The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814-1919  book cover
1st Edition

The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814-1919

ISBN 9781138332010
Published August 14, 2018 by Routledge
356 Pages

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Book Description

This book is about the European health spas of the nineteenth century: what they were, how they operated, what life was like there and how their functions evolved to the point where their original medicinal purpose was relegated to a secondary place by the unintended uses of spas as stages of social and political interactions.

These popular resorts were nicknamed ‘the summer capitals of Europe’ because of the tendency of nations’ governing classes to gather there. Every summer between 1814 and 1914 (and in a few cases during World War I) continental watering places became a microcosm of cosmopolitan aristocratic Europe, incorporating its conventions, tastes, concerns and interests. As the nineteenth century advanced, fashionable watering stations increasingly became associated with social bonding, matchmaking, pleasure, career building, conspicuous consumption and diplomatic activity that took place during the high season.

Table of Contents


Part I Spa Life

1. Shrines-Springs-Spas

2. Therapy vs Pleasure

3. Spa Society

4. Making Money out of Pleasure

Part II Business of Europe

5. Royalty at Spas

6. Era of Congresses

7. Looking after Europe

8. Secret Diplomacy

9. Puppets and Puppeteers: Summer of 1870 in Ems

10. Bismarck’s Cures

11. Rapprochements

12. The Flight from Spas and the End of an Era: 1914-1919




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Marina Soroka completed her PhD at the University of Western Ontario in 2009, and is the author of Becoming a Romanov. Grand Duchess Elena of Russia and Her World, 1807-1873 (2015) and Britain, Russia and the First World War (2013).


This is an original work, meticulously researched, rich in detail, and written in a clear and – here and there – refreshingly pungent style. (...) I regard it as a first-rate contribution to the diplomatic methods of the 100 years before the First World War.

 - G.R. Berridge, Emeritus Professor of International Politics, University of Leicester