Andrew Wheatcroft has written and lectured widely on European and Middle Eastern history. His books include The Ottomans and The Hapsburgs.
The Habsburgsby Andrew Wheatcroft
The Habsburgs have been described at one extreme as demons – responsible for a ‘long history of atrocities’; and, at the other, as dodos – living fossils unable to adapt to the modern world. In reality, the flamboyant royal family appear, in many ways, to have behaved much like most other monarchies. Their story, however, is none the less… See more details below
The Habsburgs have been described at one extreme as demons – responsible for a ‘long history of atrocities’; and, at the other, as dodos – living fossils unable to adapt to the modern world. In reality, the flamboyant royal family appear, in many ways, to have behaved much like most other monarchies. Their story, however, is none the less enthralling for that. It is populated by such unforgettable figures as mad Queen Juana, progressing through Spain with her husband’s decaying body; the ‘heroically fertile’ Maria Theresa, and the quixotic Maximilian, ‘Emperor’ of Mexico.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- Product dimensions:
- 7.82(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.18(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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It was so far from what the topic was s/b that I stopped reading after the 2nd chapter.
As a trained historian [M.A., UofMich], I found that Wheatcroft's study of how the Hapsburgs successfully propagated their long regime employing psychological and mystical symbolism and architectual/artistic monuments as much as armed force or advantageous marriages is extremely interesting. Wheatcroft's research over the eight centuries covered in the book is awesome and he does recount the several near-misses that the Hapsburg Dynasty had with extinction or assimilation in its early days with clarity. However good his research and original p.o.v., Wheatcroft inflicts a clunky and even ambiguous style on his readers. Often pronouns are difficult to relate to their antecedants and the multitude of characters in the book are not given much color---[then he WAS working with the Hapsburgs!] Also, his narrative line often shifts from page to page and even paragraph to paragraph and one sometimes gets lost in tangents he takes. However, he does not slight religion as secular historians seem to do nowadays & his biases, if any, are pro-Hapsburg. Indeed, I give him a three on balance because he is so very tilted in giving the Hapsburgs the benefit of numerous historical doubts in their long cavalcade as the ascendant power in much of Europe. His overall work ethic cannot be slighted [The annual prize for historical writing in the UK is called The Wheatcroft Prize] and one only wishes for more illustrations of the hundreds of buildings, monuments, and characters the Hapsburgs produced over those eight centuries that he describes in much detail.
This book gives the reader a feeling for the Habsburg dynasty and where they ruled across Europe. However, it offers very little understanding about the impact of their beliefs and rule on the course of events in Europe and the New World. What is discussed in this area is peripheral to the author's focus, which is more about the family's efforts to connect themselves to antiquity and Christianity (i.e., Catholicism). Wheatcroft seems to think what the Habsburg's did is unique among ruling families during these centuries in Europe. In fact all rulers and those who were successful transferring power down through generations of the same family worked to connect themselves to the divine so I'm not really understanding what the 'ah-ha' is here in this book. If you're wanting to understand what type of impact the Habsburgs had on Europe and the world you won't learn much by reading this book.
The Habsburgs is full of information. It is hard to believe how this family did it. The only thing that I didn't like was teh amount spent on other Habsburgs, like Marie Antoinette. I think that they should have put some information about them, too.