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 third lecture in the series, on Monday 19 November, was entitled ‘Escaping a prison of peoples? 100 years after the collapse of the Habsburg Empire’, and was delivered by Mark Cornwall, Professor of European History, University of Southampton. 1918 marks the centenary of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a monarchy whose disappearance from the European map transformed the history of the twentieth century. At a time when the UK is planning to exit from another multi-national European body, this talk will revisit the reasons why different peoples decided to exit the Habsburg Empire and create independent states at the end of the First World War. What expectations guided the idealists who created the new Czechoslovak and Yugoslav states? Certainly, in the years that followed, the hopes of many were quickly deflated as new borders and identities sprang up. It leads us to ask, in retrospect, to what extent the Habsburg Empire can be considered a ‘prison of peoples.’ Or should we follow those like the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig who viewed the Habsburg Empire with great nostalgia, a cosmopolitan experiment with much to teach us?
The lecture took place in the Trinity Long Room Hub at 6.30pm.