First part of a two-volume history of the Habsburg Empire from its origins in the late medieval period to its dismemberment in World War 1. This volume, which is self-contained, meets a long-felt need for a systematic survey of the Habsburgs in the early modern period. It is primarily concerned with the lands and peoples who had been brought under the personal rule of the Habsburg dynasty by the end of the Middle Ages - notably the Germans, Austrians, Czechs and Hungarians. The family history of the Habsburgs themselvet is skilfully interwoven with the accumulation of territory and the processes of state formation. Much biographical detail of the dominant Habsburg personalities emerges from what is primarily a political narrative; and there are extended discussions of economic developments, social change, and cultural matters. The history of the Spanish Habsburgs is also explained in sufficient detail to show how the fortunes of the Spanish and Austrian branches of the family were linked. A formidable feat of organistation and synthesis, it tells its complex story with clarity and an approachable style.