This course will concentrate on the history of the Habsburg dynastic empire in central and eastern Europe from the late middle ages to the end of the empire at the conclusion of World War I. The instructor's prejudices will dictate a heavy emphasis on the early modern period (late 16th to mid-18th centuries), but the whole of the empire's history will be dealt with. This course is made possible because of the publication of several books in the past decade, and particularly the works of Branger and Ingrao in the past year.
Beyond the problems specific to the Austrian monarchy lies another, more general issue: the question of "empire" as a form of polity. This course will invite comparison with a range of imperial states in all parts of the planet, the problems common to all, the variety of their responses to centrifugal social forces, and the conditions contributing to their durability or lack of it. (Some other empires: Mughal, Ottoman, Roman, Spanish, British, several French, USA, USSR, Swedish, Third Reich, Manchu and other Chinese empires, Japanese, Dutch, etc. etc.)