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Title:The unifying Habsburg Monarchy? Franz Joseph and the Bohemian Crownlands, 1867-1916
Author(s):Jaimes, Marco
Director of Research:Todorova, Maria
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Todorova, Maria
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cooper, David; Steinberg, Mark; Liebersohn, Harry
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Habsburg Monarchy
Habsburg Empire
Franz Joseph
Abstract:Franz Joseph’s reign, one of the longest in European history, spanned from the Revolutions of 1848 to the midst of the First World War. Throughout this time, many among his subjects altered their perception of Franz Joseph from a reactionary absolutist to a benevolent patriarch. This dissertation explores the process by which Franz Joseph developed into a figure of respect and empathy, specifically in the context of the Bohemian Crownlands, which was the most industrialized region of the empire as well as one rife with political turmoil due to the conflict between Czech and German nationalists. It was through a shared loyalty to the emperor, who was seen by his subjects as representing a heterogeneous culture with values that transcended the more parochial identities of neighboring polities, that a sense of community developed. This dissertation examines the dialogical space of creating a community through the example of the late Habsburg Empire by focusing on the symbolic role of the sovereign. The early chapters center on representation, specifically the imperial myth. They analyze the development of the Franz Joseph cult following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Ausgleich of 1867, by highlighting strategies such as the efforts to positively portray the emperor as a protector of cultural developments as well as monitor insults against the emperor that challenged a monolithic view but never changed it. These developments are illustrated by specific case studies, such as in the 1898 Golden Jubilee, Imperial travels across the region, and the First World War. This shared fidelity to Franz Joseph contributed to the longevity of the empire. The peoples of the Bohemian Crownlands recognized Franz Joseph as a traditional figure, yet one tied to modernity. While the empire was mortally wounded by the emperor’s death in 1916, amidst the turmoil of the First World War, the unifying myth of the emperor nevertheless proved to be foundational to some of the successor states like Czechoslovakia, which established a similar cult of personality surrounding the first president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. By analyzing a figure as complex as Franz Joseph and a regime as complicated as the Habsburg Empire, this project moves to further breakdown binaries between nation and empire or modernity and tradition, by showing the permeability of these notions.
Issue Date:2021-04-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Marco Jaimes
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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