A History

Norman Davies

For the first time, full-colour images illustrate Norman Davies’s magisterial work, Europe: A History, in an elegant three-volume edition from The Folio Society, fully updated by the author.


‘Books of real quality and importance are rare. Davies’s history of Europe is one of them. It is a brilliant achievement, written with intelligence, lucidity and a breathtaking width of knowledge.’ 

  1. A.C. Grayling, Financial Times

From the first settlement of the European Peninsula to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Norman Davies captures the story of a continent in vivid detail. It is a tale of migrations, conquests and empires, encompassing the ascent and fall of Rome, the Renaissance and Reformation, the Napoleonic Wars and the Industrial Revolution. With encyclopaedic learning, wit and acute judgement, Davies chronicles Europe’s rise to become the powerhouse of the world, and its descent into war and tragedy in the 20th century. This first illustrated three-volume edition, exclusively available from Folio, places all the detailed material from the appendix within the main text for the first time, and is updated with a new introduction and chronology by the author, driving home its continuing relevance in a new age of European upheaval.

Production Details

Three-quarter bound in blocked cloth with printed cloth front boards

Set in Garamond and Frutiger, with Trajan display

Vol 1: 456pp; Vol 2: 424pp; Vol 3: 552pp (1,432 pages in total)

88 pages of colour plates, plus 138 integrated maps and figures.

Ribbon markers

Printed and blocked slipcase

10˝ x 6¾˝


For the first time, the book is illustrated in exquisite colour. The images, carefully researched in collaboration with the author, range from reproductions of classical art and illuminated medieval manuscripts to news photography from the late 20th century. Every picture is granted its own page, showing it off to best advantage, and the three volumes are beautifully bound. Each features a depiction of Europa’s abduction by Zeus on its cover, chosen for its relevance to the period covered: a Roman fresco from Villa Poppaea near Naples, a mid-16th-century oil painting by Titian, and an acrylic illustration by the 20th-century British artist Ern Brooks.

‘The narrative of Europe: A History starts with the last Ice Age and runs on to December 1991. It has now been overlain by the affairs of another generation. But the impulse to enquire about what preceded the present, and what drove the endless chain of past changes, remains unaltered.’

  1. From the introduction to the 2020 edition

In his updated introduction, Davies notes that the map of Europe has changed almost beyond recognition in the three decades since the book was conceived. He covers the major events of 1991 to 2019 in a wholly new chronology that heads the first volume and is exclusive to the Folio edition.

Volume 1: Prehistory–1270
Volume 2: c.1250–1815
Volume 3: 1815–1991


Europe is the result of almost nine years’ labour, fulfilling a commission to put ‘the whole European history between two covers’. Within the three volumes of the Folio edition (covering prehistory to 1270, c. 1250 to 1815, and 1815 to 1991 respectively) the story is presented in an innovative and uniquely readable structure, bringing the places, events and characters vibrantly to life. The main narrative takes the form of 12 chronological chapters. Each concludes with a ‘snapshot’, a short essay describing a symbolic episode in greater depth. The book is famous for also including 300 ‘capsules’: brief, self-contained digressions on an extraordinary variety of topics, from ‘Auschwitz’ and ‘Guerrilla’ to ‘Papyrus’, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘E=MC2’. The Folio edition takes the supporting material from the appendix – some 84 maps and a further 54 charts, lists and infographics – and includes it within the text for easy reference.

‘The book’s true originality lies in its all-inclusive scope and erudition, and literary panache with which the story of Europe is told’

  1. TIME

Since its first publication, Europe: A History has been reprinted in several editions and translated into 20 languages, including Estonian, Chinese, Japanese and Russian. In the UK, it reached the top of several bestseller lists and was shortlisted for the 1997 NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction.

ABOUT Norman Davies

Norman Davies was born in Bolton, Lancashire, and studied at universities in France, Italy and Poland, as well as under A. J. P. Taylor at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was for many years a professor at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, and is the acclaimed author of several books on European history including White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish–Soviet War (1972), God’s Playground: A History of Poland (1981), The Isles: A History (1999), Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw (2004), Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (2011) and Beneath Another Sky: A Global Journey into History (2017). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a visiting scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge. In 2001 Davies received the CMG and was awarded Poland’s highest award, the Order of the White Eagle.


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