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The Habsburgs

Dynasty, Culture and Politics

The death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 not only sparked the beginning of World War I—it also initiated the beginning of the end of the six-hundred-year-old Habsburg dynasty, which fell apart when the war ended, changing Europe forever. But how did the Habsburgs come to play such a decisive role in the fate of the continent? Paula Sutter Fichtner seeks to answer this question in this comprehensive account of the longest-lived European empire.
Tracing the origins of the house of Habsburg to the tenth century, Fichtner identifies the principal characters in the story and explores how they were able to hold together such a culturally diverse and multiethnic state for so many centuries. She takes account of the intertwining of culture, politics, and society, revealing the strategies that enabled the dynasty’s extraordinarily long life: its dazzling mix of cultural propaganda, public performances, and cunning political maneuvering. She points out the irony that one of the crowd-pleasing performances that had enabled the Habsburg success—visiting beds of the injured—led to Ferdinand’s death and the empire’s downfall. Breathing fresh life into the history of the Habsburg reign, this accessible and authoritative history charts one of the pivotal foundation stories of modern Europe.

288 pages | 25 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014

History: European History

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“Fichtner has produced a lucid and succinct account of a complicated history, and a readable and persuasive synthesis of recent research. . . . [Hers is] an argument that has the great virtue of making coherent a dynastic history that pursued a similar cultural agenda across the course of hundreds of years.”

BBC History Magazine

“Coinciding neatly with the one-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the publication of Fichtner’s new book sheds fresh light on the history of the dynasty at the center of events in the summer of 1914. General histories of the Habsburgs are plentiful, so it is greatly to the author’s credit that she provides a new angle on the great survivors among Europe’s ruling houses. . . . Fichtner crafts a fine narrative. . . . One can end by reiterating how valuable an addition to the literature this is. Fichtner provides a vivid, up-to-date survey, which has much to offer those both unfamiliar and already familiar with the topic.”

European History Quarterly

“An admirable work of scholarship and good judgment, which utilizes the resources of cultural history fully to explore how the dynasty created and fostered its image, while providing a wealth of information in wider spheres.”

Journal of Modern History

“Writing the history of the Habsburgs from the very beginning until Charles I, as Fichtner sets out to do . . . , seems like an extremely risky but rewarding undertaking, and one that she successfully accomplishes.”

European Review of History

“A thoroughly readable presentation of cultural history and dynastic propaganda that, unlike most of histories of the Habsburgs, takes the story up to the present.”

Table of Contents

Political Chronology
1. Getting Started
2. The Habsburgs Regroup
3. Champions of Faith and Family
4. New Tactics for New Times
5. Revolution, Recovery, Revolution

6. Constructing Commitment
7. Alternative Narratives, Competing Visions
8. Bosnia and After
9. One Goodbye, Several Farewells
Genealogy: The House of Habsburg
Select Bibliography
List of Illustrations

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