Augustus The Strong

Augustus The Strong

A Study in Artistic Greatness and Political Fiasco

Select a format:



From the acclaimed author of The Pursuit of Glory and Frederick the Great, a riotous biography of the charismatic ruler of 18th-century Poland and Saxony - and his catastrophic reign.

Augustus is one of the great what-ifs of the 18th century. He could have turned the accident of ruling two major realms into the basis for a powerful European state – a bulwark against the Russians and a block on Prussian expansion. Alas, there was no opportunity Augustus did not waste and no decision he did not get wrong. By the time of his death Poland was fatally damaged and would subsequently disappear as an independent state until the 20th century.

Tim Blanning’s wonderfully entertaining and original new book is a study in failed statecraft, showing how a ruler can shape history as much by incompetence as brilliance. Augustus’s posthumous sobriquet ‘The Strong’ referred not to any political accomplishment, but to his legendary physical strength and sexual athleticism.

Yet he was also one of the great creative artists of the age, combining driving energy, exquisite taste and apparently boundless resources to master-mind the creation of peerless Dresden, the baroque jewel of jewels. Augustus the Strong brilliantly evokes this time of opulence and excess, decadence and folly.

About the author

Tim Blanning

Until age-dictated retirement in 2009, Tim Blanning was Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He remains a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 1990. His major works include The French Revolution in Germany, The French Revolutionary Wars, The Power of Culture and the Culture of Power, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815 and The Triumph of Music. He has written biographies of Joseph II, Frederick the Great and George I.
Learn More

More from this Author

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more