Miles Taylor

Speaker: Martyn Rady

Topic: The Habsburgs

Venue: Vinson Lecture Theatre

Time: 14:00-15:00, Sunday 9 October

Talk Summary:

From modest origins, the Habsburgs gained control of the Holy Roman Empire in the fifteenth century. From then on, in just a few decades, their possessions stretched from Hungary to Spain, and from the Far East to the New World. The family would dominate Central Europe until the nemesis of the First World War. With its seemingly disorganised mass of territories large and small, its tangle of laws and privileges, and its medley of languages, the Habsburg Empire can appear haphazard and incomplete. Martyn Rady, cutting though the complexity, shows the reasons for the family’s endurance, driven by the belief that they were destined to rule the world as defenders of the Catholic Church, guarantors of peace, and patrons of learning. The Habsburgs were themselves varied in their characters – from warlords to philosophers, from the clever to the stupid, from idle to frenzied – but all were driven by a deep sense of family mission. Scattered around the world, countless buildings, institutions and works of art continue to bear witness to their impact.

Martyn Rady is Masaryk Professor of Central European History at University College, London. He has written several major works on the history of Hungary, from the medieval period to the twentieth century, and has also written on topics as diverse as the Hussites, vampirism and the Emperor Charles V. He has honorary doctorates from the Károli University in Budapest and the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu in Romania. His most recent book, released to widespread critical acclaim, is The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power (2021).