Martyn Rady, "The Habsburgs: To Rule the World" (Basic Books, 2020)


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In The Habsburgs: To Rule the World (Basic Books, 2020), Martyn Rady, Masaryk Professor of Central European History at University College London, tells the epic story of a dynasty and the world it built -- and then lost -- over nearly a millennium. From modest origins in what is to-day southern Germany and Switzerland, the Habsburgs gained control first of Austria in the 12th century and then the Holy Roman Empire in the fifteenth century. Then, in just a few decades, their possessions rapidly expanded to take in a large part of Europe, stretching from Hungary to Spain, and parts of the New World and the Far East. The Habsburgs continued to dominate Central Europe through the First World War.

Historians often depict the Habsburgs as leaders of a ramshackle empire. But in this wide-ranging view of their past, Professor Rady reveals Habsburg’s enduring power, driven by the belief that they were destined to rule the world as defenders of the Roman Catholic Church, guarantors of peace, and patrons of learning. The Habsburgs is a highly interesting and readable history of a remarkable dynasty that forever changed Europe and the world. A perfect book for the lay educated reader who has heard of the dynasty but wants to know more.

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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