Question 8: Outdated? When did the dissolution/break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire become inevitable? To what extent did World War I cause the collapse, to what extent did it pre-date 1914, to what extent was it imposed by the victorious Allies of 1919?.
At the end of this year it will have been 85 years since Austria-Hungary quietly slipped away into the history books. Over the decades since 1918 there has been a great deal of historic discussion over the reasons for the gradual disintegration of the Hapsburg Empire. Thus, the moment has perhaps approached to take one more look at what could be considered an outdated question, that of when did the collapse of the Habsburg Empire become inevitable? Could it have survived if it wasn't such a victim of its own fragility and inner turmoil, or was it doomed by its decision in 1914 to abandon diplomatic solutions and opt for war, and what were the Allies roles, if any, in its demise?.
Firstly, the degree of inevitability is questionable. How far back must one venture to find that precise point in time that inevitably led to the Habsburg Monarchy's demise? Such a point can seldom be found. In fact Joachim Remak suggests that to trace back its end too deeply, is to submit to the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. However, there are various schools of thought that have attempted to find the exact origins of the collapse. Alan Sked, in his article Historians, the Nationality Question, and the Downfall of the Habsburg Empire', refers to one such school as counter-factual historians. They posed the inevitability' and at what point' questions and having then selected their date, they usually describe or imply, that all would have been different - and usually better - had only this or that occurred instead. One British historian, C. A. Macartney, should also be ranked in this school. In his 1978 book, The House of Austria, Macartney refers to an exact day: 28 January 1790 that marks The turning point in the central Monarchy ', Joseph II had been forced to revoke most of his reforms and, thereafter, the Habsburg Monarchy entered a period of decline.