Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Habsburg Empire - an historian's judgement

This is the last paragraph of T.C.W.Blanning Joseph II (1994), and can be found on pp. 205-6. This is an excellent book, about which I shall write something more in the near future. However I think this passage is worth sharing as it stands:

"The Habsburg Monarchy was not a state, it never became a state and it never could have become a state. The only way forward to political stability, social harmony, economic prosperity and cultural vitality was to recognize that fundamental fact and make a virtue out of necessity. Writing from the vantage point of the closing years of the twentieth century, it is certainly easier to see that a multi-national empire held together by a single dynasty whose justification was the guarantee of mutual recognition of diversity is a more attractive option than the other solutions which have been tried - and are being tried. With chilling foresight, Prince Charles Schwarzenberg in 1891 asked a radical Czech nationalist the following question: "If you and yours hate this state...what will you do with your country, which is too small to stand alone? Will you give it to Germany or to Russia, for you have no other choice if you abandon the Austrian union." One wonders what he would have said to those Slovaks who have successfully destroyed Czechoslovakia or to those national groups which have destroyed Yugoslavia."

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