*** Austrian Empire history

Austrian Empire: History (1526-1918)

Austro-Hugarian Empire
Figure 1.--Here we see an Austrian military parade in Pague about 1900. Austria for centuries had been one of the grrat powers of Europe. At the time it was was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It still governed a large area of Europe, but unlike other imprtant powers had failed to industrialize. And the war that loomed and which Austria itself set off, prompted by the German General Staff which wanted a war. World War It would prove to be an industrial conflict in which Austro-Hungary was ill-prepared to fight. This was pasinted by Czech artist Emanuel Salomon Friedberg-Mírohorský. It seems to be entitled Vojenska Parada. Vojenska seenms to be Military Intelgence. We are not sure what this had to do with the parade. Click on the image for a closer look at the boy in the sailor suit. Austria-Hungary had only a small navy, but the sailor suit became a populasr fashion for boys.

The history of the Austrian Empire is essentially the history of the Hapsburg dynasty. They largely through carefully calculated marriages transformed themselves from a minor noble family into one of the great dynasties of Europe, becoming the dynasty that would be commonly elected to become the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. This was, however, not a centralized nation state and the emperors while important were did not have the powers of the kings in the monarchies in the nation states like England, France, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Spain. Austria would be one of the great powers for several centuries. The Austrian Empire would play a major role in blocking the expansion of the Protestant Reformation, but did not succeeding in suppressing it (16th century). Austrian armies led by Prince Eugene would play a major part in the European religious wars (17th century). Austria would help block French King Louis XIV's military expansion. They played a major role in the historic battle of Blenheim. The Duke of Marlborough (the first important Churchill of history) and Prince Eugene decisively defeated a French army (1704). Religious division would delay German unification for over three centuries. The Austrian Empire would played a major role in blocking the Ottoman intrusion into Christian Europe, culminating in the siege of Vienna (1683). The Austria would oppose French armies mounted by the Revolution and Napoleon (1789-1815). The future of Europe would be chartered by the Congress of Vienna (1815). This would mark the zenith of Austrian Empire. German unification was become inevitability a contest between the two leading states, Austria and Prussia. The future, however, would be determined by economic forces. The Industrial Revolution began in Britain (mid-18th century) and spread to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. The Austrian monarchy was dominated by a land-owning aristocracy. Prussia in contrast began to industrialize. The Prussians won the conflict in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), largely because of their industrial development. Beginning with the American Civil War and the Austro=Prussian War, wars would become increasingly industrial contests. And the Austrian failure to industrialize would lead to the decline of Austrian power and eventfully its defeat and dissolution in World War I.

The Hapsburgs

One of the longest ruling European royal families was the Hapsburgs. The Hapsburgs often dominated European history from the 16th to the 19th century. Even in their declining years of Hapsburg rule, the family played a key role in the 20th century. It was the assasination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand that was to lead to World War I. Like the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs took their name from a family castle in Medieval Germany. This renowened family of German origins was in various periods the ruling family of Germany, as a separate family and as part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was the Hapsburgs who stopped the advance of the Ottimans into Christain Europe. The heighth of the dynasty's powers came in the 15th and 16th centuries with Philip I and Charles V who united Germany and Spain making the Hapsburgs the doiminate power in Europe. His son Philip II comanded vast armies and navies, but their blind religious faith was to lead to devestating religious wars in Germany and Spain becoming a backwater of Europe. Most European ruling families are associated primarily with one coutry. The Hapsburgs, while of German roots, ruled over many European countries. The Hapsburgs ruled Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain, and many smaller European principalities--not to mention Mexico for a few years. The story of the Hapsburgs is in fact the history of Europe for centuries.

Austrian Empire (1526-1867)

Austria is today a small German-speaking state. This has only been the case since 1918 and the end of World War I. For much of European history Austria-Hungary and earlier the Austrian Empire or the lands goverened by the Hapsburgs were one of the great powers of Europe. The Hapsburgs begun with a small principality in Austrian which they turned into a great empire. This included many small principalities, including the Netherlands and eventually spain, but the heartland was always Austria and the two criticl components of the Austrin empire in addition to Austria was the acquisition of Bohemia and Hungary. Bohemia had been severely weakened by the Husseite Wars. The Czech crown passed first to the Hungarian (Jagiello) monarchy. The Ottomans defeated and killed Hungarian King Ludwig/Louis at the Battle of Mohács, ending the Jagellon line (1526). As a result, the Austrian Hapsburgs inherited Bohemia and theother Czech Lands along with Hungary. They would rule the Czechs until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the wake of World War I. The Hapsburg lands were nor for centuries formally called the Austrian Empire although that was in fact what they were. The economy of the Empire was based on agriculkture dominated by large aristocratic estates and serfdom. The Hapsburgs formally proclaimed the Austrian Empire (1804). After the Napoleonic was, Austria and Prussia vied for control of Germany. Austria unlike Prussia and other Germsn states did not make a major effort to indudtrialize which affected the powerbalance with Prussia.

Austro Prussian War (1866)

One impact of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars was the the rise of German nationalism and a desire for unification. Since the defeat of Napoleon (1815), Germany was moving toward independence. With the failure of the liberal reformers (1848), the question became whether Germany would be united under the Austrian or Prussian monarchy. This question was settled by the austro-Prussian War. The Austro-Prussian war is also known as the German Civil War. Prussia crushed Austrian an allied German forces in 7 weeks. Following the defeat in Italy, the influence of Austria in Europe was impaired.

Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918)

Prussia's defat of Austria led to the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867 under Emperor Franz Josef and exclusion from the new German Empire unified by Bismarck. Austria-Hungary was a compromised reached in 1867 after Ausrtria's defeat in the Austro-Prussian War (1866). The Hungarians wanted independence. To prevent this, a dual monarchy was created. The official Settlement of 1867 (the Ausgleich) created the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was a dual monarchy. Emperor Franz Josef was crowned at impressive ceremony in Budapest with the crown of St. Stephen. Hecwas thus the first Hungarian king in centuries.

Constitutional Structure

The Austro-Hungarian Empire as the result of the Ausgleich had two principal components. The first was the Austrian Empire. The second was the Hungarian Kingdom. They were both ruled by the Austrian monarch in Vienna. Austria was governed governed by the February Patent of 1861 which created a weak parliament--the Reichsrat. Hungary on the other hand was governed by the 1848 March Laws and a separate national parliament. These and other constitutional complications associated with other provinces made Austria-Hungary a very complicated political entity to govern. The Austrian and Hungarian parliaments dealt with domestic affairs. A joint cabinet composed primarily of Austrian and Hungarian aristocrats set foreign policy and were also responsible forvthe military and financial matters. This meant that the parliaments were relatively weak institutions. Austro-Hungary was nominally a constitutional monarchy, but Emperor through the powerful joint cabinent largely controlled the political process. At his discression he could even disolve the parliaments.

World War I

Austria had for centuries been a major European power, dominating the Holy Roman Empire. Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) essentially ejected Austria from Germany. The Hapsburgs then recreated Austrial as the Dual Monarchy--the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria-Hungary became a large multi-ethnic empire dominated by a Grman and Hungarian rukling class. The Empire dominated much of central Europe. Ousted from Germany, it expelled into the Balkans where it came into conflict with Russia which had ethnic ties and expansionary goals. These conflicts escalated as Ottoman power wained. Its dealings with the various nationalities were a major political problem. The Hungarians were give dual royal status with Austria. Other nationalities felt oppressed, none more than the Slavs. Serbia secretly supported terrorist forces in Bosnia withits substantial Slavic population. This led to the assasination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and Austria's decession to punish Serbia. The Austrians had no desire to launch a world war which was reflected in their war planning. There were two Austrian war plans, Plans B and R. The difference in the two plans reflected the unknown of the Russian reaction. Plan B provided only for hostilities in the Balkans against Serbia. Three Austro-Hungarian armies would invade Serbia. Three other armies would be heldin reserve along the Russan border. Plan R was a more expansive plan, a modification of Plan B in case the Russians invaded. In this case only two armies would invade Serbia and four armies would defend against the Rusians. It assumed that the Germans would enter the War if the Russians declared war. Ecalating nationalist tensions came to a head when Serbian nationalists assasinated Archduke Ranz Derdinand, heir to Emperor Franz Josef. Germany's decession to support Austria's desire to punish Serbia turned a Balkans crisis into a mjor European war.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Austrian pages:
[Return to the main Main Austrian page]
[Austrian art ] [Austrian choirs] [Austrian Lederhosen] [Austrian royalty] [Austrian school uniforms] [Austrian movies] [Austrian youth groups]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main Austrian history page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [Essays] [FAQs] [German glossary] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing national pages:
[Return to the Main Austrian Empire page]
[Return to the Main countries page]
[Austria] [Bosnia] [Croatia] [Czech Repunlic] [France] [Germany] [Hungary] [Italy] [Poland] [Romania] [Serbia] [Slovakia] [Slovenia] [Switzerland] [Russia] [Ukraine]

Created: 7:50 AM 4/15/2023
Last updated: 7:50 AM 4/15/2023