The armed forces and the armies that have been formed, deployed and sent to war throughout Austria’s history – encompassing, as it has, a range of territorial dimensions and changing political structures – reflect better than any other institution on the political developments within the nation. The armed and ‘uniformly’ equipped soldier still stands as the embodiment of the state’s monopoly on the use of force and the uniform itself is of particular importance in this respect because it identifies him as a member of a very special fellowship. The ‘Emperor’s Coat’, which often comes up in a historical context, has long since been supplanted by the uniform of the Republic but this still remains the most prominent distinguishing feature separating the soldier from the civilian population, and from members of other armies.
The development of the uniforms of Austria’s soldiers spans more than three hundred years. Breaks and pauses in the design of the soldiers’ dress were the result of adjusting to the practicalities of duty and battle requirements but also of maintaining a pleasing appearance and observing fashion trends. On the other hand, there were efforts to retain continuity and traditions, which in some cases have survived the passage of centuries and are still visible today.
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A History of the Austrian Army From Maria Theresia to the Present Day
For the first time, the development and complexity of Austria’s uniforms, previously known only to aficionados, is opened up to a wider audience in a publication that includes more than 300 original illustrations of uniforms from the 18th century to the present. This book presents pictorial documentation of the appearance of Austrian soldiers throughout the period with the support of essays on Austria’s military history. The particularly well-executed illustrations by renowned artists come from the extensive archives of the Heeresgeschichtliche Museum in Vienna and are presented to the general public here for the first time.