The Habsburgs: To Rule the World (Hardcover)
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The definitive history of a powerful family dynasty who dominated Europe for centuries -- from their rise to power to their eventual downfall.
Habsburgs ruled much of Europe for centuries. From modest origins as minor German nobles, the family used fabricated documents, invented genealogies, savvy marriages, and military conquest on their improbable ascent, becoming the continent's most powerful dynasty. By the mid-fifteenth century, the Habsburgs controlled of the Holy Roman Empire, and by the early sixteenth century, their lands stretched across the continent and far beyond it. But in 1918, at the end of the Great War, the final remnant of their empire was gone.
In The Habsburgs, historian Martyn Rady tells the epic story of the Habsburg dynasty and the world it built -- and then lost -- over nearly a millennium, placing it in its European and global contexts. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the Habsburgs expanded from Swabia across southern Germany to Austria through forgery and good fortune. By the time a Habsburg duke was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in 1452, he and his clan already held fast to the imperial vision distilled in its AEIOU motto: Austriae est imperare orbi universe, "Austria is destined to rule the world." Maintaining their grip on the imperial succession of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries, the Habsburgs extended their power into Italy, Spain, the New World, and the Pacific, a dominion that Charles V called "the empire on which the sun never sets." They then weathered centuries of religious warfare, revolution, and transformation, including the loss of their Spanish empire in 1700 and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. In 1867, the Habsburgs fatefully consolidated their remaining lands the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, setting in motion a chain of events that would end with the 1914 assassination of the Habsburg heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, World War I, and the end of the Habsburg era.
Their demise was ignominious, and historians often depict the Habsburgs as leaders of a ramshackle, collapsing empire at Europe's margins. But in The Habsburgs, Rady reveals how they saw themselves -- as destined to rule the world, not through mere territorial conquest, but as defenders of Christian civilization and the Roman Catholic Church, guarantors of peace and harmony, and patrons of science and learning.
Lively and authoritative, The Habsburgs is the engrossing definitive history of the remarkable dynasty that forever changed Europe and the world.
About the Author
Martyn Rady is Masaryk professor of Central European history at University College London. A leading expert on Central Europe, he is the author of The Habsburg Empire: A Very Short Introduction, The Emperor Charles V, and other books on Hungarian and Romanian history. He lives in Kent, UK.
"Martyn Rady's history of this peculiar family is deeply informed, elegantly written and a joy to read."—Evening Standard (UK)
"Rady is a lucid and elegant writer... It is impossible to imagine a more erudite and incisive history of this fascinating, flawed and ultimately tragic dynasty."—The Times (UK)
"A Rolls Royce of a narrative that motors through ten centuries of history with an effortlessness that belies the intellectual horsepower beneath the bonnet."—
Literary Review (UK)
"Probably the best book ever written on the Habsburgs in any language.... Lucid, comprehensive and witty, it is not merely a pleasure to read but a complete education. Students, scholars and the general reader will never find a better guide to Habsburg history."—Times Literary Supplement (UK)
"This admirably compact, exceptionally well-written survey will probably be the standard one-volume history of the Habsburg dynasty for years to come."—
"This comprehensive account provides an insightful overview of seven centuries of European history."—Publishers Weekly
"A sweeping chronicle of the rise and fall of the Habsburg dynasty."—Kirkus
"The Habsburgs is gripping, colorful, and dramatic but also concise, scholarly, and magisterial. Martyn Rady recounts the story of Europe's greatest dynasty that ruled an empire, on which the sun never set, from Peru to the Philippines. Revealing a key player in world history for almost a thousand years, The Habsburgs is a chronicle of high politics and family intimacy involving religion, murder, incest, madness, suicide, assassination. History on an epic scale!"—Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs
Habsburgs were once Europe's
foremost royal family. Rady tells their story with verve and authority,
casting a curious eye over their eccentricities and peccadilloes while all the
time revealing their extraordinary influence and global vision. A
fascinating read."—Alexander Watson, author of The Fortress and Ring of Steel
"This is a first global history of Europe's most famous and durable dynasty, chronicling its exploits with great panache over nearly a millennium of rule across wide swathes of the continent and beyond. Martyn Rady writes incisively and judiciously, drawing on much recent international scholarship in a range of languages to illustrate multiple facets of Habsburg governance in theory and practice. At the same time his text is accessible and entertaining, his ready wit providing a delectable counterpoint to the notorious humourlessness of so many of the dynasts he examines."—Robert Evans, University of Oxford
"A tour de force. Thorough, accessible and resolutely erudite, this is the volume that this vitally important subject so desperately needed. Rady should be congratulated."—Roger Moorhouse, author of Poland 1939
Rady has written a splendid account of the grandest old dynasty of Europe: the
Habsburgs. Including vampires, an empress's waist size, and cocaine-laced
health drinks, Rady's narrative glitters with apt quotes and telling, often
ironic details."—Steven Beller, author of The Habsburg Monarchy 1815-1918