foreign policy after the events of 1848, was just a continuation of “Metternichian” tradition of working for peace, balance of power within Europe and for the greater interests of the continent.
His assertion is that it was not Prussia, but Austria that was endangering European security overall; one more proof he offers to his claim of influence the Habsburgs had. As a result of that, he sees the last Emperor, Franz Joseph as a tough ruler, one that always believed that the honor of his dynasty must be implemented by force only. Franz Joseph showed his willingness to do so in the conflict with Italy when he was a young ruler, as well as in the case of Serbia in 1914.
The case of Serbia and the assassination of Archduke and heir apparent Franz Ferdinand, in reality triggered the events that started the World War I, one in which Habsburg Empire dissolved and disappeared giving room to new countries of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and Yugoslavia.
The second major issue Sked deals with in his book, is the issue of nationalism within the borders of the Empire. Habsburg monarchy incorporated numerous ethnic groups, each of which felt burdened by the rule from Vienna and wanted to achieve some sort of independence. Sked claims that those separatist movements were essentially weak while forgetting that regimes not based on popular satisfaction and feeling, eventually disappear. Sked saw separatist movements as a collective phenomenon, however failing to look on it from different viewpoints. Most noticeably, he fails to look more critically upon nationalism in the Habsburg Empire from psycho-sociological and economic aspects.
Sked also, discusses the Compromise of 1867, in which the monarchy was, de facto, divided into two parts, Austria and Hungary, with separate parliaments and prime ministers, but with, de iure, one central ruler. Sked contends that the Compromise was made after the rising nationalism in the Empire threatened its future. The Compromise