marry with Protestants.