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Publisher's Summary

The definitive history of a powerful family dynasty who dominated Europe for centuries - from their rise to power to their eventual downfall. 

Habsburgs ruled much of Europe for centuries. From modest origins as minor German nobles, the family used fabricated documents, invented genealogies, savvy marriages, and military conquest on their improbable ascent, becoming the continent's most powerful dynasty. By the mid-15th century, the Habsburgs controlled of the Holy Roman Empire, and by the early 16th century, their lands stretched across the continent and far beyond it. But in 1918, at the end of the Great War, the final remnant of their empire was gone. 

In The Habsburgs, historian Martyn Rady tells the epic story of the Habsburg dynasty and the world it built - and then lost - over nearly a millennium, placing it in its European and global contexts. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the Habsburgs expanded from Swabia across Southern Germany to Austria through forgery and good fortune. By the time a Habsburg duke was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in 1452, he and his clan already held fast to the imperial vision distilled in its AEIOU motto: Austriae est imperare orbi universe, "Austria is destined to rule the world." Maintaining their grip on the imperial succession of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries, the Habsburgs extended their power into Italy, Spain, the New World, and the Pacific, a dominion that Charles V called "the empire on which the sun never sets". They then weathered centuries of religious warfare, revolution, and transformation, including the loss of their Spanish empire in 1700 and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. In 1867, the Habsburgs fatefully consolidated their remaining lands the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, setting in motion a chain of events that would end with the 1914 assassination of the Habsburg heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, World War I, and the end of the Habsburg era. 

Their demise was ignominious, and historians often depict the Habsburgs as leaders of a ramshackle, collapsing empire at Europe's margins. But in The Habsburgs, Rady reveals how they saw themselves - as destined to rule the world, not through mere territorial conquest, but as defenders of Christian civilization and the Roman Catholic Church, guarantors of peace and harmony, and patrons of science and learning. 

Lively and authoritative, The Habsburgs is the engrossing definitive history of the remarkable dynasty that forever changed Europe and the world. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 Martyn Rady (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Habsburgs is gripping, colorful, and dramatic but also concise, scholarly, and magisterial. Martyn Rady recounts the story of Europe's greatest dynasty that ruled an empire, on which the sun never set, from Peru to the Philippines. Revealing a key player in world history for almost a thousand years, The Habsburgs is a chronicle of high politics and family intimacy involving religion, murder, incest, madness, suicide, assassination. History on an epic scale!" (Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs and Jerusalem: The Biography)

"Martyn Rady has written a splendid account of the grandest old dynasty of Europe: the Habsburgs. With wit and firm opinion, he takes the reader on something akin to a tour of the Wunderkammer of the dynasty's many-centuries-long career. Including vampires, an empress's waist size, and cocaine-laced health drinks, Rady's narrative glitters with apt quotes and telling, often ironic details. One does not have to agree entirely with his distinct point of view to recognize that this is an extremely well-founded, most informative, and highly entertaining introduction to a major, and unjustly neglected, part of European history." (Steven Beller, author of The Habsburg Monarchy 1815-1918)

"This is a first global history of Europe's most famous and durable dynasty, chronicling its exploits with great panache over nearly a millennium of rule across wide swathes of the continent and beyond. Martyn Rady writes incisively and judiciously, drawing on much recent international scholarship in a range of languages to illustrate multiple facets of Habsburg governance in theory and practice. At the same time his text is accessible and entertaining, his ready wit providing a delectable counterpoint to the notorious humourlessness of so many of the dynasts he examines." (Robert Evans, regius professor of history emeritus at the University of Oxford)

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An Excellent and Interesting History

This book is a much needed survey of one of the most important in influential dynasties in European history. Especially for Americans who wish to look beyond the British and French dynasties. My interest in the book was piqued as I had once lived in Vienna where I learned German and visited the Schoenbrunn Palace and the Imperial Crypt. I was interested in the Habsburgs but never dove deeper into their history more than the 18th century. Once, while living in southwestern Germany along the Rhine, I noticed the Austrian flag above a medieval city gate and learned that the town, Waldshut, had once been a Habsburg possession. This book helped fill in the gaps and illustrate how big the Habsburg holdings were. Martyn Rady managed to bring dimension and life to the principal figures whilst maintaining a steady march through the history at a good pace.

3 people found this helpful

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Too dry for such a rich history

The book is too much focused on accurately accounting for dates at the expense of weaving a dramatic tale of intrigue. The narrator does a poor job of pronouncing Spanish names.

2 people found this helpful

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Terrible narrator

The narrator is incapable of pronouncing easy words in German and Spanish. This issues creates a distraction everytime that the narrator pathetically mispronounce something.
The book is excellent!

2 people found this helpful

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A comprehensive survey of a complex family dynasty

I very much enjoyed how the book followed the chronology of the dynasty but focused on the game changers and the flamboyant. As usual for me this book will spinoff more tangential study.

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Too little history

The author spends an hour talking about
Masons I’m a a mason non masons will be very
Unhappy he spends hours talking about churches at the expense of history it’s
A travesty i
Thank you

1 person found this helpful

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A fine, if biased, history

This is a relatively enjoyable listen, one that would make for a challengingly slow read. It covers a considerable stretch of history with a hard focus on the Hapsburgs and their territories. Which is to be expected, but the lack of context is occasionally jarring. The narrator does a fine job despite his complete inability to correctly pronounce Spanish words, and probably others. The most irritating aspect of the book is it's strong and sometimes laughable bias in favor of Hapsburgs rulers. Rady seems to rival Edmund Burke for monarchist sentiment. Once this is realized and understood, the book remains a useful overview of an often overlooked era of european history, at least from an American standpoint, so long as the author's conclusions are taken for what they are. Overall it's a dry book, with some flaws, but a useful one to have read. That said I'm not sure I'll walk away from it knowing a whole lot more than I did before, aside from the fact that one guy really, really likes the Hapsburgs.

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editting

could use tighter editing. went astray numerous times on topics and people only peripherally related. at times while driving had difficulty staying awake.




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Good information, learned a lot

Good performance, lots of info, I did feel it got long in its explanation of arts and humanity

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solid book, not sorry focused on central europe

I loved it. really liked the parts on Spain. not sorry focused on central europe.