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The Habsburgs

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Book categories: Monarchy, Empire, Holy Roman Empire, Rudolf II, Maria Theresa, Joseph II, Franz Joseph and Sissi, Mayerling, Franz Ferdinand, Last Habsburgs, Austria-Hungary, Miscellaneous, Fiction, Movies

Habsburg Monarchy

The Habsburgs: To Rule the World by Martyn Rady. The history of a family dynasty who dominated Europe for centuries, from their rise to power to their downfall.

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918: A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary by Alan John Percivale Taylor.

The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire by Andrew Wheatcroft. A history of the rise to power and eventual decline of the Habsburg empire.

The Habsburgs: Dynasty, Culture and Politics by Paula Sutter Fichtner. How did the Habsburg dynasty come to play such a decisive role in the fate of Europe?

The Habsburg Monarchy: From Enlightenment to Eclipse by Robin Okey. Explores how the multi-national dynasty uniquely reacted to the same forces that were affecting Europe as a whole.

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1618-1815 by Charles W. Ingrao. Challenges the notion of the Habsburg state and society as backward, and suggests links between the early modern monarchy and the problems of contemporary Europe.

The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey by Gordon Brook-Shepherd. The author was given access to Habsburg family archives.

Image of the Monarchy

The Last Descendant of Aeneas: The Hapsburgs and the Mythic Image of the Emperor by Marie Tanner. Focuses on the importance of the Roman emperor's mythic image for the development of Western political thought.

Limits of Loyalty edited by Laurence Cole and Daniel L. Unowsky. Imperial symbolism, popular allegiances and state patriotism in the late Habsburg monarchy.

The Afterlife of Austria-Hungary by Adam Kozuchowski. Examines the image of the Habsburg monarchy between the World Wars.

Habsburg Empire

The History of the Habsburg Empire: 1526-1918 by Robert A. Kann. A history of the numerous people who lived under the sceptre of this historic ruling house.

The Habsburg Empire: A New History by Pieter M. Judson. Shows why the Habsburg Empire mattered so much, for so long, to millions of Central Europeans.

The Habsburg Monarchy 1490-1848: Attributes of Empire by Paula Sutter Fichtner. Drawing upon modern theoretical perspectives on European expansion, the author argues that the Habsburg holdings constituted a form of European imperialism.

The Remnants of the Habsburg Monarchy by John C. Swanson is about the Austrian and Hungarian governments after the First World War.

Books About Charles V
Books About the Holy Roman Empire

Rudolf II

The Magic Circle of Rudolf II: Alchemy and Astrology in Renaissance Prague by Peter Marshall. Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Hungary, Germany, and the Romans -- is one of history's great characters. His reign (1576-1612) made Prague the artistic and scientific center of the known world.

Nature Illuminated: Flora and Fauna from the Court of Emperor Rudolf II edited by Lee Hendrix, Georg Bocskay, and Joris Hoefnagel. Beautiful illuminated calligraphy from Rudolf II's court.

An Abecedarium: Illuminated Alphabets from the Court of Emperor Rudolf II by Lee Hendrix and Thea Vignau-Wilberg.

Maria Theresa

In Destiny's Hands: Five Tragic Rulers, Children of Maria Theresa by Justin C. Vovk. An imperial mother determined to forge alliances through marriage, and the price her children paid for it.

Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art by Michael Yonan. Between 1740 and 1780, Empress Maria Theresa governed the Habsburg Empire. This book examines the role that paintings, architecture, porcelain, garden sculpture, and decorative objects played in her identity as a monarch.

The War of the Austrian Succession by Reed Browning. About the eight-year war that began with the accession of Maria Theresa.

Books About Marie Antoinette

Joseph II

Joseph II: Volume I, In the Shadow of Maria Theresa, 1741-1780 by Derek Beales. A biography of the first emperor of the house of Habsburg-Lorraine.

Joseph II: Volume II, Against the World, 1780-1790 by Derek Beales. This second and final volume of Derek Beales's biography of Joseph II describes the period when he was sole ruler of the Austrian Monarchy. Available at Amazon.

Joseph II by T. C. W. Blanning. This short study offers a history of the Habsburg monarchy in the 18th century as well as a re-evaluation of the emperor's complex personality and his ill-fated reform program.

The Charmed Circle: Joseph II and the Five Princesses, 1765-1790 by Rebecca Gates-Coon. In late 18th-century Vienna, five aristocratic women achieved social preeminence and acclaim as close associates of Emperor Joseph II.

Mozart at the Gateway to His Fortune: Serving the Emperor, 1788-1791 by Christoph Wolff. Mozart entered into the service of Emperor Joseph II of Austria as Imperial-Royal Chamber Composer -- a distinguished title with few obligations. This book includes eight pages of illustrations.

Franz Joseph and Sissi

Twilight of the Habsburgs: The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Joseph by Alan Warwick Palmer. Biography of the emperor of Austria and the history of Europe during his reign.

Emperor Francis Joseph: Life, Death and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire by John Van Der Kiste. In 1848, Francis Joseph became king of Hungary and emperor of Austria. This book focuses on his life and family, examining their personal relationships against the turbulent decline of their empire.

Emperor Francis Joseph, King of the Hungarians by Andras Gero. Examines relations between the Habsburg ruler of Hungary and his subjects from the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1849 to World War I.

Franz Joseph and Elisabeth: The Last Great Monarchs of Austria-Hungary by Karen B. Owens. Biography of Austria's last significant emperor and his enigmatic wife.

The Pomp and Politics of Patriotism: Imperial Celebrations in Habsburg, Austria, 1848-1916 by Daniel L. Unowsky. Examines the image of emperor Franz Joseph as a symbol of common identity in the Austrian half of the Habsburg Monarchy (Cisleithania).

The Emperor and the Peasant: Two Men at the Start of the Great War and the End of the Habsburg Empire by Kenneth Janda. Juxtaposes the experiences of Franz Joseph I, emperor of Austria-Hungary, and Samuel Mozolak, a Slovak laborer.


Lonely Empress by Joan Haslip. Biography of Franz Joseph's wife, whose search for freedom was as legendary as her beauty.

Sissi's World: The Empress Elisabeth in Memory and Myth edited by Maura E. Hametz and Heidi Schlipphacke. Explores cultural foundations for the endurance of legends about Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Crown Prince Rudolf

Crime at Mayerling: The Life and Death of Mary Vetsera: With New Expert Opinions Following the Desecration of Her Grave by Georg Markus, translated by Carvel De Bussy. In 1889 Crown Prince Rudolf apparently killed his mistress, Mary Vetsera, and committed suicide, although some believe they were murdered.

Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson. In 1889, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary shot his mistress and himself. Drawing on interviews with members of the Habsburg family and archival sources, this book reconstructs what happened and refutes conspiracy stories.

A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 by Frederic Morton. Tells the haunting story of Crown Prince Rudolf and his city.

Royal Rebel by John T. Salvendy examines the life and psychology of Crown Prince Rudolf.

The Road to Mayerling: Life and Death of Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria by Richard Barkeley. The 1899 murder/suicide of Crown Prince Rudolph and Mary Vetsera remains a mystery to this day. This biography examines the causes of the tragedy.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World by Greg King and Sue Woolmans. When Austrian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand married against the wishes of the emperor, he and his wife were shunned, yet they remained devoted to each other. Their assassination sparked the First World War and doomed their children to lives of loss, exile, and the horrors of Nazi concentration camps.

One Morning in Sarajevo: 28 June 1914 by David James Smith. Focusing on the man behind the killing, and using newly available sources (including the few surviving witnesses), this book reconstructs the assassination of Frances Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.

Books About Royalty & World War I

The Last Habsburgs

The End of the Habsburgs: The Decline and Fall of the Austrian Monarchy by John Van Der Kiste. The final chapter of the Habsburgs, from the Napoleonic era to the age of the dictators and post-war Europe.

A Heart for Europe: The Lives of Emperor Charles and Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary by James and Joanna Bogle. Charles I earned the nickname Peace-Emperor, but his idealistic struggle led to an early death in exile.

Blessed Charles of Austria: A Holy Emperor and His Legacy by Charles Coulombe. Biography of Emperor Karl I of Austria, who died in 1922 and was beatified by the Catholic church in 2004.

The Last Habsburg by Gordon Brook-Shepherd. Biography of Charles I, the last Habsburg emperor, who died in 1922.

Uncrowned Emperor: The Life and Times of Otto Von Habsburg by Gordon Brook-Shepherd. Biography. Born heir presumptive to an empire, the life of Charles I's son Otto von Habsburg has mirrored some of the most dramatic events of the 20th century.

More Books

Courts and Courtiers

Vienna and Versailles: The Courts of Europe's Dynastic Rivals, 1550-1780 by Jeroen Duindam. Recreates the lives of courtiers and servants of the imperial court in Vienna and the royal court in Paris-Versailles from the 16th to the 18th century.

War, Religion and Court Patronage in Habsburg Austria: The Social and Cultural Dimensions of Political Interaction, 1521-1622 by Karin J. MacHardy. Selective court patronage changed the cultural habits of nobles in education, manners, and tastes, but failed to transform religious identities.

Early Modern Era

Queen's Apprentice: Archduchess Elizabeth, Empress Maria, the Habsburgs, and the Holy Roman Empire, 1554-1569 by Joseph F. Patrouch. Recounts the first fifteen years, early education, and marriage negotiations of Empress Maria's daughter Elizabeth.

Philip of Spain by Henry Arthur Francis Kamen. Biography of King Philip II of Spain, son of Emperor Charles V.

The Empress, the Queen, and the Nun by Magdalena S. Sanchez is about three powerful women in the court of Philip III of Spain -- Empress Maria, Margaret of Austria, and Margaret of the Cross -- who worked to advance the cause of the Habsburgs.

One Foot in the Palace: The Habsburg Court of Brussels and the Politics of Access in the Reign of Albert and Isabella, 1598-1621 by Dries Raeymaekers, translated by John R. J. Eyck. Eager to reassert his dynasty's authority, Archduke Albert ruled the Habsburg Netherlands as sovereign prince in his own right.

18th & 19th Centuries

Double Emperor: The Life and Times of Francis of Austria by Chip Wagar. Emperor (as Francis II) of the Holy Roman Empire, Francis also became the first emperor of Austria.

Empress Marie Therese and Music at the Viennese Court, 1792-1807 by John A. Rice. Empress Marie Therese, second wife of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II (Francis I of Austria), devoted her life to music.

More Than Mere Spectacle edited by Klaas Van Gelder. Coronations and inaugurations in the Habsburg monarchy during the 18th and 19th centuries.

20th Century

The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke by Timothy Snyder. Biography of Wilhelm Von Habsburg, who repudiated his family to fight alongside Ukrainian peasants. Later he was an opponent of Hitler and Stalin.

Hitler and the Habsburgs: The Fuhrer's Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals by James Longo. How Adolf Hitler's obsession with the Habsburg imperial family drove his rise to power and led to the Second World War and the Holocaust.

Books About Spanish Royalty
Dutch Royalty
European Royalty
German Royalty
Italian Royalty
American Royalty


Love and Death in Vienna by Bunny Paines-Clemes. A novel about the tragic romance of Crown Prince Rudolf and Baroness Mary Vetsera.

The Accidental Empress: A Novel by Allison Pataki. Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, known as Sisi, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor, but Franz Joseph declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki. Married to Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, Sisi feels stifled by strict protocols and a turbulent marriage.

An American in Vienna by Chip Wagar. Novel about a journalist who visits Austria in 1914 and witnesses the end of the Habsburg dynasty.

Movies About the Habsburgs

These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.

Fall of Eagles. In the late 19th century, three ruling houses dominated Europe: the Hapsburgs of Austria-Hungary, the Romanovs of Russia, and Hohenzollerns of Germany. Lack of social reform and the First World War caused the vultures of revolution to start circling. This 13-part epic BBC drama features an all-star cast including Patrick Stewart and John Rhys-Davies.

The Crown Prince. A 2006 mini-series about Crown Prince Rudolf, shot on location in Austria. Stars Max von Thun, Vittoria Puccini, Omar Sharif.

Mayerling. A ballet about the tragedy of Crown Prince Rudolf.

Sissi. A three-part German drama about Austrian Archduke Franz Joseph and Princess Elizabeth (Sissi) of Bavaria. Sometimes available at Amazon in various versions and languages.

Mayerling. 1937 French film about the Rudolf tragedy, on videotape with English subtitles. Stars Charles Boyer as the prince and Danielle Darrieux as his mistress. Sometimes available on video.

Mayerling. This 1968 movie stars Omar Sharif as Prince Rudolf and Catherine Deneuve as his mistress. The cast also includes Ava Gardner and James Mason. Sometimes available on video.

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