Four Reichs: Austria, Prussia and the Contest for Germany since 1618

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Alan Sked E503


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Government and History and BSc in International Relations and History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The aim of this course is to demonstrate how Austria (The Habsburg Monarchy, subsequently the Republic of Austria) tackled the German Problem as incorporated in a series of challenges: organising and controlling the Holy Roman Empire; withstanding the rivalries of Louis XIV's France and Frederick II's Prussia; resisting the French revolutionary and Napoleonic threat to Germany; organising the German Confederation after 1815; attempting to unify the Habsburg Monarchy and the German Confederation under Austrian leadership after the revolutions of 1848; contesting the leadership of Germany with Bismarck; allying with Imperial Germany in peace and war between 1879 and 1918; co-existing with Weimar Germany; experiencing Anschluss and war between 1938 and 1945; accepting a different path to independence from Germany between 1945 and 1955; taking a different view of the Nazi past from Germany after 1955; and finally, joining Germany as a full member of the EU.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 3 hours of lectures and 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to write one essay in the Michaelmas term and one in the Lent term as well as do at least one class paper over the year. There will be a mock exam in the summer term.

Indicative reading

Charles W. Ingrao, The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1618-1815, 2nd. edition, Cambridge, 2000; Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany, 1648-1840, Princeton, 1982; Alan Sked, Metternich and Austria. An Evaluation, Basingstoke, 2008; Alan Sked, Radetzky. Imperial Victor and Military Genius, London, 2010; Alan Sked, The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, 1815-1918 2nd. edition, London and New York, 2001; Gary W. Shanafelt, The Secret Enemy. Austria-Hungary and the German Alliance, 1914-1918, New York, 1985; Barbara Jelavich, Modern Austria. Empire and Republic. 1800-1986, Cambridge, 1987; F. Parkinson (ed.), Conquering the Past. Austrian Nazism Yesterday and Today, Detroit, 1989; Rolf Steininger, Austria, Germany and the Cold War from the Anschluss to the State Treaty, 1938-1955, New York, 2008; David Art, The Politics of the Nazi Past in Germany and Austria, Cambridge, 2006; Peter J. Katzenstein, Disjoined Partners. Austria and Germany since 1815, Berkeley, 1976.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2012/13: 12

Average class size 2012/13: 12

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills