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The Habsburgs Paperback – May 1 1997

3.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 1 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140236341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140236347
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #223,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Andrew Wheatcroft has written and lectured widely on European and Middle Eastern history. His books include The Ottomans and The Hapsburgs.

Inside This Book

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On a day of stifling heat late in June 1386 the little town of Brugg was thronged to capacity with armed men. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Dr. Wheatcroft, a multilingual specialist in european and ottoman medieval history, has finally published one of his most elaborated works. The Habsbursg is the result of over 30 years of research, visiting different places and reading most of the previous publications on this field. The novelty of this work lies on its explanation of Continental Europe's history through the history of a family. This book might be boring for somebody who doesn't understand that the history of a country is the history of their people, and in the middle age the most influential people in Europe were the Habsburgs. This unique family had, during 1.000 years, a very characteristic fashion of behaving, because an individual able to track his / her origins for 40 straight generations till the deepest roots of Europe has a very special perspective of history and his / her role in it. Dr. Otto von Habsburg, European Deputy and living heir of this imperial dynasty, has worked all his live in order to re-discover the concept of Europe, the same ideal tracked by his familiy by means of the Holy Roman Empire. In conclusion, for everybody interested in discovering what is behind the ideal of Europe (and its symbols, like the EU's flag), this book will be extraordinarily interesting.
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Format: Paperback
Since the Habsburgs ruled much of Europe for over 700 years, writing their history is a risky business indeed. Happily, Wheatcroft avoids the trap of getting bogged down in a plethora of dates and deaths. His solution - and the reader soon realizes the briliance of his design - is instead to focus on what it meant to be a Habsburg, and on the metaphysical identity they assumed. The Habsburgs projected themselves as possessing a special mission from God above to preserve the Catholic faith and to maintain the common weal through a perpetual, hereditary monarchy. Their various inventions - the Order of the Golden Fleece, the motto "AEIOU," their patented system of interlocking dynastic marriages - were all part of this corporate strategy. The sense of quest sustained the family throughout the Holy Roman Empire and guided leaders such as Maximilian, Phillip of Spain, Maria Theresa, and Franz-Joseph. This book is also a terrific meditation on collective memory: while most of Gemany had forgotten that a Hapsburg had once been Emperor (Rudolf 1271-1291), NO-ONE in the Habsburg dynasty lost sight of the prize. Such was the family's preparedness that upon the re-election of one of its members (Albert, 1438-51), the Habsburgs held the Imperial throne until 1918. The Kennedys, the Bushes and even the Windsors are a mere blip by comparison.
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Format: Paperback
Towards the end of the book, the author states that he has consciously chosen to focus on symbolism rather than on the more usual subjects of Hapsburg history. Fair enough, and the book indeed offers some insights into how the Hapsburgs saw themselves as reflected by the way they are portrayed in the paintings and books discused. However, the casual reader who is more interested in the more conventional aspects of history should be warned: you are not going to learn much about the events of the times, the individual personalities of many of the Hapsburgs or get much of a feel for whether particular rulers were good or evil, wise or demented, successful or failures. [And the blurb on the jacket is downright misleading where it tantalizes you into thinking that you'll get some entertaining tales of Habsburg eccentricity, such as Juana the Mad touring around Spain with her dead husband's coffin: Mr. Wheatcroft doesn't discuss that story]. I have to agree with another reviewer that Mr. Wheatcroft can tell a good story when he wants, and does so early in the book with that of Leopold III's campaign against the Swiss. For that reason, I think that the choice of focus represents something of a missed opportunity. You cannot buy this book and, after reading it, feel that you have a solid feel the history of the times that it covers. You'll have to buy a second book. If you don't mind that, by all means buy this one too. If, however, you want to buy only one book on the Hapsburgs, you probably would want something else.
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Format: Paperback
While there are some interesting parts to this book, the reader should be aware, this is not a history of the Habsburgs in the usual sense, but a discussion of the dynasty's use of image in creating its sense of empire. Therefore, while the book takes you through the general history of the most important Habsburg kings and emperors, it does not explain the historical backdrop, but only comment upon it. If you are looking to get a better picture of European history, than this book isn't for you. You really need to be familiar with it already to fully appreciate what you are reading.

Furthermore, the author does not take the time to fully differentiate between Holy Roman Emperors, kings, and other important Habsburgs. To do this you need to look at the family tree in the back of the book, but it is so small, packed and written in such tiny font, that it is too time consuming to find everyone you are looking for. And many of the interesting Habsburgs highlighted in Amazon's blurb about the book, barely get a mention in the actual narrative.

For a book written about images, is sorely lacking in them. So many times the author is discussing paintings and the like, but fails to give us an image so we can see it for ourselves. This book is wanting in so many places, I can not give it a strong recommendation. You may enjoy it if you like art history and have enough time to search the web for the images he speaks about yourself.
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