The Oxford historians' discovery of Vienna

Yearly Archives: 2018

The Partitions of Poland and on Hypocrisy in Politics

In 1683 Poland saved Austria. In 1772 Austria betrayed Poland. 1683 is the year of the second siege of Vienna by the Ottomans (the first had been in 1529), the Austrian Emperor’s flight from the city, and the saving of the city by the King of Poland – in this succession. So, Leopold I (1604-1705)…
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Franz Ferdinand and the Beginning of the First World War

On 29 June 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Habsburg throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo. The death of this rather unpleasant character assumed the dimensions of a Shakespearean tragedy as it became the pretext for the First World War. Very soon, the whole of Europe would find out that the world was,…
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Franz Joseph and the Advantages of Idleness in Politics

When Franz Joseph (1830-1916) succeeded his uncle Ferdy the Fool as Emperor of Austria in 1848 everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The man at least was not a certifiable mental retard. Moreover, he was quite presentable, had a genuine sense of duty and was extremely hard-working and conscientious. Up to this day, tourists at…
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Haydn in England and the Language that Crosses Borders

At the end of the eighteenth century, Austria’s unrivalled export was its musicians. Three of the greatest music geniuses of all time were near contemporaries, living in Vienna. The eldest was Haydn, there was Mozart, and the German Beethoven who moved from Bonn to Vienna in order to study with Haydn. Then, as now, musicians…
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Georg Lukacs: A Hungarian Philosopher’s Journey from Vienna to Moscow

For the last century or so, Vienna has been the preferred place of political asylum, especially for those coming from Eastern and Central Europe. Admittedly, the profile of the asylum-seekers has somewhat changed. After the fall of Communism in 1989, Vienna turned into the headquarters of Russian, Ukranian and Bulgarian oligarchs, bringing hundreds of millions…
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Ferdy the Fool and the Mystique of Blue Blood

The observation that the concentration of fools and inadequates among European royalty and the higher aristocracy has been way above the average is not an expression of class envy. It is a simple statement of fact, supported by modern science to which the effects of inbreeding are well-known.   [caption id="attachment_2788" align="alignleft" width="220"] Charles II,…
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Metternich and the Rise of the House of Rothschild in Vienna

The beginning of the nineteenth century is sometimes called “the Age of Metternich” after Prince Clemens von Metternich (1773-1859), the Foreign Minister and Chancellor of the Habsburg Empire and arguably the most powerful man in Europe. His credo, implemented through the “Metternich system,” was political equilibrium among the European powers, which would be a guarantee…
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The Emperor Maximilian I as the Ultimate Match-maker

In an essay on Maximilian I (1459-1519), the celebrated English historian Hugh Trevor-Roper relates how at his death in 1519, the Habsburg Emperor was “generally regarded as a complete failure.” The lack of achievement and the succession of bad luck could indeed strike anyone as almost singular. After the death of his first wife Mary of…
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