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About this book

The Habsburg monarchy was a singular experiment in diversity within the European continent. By the eighteenth century it stretched from the Austrian Netherlands to the Balkans and southern Poland, and south into Italy. Its subjects spoke a number of languages, and while the social and institutional structure of these lands shared common features, there were also substantial differences among them. Was the Habsburg monarchy therefore an empire like those of Great Britain, France or Spain?

Drawing upon modern theoretical perspectives on European expansion to answer this question, Paula Sutter Fichtner argues that the Habsburg holdings did indeed constitute a form of European imperialism, and that they are best understood in such terms.

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1490-1848
- examines the role of the interraction between Habsburg rulers, territorial estates, and religious institutions in the expansion of the empire
- explores the reorientation of these relationships under the impact of the European Enlightenment, the rationalization of dynastic government under Empress Maria Theresa and her son, Joseph II, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of nationalism
- assesses the effect of the Revolutions of 1848 on the strength of the connections between the crown and its nobles, as well as its ties to its ecclesiastical elites and the bourgeoisie
- discusses the parallel developments in cultural affairs as the coherence of a world outlook dominated by Catholicism gave way to linguistic and cultural particularism

Incorporating the latest research, this broad-ranging study is an essential guide to one of Europe's most powerful and important dynasties.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Pattern of Empire

Abstract
The Habsburgs were not supposed to amount to much in central Europe. When the princes of the German Holy Roman Empire named Rudolph of Habsburg (1218–91) their king in 1273, they thought that they had a sovereign who would respect their territorial freedoms, not one who would advance his family’s fortunes through his office. They badly misjudged the relatively obscure count from southwestern Germany. Though never crowned emperor, a title that the German kingship allowed him to claim and that in theory made its holder the secular champion of Christendom, he proved himself to be ambitious, energetic, and resourceful. Beating back Přemysl Otakar II (1233–78), the aggressive Bohemian king who had invaded Austria above and below the River Enns and Styria, today in eastern Austria, Rudolph endowed his family with these provinces. Rudolph’s heirs added the county of Tyrol, along with an assortment of lands in southeastern Europe along the Istrian coast, to the Habsburg central European patrimony. The family also retained ancestral holdings in southwestern Germany into modern times.
Paula Sutter Fichtner

Chapter 2. An Empire Takes Hold

Abstract
Rudolph II never married, and Emperor Matthias produced no heirs. In 1617, their remaining and also childless brothers, Archdukes Maximilian (1558–1618) and Albrecht (1559–1621), and a young cousin from Styria, Archduke Leopold (1586–1632), had agreed that age, frailty, or other interests precluded any of them from governing the entire Habsburg patrimony and holding the imperial crown. Leopold’s elder brother, Archduke Ferdinand, had already sired a son. He therefore seemed a far better prospect for the long-term interests of the dynasty. His religious views, as well as those of his parents, were more attuned to the dynasty’s confessional preferences as well. Though both nobles and towns in Inner Austria had embraced Protestantism as warmly as their counterparts in Austria above and below the Enns, Ferdinand had grown up a dedicated Catholic. Archduke Charles, his father, while eventempered and cautious, was eager to restore the Church of Rome to preeminence throughout his provinces. In 1578 he did agree, orally, though not in writing, to the Pacification of Bruck that allowed both the Lutheran nobles and the townsfolk of the region to practice their faith freely.
Paula Sutter Fichtner

Chapter 3. Creating a State

Abstract
Even during the Ráikóczi interlude the dynasty’s armies fought victoriously onward through the south and east of Europe in the first two decades of the eighteenth century. Some of their most impressive triumphs came under the imaginative leadership of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the president of Joseph I’s war council and a firm believer in using military power to enhance the house of Austria’s standing in the world. Temesváir, taken from the Turks in October of 1716, had been a Hungarian royal redoubt in the Middle Ages. As a crown possession, it did not represent an expansion of Habsburg borders. Belgrade, captured a year later, had no tie to the crown of St. Stephen at all. The Peace of Passarowitz (Požarevac) signed on 21 July 1718 during the reign of Emperor Charles VI (1685–1740), Joseph’s brother, marked the high-point of Habsburg penetration of the Balkans against the Ottoman empire.
Paula Sutter Fichtner

Chapter 4. Holding the Center

Abstract
Grand duke of Tuscany since 1765 with his capital in Florence, Archduke Peter Leopold — the Peter was a courtesy to his Russian godmother, Tsarina Elizabeth, and common only in Italian renderings of his title — had personal failings of his own. Fits of depression and sexual compulsions assailed him throughout his life. While the latter distraction yielded an array of legitimate children, some of whose progeny continue the family of Habsburg-Lorraine and its branches even today, it also ensnared Leopold in countless illicit liaisons. But he had more attractive qualities too, some of which replicated Joseph II’s better traits. The new emperor shared his elder brother’s distaste for court protocol and his liking for people beneath his station, attitudes that their mother often deplored. He was, however, intellectually more versatile than Joseph and better educated too. He was uncommonly observant of other people as well as an adept and eager student with a keen interest in science and technology and a knack for languages.
Paula Sutter Fichtner

Chapter 5. Revolution: Text and Subtext

Abstract
Napoleon died in his second exile on the bleak island of St. Helena in 1821, but his many-sided legacy fired the imaginations of Europeans for generations to come. His commitment to administrative efficiency and legal egalitarianism inspired many; others loathed such policies and the dictatorial militarism through which he had imposed them. Most widespread, however, was the longing for international peace, all the more desirable because of economic problems that almost 20 years of credit-funded warfare had created. The Habsburg empire was among the most fiscally challenged states of Europe. Inflation had become ominously routine; in 1810, rumors that the government was ready to tolerate the condition in order to pay off long-standing debt in cheaper money frightened creditors into demanding immediate return of their principal.1 Experiments with paper currency added to the uncertainty.
Paula Sutter Fichtner

Chapter 6. From One to Many

Abstract
First-time travelers in the parts of east central and southeastern Europe that once belonged to the Habsburg empire often shake their heads at the bewildering mix of languages they encounter. Each border crossing turns up yet another: one of the various Slavic tongues and their subtle dialects, possibly Magyar, or Latin-based Rumanian, or Italian, even fragments of German here and there. How was it possible, many people ask, to govern so diverse an array of speech communities collectively? To know that mutual self-interest promoted close cooperation between Habsburg rulers and the elites in their various territories for almost three centuries explains something of the hold that the dynasty had over its lands, but not completely. How did it hold together all of its peoples, including the vast body of ordinary humankind who challenged the dynasty and its sociopolitical foundations only under extreme provocation, and openly defied it almost never?
Paula Sutter Fichtner

A Summary Afterword

Abstract
The administrative machinery and military prowess of the Habsburg empire, especially during its first two centuries, were far more imposing on paper than in practice. More subtle strategies kept the empire in place. One was the dynasty’s readiness to cooperate with local elites, a skill cultivated in all of Europe’s pre-modern and modern empires. The Habsburg imperial enterprise grew, indeed flourished, from the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth centuries in good part because the dynasty persuaded the lay aristocracy and high clergy of its lands that the house of Austria had something to offer them: the continuation of their many social, economic, and political privileges. For their part, the Habsburgs had a crucial stake in the natural and human resources that nobles and their ecclesiastical counterparts traditionally controlled.
Paula Sutter Fichtner
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