The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918: A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918: A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918: A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918: A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary

Excerpt

The is book is an entirely rewritten version of an earlier work with the same title, which I published in 1941, It is about half as long again as its predecessor. Apart from general additions, it treats Austrian foreign policy with greater detail and relevance. The Habsburg Monarchy, more than most Great Powers, was an organisation for conducting foreign policy; and its fate was determined quite as much by foreign affairs as by the behaviour of its peoples. The creation of the Austrian Empire was dictated by Napoleon; the establishment of Austria- Hungary by Bismarck; and the Monarchy fell at the end of a great war, which it had itself helped to bring about. My attempt to write the history of the Habsburg Monarchy without discussing Habsburg foreign policy made much of the original book puzzling; and I hope I have now remedied this defect.

The other principal change is in treatment. Despite efforts to face reality, the earlier book was still dominated by the "liberal illusion"; many passages talked of "lost opportunities" and suggested that the Habsburg Monarchy might have survived if only this or that statesman or people had been more sensible. It was difficult to escape from this approach after reading the works of innumerable contemporary writers of goodwill, who either wrote before the fall of the Monarchy or still could not believe that it had vanished. These regrets are no part of the duty of a historian, especially when the story which he tells makes it clear, time after time, that there were no opportunities to be lost. The conflict between a super-national dynastic state and the national principle had to be fought to the finish; and so, too, had the conflict between the master and subject nations. Inevitably, any concession came too late and was too little; and equally inevitably every concession produced more violent discontent. The national principle, once launched, had to work itself out to its conclusion. My earlier version had also perhaps a "national illusion": it tended to suggest that the national movements were, by the twentieth . . .

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