Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | First Austrian Studies Annual Lecture

A typology of traitors in late nineteenth-century Austria-Hungary

Friday 29 November 2019
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

Treason trials were a surprisingly common feature in the late Habsburg Empire, yet have received little attention from historians.

This lecture will analyse how and why traitors were identified and prosecuted by the state, and what this can tell us about the evolving security fears of the Habsburg authorities. It concentrates on creating a ‘typology of traitors’, moving beyond the most notorious traitor of the age, Colonel Alfred Redl.

Across Austria-Hungary, the periodic trials for treason mapped onto the Austrian and Hungarian criminal codes; the legal focus was on violence against the monarch, the constitution, or state territory. Studying each of these aspects through vivid examples from the years 1860-1890, we learn not only about the mindset of the prosecutors. The traitors’ own perspective is also uncovered, revealing that amid the power struggles across the empire, some discontented citizens could portray the state itself as the real perpetrator of treason.

The lecture is followed by drinks.


Students and staff are welcome. Registration prior to the event is not needed.

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