• The Habsburgs

  • To Rule the World
  • By: Martyn Rady
  • Narrated by: Simon Boughey
  • Length: 14 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (300 ratings)

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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

"Martyn Rady's history of this peculiar family is deeply informed, elegantly written and a joy to read." (Evening Standard [UK])

"This admirably compact, exceptionally well-written survey will probably be the standard one-volume history of the Habsburg dynasty for years to come." (Library Journal)

"A sweeping chronicle of the rise and fall of the Habsburg dynasty." (Kirkus)  

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

11 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.

10 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.

8 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Anti-Catholic and Anti-Habsburg

The book is anti-Catholic and anti-Habsburg. The narrator has a pleasant and clear voice, but interprets the text too much for my taste.

6 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!

3 people 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.

2 people found this helpful

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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

2 people found this helpful

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Meh

Read very well. But the story is all over the place and more short stories about various rulers not very much how they’re connected.

1 person found this helpful

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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.




1 person found this helpful

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Long, Long Record of Disaster

How can you stay in power for this long and be such utter failures. The Hapsburgs didn’t even have enough sense to stop marrying each other and producing imbeciles. Truly hard to make a compelling story about rulers who never got anything right.