Hungary and the Habsburgs, 1765-1800

An Experiment in Enlightened Absolutism
$90.00 / €79.00 / £71.00
Publication date: 
304 pages

One of the most distinguished historians of Central Europe examines a crucial period in the coexistence of the Austrian hereditary provinces and Hungary. In a Europe torn by wars and revolutions during the last third of the eighteenth century, political, economic, and personal factors intertwined to determine the fortunes of the Austrian rulers and the subjects of the Hungarian crown who collaborated with them.

Contemporary as well as modern scholars have taken extreme positions on this period. Contributing to the often heated debates, Professor Balázs shows that it was a vigorous and constructive era in the monarchy. Rejecting the commonplaces of the center-periphery approach, she demonstrates that the Habsburg monarchy was a center whose reforms during this period inspired all subsequent reform movements in Central and Eastern Europe.


Part I. Maria Theresa and the Making of Habsburg Enlightened Absolutism 
1. 1765: The Beginning of a New Era
2. The Theoretical Foundations of Enlightened Political and Economic Reform in Austria
3. The Leadership of Austrian Enlightened Absolutism 
4. Stirrings in the Social Structure

Part II. Joseph II and Radical Reform. The Drama of the 1780s
5. A Decade of Revolutions 
6. Joseph II and the Strategy for Radical Modernization
7. Reshaping Institutions: The Case of Hungary
8. Society Mobilized
9. Crisis: The Convergence of International and Domestic Difficulties
10. Joseph II and Josephism: A Historical Balance Sheet 

Geographical Names

"All those who have realised the importance of Hungary but lacked the wherewithal to teach it will welcome this superb distillation of a lifetime's study in a lucid English translation. It combines the fruits of research in Europe's archives with an extensive secondary literature, and the comprehensive references reveal that the book has been updated since its appearance in Hungarian... This is far more than a book on Hungary's relations with the Habsburgs: it is nothing less than the integration of Hungary into the history of the Habsburg Monarchy (and indeed Europe) in the last third of the eighteenth century."
"... the strength of this valuable study clearly is the social-historical analysis of Josephism in a wide political context."
“The product of four decades of research, this book contributes a great deal of new information, much of it carefully distilled to fill gaps left by previous historical works.”
“Éva H. Balázs's work is a brilliant historical essay and represents the very peak of modern scholarship on Enlightement political and economical reforms in Central Europe. The author is one of the leading historians of the eighteenth century and her grasp of the issues involved in Enlightened economic and politicl reform, in my opinion, is second to none . . .a historiographical achievement of exceptional value. In addition, Professor Balázs's interpretation is of the highest intellectual quality.”
“In great historical debate about enlightened absolutism, the Austria of Maria Theresa and Joseph II occupies a prominent place. Hungary has been, by contrast, largely ignored by international scholarship, usually dismissed as a mere backward and recalcitrant province. In this book Éva H. Balázs, one of the foremost living authorities on eighteenth century Central Europe, repairs that omission and demonstrates that neither state-building nor modernization in the Habsburg lands can be understood without close reference to Hungary.”
“The importance of the present work lies in its information on Hungarian politics and society during the period of enlightened absolutism. In the course of her account, Balázs exposes several of the myths which have worked their way into the English-language accounts of late eighteenth-century Hungary. She convincingly demonstrates, therefore, that the upper reaches of the Hungarian aristocracy were by no means ‘Austrianized’ elite, but that they always retained close connections with their homeland.”
"... not simply an English translation of the original. Although no conteptual changes have been introduced, the text has been improved and extended, notes, a detailed bibliography, a separate index, etc. have also been added. Tim Wilkinson superbly did the translation, and the Central European University Press now publishes this new, nice version."