Useful Notes: The Sound of Martial Music

"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 Austria was the premier power, its preeminence was not the same as that of Russia under the Czars. Rather the Habsburgs 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 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. (Not that one despite occasional resemblances.)

The first Habsburg was a warlord named Rudolph who was Feudal Overlord 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 Holy Roman Empire 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 lack of male issue (and 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 Italian Wars, 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 the Eighty Years' War and Thirty Years' War 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 Badass Army, 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 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 ethnic Germans from Austria and allied states. They won few spectacular battles, but they did keep the Empire together until World War I 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 Imperial Germany 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 Red Shirt Army 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 World War I, the tiny Austrian submarine force managed to pull off some amazing stunts; captain Von Trapp (made popular in The Sound of Music) 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, dying on the 4th of July, 2011 . Had he actually succeeded his father on the throne he would have reigned for 88 years, becoming one of the longest reigning monarchs in European history. A politician of The European Union, he allegedly once punched Ian Paisley after the latter insulted The Pope as the Antichrist in the European Parliament.

A useful source for info on the Austro-Hungarian army

Tropes Associated With The Austro-Hungarian Military:

  • Arch-Enemy: The Ottoman Empire and Prussia.
    • Both were allied to Austria-Hungary during World War One. Starting in 1908, the only nations that could legitimately be called Austria-Hungary's "arch-enemies" would be Serbia and Russia.
    • Historically, the Habsburg/Valois enmity (see Foe Yay below) defined European politics for three centuries. The two houses found their greatest achievements (respectively, becoming the Holy Roman Emperor and driving out the English) within years of each other, and immediately took a profound dislike for each other. When Maria Theresa left unreliable Britain for Russia and France, then went further and married her youngest daughter to the future King of France, it turned Europe on its head.
    • The Italians also took up this mantle at some point after the Neapolitan War at least, though for quite a bit they bordered on downright Unknown Rival. Until the end of WWI, that is.
  • The Assimilator: This was also a defining characteristic of the Habsburg realms compared to some other parts of Europe until the end of World War I, as it often expanded and consolidated its territories through a mix diplomacy, marriage and conflict.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning : Seriously, practically every Habsburg coronation had this vibe to it.
  • Berserk Button: The Rev. Ian Paisley, like others before him, found outwhat happens when one ticks off a Habsburg. It's not pretty.
  • Blue Blood: One of the classic great houses of Europe.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Austria under the Habsburgs had the strange honor of being seen as both bafflingly backward for its time and oddly progressive for the era. Among other things, the Empire pre-World War I was a multicultural and multinational an Europe where ethnic nationalism and the effects of the "Springtime of Nations" were still in vogue.
  • Broken Bird: Franz Josef, towards his final years. But even then, most people at the time wouldn't have even noticed it. See Iron Woobie.
  • The Chains of Commanding: The Habsburgs in general tended to take matters into their own hands, whether in military ventures or statesmanship, along with the burdens they bring.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The generic Habsburg uniform was white.
    • And during World War One, a greyish light-blue (at least for the common footsoldiers).
    • However, in order to differentiate between individual units, an incredible number of different colours was used for collars, cuffs etc. to set them apart. In 1914 thus the Imperial and Royal Army used 28 different shades (including ten shades of red) to distinguish its 102 line infantry regiments, only up to four regiments wearing the same shade (two would be from Austria, two from Hungary, Austrian and Hungarian regiments wearing e. g. different trousers, and of the two from each section one would wear brass buttons and the other white metal buttons).
  • Cool Gun: During the Napoleonic Wars, Austrian skirmishers used the "Repetierwindbuechse" (Repeating Air Rifle), an airgun which could fire twenty shots without reloading—at a time when no conventional gun could fire more than one. It didn't see much use, though, as pumping up the thing once you'd fired those twenty shots took a long time.
  • Cool Horse: Hussars, recruited from Hungarian cowboys were some of the best cavalry in Europe.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Austro-Hungarian Navy in World War I took incredibly paranoid precautions to prevent Italian assault forces from penetrating their harbours and sink their battleships. The Italians still penetrated their harbours three times, sinking a battleship the first and the third time (the latter success was due the Italians using a manned torpedo to penetrate and fix a limpet mine on the battleship just to prove they were braver than the Royal Navy, that had discared the idea as foolhardy).
  • Determinator: Until World War I, 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.
    • They did not take the loss of Silesia very well, and resorted to (what it seemed at the time) overkill methods to get it back. And they did not give up after Prussia repulsed them, no, no, it took three wars untill the other Great Powers forced Austria to back down.
    • The Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I: they were fighting a war against Russia in the east, Serbia and Romania in the South and the backstabbing Italy at the south-western border and they were widely overstretched for this, yet they first conquered Serbia and Romania (with Bulgarian and Turk help, but they did most of the job), survived the Russian overwhelming numbers long enough for the Russian Revolution to torn apart the country and knock Russia out of the war, and finally break through the Italian lines. Later the Italians recovered, launched a counteroffensive so effective that the Austro-Hungarian Army was dissolved as a fighting force and caused the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but when the armistice took effect the Italians saw with horror that the annihilated Austro-Hungarian Army had spontaneously reformed in the span of a few days, and could still fight.
  • Cry for the Devil: For all Franz Josef's personal tragedy, it's worth remember than he was not a good guy from start to end. At all.
    • Though ironically, he is still remembered somewhat fondly in the former Empire.
    • Oddly enough, many in his own time (especially by World War I) saw him as an almost divine grandfather figure.
  • Death Seeker: What Franz Josef was hinted in records and first-hand accounts to have become this towards the end of his life. This may have also affected how he perceived what is now World War I.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Who would have thought that after the Sarajevo incident, the internal arrangements of the Balkan Kingdoms and of the Dual Monarchy wouldn't last very long?
    • Also, the Italians. They had handed their asses to them, both on the land and on the sea, during the 1866 war, and handily resisted Italian offensives for most of World War I, so they were completely caught by surprise when the Italians Took a Level in Badass in days after being crushed at Caporetto, stopping the Austrian offensive on the Piave river and starting sinking Austrian ships in supposedly impenetrable harbours using speedboats (and their flagship in the middle of the sea. Two of those speedboats were passing by and decided to torpedo her...). Then happened again exactly a year after Caporetto, when the Italians annihilated the Austro-Hungarian army (they regrouped, but by that time the Italians had reached their war aims and the empire had surrendered and was collapsing), and then, before the unconditional surrender of the empire took effect, sank another battleship in harbour just to prove they could still bypass the many defences they had enacted.
      • The last incident is highly controversial though, since the battleship in question was no longer under Austro-Hungarian command - it had been handed over to the newly-created State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (the short-lived predecessor to Yugoslavia), whose leaders radioed the Allies about this, and considered the war over. They assumed too much, however, and the Allies did not recognize the transfer of ships. The battleship's crew assumed the war was over, and were completely unprepared for the attack. For their part, the Italians who sunk the battleship claimed they had not heard the news before they carried out the attack (which may well be true - they didn't have a radio).
  • Elite Army: The Grenzer regiments, recruited from farmers along the Military Frontier with the Ottoman Empire who spent half their year farming and the other half acting as elite soldiers. They were considered some of the best skirmishers in Europe.
  • The Empire: A particularly strange example, occasionally overlapping with The Federation.
  • End of an Age: World War I was for all intents and purposes this for the Empire.
  • Family Business: Austria, Hungary, the Balkans, the Holy Roman Empire, and so on were the Habsburgs Family Business.
  • The Federation: Habsburg rule is essentially this in a nutshell; in varying forms, the Austrian realms amounted to a monarchist federation, some considering it as a predecessor of sorts to the modern-day European Union.
  • Four-Star Badass: Given the wildly varying quality of the Austrian armies, it usually took a Four Star Badass to unite their men and deliver results...but when they had someone with brains in the chair, they could accomplish wonders; Prince Eugene of Savoy was a notable example. No less than Napoleon Bonaparte considered him one of the seven finest military leaders in history. He also promoted men based on merit rather than social position, unusual for the time.
  • Foregone Conclusion: According to Franz Joseph's own successor and said heir's wife, the Emperor mused in 1914 that the War would be a disaster for the Empire. Unfortunately, he was right, albeit four years too late.
  • Folk Hero: Prince Eugene of Savoy, undoubtedly Austria's best military commander during the 17th and 18th centuries, has a German folksong, 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.
  • I Have Many Names: The Habsburg Empire has also been known over the centuries as the Habsburg Monarchy, Danube Monarchy, Austrian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Dual Monarchy, or simply The Empire.
  • Holy Roman Empire: By the latter half of the HRE's existence, nearly every Emperor (and defacto Empress) was a Habsburg. To the point that by the time Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved it in 1806, the Empire had become synonymous with them.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Habsburgs towards the end of World War I and in the immediate years after; they were essentially forced to make ends meet and rely on the support of sympathizers in the 1920s. These days however, Karl's descendants had long rebuilt the family's fortunes on a more modest scale.
  • Iron Woobie: For some reason they always seem to lose. Yet the Empire survived. One wonders why.
    • Perhaps they followed the Habsburg tradition of "muddling through."
    • Also, the last Emperor, Karl "the Blessed," though his entire life. Losing the Empire in World War I, being sent into exile, failing twice (deliberately and humanely) in reclaiming Hungary, then being Put on a Bus to Madeira. Yet he persevered to the end. A few Catholics affectionately refer to him as the "patron saint of losers."
      • Speaking of which, his coronation feast was a model of royal style. He had his chefs bring a grand variety of expensive meals and displayed them to his courtiers. After they had been displayed, he had them taken away and shipped to a nearby hospital for wounded soldiers.
      • Unfortunately, the "patron saint of losers" line is also used by critics who stress his failure to save the Empire.
    • Karl's predecessor, Franz Josef also took in a lot of suffering. Losing his son, Rudolf. Then his beloved wife. Then Franz Ferdinand and the clusterfuck of World War I tearing apart his Empire. It's surprising that he outlived Queen Victoria.
      • He also lost his brother, Maximilian, to a Mexican firing squad following his failure to forge a Habsburg Empire in the New World.
    • Note that this is largely because (at least Western) fiction tends to not associate the Conquistadors with them and outright forgets the Italian Wars and their habit of utterly destroying anti-Habsburg coalitions inside the Empire itself until said domestic enemies received the undivided help of all of Western Europe.
  • It's Personal: The long conflict between Italy and Austria-Hungary became this during World War I, as Italy was allied with Austria-Hungary at the time yet the Italians not only failed to join their allies exactly when it was needed (when the French Army was on the verge of collapse: an Italian attack at that point would have destroyed France, allowing to knock Russia out of the war and conquering Serbia with the troops freed this way) but later entered the war against their allies. As evidence of this, the three Austro-Hungarian offensive operations on the Italian fronts were named "Punitive Expedition", "Loyalty to Arms" and "Radetzky" (after the Austrian general that completely defeated the Sardinian Army and the other pro-Italian unification forces in the First War for Italian Unification). In the meantime, however, the conflict had become personal for the Italians too, as Loyalty to Arms had been the battle of Caporetto and the following invasion of Italy, at which point the Italian soldiers started fighting with everything they had.
  • Jerkass Woobie: While many of their post-Imperial members in the '20s to the '50s were fairly typical of an autocratic Blue Blood family, they were unstained by the atrocities their predecessors committed, and by all accounts did nothing to deserve things like being locked up and being murdered in Dachau.
  • Kicked Upstairs/Reassignment Backfire: The Habsburgs initially gained the Imperial throne of the Holy Roman Empire amidst a 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.
  • Knight Templar: Emperor Franz I was seen as this. Staunchly reactionary and ruthless, his involvement with the wars against Napoleon was largely one of the few positive points in his rule.
    • After the Hohenzollerns broke up the Teutonic Knights Order in what would become Prussia after converting to Lutheranism, the still-Catholic Knights fled to Habsburg lands and the emperor became their honorary chief. The head of the Habsburg family is still the head of the Teutonic Knights Order, even though it is now more of a fancy honorary society than a crusading order of warrior monks.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Many of the Habsburg rulers, Maria Theresa, Franz I. and Franz Joseph being shining examples of this trope.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Wallenstein
  • Manipulative Bastard: How Austria and the Habsburgs were viewed by some of their enemies.
    • More specifically, Prince Metternich, who not only helped author the European order after the Napoleonic Wars but was also in part responsible for the mess leading up to the 1848 revolts.
  • Lady of War: Empress Maria Theresa during the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War.
  • Long Runner: Franz Joseph ruled the Empire for 68 years, bearing direct witness to the 1848 Revolutions while also living long enough to see World War I unfold.
    • Klemens von Metternich. In 1790, he performed minor official duties at Leopold II's crowning and even after the 1848 Revolutions forced him to resign, Franz Joseph (Leopold II's great-grandson) still sought his advice.
    • Karl's son, Otto (had he ruled) would have given Franz Joseph a run for his money; he died in 2011.
    • Habsburg rule in Central Europe remained a consistent presence in one form or another from the 13th Century up until the end of World War I, covering about 640 years.
  • The Millstone: Austria-Hungary was this for Imperial Germany during World War I.
  • Modest Royalty: The Habsburgs, at least later on, were also known for this in some extent, compared to other royal houses in Europe. Franz Joseph's quarters were said to be relatively spartan and bare-bones, reflecting his military background.
    • This was even more strongly enforced by his successor, Karl. One example of this was the traditional banquet following his coronation, in which after the formalities were done, had the food shipped over to the front lines in order to help feed the soldiers.
  • Multinational Team: The Habsburg Empire was a veritable multinational, multicultural and multi-religious domain with a predominantly German (and later, Hungarian) veneer. Compared to Imperial Germany, it was the most pluralist part of Europe at the time. Vienna before World War I for example was home to many ethnic groups from Czechs to Serbs. In fact, the Empire was also notable for (despite or perhaps in light of its rulers' Catholic vestiges) being one of the first Western powers to recognize Islam as a part of its society: a tradition that outlasted the Habsburgs and still continues todaynote . If anything: modern-day Austria is more homogeneous in comparison.
    • This worked out rather badly in practice, especially when it came to fighting wars. The fact that the military didn't even share a common languagenote  meant that coordination between units tended to be very poor.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Basically Austria is the reason The First World War happened. Sure, the "powder keg" that was Europe would've probably gone off eventually, but Austria gets the distinction of being the one who actually set it off. The terms they presented to Serbia after the Archduke's assassination were so deliberately insulting and impossible that even contemporary diplomats remarked that no country could accept them and still be considered an independent nation. Nevertheless, Serbia accepted all but two of the ten demands. Good enough for Austria, they invaded and the rest is history. And while the country can't exactly be blamed, a certain somebody who came from there would start the next world war as well.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: The extremes that they went to get Silesia back from Prussia would have at the time been seen as this. Fielding armies three times the size of the Prussian army. Trying to force nearly every other great power on the continent to acknowledge Prussia as an upstart and getting nearly every great power to ally with them at least once to try and get it back. At one point, Prussia was at war with Austria, France, and Russia at the same time. It is a testament to Prussia that they were not only able to keep Silesia, but survived as a nation.
  • Old Soldier: Many, from Austrian Captain von Trapp to Hungarian Regent-Admiral Horthy, became this after the War.
  • Only Sane Man: Karl I/IV in World War I. He was among the handful of leaders at the time who tried to put an end to the bloodshed in amicable terms. Unfortunately, it was too late.
  • Real Men Love Jesus : The Habsburgs have their share of saints in their rather large family tree. But this Catholic royal family in general runs the gamut from the very pious to the staunchly regular/nominal, which is more often than not difficult to pin down. For instance, contrast Maria Theresa or Karl "the Blessed" to, say, Leopold II, Charles V or even Franz Ferdinand.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: At least some of the Habsburgs (eg. Maria Theresia, Karl I/IV), though all stove to be this.
  • Red Shirt Army: There was a reason historian Basil Liddel Hart pointed out that the Austro-Hungarian army had a tradition of defeat by the time World War I rolled around.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Following Franz Joseph's death in 1916, Karl attempted doing this for Austria-Hungary as a whole. But by that point, World War I was in full gear, virtually no one took his pleas for peace seriouslynote  and the strains of conflict were already tearing the Empire at the seams.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Part of the Habsburg code involved taking up a craft, which historically had ranged from gardening to combat roles to even acting. Franz Joseph in particular, for all his flaws was so obsessed with running his Empire that his work day stretched from 5 AM to 11 PM. Even having time to have his people come to him directly to address their concerns.
  • 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 than it was in reality.
    • For example: it is not surprising that London should have the world's first electric underground. But the second? Budapest, capital of Hungary.
      • And when the steam-powered subsurface lines of the London Underground were converted to electric traction, the original intention (although it didn't work out) was to use the three-phase "Ganz" system - developed in Hungary.
    • In the eighteenth century, the Hapsburg dominions were widely recognized as having Europe's most comprehensive education system.
    • Though it still paid lip service to the Catholic Church, the Empire also made moves, albeit initially slow and awkward, towards religious tolerance especially by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Jews in particular more or less favored their position in Habsburg society.note  And by the dawn of World War I, Islam had been formally recognized as part of its social fabric.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Several Balkan nations (and the Hungarians) contributed these, most famously Croatia's cavalrymen. Hell, virtually every nationality in the empire often proved to be a bunch of Badass Normals once something had Gone Horribly Wrong. Eventually, though, this trope eventually turned into an Informed Ability during World War I, as the fact that none of aforementioned ProudWarriorRaces were interested in fighting for an empire that was falling apart and which they hated anyway led to them getting their asses kicked by Italy (traditionally the military Butt Monkey of Europe) and Russia (whose army was in as almost as sorry a state as Austria-Hungary's).
  • Red Shirt Army: As military historian Basil Liddell Hart wrote in his account of World War I, while the German army had a tradition of victory, the Austro-Hungarian army had a tradition of defeat. Even its supposedly Proud Warrior Races fell into this trope by the time the Great War rolled around.
  • Regent for Life: Miklos Horthy, formerly an Admiral and aide-de-camp to Franz Joseph became this to the Hungarians after the Empire's collapse. When Karl attempted to reclaim the throne in Hungary, however, Horthy refused.
  • Rightful King Returns: Averted after World War I. Karl attempted to pull this twice off in Hungary in the early '20s in the hopes of reuniting the Empire. They failed on both counts.
    • Somewhat averted also by his son and heir, Otto. In order for him to even regain citizenship in his homeland, he had to relinquish all formal claims to the throne...though this didn't stop Austrians in general from treating him like royalty to an extent.
  • Rivals Team Up: First with France, then Prussia.
    • Neither France nor Prussia hold a candle to the Habsburg-Ottoman relationship.
    • Subverted by the Triple Alliance: Italy and Austria-Hungary had teamed up after three wars fought against each other, then joined Germany as part of the Triple Alliance... And at the start of World War I the Italians stayed neutral and later joined their enemies exactly when Italy's scarcely equipped but numerous army could have overstretched France to the point of collapse, freeing German troops to fight Russia and allowing to reinforce the Austrians against Serbia.
  • Secret Police / The Men in Black : Subverted, since the Habsburgs possessed what was apparently the most incompetent and amiable secret police in Europe. Apparently, since this doesn't mention how efficient it was (at what they did anyway) despite the incompetence. Or consistent. Or oddly humane in contrast to the ones that came after. In fact, they tended to simply "ignore" their opponents out of relevance rather than make them "disappear."
    • It even outlasted the Empire well into the 1920s thanks to its pro-Habsburg remnants.
      • Of course, this was largely due to the work begun during the period it was run by Prince Metternich.
  • Take Over the World: The Habsburg Emperors had a Fun with Acronyms motto, A.E.I.O.U., which is popularly supposed to stand for Austriae est imperare orbi universo or "Austria Shall Rule the World".
    • Later on, especially during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Viribus Unitis became the dynasty's motto.
    • Sometimes AEIOU is also read as Alles Erdreich Ist Oesterreich Untertan: All Earth Is Subject to Austria
      • And specifically black humoured people read it as Am End Is Ois [alles] Umsonst, "In the end, it will all have been in vain"
  • The Teutonic Knights: After the mastership of the Knights became a Habsburg preserve, a famous regiment, the Hoch-und-Deutschmeister, (famous particularly for its band) was established, and exists to this day as part of the Austrian army. Moreover, the very last secular Hochmeister of the Deutscher Orden, Archduke Eugen von Österreich-Teschen, was a field marshal of the Imperial-And-Royal army.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • A good part of the Austro-Hungarian officers as well as a number of Habsburg loyalists in general considered themselves to be servants of the Emperor first and foremost, and then the Empire - they considered their ethnicity of only teritiary importance, or didn't care at all. This took a tragic turn after the war, since many of these men simply didn't understand nationalism, and pretty much lost their way after the Empire collapsed. Captain Von Trapp (of The Sound of Music fame) is a good example of this, but luckily his new family helped him find something to live for. Some others were not so lucky, though, and died in poverty.
    • You could say this about Austrian Germans in general. They had no sense of nationalism for an "Austrian" state, so to speak; they were united in their allegiance to the Hapsburg Monarchy, for in a sense the Monarchy was Austria. After it was lost and the Empire disintergrated, the only thing they wanted to do was the only thing that made sense at the time: join Germany. The only reason this didn't happen was the interference by the Entente (particularly the French, who were paranoid about Germany gaining an even larger population).
      • The loyalty of German Austrians to German nationalism took a very dark turn by 1930s. Not only was Adolf Hitler himself an Austrian, so were numerous other leading Nazis. This was deliberately muddled in the post World War 2 history of Austria, as its citizens opted to see themselves as the first victims of Nazism rather than its perpetrators.
  • Vestigial Empire: It almost seems as if The Family were vestigial from the start.
    • In particular, the Habsburgs tend to see their realms as a remnant of sorts to the Holy Roman Empire.
  • What Could Have Been: The myriad possible fates of the Austro-Hungarian Empire open up a can of "what ifs." Had Franz Ferdinand survived his assassination, Karl ascended the throne much earliernote  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 its neighbor), the history of Central Europe would must 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 World War I 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...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The usual treatment of the Austrian Habsburgs during the Napoleonic Wars is basically that of the Coalition's Token Evil Teammate when compared the British and Prussians (or the Russians, if you are reading Leo Tolstoy). Apparently, they weren't the nicest people on the block at the time. That the Emperor at that time, Franz I was also a very reactionary Knight Templar did not help matters.


  • Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music (and in Real Life) was a former Habsburg officer.
  • The Illusionist: takes place in turn of the century Vienna involving a dramatized retelling of the Mayerling Incident.
  • Sunshine: A 1999 Hungarian film staring Ralph Fiennes 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 World War II and during the 1956 Revolution respectively, long after the Monarchy fell.
  • The Habsburg Empire exists in Europa Universalis 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 Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun features them as one of the major obstacles for Prussia/an Italian state to unify Germany and Italy, respectively.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia also follows the embodiments of Austria and Hungary, as well as Prussia from the Renaissance through the War of the Austrian Succession and beyond. Of course, knowing history, we all know how it all ends down the line.
    • And with Himaruya moving their story towards the Seven Years' War 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 1632.
  • Jaroslav Hašek's The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War, better known just as The Good Soldier Svejk or just Švejk (with all attendant variations thereof), an utterly hilarious (though also gut-wrenching no less often) satirical novel about titular "good soldier" during the last days of the Empire. Sadly also unfinished — Hašek 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, CK Dezerterzy. Its 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 Red Shirt Army.
  • The post-apocalyptic 1983: Doomsday fics for Axis Powers Hetalia take place in and around Austria, with a number of nods to Franz Joseph and the Habsburg Empire in general. Including the embodiment's brutally cut short "marriage" to Hungary.
  • The latest DLC and expansion pack for 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 Maria Theresa 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 The Girl Who Started The War To End All Wars is set in an Alternate History 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 The Seven Percent Solution takes place in and around Vienna.

Alternative Title(s):

The Sound Of Martial Music