Alan Sked

Alan Sked

Research Interest


Professor Alan Sked was a prize-winning undergraduate at the University of Glasgow after which he moved on to Merton College, Oxford, where he took his D.Phil. under the supervision of A.J.P.Taylor. He was appointed to the Department of International History at LSE before his thesis was completed. He remained at the department until his retirement in 2015.

He has been asked by British, Czech and Austrian Funding Councils to evaluate multi-million pound research projects and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is a member of the advisory board of two historical journals. From 1980-1990, he was Convener of European Studies at LSE.

Professor Alan Sked's main fields of interest are very wide-ranging. He is a world expert on the Habsburg Monarchy, with his books on it translated into German, Italian, Czech, Portuguese and Japanese.

He was historical consultant to the BBC documentary Abraham Lincoln: Saint or Sinner and has published a book, entitled Abraham Lincoln: the Critical History of an American Icon (2013). 

Recent conference papers have been devoted to Talleyrand and the Congress of Vienna (given in Paris) and Talleyrand and England (given at the National Archives).

Professor Alan Sked was presented with a copy of the Czech translation of his book, Metternich and Austria: An Evaluation, at a ceremony for the history faculty and students of Masaryk University in Brno. He marked the occasion with a guest lecture on ‘Metternich and Radetzky’.


His first book was The Survival of the Habsburg Empire, Radetzky, the Imperial Army and the Class War, 1848 (London and New York, 1979); his second was The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, 1815-1918 (London and New York, 1989).

More recently, he has published Metternich and Austria. An Evaluation  (2008), Radetzky, Imperial Victor and Military Genius (2011) and Abraham Lincoln: the Critical History of an American Icon (2013).

He has written several articles on Habsburg history including:

  • Metternich and the Federalist Myth;
  • The Metternich System,1815-1848;
  • Metternich's Enemies or The Threat from Below;
  • Historians, the Nationality Question and the Downfall of the Habsburg Empire;
  • Die habsburger Monarchie und die Herausforderung des Nationalismus;
  • Nationalism in the fin de siècle Habsburg Monarchy;
  • Explaining the Habsburg Monarchy, 1830-1890;
  • Jelacic in the Summer of 1848;
  • Mirror Images: Kossuth and Jelacic in 1848-49;
  • Metternich and the Ficquelmont Mission of 1847-48.
  • The Decision Against Reform in Lombardy-Venetia;
  • J.A. Blackwell's Vain Attempts to Become British Consul in Hungary;
  • Benedek, Breinl and the ‘Galician Horrors’ of 1846;
  • Austria and the Galician Massacres of 1846. Schwarzenberg and the Propaganda War. An Unknown but Key Episode in the Career of the Austrian Statesman;
  • Franz Joseph and the Creation of the Ringstrasse; 
  • Social Life and Legal Constraints. The Habsburg Army, 1890-1914;
  • The European State System in the Modern World. 

He has also published three books on British history:

He is presently writing the Penguin History of Post-War (Western) Europe, which will also cover post-war Britain.

These themes apart, he has written articles on general history and has edited two books: Crisis and Controversy, Essays in Honour of A.J.P. Taylor (London, 1976) and Europe's Balance of Power, 1815-1848 (London, 1979)