The Habsburg Empire

For much of the twentieth century, textbooks depicted the Habsburg Empire as a "prison of nations," an undemocratic and outdated state haunted by nationalist disputes until its bitter end during World War I. Contrary to such nation-centric interpretations, historians now view the Habsburg state as a dynamic and resilient polity whose diverse citizens had common histories, institutions, and aspirations. This seminar explores the foundational institutions and crucial tensions of the Habsburg state from the Enlightenment to the Sarajevo assassination in 1914. Using examples from both Austrian and Hungarian halves of the Monarchy, this seminar will consider different interpretations of the evolution of the Habsburg state; the rise of liberal and nationalist politics; the turmoil of fin de siècle Vienna; and the forces of cohesion and disintegration during WWI.