On Thursday 18 October a new six-part public lecture series entitled ‘1918 and the New Europe’ began at Trinity College Dublin. The lecture series will hear from national and international experts who will re-examine the significance of 1918 as the beginning of a new European order. The series will focus on the collapsing empires and the states that were forged—territorially, culturally, and politically—in the peace treaties that followed. It will re-examine the significance of 1918 as the beginning of a new European order, from the perspective of the collapsing Empire and four successor states, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary, which were forged—territorially, culturally, and politically—by the peace treaties that followed.
The first lecture in the series was delivered by Alexander Watson (University of London), and is entitled ‘Without any revolution and riots: The quiet collapse of the Habsburg Empire, 1918’. The end of the First World War was a transformative moment for East-Central Europe. The historiography is dominated by the fraught peace deliberations to build a brave new world and the ethnic rivalry and ideological conflict within and between the newly forming nation states in 1919-23. This talk focused on the earlier, neglected instant of Habsburg imperial collapse in October 1918. It asked why, in a period usually defined by its violence and chaos, the revolutions that spread across the empire were so strangely bloodless, rapid and orderly. The talk explored the complex reasons for this swift transition of power and what it reveals about the potential for a more harmonious post-war world.
The lecture took place in the Trinity Long Room Hub at 6.30pm.