From humble origins in the lowlands of Switzerland, the Habsburgs emerged to become kings of Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Croatia; archdukes of Austria; grand princes of Transylvania; grand dukes of Tuscany; and Holy Roman Emperors for centuries on end. Some were remarkably intelligent, some rather less so.
By the beginning of the 16th Century, the Habsburg emperor Charles V controlled so much territory - in Spain, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands - that his advisors were dreaming of a united Europe. Even England was not immune from their plans.
By 1848, the Habsburg court had fled Vienna and the emperor was being asked to step aside. But the dynasty was to remain in power until the First World War.