Mathematicians amongst you will probably now have finished your calculations and concluded that next year is 2014, a full one hundred years since 1914 and the beginning of The Great War. The Great War was something of a red letter day for my favourite of all the empires, Austria-Hungary. So much land, so much history, so much culture, so little coastline. Not for them, the weekly chore of chasing the seagulls off of the bins. Within just over four years of the commencement of hostilities in July 1914, this once great union had been shattered into its constituent parts and Franz Joseph had to get a job in McDonald's.
It's hard to be too sympathetic, mind you. Commiserating with the leadership of Austria-Hungary about the cataclysmic consequences of the Great War is akin to rushing to get a wet wipe for your next door neighbour who, upon finding that your cat had pooed on his finely-manicured lawn, attempted to throw it back over the hedge only to have it blow back into his eye. As strategic blunders go, it was a bit of a shocker.
But never mind, a century on and it's all still there. Better still, the vast majority of the peoples who would formerly have fallen under the aegis of the imperial system now find themselves living in smaller, thriving, modern democracies. It is arguable, therefore, that the assassins of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo all those years ago are somewhat heroic figures. The people who argue this are, of course, wrong-brained idiots. But I salute their freedom to argue it.
I also salute the Empire of Austria-Hungary. A great bunch of lads. In order to begin the remembrance of the hundredth anniversary of a monumental year in the history of humankind, I thought I would mark the build-up to Christmas with an AUSTRIA-HUNGARY ADVENT CALENDAR. You heard. Twenty-four notable people born in that imperial dynasty (1867-1918). Maybe you will learn something. Maybe it will just keep you together until the inevitable post-Christmas suicides begin. Either way, keep your eyes pointed in this blog's general direction for the next three and a half weeks. Literally a minute (total) of entertainment awaits!