Books in brief: The Habsburg Empire | Prospect MagazineA list of fiction exploring the complexities and contradictions of life in the Austro-Hungarian empire and its eventual dissolution in the first world war. Roth's novel tells the story of the decline and fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire through the lives of three generations of Trotta family. This is a historical novel which presents History not as a tale of progress but as a catastrophe. It also upends received notions about politics, democracy, monarchy etc so that you start seeing the world through a fresh perspective which is what all great works of fiction do. Roth was a Jew born in Galicia in modern day Ukraine. He understood how Jews would become pariah after the empire broke into multiple nations with each defining their citizenship based on ethnicity, with catastrophic consequences.
Popular Habsburg Books
By , Kara Mustafa, grand vizier of the Ottomans, was still a pasha with something to prove. He had been raised in the household of the illustrious Koprulu family, which would supply an unbroken succession of brilliant — if often ill-fated — grand viziers to the Ottoman court. His steady rise did nothing to satisfy his fierce ambition. For Kara Mustafa, the ultimate prize lay to the West. More than a century before, in , Suleiman the Magnificent had besieged Vienna, but the onset of winter forced him to abandon the assault. To succeed where Suleiman had failed represented the pinnacle of imperial glory.
A century after its collapse, the Austro-Hungarian Empire is still often portrayed as a backwater of Europe, doomed to be torn apart by fiery nationalists. Starting with Empress Maria Theresa in the s, Judson examines how the Habsburg Empire became a state united by common borders and common laws rather than language or religion. Its towns boasted Viennese-style grand theatres and coffeehouses—cultural remnants still visible in far-flung outposts of the old empire like Czernowitz, now Chernivtsi in south-western Ukraine. Rather than oppression, Judson emphasises participation, as citizens from Budapest to Bohemia increasingly engaged in empire, from voting to military conscription. Refreshingly, his book also challenges lasting presumptions about differences between Europe east and west, backward and developed, ethnic and civic. His narrative may be one of many possible readings of Habsburg history, as he himself says—yet it is one that is both nuanced and compelling. Forgotten password?
The Rise and Fall of Austria or the Habsburg Empire / Österreich
I first visited Vienna 20 years ago. Visiting the War Museum, I remember meeting a wizened old Austrian gentleman, who put on a great show explaining all the weapons and how they worked. I had come mostly to see the "sexy" bits — Franz Ferdinand's blood-stained uniform, the convertible he and his wife were riding in when they were shot in — but I was enraptured by everything else, too. My Austrian weapons man took particular relish in swords, and in the captured Ottoman war booty from the siege of Vienna in I don't think I made an impression on him; he probably would have been equally happy chattering away to anyone else. But I came away with an enduring fascination with the strange, lost world of Austria-Hungary.