The family of Habsburg ruled Austria for nearly 650 years, from a modest beginning as dukes protecting the border of Germany, they became emperors of Austria and of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.  The House of Habsburg, also officially called the House of Austria, is one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe.

Wikipedia says of the Hasburgs: The Habsburg Monarchy (or Habsburg Empire) is an umbrella term used by historians for the numerous lands and kingdoms of the Habsburg dynasty, especially for those of the Austrian line. Although from 1438 until 1806 (with the exception of 1742–1745) a member of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the Empire itself is not considered a part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

The formation of the Habsburg Monarchy began with the election of Rudolf I as King of Germany in 1273 and his acquisition of the Duchy of Austria for his house in 1282. In 1482, Maximilian I acquired the Netherlands through marriage. Both these territories lay within the Empire and passed to his grandson and successor,
Charles V, who also inherited Spain and its colonies and ruled the Habsburg Empire at its greatest territorial extent.

The abdication of Charles V in 1556 led to a broad division of the Habsburg holdings between his brother Ferdinand I, who was his deputy in the Austrian lands since 1521 and the elected king of Hungary and Bohemia since 1526, and his son Philip II of Spain. The Spanish branch (which also held the Netherlands, Burgundy and lands in Italy) went extinct in 1700. The Austrian branch (which also had the Imperial throne and ruled Hungary, Bohemia and all the crowns entailed to them) was itself divided between different branches of the family from 1564 until 1665, but thereafter it remained a single personal union.

The Habsburg monarchy was thus a union of crowns—with no single constitution or shared institutions outside of the Habsburg court itself—composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The composite state became the dominant form of monarchies on the European continent in the early modern era. The unification of the Habsburg monarchy took place in the early 19th century. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It collapsed following defeat in the First World War.

In historiography, the Habsburg Monarchy (of the Austrian branch) is often called “Austria” by metonymy. Around 1700 the Latin term monarchia austriaca came into use as a term of convenience. Within the empire alone this vast monarchy included the original hereditary lands, the Erblande, from before 1526; the lands of the Bohemian crown; the formerly Spanish Netherlands from 1714 until 1794; and some fiefs in Imperial Italy. Outside the empire it encompassed all the lands of the crown of Hungary, as well as conquests made at the expense of the Turks. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was in Prague.

The Habsburg Defect
Brian Bridges kindly alerted me to the Habsburg Jaw or Chin, a condition marked by a protrusion of the lower jaw. It has long been associated with inbreeding due to the high prevalence of consanguineous marriages in the Habsburg dynasty. However, it is thought that mandibular prognathism, the medical name for the condition, may also be the result of a dominant major gene.  Like many royal families, the Habsburgs made strategic marriages to consolidate their power, often to close relatives. And while the dynasty’s regalia was glittery and their palaces splendid, the royals themselves were markedly less easy on the eyes:   Generation after generation, of Habsburg monarchs had sharply jutting jaws, bulbous lower lips and long noses. In short, they were really ugly!
Further Information
Amazon books have several book formats for sale on this topic, some of which are (click through for the links below):
•       The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power by Martyn Rady 
•       The End of the Habsburgs: The Decline and Fall of the Austrian Monarchy by John Van der Kiste  
•       The Battle of Znaim: Napoleon, The Habsburgs and the end of the 1809 War by John H Gill   
•       The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire by Dominique Kirchner Reill  
•       The Habsburgs (Dynasties) by Benjamin Curtis  
•       The Habsburg Empire: A New History by Pieter M. Judson  
•       The Habsburg Empire: A Very Short Introduction by Martyn Rady 
•       The First World War and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1914-1918 by Manfried Rauchensteiner  
•       Men Under Fire: Motivation, Morale, and Masculinity among Czech Soldiers in the Great War, 1914-1918 (Austrian and Habsburg Studies) by Jiří Hutečka  
•       A History of the Habsburg Empire 1273-1700 by Jean Berenger and C.A. Simpson    
Martin Pollins
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