For several centuries, Habsburg politics were dominated by the dynasty’s conflicts with their neighbours to east and west. In the West, France was their great rival in the battle for European supremacy. The two Catholic powers pursued this ‘blood enmity’ relentlessly. In the East, the Habsburgs were faced with an initially invincible adversary in the form of the Ottoman Empire. As early as the fifteenth century the first forays into Habsburg territory by Ottoman raiding parties had raised the curtain on the long ‘Turkish period’.
Only after the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 were the Habsburgs able to go onto the offensive, finally succeeding in driving the Ottomans out of Hungary. For a long time, the war against the Ottoman Empire was presented as a struggle against ‘unbelievers’. Only in the eighteenth century did the religious element fade into the background. In addition to their enmity with the French and the Ottomans, the Habsburgs also had to deal with numerous internal conflicts, especially in Hungary, where there were frequent insurrections.