Twilight of the Habsburgs

Alan Palmer
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ISBN 9780571269013 Format Paperback
Published 15/04/2010 Length 416 pages

About Book

Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Jerusalem, King of Bohemia, King of Dalmatia, King of Transylvania, King of Croatia and Slovenia, King of Galicia and Illyria, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow, Margrave of Moravia, Duke of Salzburg, Duke of Bukovina, Duke of Modena, Parma, and Piacenza and so on, another thirty or so titles could be added. Was ever a monarch so festooned as Emperor Francis Joseph? He ruled from the Year of the Revolutions, 1848 until his death in 1916. His empire was the most multi-national state ever. An ethnic map of 1910 shows there to be Germans, Magyars, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ruthenes, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Italians, Jews, Muslims, Ladins (in the Tyrol) and Roumanians. What is more, even together the Germans and the Magyars constituted a minority. And yet, as Alan Palmer observes no other European monarch 'exercised full sovereignty for so long.' Unlike Queen Victoria he ruled rather than merely reigned. That alone suggests he was something more than the humourless bureaucrat he is commonly thought to have been, and Alan Palmer is successful in providing a more rounded and sympathetic portrait of him both as head of an empire and head of a family.

His personal life was punctuated with tragedy: his brother, Maximilian was executed y Mexican republicans; his only son, Rudolf shot himself and his mistress at Mayerling; his wife, Empress Elizabeth, was stabbed to death in Geneva, and his nephew and heir, Francis-Ferdinand was assassinated at Sarajevo.

This was the first biography of Francis Joseph by an English writer and was acclaimed when originally published in 1994.

'With great skill Mr Palmer blends in the Emperor's private life with the story of the Empire. . . This is an important book; also an entrancing one.' Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph

'A compelling read' Lawrence James, Evening Standard

  • About Alan Palmer

    Alan Palmer was head of History at Highgate School, London for nineteen years before retiring early to concentrate on historical writing and research. He is the author of more than three dozen works: narrative histories; biographies; historical dictionaries ir reference books. His main interests are in the Napoleonic era, nineteenth century diplomacy, the First World War and Eastern Europe, although his Northern Shores is a history of the Baltic Sea and its peoples from earliest times to 2004. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1980.

    Of Alan Palmer, Sir John Keegan has written, ' Alan Palmer writes the sort of history that dons did before ''accessible'' became an academic insult. It is cool, rational, scholarly, literate.'

    Faber Finds is reissuing a number of his titles: Alexander I, The Gardeners of Salonika, The Chancelleries of Europe, The East End, The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire, The Lands Between, Metternich, Twilight of the Habsburgs.

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