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Head of Zeus
The Burgundians
The Burgundians: A Vanished Empire by Bart Van Loo

The story of the Burgundian elite and its remarkable court and culture – an epic of dynastic struggle, artistic achievement and eventual extinction.

A Times Book of the Year

'Thrillingly colourful and entertaining' Sunday Times

'A masterpiece' De Morgen

5 stars! Daily Telegraph

'A history book that reads like a thriller' Le Soir

'Such verve and energy' Literary Review

At the end of the fifteenth century, Burgundy was extinguished as an independent state. It had been a fabulously wealthy, turbulent region situated between France and Germany, with close links to the English kingdom. Torn apart by the dynastic struggles of early modern Europe, this extraordinary realm vanished from the map. But it became the cradle of what we now know as the Low Countries, modern Belgium and the Netherlands.

This is the story of a thousand years, a compulsively readable narrative history of ambitious aristocrats, family dysfunction, treachery, savage battles, luxury and madness. It is about the decline of knightly ideals and the awakening of individualism and of cities, the struggle for dominance in the heart of northern Europe, bloody military campaigns and fatally bad marriages. It is also a remarkable cultural history, of great art and architecture and music emerging despite the violence and the chaos of the tension between rival dynasties.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Medieval History
28 Oct 2021 * 624pp * £30 * 9781789543438
'Bart Van Loo does something extremely difficult; he brings to life an illusion of a state in an unfamiliar world. And he does this with such verve and energy that you very nearly believe it'
Literary Review
'To narrate the legendary story of the dukes of Burgundy, you need a learned and visionary guide like Bart Van Loo ... A masterful work'
Le Figaro
'In this perky popular history, a bestseller on mainland Europe, Bart Van Loo traces the steady rise and sudden end of the Burgundians, sprinkling his narrative with many entertaining asides'
The Times
'Bart van Loo is in top form. The Burgundians reads like a train and hits you like a sledgehammer. A masterpiece ... He does not try to be a wise man or a moralist. What he does make clear is that that the history of early Dutch unification is one that came about both through excessive bloodshed and praiseworthy magnanimity. Mission accomplished'
De Morgen
'History told – and well told, too – for those who value narrative at least as much as the finicky details of economics or treaty-making'
Daily Telegraph
'Suitably epic'
BBC History Magazine
'A sparkling history of the origins of the Low Countries ... Van Loo arouses interest in the past among thousands of readers, spectators and listeners in an inimitable way'
The Low Countries
'A pleasure to read from start to finish. How fortunate that Van Loo is not just a historian but also a writer. Truly spectacular!'
Neue Züricher Zeitung
The political and the personal, economics and culture, belief and violence, success and failure, major developments and spicy details – it's all there. The Burgundians expertly draws on the latest scientific insights, but is also told with lightness and elegance'
Frits van Oostrom
'The formidable saga of our Burgundian origins. Over 650 pages that read like a great political adventure novel, a Game of Thrones soap opera where everything is true'
La Libre Belgique
'Full of cliff hangers and moving passages. Irresistible'
Herman Pleij
'Bart van Loo is back and emerges once again as a true storyteller. Van Loo is the perfect guide through the past. It is as if we are there'
De Standaard
'A history book that reads like a thriller'
Le Soir
'Colourful and multidimensional: a Belgian master storyteller'
Kulturradio, SWR2
'Narrative history of the highest level ... The author conjures the tastes, smells, colours and feelings of the past'
Kulturradio, WDR 3
'Thrillingly colourful and entertaining'
Sunday Times
'Most of us think of wine when we hear the word 'Burgundy', but Bart Van Loo uncovers a lost empire of mad dukes, strange delicacies and great wealth'
The Times, Books of the Year
'A worthwhile and satisfying read'
Sunday Independent
'A sumptuous feast of a book'
The Times
Bart Van Loo
Bart Van Loo
Bart Van Loo has developed a rare twin talent over the years. While drawing big crowds in the theatre, he is also the author of the universally praised France a Trilogy and the bestseller Chanson. Friend and foe alike have to admit that Van Loo is a born storyteller, with a unique ability to combine enthusiasm, humour and expertise. The Burgundians, his most recent book, takes the reader on a fascinating journey through a thousand years of European history.