A SUNDAY TIMES, FINANCIAL TIMES, TLS AND DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020
‘This is probably the best book ever written on the Habsburgs in any language, certainly the best I have ever read … Students, scholars and the general reader will never find a better guide to Habsburg history’ Alan Sked, Times Literary Supplement
In The Habsburgs, Martyn Rady tells the epic story of a dynasty and the world it built – and then lost – over nearly a millennium.
From modest origins, the Habsburgs grew in power to gain control of the Holy Roman Empire in the fifteenth century. Then, in just a few decades, their possessions rapidly expanded to take in a large part of Europe stretching from Hungary to Spain, and from the Far East to the New World. The family continued to dominate Central Europe until the catastrophe of the First World War.
With its seemingly disorganized mass of large and small territories, its tangle of laws and privileges and its medley of languages, the Habsburg Empire has always appeared haphazard and incomplete. But here Martyn Rady shows the reasons for the family’s incredible endurance, driven by the belief that they were destined to rule the world as defenders of the Roman Catholic Church, guarantors of peace and patrons of learning. The Habsburg emperors were themselves absurdly varied in their characters – from warlords to contemplatives, from clever to stupid, from idle to frenzied – but all driven by the same sense of family mission. Scattered around the world, countless buildings, institutions and works of art continue to bear witness to their overwhelming impact.
The Habsburgs is the definitive history of a remarkable dynasty that, for better or worse, shaped Europe and the world.
This profile of the Habsburgs is concerned as much with the personal as it is the political. It is a tale of survival, from modest origins to control of an empire and, finally, twentieth-century catastrophe. * History Revealed * Martyn Rady has written a splendid account of the grandest old dynasty of Europe: the Habsburgs. With wit and firm opinion, he takes the reader on something akin to a tour of the Wunderkammer of the dynasty's many-centuries-long career. 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 A tour de force. Thorough, accessible, and resolutely erudite, this is the volume that this vitally important subject so desperately needed. Martyn Rady should be congratulated. -- Roger Moorhouse, author of POLAND 1939: THE OUTBREAK OF WORLD WAR II 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, Regius Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Oxford The Habsburgs - ambitious, illustrious, and at times incestuous - 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 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 and JERUSALEM: THE BIOGRAPHY
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