The First World War and the Habsburg Monarchy


The Habsburg Monarchy collapsed at the end of the First World War. What went wrong? Was the Empire’s collapse foreordained or an accident?

This course examines the monarchy as a modern dynastic state facing not only nationalist pressures but unprecedented challenges of total war and socialist revolution.

Target audience:
This course is for anyone interested in history, particularly World War One.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will have:

  • gained an appreciation of the Habsburg Empire’s ethnic diversity and political structure
  • increased your understanding of the impact of war and revolution on this dynastic state
  • gained an appreciation of the varying experiences of different Habsburg nationalities
  • reflected on the importance of nationalism and socialism.

Course outline:
Each session includes two one-hour lecture presentations and time for questions and discussion. The final lecture, in session 4, Part 2, will be short to allow time for a Q&A session.

Session 1

Part 1: The Habsburg Dynasty
Part 2: The Kingdom of Hungary

Session 2

Part 1: Trouble with Slavs? Bosnia and Serbia, Galicia and Poland
Part 2: Triumph in the East: The Ukrainians and the Bread Peace

Session 3

Part 1: German Austria: From hunger to socialist revolution
Part 2: National revolutions in Hungary and beyond

Session 4

Part 1: The Treaties of Neuilly and Trianon
Part 2: The Habsburg legacy in Central Europe

A short break is held halfway through each session, and you are welcome to bring refreshments if you wish.

Alexander Maxwell is a Senior Lecturer in history at Victoria University. He is an expert in the Habsburg Empire and has published articles on Slovak, Hungarian, Polish and Ukrainian history.

Relevant links:
School of History, Philosophy, Political Studies and International Relations

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140
Phone 04 463 6556, Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date to arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.