The post-doctoral thesis (Habilitation), completed in 2020, investigated how provincial diets (‘Landtage’) and assemblies of the Estates operated in seven Habsburg provinces (Bohemia, Moravia, Lower and Upper Austria, Styria, Carinthia and Carniola). As important tools of building consensus, political communication and administrative consolidation, the provincial diets remained part of the political culture of the Habsburg Monarchy to 1848. In the scholarship, however, their image has been anachronistically defined with reference to modern forms of parliamentary representation. Moreover, for the period following the Thirty Years’ War, they have been overwhelmingly misunderstood as insignificant institutions and received little scrutiny. In order to sharpen the contours of their role as mechanisms of consensus-building as well as sites of distinction for the Estates in the composite Habsburg state, a thorough analysis of provincial diets’ spatial dimensions was carried out.
The comparative project investigated the conference halls (‘Landstuben’) in which the diets met for their consultations. Although numerous architectural studies exist of the palaces of the Estates (‘Landhäuser’) that housed the provincial assemblies, the ways how diet halls were used are hardly known. The project explored their furnishings, decoration, inner structure and modes of use as well as their spatial contexts and symbolic dimension, on the basis of sources largely neglected until now. The monograph Stuben und Säle. Symbolische Kommunikation und politische Kultur in den ständischen Versammlungsräumen der Habsburgermonarchie in der Frühen Neuzeit will appear in 2023 in the book series Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung.
Following the post-doctoral thesis, the project continues with an examination of the provincial diets’ temporal dimension. It analyses, firstly, local decision-making processes, secondly, negotiations between the provincial diets and the court and, thirdly, the interprovincial communication between diets of various Habsburg lands. The hypothesis is that the transformation of the provincial diets from ad hoc events to continuously and regularly negotiating bodies mirrors the advanced intertwining of the Estates with the sovereign administration in the Habsburg fiscal-military state.