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