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For God and KaiserThe Imperial Austrian Army, 1619-1918$
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Richard Bassett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300178586

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300178586.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
For God and Kaiser

Richard Bassett

Yale University Press

This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, to explore whether the Habsburg' army's reputation for inefficiency, incompetence, general unreliability, and even cruelty, is at all justified. It asks: Can the view that the Austrian armed forces were consistently weak and poorly led compared to most of their opponents really be proven? Were they hopelessly outclassed against Frederick's Prussians, or doomed to be routed by Napoleon and later Moltke? Did the Habsburg armies offer, as one historian recently noted, ‘a truly lamentable performance’ in the First World War, crumbling and melting away? How did an army of so many disparate national elements hold together for so long? What was the secret of the Habsburgs' armies' ability to serve one family in organising the states of Central and Eastern Europe into a coherent and secure single entity whose prosperity and security have been so difficult to replicate in modern times? In the process of answering these questions, a commonly accepted narrative can perhaps be enriched by an unfamiliar perspective on many critical events in modern European history.

Keywords:   Imperial Austrian army, European history, Austria, Habsburgs, Austrian armed forces

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