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Professor Mark Cornwall BA, PhD, FRHistS

Professor of Modern European History

Professor Mark Cornwall's photo

I am a historian of modern East-Central Europe with a current focus on the late Habsburg Empire. I am writing a history of traitors in the era of Emperor Franz Joseph, 1848-1918, using the legal and abstract concept of treason as a new touchstone for weighing up issues of security and stability in Austria-Hungary. More generally, this is a novel case-study in the unresearched history of treason on the European continent.

As a historian I have focused on the lands of the Habsburg or ex-Habsburg empire. For my recent research on the history of treason, I was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship and a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford.

My career began with a PhD on psychological warfare in Austria-Hungary (1914-1918). I then spent two decades studying the Czech-German relationship in the Bohemian Lands, 1848-1948, producing a monograph, The Devil’s Wall, which was recently translated into Czech. For this subject I learnt Czech and German, and became an active promoter of Czech studies in the UK via the Forum for Czech and Slovak Studies (affiliated to BASEES). In 2019, I was awarded the Honorary Silver Medal of Jan Masaryk by the Czech Republic for services to Anglo-Czech relations.


Appointments held

Useful Downloads

Research interests

My current research into the history of treason in the late Habsburg Empire incorporates work in the Croat, Czech and Hungarian languages, using archival and printed sources from the region.

I have recently learnt Hungarian and am slowly integrating archival sources from Budapest into my research. I also have a long-standing interest in the Yugoslav lands, learning Serbo-Croat as one of my first foreign languages in 1980 and developing a strong network of contacts with Croatian, Serbian and Slovenian historians. From 2017, I have participated in a research project based at the University of Zagreb on ‘The Transition of Croatian Elites’ where I contributed a case-study on Croatian lawyers. I have also published a new edited book on Sarajevo 1914: Sparking the First World War (Bloomsbury, 2020). It brings together an international group of historians to reassess the context of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in 1914 (

A final area of interest is LGBTQ history (research and teaching), with a special focus on such history in the Czech lands. Having explored this in The Devil’s Wall, I am now preparing a set of essays on Queer Bohemians. I also organize the Southampton Stonewall Lecture in February each year, and was responsible with colleagues at Southampton for creating one of the first LGBTQ history modules in the UK. See our special Southampton Stonewall Lecture webpage.

Recent PhD supervision

  • Emma Hatto - ‘Slovene or Yugoslav?: The Politics of Dr Anton Korošec, 1918-1929’
  • Dora Vrkić - ‘Federalisation as a Tool of State Stability: British Foreign Policy towards Interwar Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia’ [Wolfson Scholarship]
  • Esther Knight - ‘Czech Female Activism in late 19th Century Northern Bohemia’
  • András Becker (completed 2014) - ‘The Problem of the Hungarian Borders and Minorities in British Foreign Political Thought, 1938-41’

Research projects

Treason in the Age of Franz Joseph, 1848-1918: current research project with book contracted to OUP.

The Transition of Croatian Elites from the Habsburg Monarchy to the Yugoslav State ( [team member, University of Zagreb].

Cambridge History of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1790-1918 (editor with Pieter M. Judson, EUI Florence).

The Devil's Wall book cover
The Devil's Wall book cover

Research project(s)

Treason in the age of Franz Joseph, 1848-1918

Treason has been a ubiquitous phenomenon throughout human history. It is the worst type of crime, and the abusive word ‘traitor’ continues to resonate in political discourse around the world.

  • Elected to Wissenschaftlicher Beirat, Collegium Carolinum, Munich (2015-).
  • On editorial board of academic journals: The Slavonic and East European Review; Central Europe, Bohemia, First World War Studies, Contemporary European History, Austrian History Yearbook; Moderni Dějiny.
  • Advisor to Musée de L’Armée, Paris, for exhibition on The Long War in Eastern Europe (2018-19).
  • Secretary and then chair of the Forum for Czech and Slovak Studies UK (2001-17).
  • Member of Council of Royal Historical Society (2009-13).
  • External examiner of 30 History PhD theses.
  • External examiner for History degrees (1997-2016) at: UCL, Glasgow, Leeds, Queen Mary London.
  • On prize committees for: Barbara Jelavich Prize, ASEEES (2018-20); Pech Prize, Czechoslovak Studies Association, USA (2014); German History Society Prize (2013); Gladstone Prize, RHS (2010).
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Book Chapters


Module co-ordinator:

  • ‘The Collapse of Austria-Hungary’ (Year 1)
  • ‘Treason and Plot: A History of Modern Treason’ (Year 2)
  • ‘The Struggle of the Czechs: From Serfdom to Stalinism, 1789-1989’ (Year 2)
  • ‘A Short History of the Homosexual’ (Year 3)
  • ‘Empires in Crisis: The Austro-Hungarian and Russian Revolutions, 1900-1921’ (Year 3)
  • ‘The Rise and Fall of the Habsburg Empire’ (History MA)
Professor Mark Cornwall
Building 65, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/2071

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