Florian Andretsch



Currently, I am employed as an university assistant at the Department of Economic and Social History. I was born and raised in Klagenfurt, where I finished my secondary education in 2014. That same year, I made the decision to study History at the University of Vienna, as I have been passionate about the subject since my childhood. In the course of my studies, the focus of my interest soon began to gravitate towards approaches and traditions of thought centering on past economic and social relationships and structures as well as their transformations over longer spans of time. While working on my master’s degree, the subdiscipline of family and kinship history captivated my attention, especially when it pertains to elite social strata and the mechanisms by which such groups distributed and organized economic resources, status and political power along family and kin connections. Within this current of historical research, both my master’s thesis, in which I examined the spread of a legal instrument by which noblemen regulated matters of inheritance in favor of their first-born sons in the early modern Habsburg Empire, as well as my current dissertation project (see below) are situated. I finished my master’s degree in January 2020 and commenced my doctoral research in October that same year after I was lucky enough to be granted my current prae-doc position.

Research interests: History of the family and kinship, systems of inheritance and succession, social history of European elites, history of the Habsburg Empire, history of rents and labour.

Current research project: Family, Property and Power. Transformations of Inheritance Practices and Kinship Organization within the Nobility of Upper and Lower Austria, ca. 1500-1800.
The dissertation examines the development of family and kinship structures within the nobility of the Habsburg Empire in the time span from 1500 to 1800. According to a thesis posited among others by kinship historians David W. Sabean and Simon Teuscher, the Early Modern Age was a period in which the organization of family and kinship relations underwent a profound transition within the upper social strata of vast regions of Europe. In connection with processes of state building, elite families increasingly concentrated economic resources on a reduced number of male heirs via mechanisms of intergenerational transfer of wealth such as inheritance in order to monopolize positions of power in new political institutions. To a rising degree, daughters, widows and younger sons were excluded from access to status-conferring types of property. As a result, elite families came to be increasingly patriarchal while wider kin groups grew to be more and more rigid and growingly emphasized male descent.
The dissertation produces a regional case study investigating whether or not such a process took place within the early modern nobility of Upper and Lower Austria. The aim is to reconstruct the systems of inheritance and similar methods of intergenerational wealth transfer performed by the social group in question and to inspect the changes these practices underwent from a long term perspective. Other than testing the above described thesis for the Habsburg Empire’s elite, the goal of the research project is to arrive at a detailed and nuanced understanding of how property and status were distributed within Upper and Lower Austrian noble families and kin networks. Focusses of attention lie on the position of noble women, connections between integenerational wealth transfers and career paths in political institutions, as well as on relations of competition, conflict and processes of negotiation regarding the distrubution of family property. To realize these goals, quantitative analysis of sources originating from Lower Austria’s early modern fiscal administration aims to trace broader trends of change on one hand. On the other hand, this approach is combined with methods operating on a micro level which seek to reconstruct the practices of intergenerational wealth transfer of individuals from three specified noble lineages in detail, making use of sources such as wills, post mortem inventories, marriage and inheritance contracts or documents provening from legal conflicts.