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The Grand Strategy of the Habsburg Empire$
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A. Wess Mitchell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196442

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196442.001.0001

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“Si Vis Pacem”

“Si Vis Pacem”

Habsburg War and Strategy

(p.82) 4 “Si Vis Pacem”
The Grand Strategy of the Habsburg Empire

A. Wess Mitchell

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the outworkings of geography and administrative complexity on Habsburg conceptions of military force and political power more broadly. The Habsburg Monarchy’s physical and political geography shaped how its leaders thought about war. Austria’s position at the heart of Europe dictated that it would be a continental power and thus need large land armies to achieve security. But encirclement by powerful rivals meant that Austria could not defend all of its frontiers simultaneously using military force alone. Internal complexities placed further limitations on the size and capabilities of Habsburg armies, curtailing their utility as offensive instruments. Together, these constraints influenced Habsburg strategic behavior by encouraging the development of defensive conceptions of force that sought to avoid risk when possible, highlighting gaps that would need to be filled to augment the monarchy’s weak military capabilities, and prompting the systematic development of strategy as a tool for coping with Austria’s difficult environment, with a particular emphasis on managing the time parameters of competition and avoiding the full impact of the virtually limitless threats facing the monarchy.

Keywords:   military force, political power, Habsburg Monarchy, war, Austria, political geography, continental power, land armies, Habsburg armies, Habsburg strategic behavior

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