This book addresses a number of interrelated themes over two hundred years and more in the political, religious, cultural, and social history of a broad but often neglected swathe of the European continent. It seeks - against the grain of conventional presentations - to apprehend the era from the later seventeenth to the later nineteenth century as a whole, and to demonstrate continuities, as well as casting light on key aspects of the evolution towards modern statehood and national awareness in Central Europe, and the crises of ancien-regime structures there in the face of new challenges at home and abroad. Each of the essays - some previously published, and others available for the first time in English - is intended to be free-standing and accessible on its own; but they are also designed to fit together and demonstrate linkages and common ground. Much attention is devoted to the Austrian or Habsburg lands, especially the interplay of the main territories which comprised them. A central issue here is the evolution of the kingdom of Hungary, from its full acquisition by the Habsburgs at the beginning of the period to the emergence of the dual Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the end. But the chapters also range more broadly, both territorially and chronologically. Though much of the scholarship underpinning this masterly exploration may be unfamiliar to many readers, this is a an elegantly written and stimulating collection, which reflects the exploratory and individual character of the essay as a genre.