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The Habsburgs Paperback – May 1, 1997
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1.This book asserts that the Habsburgs consciously created and manipulated their own families mythology to a degree unseen in Europe. This is greatly misleading for it forgets (unbelievably) the other great mythology making machines around at the time (the Medici's in Florence, the Bourbons in France and so on).
2.Though the Habsburgs did manipulate their image via various means it cannot be stated with the certainty with which Wheatcroft does that it was a conscious family project from the days of Rudolf I (1218-1291). Certainly it preoccupied his later descendents but Rudoplf and his immediate progeny were simply behaving in a pattern familiar to most rulers of the time.
3. I must also stress that the book is not an easy read, mostly due to the fact that the author jumps around the historic timeline and throws in a few dozen Hapsburg names (some with no numbers attached which can be really confusing seeing as the Habsburgs shared names profusely) to confuse things even more. I also disliked the references made to figures of whom we know nothing about and who the author says nothing about.
Oh and this is not a history of the rulers themselves but rather a book on how the Habsburgs manipulated their image down the centuries. Do not buy it if you want to find out about individual rulers achievements, acts etc. Very little of that can be found in this book.
From the traditional historical point of view-that in which history is the chronology recounting of war and changes in power-nothing of significance really happened in Austria that wasn't somehow associated with the Habsburgs. Whether or not this is the case is the subject of a different book-the subject of this one is the Habsburg family itself. Although their presence lasted longer in Austria than anywhere else, this powerful family also ruled the Netherlands, and Spain, and often provided the figurehead for the Holy Roman Empire.
Probably to an extent greater than any other royal house, the Habsburgs had their greatest successes not on the battlefield, but in the bedroom. They married their way to what at one point was the largest empire in the world, encompassing not only the majority of the German-speaking lands, but also the Lowlands, the Iberian peninsula, and the Spanish territories in North and South America, and Asia. Quite a feat for a dynasty that had been chased out of their hereditary home and namesake 300 years earlier by pitchfork-wielding Swiss peasants. The Habsburg story is more concerned with the issues of power than it is with warfare, which often went quite badly for them.
Given a unique and interesting subject, the author takes a somewhat non-traditional approach.Read more ›
The book is not as bad as some reviewers would lead you to believe. What I liked about it is that (to me, at least) it didn't get bogged down in tedious detail of each Hapsburg generation but gave the major facts and figures in an informative manner. Given that the Hapsburgs wielded power in Spain and Austria at the same time, I thought his treatment was informative without being boring. It would be nice if the author had inserted the applicable figure number for a view of the subject as he presented him (or her) but this is a personal preference.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting take on the history of the Hapsburg family and their successes and failures in molding an empire within the context of the near modern European nation-state idea.Published 6 months ago by Tom Ryan
A much-needed comprehensive, accessible history about a unique family.Published 10 months ago by perthaus
This book I found rather boring. To much details as if it was written in 1885.Published 12 months ago by Barbara Guskin
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... Read morePublished 14 months ago by R Helen
Lots of details of what for me was an unknown period of European history. Very helpful as a primer when travelling in the area.Published 16 months ago by R. OTTO