In Review

Antwerp: The Glory Years by Michael Pye

In ‘prose as opulent as the city itself’, Pye tells the story of Antwerp in the 16th century

For roughly six decades in the 16th century, Antwerp was Europe’s most dynamic city, said Gerard DeGroot in The Times. Not only was it a centre of commerce – a place where virtually anything could be traded, from spices and gems to “paintings and secrets” – but it was also a “rogue’s paradise”.

In this riveting book, Michael Pye tells its story in “prose as opulent as the city itself”. He covers the trade in “exotic products from the East” that made Antwerp rich, as well as other, less familiar areas: the circulation of “semi-pornographic” texts; the population’s love of alcohol (there were 376 pubs for 100,000 people); the “prominent role” of women in business. His book is a “cornucopia of Antwerp’s abundant delights”.

The city’s golden age was short-lived, said Mathew Lyons in the Literary Review. Antwerp’s involvement in the Dutch Revolt led its Habsburg masters to curtail its freedoms; by the late 1580s, half its population had left. But Pye brilliantly “conjures up... the glamour that drew people to Antwerp’s gates” until that point – the sense that it was reinventing the very “idea of what a city could be”.

Allen Lane 288pp £25; The Week Bookshop £19.99

Antwerp book
The Week Bookshop

To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

Recommended

How to create the ultimate outdoor entertaining space
Outdoor Kitchen Expert
The wish list

How to create the ultimate outdoor entertaining space

Making money: space diamonds and meteorite collecting
‘The Enigma’ 555.55 carat black diamond is being auctioned at Sotheby’s
Expert’s view

Making money: space diamonds and meteorite collecting

Seven Park Place: sinful and sumptuous dining in St. James’s 
Saddle of lamb with turnips, onions and thyme is on the menu at Seven Park Place
In Review

Seven Park Place: sinful and sumptuous dining in St. James’s 

11 of the best electric bikes
VanMoof bike
The wish list

11 of the best electric bikes

Popular articles

What would a Russian ‘lightning war’ against Ukraine look like?
Members of the Kiev territorial defence forces take part in drills outside Kiev, Ukraine
Getting to grips with . . .

What would a Russian ‘lightning war’ against Ukraine look like?

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference
In Depth

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

The Week Footer Banner