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                                                            Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 

Above is a map of the Habsburg Monarchy domains, circa 1700.


How Maps Played a Central Role in the Habsburg Monarchy

by Madalina Valeria Veres, PhD Candidate

History Department, University of Pittsburgh 

In 2007, when Romania joined the European Union, it became part of the same economic and political entity as 26 other countries. However, this was not the first time that the province of Transylvania, which is in the northwestern part of Romania, belonged to the same polity as territory in such countries as Italy, Belgium, and Poland.  The Habsburg Monarchy, a powerful empire, encompassed most of Central Europe for more than 600 years and ended in 1918.  With the help of a travel grant from EUCE/ESC, I presented a paper based on research on the Habsburg Monarchy at the biennial conference of the Forum on European Expansion and Global interaction in Minneapolis in March, 2012.

            From today’s vantage point, it is tempting to argue that this multi-ethnic conglomerate was bound to disappear in the face of modern nation states.  However, a closer examination of the eighteenth-century situation reveals a different perspective.  Indeed, the reigns of Maria Theresa (1740-1780) and Joseph II (1765-1790) opened the door for a new age of imperial centralization and reform, which many scholars have analyzed in connection with what became known in the literature as Enlightened Absolutism.

            My research approaches the Habsburg Monarchy in the Age of Enlightenment from the perspective of cartographic representations.  I argue that as this empire transformed itself from a dynastic conglomerate into a territorial nation (a term I borrow from Robert J. W. Evans), maps played a central part. In the second half of the eighteenth century, the Habsburg rulers commissioned numerous detailed topographic maps of their various provinces and also relied on the cartographic work of military engineers to mark the borderlines of the empire. The first time I encountered documents and maps in the archives that showed the demarcation of the easternmost province of Transylvania, I was struck by the pragmatic policy of the Habsburgs.  They had taken advantage of the 1769-1774 Russo-Ottoman conflict in order to fix a borderline that clearly infringed on the territory of the neighboring Principality of Moldavia.  In 1769, with the help of detailed border maps already prepared by the end of the 1750s, Habsburg military engineers travelled to the mountains surrounding Transylvania and installed the so-called “imperial eagles,” to mark the imperial border. Although the Moldavian inhabitants and their ruler contested what they considered Habsburg abusive actions, the influential Ottoman and Russian Empires accepted this Vienna imposed status quo.  The diplomatic game of large empires triumphed above the interests of a small polity. 

            At the conference in Minneapolis, I received encouragement to pursue more archival research on other provinces of the Habsburg Monarchy.  After another year of work in archives in Paris, Brussels, Milan, Sibiu and Vienna, I became convinced that the delimitation of Transylvania’s borders was part of a larger Habsburg strategy to map and demark all its imperial borderlines.  In 1769, the same year the Viennese rulers ordered the systematization of their eastern borders, Maria Theresa signed a treaty with Louis XV, the French king, in an effort to eliminate all enclaves between France and the Austrian Netherlands (today, part of Belgium). The work of joint commissions and the rich cartographic material deposited today in Paris and Brussels, demonstrate how both negotiating sides employed a team of jurists and military engineers to gather documentary evidence and construct claims and counter-claims for the borderline. In contrast to the principality of Moldavia, who had no leverage against their Habsburg neighbor, the French king and his advisers did not give up on any territorial enclave surrounded by Habsburg land until they received proper compensation.  Because Vienna could not impose its vision forcefully, the negotiation with France and the implementation of the new borderline took almost two decades.

            Whereas Maria Theresa and Joseph II managed to mark and obtain international recognition for their eastern and western borderlines, no resolution could be reached for the boundary between Lombardy and Parma.  For more than four decades, Vienna and their provincial representatives in Milan failed to cajole the Duke of Parma, ruler of one of the weakest European states, to sign a border treaty. Afraid of the Habsburgs’ expansionist policy, the duke of Parma treated with suspicion any initiative from Vienna to survey and prepare maps of the border areas in preparation for a diplomatic negotiation.  Although Lombardy had some of the most highly qualified engineers in the empire and a long cartographic tradition, the provincial authorities were unsuccessful in using maps to attain the imperial goals in the area, namely imposing the border with Parma on the river Pò.  In the early 1780s, the Parmesan side requested assistance from its Bourbon allies, Spain and France, and astutely presented Joseph II as trying to take control of the Italian Peninsula, by first taking over part of the duke’s lands. The Court of Parma sent maps of their borderlands to convince the French and Spanish monarchs of the justness of their cause. Moreover, these two powerful monarchs were wary of the Habsburg Monarchy’s behavior, because Vienna had in the past used the pretext of border demarcations to expand its lands, as exemplified by the Transylvanian case.

            Examining the impact of cartography on the evolution of border demarcations in three eighteenth-century Habsburg provinces illuminates the desire of Viennese rulers to construct a centralized political entity by reimagining the territoriality of their empire.  Furthermore, tracing the complex diplomatic negotiations paving the way for the rise of borders reveals the trans-imperial challenges Maria Theresa and Joseph II faced not only from powerful states, such as Russia, the Ottoman Empire, France and Spain, but also from second or even third-rate polities, including Moldavia and Parma.  And even though the Moldavian prince failed to block the Habsburg infringement on its lands, the Duke of Parma’s shrewd diplomatic maneuvers proved that small states could counteract successfully the plans of powerful empires.  At the same time, it is clear that by the second half of the eighteenth-century most European states became involved in a process of settling clear borderlines with the help of maps. Thus, even seemingly “natural” borders such as rivers or mountains are simply political and cultural constructs.

            For the past couple of decades, we have witnessed the fading away of some European borderlines due to the creation of the European Union and the Schengen Area. Travelling in Europe has never been easier and it has greatly eased my ability to perform this international research. However, as a handful of EU members attempt to recover from economic crises, and as political unrest engulfs Ukraine, some media outlets portray European unity as an illusory goal.  Indeed, contemporary maps of the world remind us that borders continue to play a significant part in defining current European states, and this conclusion can be extended to the rest of the world.  I propose that in order to understand the history of borders and how the notion of inviolable borderlines as a guarantee of contemporary nation-states’ integrity even came into being, we need to step back to the eighteenth-century and assess the impact of “scientific” maps on the emergence of territorial sovereignty.


In Review

Pizza and Politics

The EUCE/ESC recently hosted the final two Pizza and Politics lectures of the school year.  On March 26, Andrea Aldrich (top) gave a talk entitled, “European Elections for National Parties: Electoral Goals and Candidate Selection in the Parties of Europe.”  Aldrich, a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, presented her research on national European parties and their relationships with European Elections and Members of the European Parliament.  On April 9, Cengiz Haksöz (bottom) gave a lecture entitled, “Eating in Gezi, Devoured by Gezi: Food and Resistance in 2013 Istanbul Gezi Park Protests.”  Haksöz, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, analyzed how food has been used by protesters in Turkey as an ideology and for solidarity and resistance.


Conversations on Europe

On March 18, the EUCE/ESC continued its monthly virtual roundtable series, Conversations on Europe, with a videoconference devoted to “The Thorn and the Thistle in Europe’s Side?: English and Scottish Nationalism and the Future of the EU.”  The panel of experts included Dr. Pamela Stewart, a Senior Research Associate and Co-Director of the Cromie Burn Research Unit and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Andrew Strathern, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, Neill Nugent, Emeritus Professor of Politics and Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration at Manchester Metropolitan University, and John Curtice, Deputy-Director of Center for Research into Elections and Social Trends and Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde. The Conversation was moderated by Ron Linden, EUCE/ESC Director, and it focused on the upcoming Scottish referendum on independence from Britain scheduled for September, as well as the possiblity of a UK referendum on EU membership that could occur as early as 2016.


                                                                  Photo courtesy of Dr. Franklin Toker

Dr. Franklin Toker (far right) and his undergraduate students in Italy.  From left: Li Li, Kaley Kilpatrick, Alexandra Ashley, and Matthew Sova.


Undergraduates Contribute to an Excavation in Florence


by Dr. Franklin Toker, History of Art & Architecture

University of Pittsburgh

I was 25 when the Soprintendenza ai Monumenti of Florence appointed me director of excavations at S. Maria del Fiore, where, in 1376, an Early Christian church was torn down to make way for the current cathedral.  The Soprintendenza had dispatched an untested foreigner to dig under the second-most important building in Italy, and in Italian, German, and British scholarly journals harsh criticism was levied toward the decision.  My Italian friends called me the “parafulmine,” since the Soprintendenza hoped I would deflect future criticism, like a lightning-rod.

            Today, that 1969 appointment appears capricious no longer.  I was not an experienced Early Christian archaeologist then, but I became one by working alongside the rigorously trained staff of the British School at Rome at an excavation in Umbria.  By agreement with the Soprintendenza, I published nothing on the S. Maria del Fiore excavation until after it ended in 1974 (my 1973 Ph.D. thesis for Harvard University remains unpublished), but I assembled a small army of material-culture specialists who worked for decades on the Latin inscriptions and the Roman and Medieval glass, pottery, and sculptures.  I directed a University of Florence thesis on the hundreds of skeletons unearthed by the excavation, while other departments in Tuscany sent me specialists in Roman fresco, numismatics, radiocarbon analysis, spectroscopy, and prosopography (the scientific study of ancient names).

            In the end the specialists numbered just under 50, and came not just from Italy but also from Germany, the U.K., and the U.S.  Foremost among the Americans were faculty and staff at the University of Pittsburgh, including Latinists, liturgists, physical anthropologists, micro-photographers, digital scanners, and computer-based draftspersons.  My colleagues in History of Art and Architecture were very helpful, and I tested many of my hypotheses with graduate students in the department.

            Finally, my volumes on the excavation began to appear, from the distinguished Belgian publisher Brepols. First came On Holy Ground: Liturgy, Architecture, and Urbanism in the Cathedral and Streets of Medieval Florence, in 2009. Second, in 2013, Archaeological Campaigns beneath the Duomo and Baptistery of Florence, 1895-1980. The two final volumes will appear in 2015 and 2017: Reconstructing the Cathedral and Baptistery of Florence in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and When Stones Speak: the Florence Cathedral Excavations in the Light of History

            The most recent, though unexpected, contribution to the project came from undergraduates in my current seminar on my work in Florence. “Unexpected” not because the six are not bright enough to comprehend the problems behind the excavation, but because Early Christian Italy is so remote from their backgrounds, particularly for the two who are citizens of China. How could the undergraduates go beyond my outline of the S. Maria del Fiore excavation results to make their own contribution to the discussion? The answer came swiftly, and positively. From my list of 28 possible topics, two students immediately chose to work on the sixth-century church that underlay the current Cathedral: one on the cult of Reparata, the fictitious saint (“apocryphal” is the polite term) to whom the ancient cathedral was originally dedicated; the other on structural and stylistic questions about the ancient building. Two students elected problems involving changes at the east end of the old church in the ninth and eleventh centuries, and two more chose to work on the adjoining Florence Baptistery.

            The seminar participants were capable and energetic, but they were missing the taste of the ancient ruins themselves. I proposed that we spend Spring Break in Florence, and four students accepted even before learning the costs involved. Fortunately, the costs proved minimal: the University of Pittsburgh’s Honors College, the Study Abroad program, and the undergraduate dean swiftly pledged funds to get us to Florence, house us, and finance the card that got us into all the major museums.

            The students not only grasped the major problems in the Florence Duomo Project, but did in fact contribute to solutions. We spent half a day standing on the mosaic floor in the church remains, and were able to determine how the sixth-century workmen had laid it out: something neither I nor any scholar had satisfactorily hypothesized before. Other findings came under the Baptistery, where I contend that a Roman house was repurposed for Christian worship. Good proposals came also from our visits to Pisa and to an obscure church high in the Apennines.  I regard the church as an echo of the rebuilding of Florence Cathedral in the eleventh century, reflecting Florentine agitation for Church Reform.

            The overriding lesson of the term was that any bright undergraduate can contribute to humanities research, even so erudite a problem as the archaeology of Florence Cathedral, so long as they have a careful introduction. Still, nothing helps as much as a visit to a historical site. I was just lucky enough to have a site that lies in one of the more famous and lovely cities on earth.  


Finding Europe in Pittsburgh Photo Contest

Pittsburgh is a city with deep cultural and historical ties to Europe, and those connections have contributed to the dynamic city culture and style that residents enjoy today. The European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh is sponsoring a photo contest, “Finding Europe in Pittsburgh,” that showcases the many European influences in our city.

            Students (both graduates and undergraduates) are invited to submit photos that showcase some aspect of Europe in the city of Pittsburgh. Possible subjects include food, architecture, festivals, sports, art, people, or anything that speaks of Europe. Feel free to get creative! Winning photos will be announced on Facebook and published in our newsletter.  First prize is $250.00, second prize is $150.00, and third prize is $100.00.

            Submit photos to Steve Lund at, along with your name, the photo’s title, and a brief description of the photo’s subject, or Tweet your submission to @euceesc, #findingeuropeinpgh.  The deadline to submit a photo is Friday, May 16th.

            This event has been made possible through generous support of The German Information Center USA at the German Embassy.


Upcoming Grant and Fellowship Deadlines

Strategy and Policy Fellows Grant, The Smith Richardson Foundation

Aimed at supporting young scholars and policy thinkers on American foreign policy, international relations, international security, military policy, and diplomatic and military history, the purpose of the program is to strengthen the U.S. community of scholars and researchers conducting policy analysis in these fields.  The Foundation will award at least three research grants of $60,000 each to enable the recipients to research and write a book. Within the academic community, this program supports junior or adjunct faculty, research associates, and post-docs who are engaged in policy-relevant research and writing. Applicants must be an employee or affiliate of either an academic institution or a think tank.  Please note that the Fellowship program will only consider single-author book projects. It will not consider collaborative projects (e.g., edited or multi-author books, conference volumes or reports, or a collection of previously published articles, chapters or essays.)  For more information, please contact the organizers at  Deadline: June 15, 2014.


EUCE/ESC Travel Grants for Graduate Students

The European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center has funds available to graduate students to help defray costs involved in traveling to and participating in regional, national, or international scholarly conferences.  In order to be eligible, graduate students must be presenting a paper (i.e. not acting as discussant or chair and be on the program of the conference) that has some aspect of European life, historical or contemporary, domestic or international, or European integration as its main focus.  Find other requirements and application procedures at  No Deadline.   


EUCE/ESC Spotlight:

Mackenzie Weiler

This month, EUCE/ESC Newsletter Editor Gavin Jenkins interviewed Mackenzie Weiler, a member of the University of Pittsburgh’s Class of 2014.  For the past two years, Weiler has been the student ambassador for the EUCE/ESC, and she graduated this spring with degrees in Political Science and History, as well as a minor in German, and a European Union Studies certificate.  As an undergraduate research assistant in the Political Science Department, Weiler examined cabinet formations in Western European parliamentary democracies.  She also was a volunteer tutor with Keep It Real, a student-run organization that works with Somali-Bantu refugees in Pittsburgh.  She is from Malvern, PA.

Q: Tell me about your experience studying abroad in Germany?

A: In Spring, 2012, I studied at Freie Universitaet in Berlin.  I stayed with a host family, which helped improve my German a lot.  I think what was most helpful, though, was gaining another perspective on politics and history by studying in Berlin.  I gained a more nuanced view of the world, which will be very helpful in my future pursuits.

Q: Why do you think the European Union is worth studying?

A: The European Union is an unprecedented experiment in shared sovereignty, and its experience has implications for the rest of the world.  The carrot of EU membership has been the single most successful tool in international democracy promotion.  This suggests that the EU model of economic integration could be a model for other regions around the world.  Studying the EU gives students an understanding not only of an influential economic power but an influential political power as well.

Q: What were your responsibilities as the student ambassador of the EUCE/ESC for the past two years?

A: My job was to represent the Center and share its opportunities with potentially-interested students.  I gave presentations to classes in European languages, political science and history among others.  I told students about our certificate programs, as well as other study abroad and scholarship opportunities.  I also represented the Center at Prospective and Admitted Students Day events.

Q: What did you get out of being the Center’s student ambassador?

A: I got to be in contact with a wonderful group of people at the Center and share in their passion for European studies.  I also gained a better understanding of what it takes for an international studies center to function and all the work that goes into all the opportunities provided to students and post-graduates.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate this spring?

A: I’m going to move to the Czech Republic to teach English and hopefully get involved in good governance promotion in Eastern Europe.  After that, I plan on moving to Africa or Southeast Asia to teach there for a while. Ultimately, I would like to be involved in international development or other humanitarian work.


Congratulations Graduates!

Congratulations to the following undergraduate and graduate students who will graduate with certificates in West European and/or European Union Studies this year:


Undergraduate Students

West European Studies Certificate:

Lindsay Allen - English Writing & Philosophy

Michael Alm - French

Alex Bailor - History & Political Science

Emily Bonavoglia - French & Italian

Alexandra Brown - Psychology

Jane Buchholz - Political Science

Dana Castagna - French & Political Science

Daniela Chmielewski - English Literature

Tylar Colleluori - Anthropology & Italian

Abbey Cook - French & Rhetoric and Communication

Catherine Davin - History & Italian

David Downey - Philosophy

Andrew Freeley - Social Sciences

Sydney Gaylin - Philosophy & Political Science

Jiwoo Hahn - Economics & Political Science

Patrick Kelly - French & History

Emma Kilcup - English Writing

Emily Koellner - French & Spanish

Minuet Kurjakovic - Political Science

Madeline Leo - Neuroscience

Cameron Levy - Business & English Writing

Karla Lopez - Italian

Emily Massaro - Economics

Nina Paesano - French

Sarah Procario - Political Science

Emily Rorer - Political Science & Rhetoric and Communication

Emily Schoenlein - Anthropology

Heather Shimer - Politics and Philosophy & Spanish

Katelyn Smith - History

Katherine Terrell - French & History

Catherine Walsh - Linguistics


European Union Studies Certificate:

Catherine Bilinski - Political Science

Dana Castagna - French & Political Science

Gabriella Dulgerova - Economics

Patrick Gallagher - Social Sciences

Morgan Walbert - History & Political Science

Mackenzie Weiler - History & Political Science


Bachelor of Philosophy in International & Area Studies: European Union Studies Certificate

Kaitlyn Douglass – double major with Economics


Graduate Students

West European Studies Certificate:

Yasemin Irepoglu Carreras – Political Science

Meng Ren – Music


European Union Studies Certificate:

Yao Zhang - GSPIA