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Travel Guide 2   >   Europe   >   Austria   >   History

   
 

Austrian History


Austria can trace its history back to the dawn of civilization. In pre-Roman times, the country was occupied by various Celtic tribes including the Celtic kingdom of Noricum.

In Roman times, Noricum was annexed by the Romans and became a province of the Empire. In fact, most of what is now Austria (all parts to the South of the Danube River) were part of the Roman Empire.

When the Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century, Austria was invaded by tribes of Bavarians, Avars and Slavs. Most of Austria was eventually conquered by the Charlemagne in 788, and eventually became part of Eastern Francia ("Francia Orientalis"), and was given to Leopold of Babenberg in 976.

The first reference to to the name "Österreich" comes from 996, where the term "Ostarrîchi" is used to refer to the Babenberg lands (also known as "marchia Orientalis").

Beginning in the 14th century, the Habsburgs began to gain more and more land around Austria. They also acquired more and more power in the Germany (which at that time fell within the Holy Roman Empire - after 1438, every single emperor but one, of the Holy Roman Empire, was a Habsburg). Eventually, through marriage, they also acquired Spain, Spanish lands in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the New World. Additionally, their victories over the Ottoman Turks in 1526 at the Battle of Mohacs, and again in 1683 at the siege of Vienna, eventually brought Hungary and Bohemia (the area that is today the Czech Republic) under Habsburg control.

By the 18th century however, things had begun to change. The last Spanish Habsburg, Charles II, died childless in 1700, and rule of Spain passed to the Bourbon, Philippe of Anjou (King Philip V of Spain). Moreover, following the War of Austrian Succession (1740 to 1748), Prussia began to first match, and eventually displace, the Habsburg Empire as the dominant power in German affairs.

In 1804 the Austrian Empire (German: Kaisertum Österreich) was formed by Holy Roman emperor Francis II (who became Austrian emperor Franz I), although the Holy Roman Empire itself came to an end in 1806 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. Despite many defeats at the hands of the French during the Napoleonic Wars, the Austrian Empire eventually emerged on the winning side, and played an important part in that victory, and ended up, together with Prussia, being a leading member of the German Confederation.

In 1864, Prussia and Austria cooperated in a war against Denmark in order to free the Dutchies of Schleswig and Holstein from the Danish Crown. However, following the war, the two countries could not agree on how these provinces hould be administered, and the Prussian-Austrian War of 1866 was a result. As a result of its defeat in this war, Austria had to leave the German Confederation, and end its participation in German politics.

In 1867, the Ausgleich ("Compromise") was signed by emperor Franz Joseph and a Hungarian delegation led by Ferenc Deák. The Ausgleich provided for a Hungarian government of near equal status to the Austrian government in Vienna, presided over by a single monarch (Franz Joseph) who had responsibility the military and foreign policy. This arrangement was known as the "dual monarch", and by this arrangement the Austrian Empire became the Austria-Hungary.

Austria-Hungary in 1900 CISLEITHANIA
1. Bohemia
2. Bukovina
3. Carinthia
4. Carniola
5. Dalmatia
6. Galicia
7. Kustenland
8. Lower Austria
9. Moravia
10. Salzburg
11. Silesia
12. Styria
13. Tirol
14. Upper Austria
15. Vorarlberg

TRANSLEITHANIA
16. Hungary
17. Croatia & Slavonia

18. BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

The 1914 assassination of the Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, was the trigger that led to World War I. Austria-Hungary was among the defeated Central Powers, and the Empire broke up along ethnic lines. The German speaking parts of the Empire became the Republic of German Austria (German: Republik Deutschösterreich), but the name was changed at the insistence of the Entente powers to the Republic of Austria (German: Republik Österreich). The new state was also forbidden to ever unite with Germany.

The First Austrian Republic came to an end in 1933, when the Chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuß, shut down parliament and established an authoritarian regime in an attempt to stabilize the country - paramilitary armies belonging to the Social Democrats and Conservatives were fighting each other on the streets, and a growing Nazi movement was advocating union with Germany.

Engelbert Dollfuß was assassinated in 1934, during an attempted Nazi coup, and succeeded by Kurt Schuschnigg. In 1938 however, German troops marched into Austria, and Adolf Hitler (who himself was Austrian) proclaimed the "Anschluss", the annexation of Austria into Greater Germany.

At the close of World War II, with the defeat of the Nazi regime, Austria, like Germany, was divided into American, British, French and Soviet Occupation Zones. However, just before the surrender, Austrian politican, Karl Renner, declared the separation of Austria from Germany, and set up a Provisional Government in Vienna. This government was in fact recognized by the Allies, and as a result, Austria was treated as the first victim of the Third Reich.

Allied Occupation Zones in Austria, 1945 to 1955

In 1955, as a result of the Austrian State Treaty (German: Österreichischer Staatsvertrag) , the country regained its independence. As part of the agreements surrounding this treaty, Austria became permanently neutral, a status which it maintains to this day.

Austria joined the European Union in 1995, and became part of the Eurozone which it was established in 1999.

Here are some books about the history of Austria:


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Books about Austrian History


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Introducing Austria: A Short History. (Studies in Austrian Literature, Culture, and Thought)

By Lonnie Johnson

Brand: Ariadne Pr
Paperback (196 pages)

Introducing Austria: A Short History. (Studies in Austrian Literature, Culture, and Thought)
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INTRODUCING AUSTRIA provides in compact form a comprehensive overview of the country's rich past and present. The first half of the book deals with Austria before 1918. Each chapter and subchapter approaches Austria's diverse, thousand-year-old heritage from a different perspective to illuminate its essential features. The second half of the book deals with Austria's turbulent history from 1918 to the present. Controversial issues are presented objectively and without oversimplification. Overall the book conveys a differentiated picture of the country and its people and should give readers a feeling for the continuity and change of the Austrian idea.

The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey

By Gordon Brook-Shepherd

Brand: Basic Books
Paperback (512 pages)

The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey
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This is a masterful survey of Austria's controversial place at the heart of European history. From the Reformation through the Napoleonic and Cold Wars to European Union, a superb history of Austria's central role in uniting Western civilization is covered. 24 pages of photographs and maps are included. "Connoisseurs of Austria and its delightful and infuriating inhabitants will agree that Mr. Brook-Shepherd has got it just about right.'—The Wall Street Journal "Engrossing, elegantly written history.'—Publishers Weekly

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918 : A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary

By A. J. P. Taylor

University of Chicago Press
Released: 1976-05-15
Paperback (280 pages)

The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918 : A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary
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First published in 1941, The Habsburg Monarchy has become indispensable to students of nineteenth-century European history. Not only a chronological report of actions and changes, Taylor's work is a provocative exploration into the historical process of the most eventful hundred years of the Habsburg monarchy.

A Concise History of Austria (Cambridge Concise Histories)

By Steven Beller

Brand: Cambridge University Press
Paperback (352 pages)

A Concise History of Austria (Cambridge Concise Histories)
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For a small, prosperous country in the middle of Europe, modern Austria has a very large and complex history, extending far beyond its current borders. Today's Austrians have a problematic relationship with that history, whether with the multi-national history of the Habsburg Monarchy, or with the time between 1938 and 1945 when Austrians were Germans in Hitler's Third Reich. Steven Beller's gripping and comprehensive account traces the remarkable career of Austria through its many transformations, from German borderland, to dynastic enterprise, imperial house, Central European great power, failed Alpine republic, German province, and then successful Alpine republic, building up a picture of the layers of Austrian identity and heritage and their diverse sources. It is a story full of anomalies and ironies, a case study of the other side of European history, without the easy answers of more clearly national narratives, and hence far more relevant to today's world.

A History of the Habsburg Empire, 1526-1918

By Robert A. Kann

University of California Press
Released: 1980-11-26
Paperback (662 pages)

A History of the Habsburg Empire, 1526-1918
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"An impressive achievement in a task of extraordinary difficulty...The outstanding asset of this work does not consist in in its comprehensiveness and objectivity, however, nor even in the wide knowledge and special expertise Kann can bring to bear from his early legal training, his formidable scholarship on the nationalities question, and his keen critical appreciation of the diverse cultures of the monarchy. Its greatest merit derives from the author's determination always to ask fundamental questions, his care to discriminate between surface phenomena and deeper causes, his skill in finding significant patterns in an apparently chaotic welter of events, his facility for perceptive and penetrating distinctions and generalizations. In short, he tried with considerable success to tell what really happened in history rather than simply what obviously happened."―Canadian Historical Review

The Habsburg Empire: A New History

By Pieter M. Judson

Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press
Released: 2018-10-01
Paperback (592 pages)

The Habsburg Empire: A New History
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A EuropeNow Editor’s Pick
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

“Pieter M. Judson’s book informs and stimulates. If his account of Habsburg achievements, especially in the 18th century, is rather starry-eyed, it is a welcome corrective to the black legend usually presented. Lucid, elegant, full of surprising and illuminating details, it can be warmly recommended to anyone with an interest in modern European history.”
―Tim Blanning, Wall Street Journal

“This is an engaging reappraisal of the empire whose legacy, a century after its collapse in 1918, still resonates across the nation-states that replaced it in central Europe. Judson rejects conventional depictions of the Habsburg empire as a hopelessly dysfunctional assemblage of squabbling nationalities and stresses its achievements in law, administration, science and the arts.”
―Tony Barber, Financial Times

“Spectacularly revisionist… Judson argues that…the empire was a force for progress and modernity… This is a bold and refreshing book… Judson does much to destroy the picture of an ossified regime and state.”
―A. W. Purdue, Times Higher Education

“Judson’s reflections on nations, states and institutions are of broader interest, not least in the current debate on the future of the European Union after Brexit.”
―Annabelle Chapman, Prospect

Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe

By Simon Winder

Picador USA
Released: 2015-01-13
Paperback (576 pages)

Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
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LONGLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE, A CHARMINGLY PERSONAL HISTORY OF HABSBURG EUROPE BY THE AUTHOR OF GERMANIA

From the end of the Middle Ages to the First World War, Europe was dominated by one family: the Habsburgs. Their unprecedented rule is the focus of Simon Winder's vivid third book, Danubia.

Winder's approach is friendly, witty, personal; this is a narrative that, while erudite and well researched, prefers to be discursive and anecdotal. In his survey of the centuries of often incompetent Habsburg rule which have continued to shape the fate of Central Europe, Winder does not shy away from the horrors, railing against the effects of nationalism, recounting the violence that was often part of life. But this is a history dominated above all by Winder's energy and curiosity. Eminently readable and thrillingly informative, Danubia is a treat that readers will be eager to dip into.

A Study in Austrian Intellectual History: From Late Baroque to Romanticism

By Kann R A

Thames and Hudson
Hardcover (367 pages)

A Study in Austrian Intellectual History: From Late Baroque to Romanticism
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The names of Abraham a Santa Clara and Joseph von Sonnenfels have hitherto been almost unknown to English-language readers of Austrian history. These two men the one a member of the Augustinian Order and an imperial court preacher, the other an enlightened reformer exercised great influence on the Austria of their time. Beyond this, their intellectual image as seen by later centuries has helped to shape a highly characteristic pattern of Austrian thought. It is largely on the lives and ideas of these two men that the author has spent years of research much of it in the Austrian national archives and in libraries abroad. The result is this analysis of major trends of Austrian intellectual history from the late Baroque period through the Enlightenment to the era of early Romanticism. Dr. Kann perceives this history as a kind of cyclical development in which the more stable, conservative periods appear far longer than the dynamic, relatively liberal ones. This book is divided into six essays each of which in its own way rounds out the typical elements and the cyclical pattern of Austrian intellectual development. The on biographical chapters, in particular, illustrate the general cultural setting of Austrian Baroque and Enlightenment. The last chapter discusses ideas of the rising romantic age and the political concepts of the Metternich system after the Congress of Vienna. General conclusions of wide implications are offered.


 
 
 

 
 
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