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Constructing Imperial Spaces: Habsburg Cartography in the Age of Enlightenment

Veres, Madalina Valeria (2015) Constructing Imperial Spaces: Habsburg Cartography in the Age of Enlightenment. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In the second half of the eighteenth century, military engineers working for the Austrian Habsburg monarchs mapped in detail for the first time the provinces and borders of their empire. Despite this development, there is a disjunction in the literature between scholars who examine the Habsburg monarchy’s evolution under Maria Theresa (1740–1780) and Joseph II (1765–1790), and those who investigate maps and mapping in the period. This historiographical divide prevents scholars from considering the part maps may have played in the efforts of the Habsburg monarchs to construct a centralized multi-ethnic empire as a serious contender to nation-states premised on ethnic homogeneity. Maria Theresa’s and Joseph II’s military, social, religious and economic reforms and their attempts to increase uniformity within their dominions – which intensified practices, such as mapping and the making of geographic descriptions, and surveys of demographic and natural resources – suggest a modernising entity.
This dissertation analyzes the production, circulation, and use of large-scale topographic provincial and border Habsburg maps for three provinces: the Austrian Netherlands, Lombardy and Transylvania. Based on archival sources located in Vienna, Brussels, Cluj-Napoca, Milan, Paris and Sibiu, I show how Maria Theresa’s and Joseph II’s desire to map their dominions led to the establishment of imperial corps of military engineers and the development of a network of scientific centers promoting the study of astronomy and geography. Once they had established a number of mapmaking institutions and recruited or educated a new generation of military engineers, the Habsburg rulers commissioned the first detailed topographic survey of their lands and prepared cartographic material to be used in border regulations with their neighbors.
Maps offer a new angle to interpret and assess the efficiency of early modern governments to construct centralized empires, such as the Habsburg monarchy. Maria Theresa’s and Joseph II’s determination to obtain a detailed image of their domains and imperial borders illustrates the reliance of Enlightenment rulers on emergent sciences, such as cartography, to further the defense and expansion of their empires.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Veres, Madalina Valeriamvv3@pitt.eduMVV3
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairManning, Patrickpmanning@pitt.eduPMANNING
Committee MemberRawski, Evelynesrx@pitt.eduESRX
Committee MemberThum, Gregorthum@pitt.eduTHUM
Committee MemberArmstrong, Christopher Drewcda68@pitt.eduCDA68
Committee MemberEmiralioglu,
Committee MemberVon Klimo,
Date: 27 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 April 2015
Approval Date: 27 September 2015
Submission Date: 18 May 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 505
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Habsburg Monarchy; cartography; empires; Enlightenment; borders; Transylvania; Austrian Netherlands; Lombardy.
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2015 02:29
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:28


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