Bibliographic data

Winter, Hans: Mittelalter und Neue Zeit bis zum Westfälischen Frieden. Lehrbuch der Deutschen und Bayerischen Geschichte mit Einschluss der wichtigsten Tatsachen der außerdeutschen Geschichte und der Kulturgeschichte für Höhere Lehranstalten, Vol. 1. Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag, 8. Aufl., 1913, 163–164.

Hapsburgs European Rule by Herfordt, Ewa (2018)

This textbook, which was conceived for the lower sixth form of the upper level of secondary schools in the Kingdom of Bavaria and written by the former secondary school teacher Hans Winter, was published by the Oldenbourg publishing house. The publisher had a monopoly over educational publishing in Bavaria and also dominated the market for history textbooks throughout the German Empire (Jäger 2003). Although books produced in Bavaria had to take into account the ‘principle of uniformity’ and the need to maintain continuity, a ruling which also applied to all other textbooks in the Wilhelminian Germany, Bavarian authors had to take into consideration changes taking place in the textbook market. Since the first printing in 1895, Winter’s book was also subjected to several more or less major modifications. However, the penultimate edition of 1908 appeared four years before the final edition in 1913 (Liedtke 1993).

Winter treats the history of the modern era in five sections, the second of which is devoted to the ‘Age of Schism and Religious Battles (1517-1648)’. The emphasis here is on the development of the Reformation in Germany and in neighbouring countries, as well as the development of the Thirty Years’ War. The paragraph about the position of Charles V in the empire is incorporated into Chapter II, entitled ‘The Advance of Secular Powers from 1521 under Charles V (1519-1556)’. The section begins with an outline of Charles’ performance as a public figure on the national and European stage in light of his reputation as a self-confessed opponent of the Reformation, and is followed by an account of the most significant events, dating from the Reichstag in Worms in 1521 to the Religious Peace of Augsburg in 1555.

The battles to gain rule over territory in Europe and the schism are the two main topics covered in this section. By devoting the narrative to ‘cultural history’, which in this context is confined to art, science and poetry, the analysis of the age of Reformation in this section is formulated in very general terms, without regard to the imperial representation or the glorification of imperial power.

The author mentions Charles’ ‘dual sovereignty’ in Germany and Spain, the Habsburg heritage and his Spanish education, albeit without going into detail. Charles is presented more as a Spaniard than as a German. According to Winter, his involvement in the wars against the French and the Turks could be ascribed to the massive expansion of his empire, which included territories in and beyond Europe. The author makes a brief mention of Charles’ ‘Thoughts on a Christian Universal Empire’. However, he does not mention the fact that this conception of Europe was confined to the western Mediterranean and Atlantic regions (Körber 2002). Winter emphasises the fact that Charles adopted this idea of universalism to preserve the unity of the church, even though the very same idea effectively made him ‘powerless’ as an emperor at home (175). In spite of his strong military presence in several war zones in Europe, a situation which had been sustained for a number of decades, the emperor could not prevent the dioceses ‘Metz, Toul and Verdun from falling into French hands’ in 1552 (176). The topicality of this case in light of the history of Franco-German relations is obvious. However, Winter overlooks the fact that the emperor claimed to be the ‘universal’ ruler over the entire Christian world; the author does not mention the fact that this idea failed in practice, or that it was tied up with a number of parallel political and religious conflicts.

Winter does not provide much detail about the fact that Charles, as the king of Spain, Naples and Sicily, as the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and as the ruler of Flanders and the Netherlands, had command over an empire in which, in his own words (with reference to his possessions outside Europe in Central and South America), ‘the sun never set’. This history textbook focuses attention on the major topics of political history alongside a large number of regional histories. It focuses on the peculiarities of Bavarian history and the merits of the Wittelsbachs, while also conforming to Prussian curricula of 1901, which served as a model. It was conceived as a work of local history (Heimatgeschichte) or world history. The main thread was devoted to dynasties and their representatives. It tried to emphasise to secondary school pupils the bonds between German and Bavarian history, while ideas of larger geographical areas such as Europe were largely neglected.

In Winter’s textbook, Charles’ Spanish ‘European rule’ is eclipsed by the national and Bavarian context in which the author sets this eventful age of religious and political divisions. The significance of Charles’ rule in relation to world politics is not brought into focus. The claim to build a ‘world empire’ under Habsburg rule is not addressed (Körber 2002). In the age of great empires, among which Germany wished to be counted on the eve of the First World War, Winter’s position clearly indicates that the nation-state was far removed from the territorial and linguistic plurality of the multinational state which had gone before. Far from imperialism, this textbook from the Kingdom of Bavaria, which is claimed to have been an ‘executor of a universal model of history’ (Schneider 1982), was an avatar of local patriotism.


  • Jäger, G., Der Schulbuchverlag, in: Jäger, G. (ed.), Geschichte des deutschen Buchhandels im 19. und 20. Jh., vol. 1: Das Kaiserreich 1871-1918, Frankfurt/M., MVB, Marketing- und Verl.-Service des Buchhandels, 2003, pp. 62-102.
  • Körber, E.-B., Habsburgs europäische Herrschaft: Von Karl V. bis zum Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts, Darmstadt, Wiss. Buchges., 2002.
  • Körner, H.-M., Geschichtsunterricht im Königreich Bayern zwischen deutschen Nationalgedanken und bayerischen Staatsbewusstsein, in: Jeismann, K.-E. (ed.), Bildung, Staat, Gesellschaft im 19. Jh. Mobilisierung und Disziplinierung, Stuttgart, Steiner, 1989, pp. 245-255.
  • Liedtke, Max, Spezialuntersuchungen. Schulbücher, in: Liedtke, M. (ed.), Handbuch der Geschichte des Bayerischen Bildungswesens, vol. 2: Geschichte der Schule in Bayern. Von 1800 bis 1918, Bad Heilbrunn, Klinkhardt, 1993, pp. 571-580.
  • Schneider, G., Der Geschichtsunterricht in der Ära Wilhelms II. (vornehmlich in Preußen), in: Bergmann, K. et al. (eds.), Gesellschaft – Staat – Geschichtsunterricht. Beiträge zu einer Geschichte der Geschichtsdidaktik und des Geschichtsunterrichts von 1500 bis 1980, Düsseldorf, Pädag. Verlag Schwann, 1982, pp. 132-189.

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