Here Martyn Rady tells the epic story of a dynasty and the world it built – and then lost – over nearly a millennium. From modest origins, the Habsburgs grew in power to gain control of the Holy Roman Empire in the 15th century. Then, in just a few decades, their possessions rapidly expanded to take in a large part of Europe stretching from Hungary to Spain, and from the Far East to the New World. The family continued to dominate Central Europe until the catastrophe of the First World War. With its seemingly disorganised mass of large and small territories, its tangle of laws and privileges and its medley of languages, the Habsburg Empire has always appeared haphazard and incomplete.