Cicely Veronica Wedgwood (1910–1997) was born into an innovative and intellectual English family. Her father, a direct descendant of the potter Josiah Wedgwood, was the chief general manager of the London and North Eastern Railway and her mother was a novelist and travel writer. After success at Oxford, Wedgwood rejected an academic career and took up writing instead. She published her first history, The Thirty Years War (1938), before her thirtieth birthday, and in the years that followed wrote a succession of chronicles of seventeenth-century Europe that made her one of the most popular and best-known historians in Britain. Her most important works include The King’s Peace; The King’s War; and William the Silent: William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, 1533–1584, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography in 1944. She was a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, a Dame of the British Empire, and in 1969 became the third woman to be appointed a member of the British Order of Merit.
The only comprehensive account of the war in English, C.V. Wedgwood’s magisterial book is a triumph of literary history that brings to life the war’s campaigns, battles, and negotiations, as well as its terrible human toll.