- Jun 10, 2007
The Second Italian Wars
[…] But when talking about Ferdinand, and the amount of imprudence had had to acquire to delve into such hazardous territory, you also have to note the amount of luck he was blessed with to leave the situation with very little impunity; here’s a man who is very unpopular not amongst only his subjects, but because of his various physical and mental disabilities, largely throughout the international community as well. Despite all of this however, he is able to garner a huge piece of territory that some of the wealthiest empires, empires as big and efficent as the former Spanish and French Empires, with powerful leaders such as Ferdinand and Isabella, have attempted to dictate with severe consequences. So, how does a king so incompetent, so unintelligent and so rash and charismatic get one of the most sought after and wealthiest regions in all of post-Napolenic Europe? In very blunt terms, plain old luck. Frankly, the year 1838 was not a great year for Austria; it’s economy, military, and people were totally shattered by the shock and destruction of the Napoleonic Wars. So, many people weren’t really expecting them to go out and start expanding; but, let’s fact the fact, if they WERE to go out and expand, who could stop them? France’s monarchy was on the brink of collapse; its monarchy was threatened once again by an Emperor in the form of Louis Napoleon III. England, on the contrary, was just on its rise to its eventual position as the largest empire in known history; however it’s focus was on industrialization and the resources beyond continental Europe, not the resistant, unexploitable populace of Europe, and therefore it’s attention was elsewhere. This circumstances taking place left Austria in the helm of European politics and hegemony, and unfortunately for the rest of Europe and luckily for Austria itself, the rest of Europe could just watch, in fear of being next, as Austria slowly gobbled up regions that were virtually unattainable in the past.
But it would be optimistic to say that in the years after Ferdinand, Austria wouldn’t be punished for the infamy it had attached to its Habsburg dynasty; what few nations that seemed to be indifferent to the Empire would know grow to be against it. Nations such as Sardinia, the Ottomans, and even the Prussians , who once were in very good relations with the Habsburg, would, in fear of also being attached to this label of warmongering, start to inch away from the grasping influence of the Austrians, and forming coalitions would start a new era of resistance against this rising power to the East. Many historians would disagree with me, but it’s the start of these Italian Wars, that begun this series of overambitious wars that would put Austria in this hegemonic and disliked position; and I think that’s why, Ferdinand should go down as one of the most influential men in all of Austrian history. […]
- Ralph Knapp, speaking in an interview for “The Rise and Fall of the Austrian Empire” (1994)