Europe began in Vienna. Of all the historic states and empires that preceded today's European Union, the Habsburg Monarchy was arguably the most "European"—bringing together numerous nationalities and confessions in a single community under a non-national government for nearly three centuries, despite overwhelming odds. This course examines how such a conglomeration of disparate peoples and territories held together for so long, and how its cultural diversity provided the incubus for renowned achievements in art, music, science, gastronomy, and politics. We will begin with the Thirty Years' War, which set the disparate territories of the Monarchy on the road to integration, and trace the story of the realm's development to the end of the Great War, when it expired in a wave of national revolutions. The period from 1740 (when Maria Theresa began laying the foundations of the late modern Monarchy) to 1918 will comprise the bulk of the course.
The histories of Bosniaks, Croats, Czechs, Flemings, Germans, Italians, Magyars, Poles, Romanians, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Ukrainians, Walloons, and several smaller nations are intimately bound up with that of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy, and we will devote considerable attention to their national awakenings and efforts to participate (or not) in the governing of the common state. The leadership styles of particular rulers will also merit our consideration. It is, of course, impossible to study the Monarchy in isolation. Until 1806 the Habsburgs usually did double duty as Holy Roman Emperors, and their imperial ambitions led them to expand into the territory of the Ottoman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Consequently, though our focus will be on the Monarchy, we will also learn about these neighbouring entities and their various successors.