Building on Part I, which focused on perceived dynastic/national/social loyalties at home before the First World War, Part 2 imposes on that framework firstly a study of Habsburg foreign policy from c.1895 to 1914 and secondly a study of the empire in the First World War. Thereby it considers more closely for example the authorities’ anxiety about irredentist forces - various national groups or individuals who had contact with hostile neighbouring states (Serbia, Romania, Italy or Russia). Particular attention is paid to the Monarchy’s deteriorating relationship with Serbia, and how this then affected the governance of Croatia and determined the Empire’s ‘successful’ annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1908. The ‘Bosnian crisis’ is studied in detail. The fact that Serbia ought to be, but was not, acting submissively as a loyal satellite was then fundamental to the Habsburg elite’s paranoia by 1914. The module engages fully with the elite’s mentality in these years (1912-14) to show why the Empire was prepared to risk a European war after the Sarajevo murders.
After this, it proceeds to study the Empire under wartime conditions when civilian and military loyalties were tested to the utmost. On the one hand, the threads from Part 1 about Hungary, the Bohemian lands and the Southern Slav regions can be picked up. On the other, the fresh trials experienced by Habsburg subjects at the front and in the hinterland are examined (eg, troop morale or the ‘sacrifice’ of women in Vienna). As national, economic and social grievances strengthened from 1917, so the Habsburg dynasty’s legitimacy weakened as the war could not be brought to an end. The module studies the ways in which the authorities tried to boost the imperial ideal: through propaganda, through national solutions, or even through imperial expansion (in the Balkans). But in the end (1918) the fiery combination of military defeat and social-economic insecurity served to delegitimize the Habsburg Monarchy and produce its disintegration.