Africa Asia Europe North America South America Oceania
You are here: Home > Europe > Austria

History of Austria

Austria's history is characterized by the country being on the border between eastern and western Europe. The land was created as a field county by Karl the Great in the late 700s. In the 13th century, the Habsburg family came to power. Austria eventually came to encompass large parts of Central Europe, becoming a European great power.

History of Austria

In 1804, Austria became an empire, from 1867, with Hungary as an equal part of the double monarchy of Austria-Hungary. After the defeat in World War I, the double monarchy was disbanded and Austria became a republic. Prior to World War II, Austria was annexed by Germany in the so-called Anschluss. After the war, Austria became neutral. In 1995, the country joined the EU.


The origin of Austria is the "east land" or the land county - Marchia Austria - which Karl the Great created in the late 700s to defend Bavaria and France's eastern border against the Turkish avars. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Austria. For a short time, the Madjans were lords of the country, but in 955 the land county was resurrected, and from 976 the Babenberg family reigned there.

In 1156 Austria became its own duchy during the German-Roman Empire, and in 1192 the dukes became gentlemen in Styria. In 1246, the Babenbergs died out, and King Ottokar 2 of Bohemia laid down the duchy in 1251. In 1260 he took Styria and in 1269 Carinthia and Krain, but in 1276 had to give it all to Rudolf of Habsburg.

Rudolf in 1282 transferred Austria, Styria and Krain to his son Albrecht, thus laying the groundwork for the Habsburgs. The family expanded in 1363 its area with Tyrol. From the middle of the 1400s, the title of Archduke was officially related, and from 1438 the dignity of the German King and Roman Emperor was permanently linked to the Habsburg Archduke of Austria, which thus managed to consolidate a strong firepower. But their attempts to conquer Switzerland had failed in the 1300s.

Early modern times

In 1493, Emperor Maximilian 1 gathered all the Austrian heirs under his rule, and by the division of Germany in 1512 he made them a separate circle. Under him and his grandson Karl 5 (Emperor 1519–1556), the Habsburg Empire reached its peak, but when Karl dropped the crown, the lineage was divided into two lines: the Spanish and the Austrian. The Austrian line retained the imperial dignity, which passed to Charles's brother Ferdinand 1. All in 1526, by marriage and election, this had won both the Bohemian and the Hungarian crown. This led to a lasting unification of the Austrian, Bohemian and Hungarian countries, although most of Hungary remained under the Turks until 1699.

Indeed, during the first hundred years of the new Habsburg kingdom, the center of gravity lay in the Slavic countries, and Prague was the usual seat of government under Emperor Rudolf 2 (1583–1612).

As king of Bohemia, the emperor was at the same time the German ruler, but the attempts to strengthen the Habsburg emperor power in Germany did not go ahead, and after 1648 the emperor had no real power there. In his own inheritance, however, in the 17th and 18th centuries, it developed into an actual monarchy. It was natural for the Habsburgs to weld the old individual states and the many different peoples who lived there, together into a centralized unitary state, and this dynastic policy was linked to the issue of religion. The Czech lands had been in a unique position since the 15th century with the Hussites, and in the following century the Protestant doctrine won over Catholicism in all three parts of the kingdom, especially among the nobility and the citizens.

Consequently, the effort for religious freedom went hand in hand with the Standing Assembly's attempt to extend its power to the prince's house. The prince's house, for its part, fought for unanimous power and for the Catholic Church. Ferdinand 2's victory over the Czechs in 1620 also became a victory for the monarchy over the old stender government, and a victory for Catholicism over Protestantism. The Bohemian countries became more closely associated with Austria than the Hungarians, and from 1526 the three groups of countries developed steadily and two into two: the Austro-Czech and the Hungarians. The former got joint administration, common courts and eventually also common law, and the official language became German, while three-quarters of the Czech nobility's land passed to German hands.

This embarrassment was deliberately promoted by Empress Maria Teresia and Joseph II in the 18th century to create a national and linguistic unity. At the same time it increased the difference between the Austro-Czech and the Hungarian part of the empire, because Joseph's reforms were to a much lesser extent implemented in Hungary. Also economically, inequality increased from the end of the 18th century due to the development of a substantial bohemian industry. From a foreign point of view, it was from the first moment the historical role of the Habsburg kingdom in Europe to form a bulwark against the Turks (the Ottoman Empire), which twice reached as far as Vienna. With the peace of Sremski Karlovci (Karlowitz) in 1699, the Turkish danger was finally over, and Austria was given most of Hungary and Transilvania (Siebenbrgen). In the years 1699-1737 the rest of Hungary was also placed under the Habsburgs.

From the end of the Middle Ages to the mid-1700s, France was Austria's main opponent in the power struggle for supremacy in Europe. This was true during both the Thirty Years War in 1618–1648, the Spanish Succession War in 1701–1713, the Polish Succession War in 1733–1735, the Austrian Succession War in 1740–1748 (after the Habsburgs line of men had died out with Charles 6 and he was followed by daughter Maria Teresia) and finally in the Prussian Seven Year War in 1756-1763.

In these wars, Austria lost Lausitz (1635) and most of Silesia (1742), but the losses were more than offset by new land victories: After the Spanish succession war, Austria gained the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) and large areas in Italy. At Poland's first division in 1772, Austria gained Lvov and East Galicia (82,000 square kilometers), and also Bukovina in 1777. At Poland's third division in 1795, Austria got West Galicia with Krakw(47,000 square miles). Following the Alliance during the Prussian Seven Years' War, Austria and France again became major opponents during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, leading to large Austrian land divisions, especially during the Vienna Peace in 1809.

Maria Teresia carried out several important reforms in the spirit of the Enlightenment: torture by interrogation was abolished, the noble privileged position curtailed and the peasants' legal position towards the landlords was regulated by law. But the quality of life was not abrogated. From 1765 her eldest son, Joseph, was 2, included. He continued his mother's reform program. The quality of life was abolished the year after her death in 1781, and the Catholic Church's position of power was severely curtailed. Joseph 2 did much to improve the school system and decided that German should be the main language. This provoked reluctance among the Hungarians and the Czechs, and also other of his reforms created unrest. Joseph abolished many of them in his last years of life, but did not restore the quality of life.

The Empire of Austria, 1804-1867

Joseph was succeeded in 1790 by his brother, Leopold 2, who, against his will, was drawn into the coalition against France, where Sister Maria Antoinette sat in jail awaiting his verdict. However, Leopold died as early as 1792, and it was his son Frans 2 who suffered many defeats in the wars with Napoleon. In 1804 Franz took the title of Archduke of Austria, and in 1806 the German-Roman Empire was dissolved.

In 1810, his daughter, Maria Louise, married Napoleon, and their son Napoleon 2, the "King of Rome, " was born the following year. At the Vienna Congress in 1815, Austrian Minister Metternich succeeded in regaining many of the lost territories (but not Belgium, which was united with Holland to the Kingdom of the Netherlands).

Under Metternich's leadership, Austria played a leading role in the "Holy Alliance". But he was hated by the emerging bourgeoisie for his reactionary attitude. The February revolution in Paris in 1848 led to the rise of the bourgeoisie and workers in Vienna, and to national riots in Italy and Hungary. Metternich fled, and the emperor had to issue a liberal constitution with universal suffrage. The quality of life was completely abolished and liberal reforms introduced.

But the reaction could play to the contradictions between the Madjars, the Slavs and the German liberals. An imperial army conquered Vienna, and Hungary was broken with Russian aid. In the 1850s, all opposition was held down with hard hand and a bureaucratic centralization carried out according to French pattern.

Austria in the double monarchy, 1867-1918

Austria's position of power rested on the alliance with Russia, but this was broken during the Crimean War in 1853-1856. Austria, therefore, stood alone in the war against Sardinia and France in 1859, and lost dominion in Italy (loss of Lombardy). At the same time, Austria's leadership in the German Confederation was threatened by Prussia. The rivalry with Prussia in 1866 led to war. Austria was defeated and placed outside the development that led to a new German national organization, and in addition Venice was lost to Italy.

The following year, a settlement was reached with Hungary, which was recognized as an equal national element in the double-monarchy of Austria-Hungary. A real union was established with, among other things, the common foreign and military system. Franz Joseph became Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.

Austria was primarily an agricultural country, but an industry developed, including in Vienna and Bohemia. In each of the 17 countries in Austria was the country days next to the main board (Emperor and riksrd with two chambers). In 1907, ordinary voting rights for men were introduced to the Second Chamber. After 1880, modern mass parties emerged. The German bourgeoisie joined the "German nationals", while the petty bourgeoisie and later the peasants advocated for the Christian-social party led by Karl Lueger. As in Germany, a social democratic mass party emerged on Marxist grounds under Victor Adler.

However, parliamentary life was ruined by the country's fundamental problem, the national issue, and the country was governed by emergency regulations. The two national units were composed of different nationalities with the Germans in Austria and the Madjars in Hungary as dominant.

Towards the end of the century, the fragmentation trends became stronger in the country. The non-German nationalities - Czechs, Poles, Roots, Croats and Slovenes - opposed the political leadership position of the German-speaking population (similar to the many minorities in Hungary who were in opposition to the Madjars), and demanded autonomous rule, independent state formation or association with neighboring nation states. Austria's relations with the independent Slavic Kingdom of Serbia and its protector Russia deteriorated when Austria in 1908 annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina.

World war one

The contradictions between Austria and Serbia, which wanted to incorporate the parts of the double monarchy where southern Slavs lived, immediately led to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand was murdered by Serbian nationalists on June 28, 1941, during an attack known as "the shootings. in Sarajevo . Austria felt that Slavic nationalism was a threat to the existence of the kingdom, and therefore fought hard against hard against Serbia.

The war in the east against the Russians led to preliminary losses (Galicia) and gains (Poland). Despite that Austria offered to refrain Trentino and do Trieste to free state, declaring Italy the war in 1915, and Romania, which wanted Transylvania, followed in 1916. At the German aid was the Romanians turned, and the front against Italy stabilized.

The defeat and distress fueled a growing opposition. In 1916, Victor Adler's son Fritz Adler fired the prime minister, Count Karl von Strgkh. The same year, Emperor Franz Joseph, who had ruled since 1848, died. He was succeeded by his great-nephew Karl 1. Circuits in the imperial family had peacekeepers out with the allies, who did not really have Austria-Hungary's resolution as a war target. Among the national minority, the Czechs were particularly active. In Russia, they formed a Czech legion, and in Paris a "Czechoslovak National Council" was formed under the leadership of Tomš Masaryk.

Small state in Europe, 1918–1945

The defeat of the Central Powers in October 1918 led to the liberation of the non-German nationalities. The empire was overthrown by a revolution in November. A republic, Deutsch-sterreich, was proclaimed, and the National Assembly decided to join Germany (Anschluss) because it did not consider the new Austria a viable entity. The Allies, with France in the lead, veto Anschluss.

At the peace of Saint-Germain in 1919, the dissolution of the empire was confirmed. Austria became a small state, organized as a federal republic, with a uniform German-speaking population. Connection to Germany was prohibited. Ancient Austria-Hungary had been nationally and politically divisive, but had formed a natural economic unit with the Danube as a binding link. With the world city of Vienna as the capital, Austria had to change from being a great power to a small state. New customs boundaries led to loss of markets, and the country faced major economic and social problems.

The internal development of the Republic was marked by strong contradictions between the socialists and the Catholic Christian-social party. In the early 1930s, a new element of turmoil emerged, the emerging Nazism. Christian-Social Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss banned the Nazi Party in 1933, defeated the Socialist opposition in 1934 by bloody struggle, and introduced an authoritarian constitution. By approaching Italy, he sought to prevent Austria's accession to Germany, which the Nazi politicians in Berlin and the banned Nazi movement in Austria were fighting for.

Dollfuss was assassinated in July 1934 by a failed Nazi coup attempt. His successor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, sought to continue his policy, but its preconditions fell short of the Italy-Germany approach. In March 1938, Austria was incorporated into Germany after the German government's functions were transferred to Austrian Nazis, and German troops marched into the country.

In a referendum in April of the same year, 99.75 percent voted for Anschluss . The federal states in the "Ostmark" were now made the " national highway ". Under the Hitler regime, the Austrian opposition came to the fore.

The period from 1945 to the 1990s

At the Foreign Minister's meeting in Moscow in 1943, an independent Austria was set up as an allied war target. In March – April 1945, the Russians occupied Vienna and eastern Austria, and troops of the west advanced into the west and south. In Potsdam in June 1945, Austria was divided into four occupation zones; one Russian, one American, one British and one French, with an Allied control council in Vienna that was given a special position.

On April 29, a government was formed in Vienna under Karl Renner. In the November 1945 elections, the People's Party got 50 percent of the vote, the Social Democrats 44.6 percent and the Communists 5.4 percent. Other parties were not allowed to participate. The People's Party was built on the left wing of the old Christian-social party. Its leader, Leopold Figl, formed a new coalition government. Renner was elected president. The main task of the Austrian authorities was to dismantle the occupation regime and to strengthen the country's economic position. The economy improved slowly, not least thanks to the help from the United States.

Following the death of Josef Stalin in 1953, some easing occurred in Soviet occupation policy, and in 1955 the Russians declared their readiness to enter into a state agreement. Austria assured its will to neutrality, under international guarantee. In May, the four ambassadors of the great powers met in Vienna, and an agreement was made to terminate the occupation (Belvedere Agreement). In October, the last occupation soldiers left Austria. The National Assembly passed a law declaring Austria "forever neutral". Agreements were entered into with the Soviet Union on compensation deliveries, exchange of goods and cultural cooperation. Austria joined the Council of Europe.

The country's economic situation improved from the mid-1950s, especially after the delivery commitments to the Soviet Union were eased.

Domestic Policies

After the 1953 elections, there were a number of unity governments between the People's Party and the Social Democrats. The prime ministers came - until 1970 - from the People's Party (VP). In the 1970 election, the Social Democrats prevailed, and Bruno Kreisky formed a minority government. In the new elections in 1971, the Socialist Party (SP) gained a majority on its own, and this was maintained during the elections in 1975 and 1979. The years 1970–1975 were marked by strong economic progress. It has succeeded in maintaining calm in the working life through cooperation between the government and the organizations. The trade union movement helped by its attitude to prevent strikes.

At the 1983 election, the SP stepped back, the VP emerged, and the Freedom Party (FP) was in the rocker position. Kreiski resigned and a coalition government was formed by SP and FP under former Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Education Fred Sinowatz. This coalition broke down in 1986 because of FP's right turn, and from 1987 Austria was ruled by a major coalition between SP and VP.

In the 1986 presidential election, the independent candidate, Kurt Waldheim, was supported by the VP (53.9 percent of the votes in the second round). During the election campaign, it became known that Waldheim during his service in the Balkans during the war must at least have known about the war crimes committed by the Germans. This past war made Waldheim an undesirable person in the Western world during his presidency and isolated in large parts of the international community. In the election of the People's Party (VP) candidate Thomas Klestil as president in 1992, the country was once again able to normalize its relationship with the outside world.

Foreign Policy

Austria was instrumental in the formation of EFTA in 1959 and became associated with the EC through an agreement in 1973. Events in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s, and in particular Germany's collection, also changed Austria's state law position. The country renounced several of its obligations from 1955, and in the summer of 1989, Austria applied for EU membership. The country negotiated with Sweden, Finland and Norway, and in the June 1994 referendum, 66.4 percent of voters voted for membership. On 1 January 1995 Austria became a member of the EU, and the country signed the Schengen Agreement in 1998.

History of Austria - chronological overview

Historical overview

Year Event
4th millennium BCE Oldest agricultural culture
About 750-500 BCE. Hallstatt culture (older Iron Age), after the important site of Hallstatt near Salzburg
About 500 BCE Celtic Immigration: La Tne Culture
16–15 BCE Roman conquests up to the Danube. Vienna is founded as the military colony of Vindobona
The 500's possibly The Germanic bajovars (Bavarians) settle in the west, slaves and avars in the east
About 790 Charles the Great creates a field county, Marchia Austria, to protect his kingdom from the slaves and the avars
900s The Madjars conquer the country, but are beaten by the German king Otto 1 in 955, and the land county resurfaces
1156 duchy
1192 The Duke of Austria also ruled over Styria
1200s Habsburgs come to power in an extended Austria (also Carinthia and Krain)
1438 The dignity of German King and Roman Emperor is permanently linked to the Habsburg Archdukes of Austria. From the end of the Middle Ages until about 1760, France and the Habsburg Empire were the main opponents in the battle for hegemony in Europe
1493 Emperor Maximilian 1 gathers the Austrian heirs under his rule
1526 By marriage and inheritance, Emperor Karl 5's son Ferdinand wins the Bohemian and Hungarian throne
1529, 1683 Turkish push against Vienna is halted
1556 At Karl 5's abdication, the Austrian branch of the Habsburg house retains the imperial dignity
17th and 18th centuries Counter-Reformation wins. The emperor becomes a monarch in his Austrian heritage, but loses much of the power in Germany. The Czech area is closely linked to Austria
1699-1737 Austria wins Hungary from the Turks
1700s Austria loses Silesia to its new German main rival, Protestant Prussia, but conquers large areas of Italy, moreover the Spanish Netherlands. Reform policy under Maria Teresia and Joseph 2: Germanization, peasant liberation, restriction of noble privileges and the power of the Catholic Church
1770-1820 Vienna Classicism in Music (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven)
1793-1809 Austria suffers a series of defeats in the wars against France, and eventually allies with Napoleon
1804 Franz 2 takes the title of heirloom emperor of Austria
1806 The German-Roman Empire is being dissolved
1809-1848 First Metternich heads Austria's policy
1815 Vienna Congress after Napoleon's defeat. Austria consolidates its position but loses Belgium. Austria plays a major role in the politics of great power, as Russia's allies during the reaction period 1815-1848. The German Confederation is established with Austria and Prussia as leading members
1848 Civil and labor uprising in Vienna; national tours in Italy and Hungary. Liberal reforms are halted with military force
1848-1916 Emperor Franz Joseph
1850s Austria's alliance with Russia ends with the Crimean War. The country loses dominion in northern Italy
1866 Austria loses war on Prussia. The German Confederation is dissolved; Austria does not join the German national assembly
1867 Hungary is granted the status of an equal national element in the double-monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The German-Austrians and the Madjars fortify the hegemony in each of their respective regions
1879 Alliance with Germany
1883 Alliance also with Italy (Triple Alliance)
1880 Political parties are growing. The tendencies of fragmentation due to national contradictions gradually become stronger
1908 Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina; relations with Serbia and Russia become tense
1914-1918 The contradictions of the Balkan Peninsula trigger the First World War. Austria-Hungary's efforts as one of the central powers have little impact on the outcome of the war, but the adversity stimulates nationalism and leads to national dissolution
1918 The Republic of German-Austria is proclaimed, as a pure nation-state
1919 Federal Republic; accession to Germany is banned by the Allies. The new state faces major economic and social problems; strong political contradictions between the socialists and the Christian-social
1930 A Nazi movement is emerging and requires joining Germany; the movement is banned in 1933
1934 Civil dictatorship; in an attempt to curb the German pressure, Austria joins Italy
1938 Anschluss: Austria is incorporated into Germany, which has now become Italy's ally
1945 Austria is divided into 4 occupation zones (Soviet, American, British and French). Limited self-government is introduced, with the Catholic People's Party and the Social Democrats as the leading parties
1955 Occupation is canceled; Austria becomes fully independent, but pledges in a state pact, among other things, to "eternal neutrality". The economy is slowly improving
1959 Austria participates in the creation of EFTA
1960 Conflict with Italy regarding South Tyrol is resolved peacefully
1970 Social Democratic election winner; Bruno Kreisky forms government; his party achieves absolute majority in the 1971 National Assembly
1983 The Social Democrats lose the majority, but retain the government by Fred Sinowatz
1986 Kurt Waldheim is elected president despite revealing his role during World War II. He is declared undesirable in most western countries
1990 Following Germany's collection, Austria is exempt from several of the provisions of the 1955 state pact
1995 Austria becomes a member of the EU
2000 Austria subject to EU political boycott after the high-nationalist FP joins the government
2000 On November 11, 2000, a fire occurred in a cable car that ran between the village of Kaprun and the Kitzsteinhorn mountain. The cable car was inside a 3000 meter long tunnel when the fire occurred and 155 people lost their lives.
2002 Austria joins the first group of EU countries to introduce the new currency euro
2006 SP will again be the biggest party in the November elections. Initiates a period of 11 years with major coalition governments between SP and VP.
2015 The Austrian government supported German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy and welcomed around 90,000 refugees in 2015. However, due to strong political opposition, the government quickly turned and tightened in the period thereafter.
2016 In the federal presidential election, Alexander Van der Bellen (former leader of the Die Grnen party) wins by as little margin as possible over right-wing populist FP politician Norbert Hofer. The election is declared invalid by the Austrian Constitutional Court, Van der Bellen wins the re-election by a larger margin.
2017 At the November 2017 parliamentary elections, Die Grnen collapses. VP and FP are vigorously advancing and forming a bourgeois government under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
2019 Sebastian Kurz's bourgeois government falls in May 2019 after FP leader Heinz-Christian Strache has to resign as a result of the so-called Ibiza affair. A business ministry led by Hartwig Lger takes over pending new elections in September 2019.
2020 After new elections and months of negotiations, VP and Die Grnen join forces in a coalition government led by Sebastian Kurz. This is the first time the two parties are cooperating on government power in Austria.

Other Countries in Europe

Historyaah Copyright 2003 - 2020 All Rights Reserved