-> "That extraordinary empire known as the Austrian-Hungarian Dual Monarchy is less an Empire or a Kingdom or a State than the ''personal property'' of the Habsburgs, whose hereditary talent for the acquisition of land is recorded on the map of Europe today!"
-->-- '''James W. Gerard, American diplomat'''

The Habsburg Empire was not a normal empire. Even when UsefulNotes/{{Austria}} was the premier power, its preeminence was not the same as that of Russia under the Czars. Rather the Habsburgs, one of the [[BlueBlood great houses of Europe]], were the feudal system taken to its logical extreme, with dozens of nations having no connection to one another except their joint allegiance to the Habsburg [[TheClan Family]]. (Note that the spelling "Hapsburg," common in older English translations, is not considered the most correct.) Therefore it is proper to refer to their state (and by extension its military) by reference to The Family. ([[TheFamilyForTheWholeFamily Not that one]] [[NotSoDifferent despite occasional resemblances]].)

The first Habsburg was a warlord named Rudolph who was FeudalOverlord of an alpine fortress called ''Habichtsburg'', which translates into English as "the Hawk's Castle", whence the name "Habsburg." He was elected Emperor of the HolyRomanEmpire in 1273, ''because'' of his lack of resources, which it was hoped would make him controllable. As it turned out, Rudolph had considerable military skill and sacked enough rebellious barons' castles to persuade them of the advisability of good order and loyalty to the crown. The Habsburg family became known for its skill in diplomacy and acquired many possessions by marriage, giving rise to the motto "Let others wage wars, but you, merry Austria, marry!" (''Bella gerant alii, tu, felix Austria, nube!)''. At one time, because of a previous merger with the royal family of Spain, it was an empire with holdings in the Western as well as the Eastern hemisphere, becoming the first "Empire on which the sun never sets"; however, the Spanish-based section of the family and the Austrian-based one were split, with Charles V giving Spain and the Netherlands to his son Phillip (Felipe II of Spain) and the Central/Eastern European realms to his brother Ferdinand, and the Spanish branch eventually died out for [[HeirClubForMen lack of male issue]] (and [[RoyallyScrewedUp sanity]]).

The Habsburg imperial forces were always a motley and colorful patchwork of levies from their various possessions as well as mercenaries. They probably reached their greatest height of prestige during the UsefulNotes/ItalianWars, in which they took on France- previously the most feared army in Europe- and the wealth of Italy and utterly, brutally crushed both under heel. This ushered in almost a century of continuous Habsburg dominance that only began to slip during UsefulNotes/TheEightyYearsWar and UsefulNotes/ThirtyYearsWar decades later. The latter saw brilliant but ruthless general Wallenstein fight on against the enemies of the Empire and win a number of battles -- only to lose his position due to anti-Imperial Western intervention hammering his army coupled with an overweening personal ambition.

After that the Habsburg forces mostly just scraped by. They could always field a decent army, but rarely a BadassArmy, though exceptional generals like Tilly, Eugene of Savoy, or Archduke Charles of Austria-Teschen occasionally won outstanding victories. It was, however, always a colorful force and had as one of its most interesting features a number of [[ProudWarriorRace Proud Warrior Races]] from the Balkans, such as the Hussars from Hungary and the Grenzers from Croatia, Serbia and Romania. Slightly less romantic were the rather stolid [[WeAreNotTheWehrmacht ethnic Germans]] from Austria and allied states. They won few spectacular battles, but they did keep the Empire together until WorldWarI which ushered in the end of the Habsburgs as a state and the end of their military. By this time the Austro-Hungarian forces were probably one of the ''worst'' armies in Europe. Before Russia's domestic collapse in 1917, the Russian Army under Brusilov utterly smashed their Austro-Hungarian opponents in the Ukraine, to the point that ImperialGermany had to bail them out. Furthermore, the Austrian suffered some embarrassing defeats at the hands of the much smaller Serbian army - they managed to conquer Serbia eventually, but once again it was only with substantial German aid. It should be mentioned that, since so many of the Austro-Hungarian soldiers were Slavs, they were understandably rather reluctant to fight under a Germanic/Hungarian banner against other Slavs (Russians and Serbs). The Austro-Hungarian army had considerably more success against the Italians...but they ''still'' lost eventually, further cementing their RedShirtArmy status.

One rather odd victory they had was Lissa, in which they defeated the Italian fleet in the war with Prussia and Italy in the nineteenth century -- probably the only naval battle the Central-European Habsburgs ever won. Also, while their battleships did practically nothing during WorldWarI, the tiny Austrian submarine force managed to pull off some amazing stunts; captain Von Trapp (made popular in Film/TheSoundOfMusic) was their greatest submarine ace. Another peculiarity noted by historians was that by the end of WWI, the Austro-Hungarian Army "laid down their arms" (rather than ''surrendered''); they ''outlasted the Empire they served.''

Rather amazingly the last Austrian Crown Prince, Otto von Habsburg (or Otto Habsburg-Lothringen in Austria) lived until the ripe old age of 98, [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/04/otto-von-habsburg-obituary dying on the 4th of July, 2011]] . Had he actually succeeded his father on the throne he would have [[LongRunner reigned for 88 years, becoming one of the longest reigning monarchs in European history.]] A politician of UsefulNotes/TheEuropeanUnion, he allegedly once punched [[UsefulNotes/TheTroubles Ian Paisley]] after the latter insulted UsefulNotes/ThePope as ''the Antichrist'' in the European Parliament.

[[http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/ A useful source for info on the Austro-Hungarian army]].

!!Tropes as depicted in fiction:

* BornInTheWrongCentury: Austria under the Habsburgs had the strange honor of being seen as both [[{{Ruritania}} bafflingly backward for its time]] and oddly ''progressive'' for the era, which tends to show in works and folklore involving the Empire. Among other things, the Empire pre-WorldWarI was a multicultural and multinational hotbed...in an Europe where ethnic nationalism and the effects of the "Springtime of Nations" were still in vogue.
* CoolHorse: The famous Lipizzaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School, which even merited a Creator/{{Disney}} movie, ''[[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057312/ Miracle of the White Stallions]]''.
* {{Determinator}}: Tends to be shown as this trope as well. Given that until WorldWarI, Austria/Austria-Hungary had gone through ''centuries'' of threats that would have torn up other countries. This could also apply to the Austro-Hungarian military, which for all its weaknesses effectively ''outlasted their own Empire.''
* FolkHero: Prince Eugene of Savoy, undoubtedly Austria's best military commander during the 17th and 18th centuries, has a German folksong, ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg78Px9Uoic Prinz Eugen, der edle Ritter]]'' ("Prince Eugene, the noble knight") about him, which details his recapture of Belgrade from the Turks in 1717.
-->''Als Prinz Eugenius dies vernommen,\\
Ließ er gleich zusammenkommen\\
Sein' Gen'ral und Feldmarschall.\\
Er tät sie recht instruieren,\\
Wie man sollt' die Truppen führen\\
Und den Feind recht greifen an.''
* FromNobodyToNightmare: How the dynasty is sometimes portrayed. Given how it rose from a relatively obscure noble house in what is now Switzerland to becoming sovereigns of the Danubian realms until the end of World War I.
* IHaveManyNames: Depending on the time period and whoever's describing it, the Habsburg Empire has been referred to as the Habsburg Monarchy, Danube Monarchy, Austrian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Dual Monarchy, or simply TheEmpire.
* KickedUpstairs[=/=]ReassignmentBackfire: The Habsburgs initially gained the Imperial throne of the HolyRomanEmpire amidst a [[DeadlyDecadentCourt conniving nobility]] who thought they could manipulate the new Emperor into forwarding their own agenda. By the time the HRE was dissolved in the Napoleonic Wars however, the Empire had long become synonymous with Austria and the Habsburgs in particular; with one exception, the position was held by a Habsburg in continuous succession in the later centuries of the HRE.
* ModestRoyalty: The Habsburgs, at least later on, were also depicted as this compared to most other royal houses in Europe. Franz Joseph's quarters in particular were said to be relatively spartan and bare-bones, reflecting his military background.
* MultinationalTeam: The Habsburg Empire tends to be depicted as in real life as a veritable multinational, multicultural and multi-religious domain with a predominantly German (and later, Hungarian) veneer, in contrast to ImperialGermany.
* TheRemnant: The Habsburg realms tend to be seen as one to the old Holy Roman Empire.
* {{Ruritania}} : Often thought to have inspired this trope. Justified a bit, but more often than not, even its contemporaries didn't do the research and thought of the country as far more backwards, ignorant and undeveloped [[RealityIsUnrealistic than it was in reality]].
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: The myriad possible fates of the Austro-Hungarian Empire open up a can of "what ifs" used in AlternateHistory fiction. Had Franz Ferdinand survived his assassination, Karl ascended the throne much earlier[[note]]Alternately, had [[RegentForLife Miklos Horthy]] allowed [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_I_of_Austria Karl to reclaim the throne in Hungary]].[[/note]] or if his son Otto succeeded in restoring the monarchy in Weimar-era Austria (regardless of how politically and socially feasible that notion was in light of [[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany its neighbor]]), the history of Central Europe would most likely have played out rather differently compared to how it did in real life.
** Here's a very interesting one that nobody thinks about: what if the Empire had fragmented much earlier than it did (most likely during the European Revolutions of 1848 aka the Spring of Nations, which would have happened had Russia not stepped in). How would this have affected the development of Germany and the rest of Europe?
** Another one often forgotten: what would have happened if Italy entered WorldWarI at the start and on their side? At the very least the Italian army would have not triggered the collapse of the Empire at Vittorio Veneto five years later...
** Another oft-ignored one: what would have happened had Franz Joseph's brother, Maximilian been more successful in establishing an Imperial Mexico under a Habsburg branch? This would have had considerable repurcussions in how the history of North America would have unfolded, particularly in terms of Mexico-US relations...
** Another forgotten possibility: what would have happened had [[RegentForLife Miklos Horthy's Hungary]] been more successful in either keeping its sovereignty from being compromised by the Nazis or fending off the Soviets in WorldWarII? This would have potentially opened up a relatively neutral if authoritarian space in Central Europe not unlike Spain under Francisco Franco, which would also open up an opportunity for Otto to claim the throne once Horthy passed on, much like the case of King Juan Carlos...
* WhatTheHellHero: The usual treatment of the Austrian Habsburgs during UsefulNotes/TheNapoleonicWars is basically that of the Coalition's TokenEvilTeammate when compared the British and Prussians (or the Russians, if you are reading Creator/LeoTolstoy).
* WrongGenreSavvy: Some interpretations of the Habsburgs and their domains tend to paint them as being akin to characters straight out of [[GameOfThrones Westeros]] than the modern world.


* Captain von Trapp in ''Film/TheSoundOfMusic'' (and in RealLife) was a former Habsburg officer.
* ''Film/TheIllusionist'': takes place in turn of the century Vienna involving a dramatized retelling of the Mayerling Incident.
* ''Sunshine'': A 1999 Hungarian film staring Creator/RalphFiennes follows a Jewish family through three different successive eras with the first set during the final years of the Habsburg Empire. The following ones take place before WorldWarII and during the 1956 Revolution respectively, long after the Monarchy fell.
* The Habsburg Empire exists in ''EuropaUniversalis'' and is a fan favourite. There was a fan write-in campaign to keep Austria's traditional white colour for ''Victoria II''.
* On that note, the first ''VictoriaAnEmpireUnderTheSun'' features them as one of the major obstacles for Prussia/an Italian state to unify Germany and Italy, respectively.
* ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' also follows the embodiments of [[AxisPowersHetalia/NeitherHolyNorRomanNorAnEmpire Austria and Hungary, as well as Prussia]] from the Renaissance through the UsefulNotes/WarOfTheAustrianSuccession and beyond. Of course, knowing history, we all know how it [[WorldWarI all]] [[{{Tearjerker}} ends]] [[BittersweetEnding down the line.]]
** And with Himaruya moving their story towards the UsefulNotes/SevenYearsWar and the 19th Century, this could be made all the more bittersweet.
* A Disney production as a two-parter for its TV series, ''Miracle of the White Stallions'' was about Patton rescuing the horses of the Vienna Spanish Riding School a showcase of the old Hapsburgs still around today.
* Robert Musil's "unfinished" novel ''The Man with No Qualities'' revels in this, depicting the Empire in its final decade. Ironically, the author laments on how Austria-Hungary was ''so'' successful and deceptively progressive for the time that it became a victim of that very success.
* Appear as bad guys in ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo''.
** Ditto for just about ''any'' work that focuses on UsefulNotes/NapoleonBonaparte.
* Jaroslav Hašek's ''[[LongTitle The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War]]'', better known just as ''Literature/TheGoodSoldierSvejk'' or just ''Švejk'' ([[SpellMyNameWithAnS with all attendant variations thereof]]), an utterly hilarious (though also gut-wrenching no less often) satirical novel about titular "[[BlatantLies good soldier]]" during the last days of the Empire. Sadly also unfinished -- Hašek [[AuthorExistenceFailure died of tuberculosis]] after finishing barely a third of its intended size, with Švejk didn't even getting to the front lines -- it's still one of the greatest achievements of the Czech literature in particular and world literature in general.
* Apart from ''Švejk'', there was a Polish novel and later a film, ''Film/CKDezerterzy''. Its [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain similarity in depiction]] of WWI-era [=KundK=] army brought a number of plagiarism accusations, but was a genuine work. Which is yet another example of [=KundK=] forces' image of a RedShirtArmy.
* The [[AfterTheEnd post-apocalyptic]] ''NineteenEightyThreeDoomsday'' fics for ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' take place in and around Austria, with a number of nods to Franz Joseph and the Habsburg Empire in general. Including the embodiment's [[spoiler:brutally cut short]] "marriage" to Hungary.
* The latest DLC and expansion pack for ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} V,'' ''Gods and Kings'' features Austria as a playable nation for the first time in the series. Also of note is that it is represented in-game by UsefulNotes/MariaTheresa and that its unique building is a ''Coffee House.''
* The Hungarian film ''Colonel Redl'' (1985) takes place during the Dual Monarchy's waning days, focusing on spy-turned-traitor Alfred Redl. The movie depicts the ethnic and religious tensions within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, showing Archduke Franz Ferdinand using unsavory means (entrapping military officers as spies, provoking conflict with Serbia and Russia) to keep the Empire together at all costs.
* Rachelle [=McCalla=]'s ebook trilogy Literature/TheGirlWhoStartedTheWarToEndAllWars is set in an AlternateHistory where Sophie Chotek died during her teenage years and never met Archduke Franz Ferdinand, starting a chain of events that led to nuclear war and the threatened extinction of humanity. The heroine, Torin Sinclair, must go back through time to 1885 Bohemia and take the place of Sophie, of whom she's an exact lookalike.
* John Biggins' ''Otto Prohaska'' series about an Austrian U-boat commander.
* Much of ''Literature/TheSevenPercentSolution'' takes place in and around Vienna.