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Metternich

Alan Sked surveys the historiographical treatment of the notoriously long-winded Habsburg politician.

Metternich, according to A.J.P. Taylor, was 'the most boring man in European history' – a judgement from which few historians who have had to plough through his copious and longwinded correspondence, not to mention his eight stout volumes of memoirs, would dissent. In fact, he himself boasted that he could 'bore men to death' and often put visitors to sleep. The young Bismarck, for example, slept through one long monologue and Disraeli is suspected of having done the same. Yet there is no escaping him because, like Hilary's Mount Everest, he was simply there. For almost forty years he shaped the foreign policy of the Habsburg Monarchy and played a very large part in its domestic affairs. Consequently he is an historical figure of the first importance and cannot be avoided.

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