Austria History – From 15th Century to the End of the Empire

From the 15th century. at the Congress of Vienna

The fortune of the Habsburgs was revived by a series of skilful marriages. The son of Frederick III, Maximilian (1493-1519), by marrying Maria of Burgundy, obtained the territories of Flanders and the Netherlands ; moreover, by marrying his son Philip the Beautiful with Joan of Aragon and of Castile, he placed the candidacy for the Iberian thrones and, with the marriages of his nephews Ferdinand and Maria with the children of Vladislao king of Bohemia and Hungary, Anna and Luigi, guaranteed the fulfillment of the old Habsburg aspirations over those kingdoms. While it was expanding its domains with the county of Gorizia and other lands in the Tyrol, Maximilian initiated the centralistic organization of his states. Inserted by his nephew Charles V into an immense Empire «on which the sun did not set», the hereditary domains of the Habsburgs were, at the time of his abdication (1556), entrusted to his brother Ferdinand I, king of Bohemia from 1526. Austria could thus resume the primitive function of bulwark of Christianity, made current by the Turkish threat.

According to a2zdirectory, a grave internal danger was represented by religious discords: in Austria the reformation had spread and in Bohemia the ideas of J. Hus were awakened; the conciliatory policy of Ferdinand I and his son Maximilian II (1564-76) was followed by the counter-reformist attempt of Rodolfo II (1576-1612), but not even his brother Mattia (1612-19) was able to quell the now open struggle between confessions religious. With the act of revolt of the Bohemian Protestants of 1618, known as the ‘defenestration of Prague ‘, the Thirty Years’ War began.

With the Peace of Westphalia (1648), Emperor Ferdinand III (1637-57) had to give up his dream of domination in Germany and Europe. However, the monarchy had managed, internally, to make the Catholic principle triumph and, at the same time, its absolute authority and could resume its push towards the Balkan East, containing the Turkish offensive and – after the sad parenthesis of 1683 in which Vienna was saved from the Ottoman threat by the intervention of the Polish king Giovanni Sobieski – annexing Hungary (1687). The happy outcome of these campaigns allowed the Empire to reaffirm its active role in Europe and Charles VI (1711-40), forced by the War of the Spanish Succession to renounce the claims on the Spanish crown, however Milan, Naples, Sardinia (exchanged with Sicily in 1720) and the Spanish Netherlands; in 1713, having no male heirs, he promulgated the Pragmatic sanction in which, establishing the indivisibility of the State, guaranteed the succession to his daughter Maria Teresa.

After the storm of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), during which Maria Theresa secured the imperial crown to her husband Francesco (I) of Lorraine but had to give Silesia to Frederick II of Prussia and the duchies of Parma and Piacenza to the Bourbons of Spain, and despite the wartime interlude of the Seven Years War, the empress gave the state a new structure with a series of reforms that were continued by his successor Joseph II, one of the most typical representatives of enlightened despotism. Meanwhile the Austria achieved new territorial enlargements: in the first partition of Poland (1772) it obtained Galicia and Lodomiria, in 1775 from Turkey Bucovina. The reforming activity of Joseph II however caused serious discontent and his brother Leopoldo II (1790-92) had to revoke these measures without however being able to keep the Netherlands, which declared itself independent on 13 December 1789.

Meanwhile the French Revolution was flaring up and, although in 1795 the Austria with the third partition of Poland achieved a new enlargement, from 1792 to 1815 all the forces of the country were directed against the revolutionary and then Napoleonic tide: the Netherlands and Lombardy were lost with the Treaty of Campoformio of 1797 (obtaining, however, great part of the territory of the Venetian Republic) and the left bank of the Rhine with the Peace of Lunéville (1801), mutilated after Austerlitz (1805) of Veneto, Istria and Dalmatia, the Austria, which in 1804 had become the Empire of Austria, with the defeat of Wagram and the Peace of Vienna (1809) was at the mercy of Napoleon: Maria Luisa, daughter of Francesco (I as emperor of Austria), was given in marriage (1810) and the Austrian troops had to participate in the Russian campaign.

Regained its autonomy with the disaster of the expedition, after having declared war on Napoleon again on 12 August 1813, the to. under the leadership of K. von Metternich reached the apogee of power in the Congress of Vienna (1814-15): the structure of the Austrian Empire was reconstituted (Milan and Veneto as the Lombard-Venetian Kingdom, Tuscany as the secondborn, Parma and Piacenza as third-born, Galicia, the Illyrian provinces, Tyrol and Salzburg), ensured supremacy in Italy and, thanks to the presidency of the Bundestag in Frankfurt, in Germany.

From 1815 to the end of the Empire

After 1815 the. he practiced a rigid policy of repression of revolutionary and independence attempts. Metternich’s politics, however, failed to settle the internal national disagreements, which fully manifested themselves in 1848, forcing Ferdinand I, who came to the throne in 1815, to abdicate in favor of his nephew Francesco Giuseppe. Having restored order and reaffirmed power over all regions, the emperor had to mitigate the reactionary attitude after the loss of Lombardy, the disappearance of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the duchies of Modena. and Parma (1859), attempting to rearrange the empire on a constitutional basis. With the war of 1866 the Austria it was definitively excluded from Germany and lost the Veneto. With regard to Hungary, only the road of compromise of 1867 remained, with the constitution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (➔ Ausgleich). A clear conversion also took place on the level of international politics, where the Austria he made the secret treaty of alliance with Germany (1879), the alliance of the three emperors with Germany and Russia (1881) and the Triple Alliance with Germany and Italy (1882). Inside, meanwhile, the Austro-Hungarian dualism aroused new claims also by the Slavs. The proclamation of the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1908) provoked in Serbia a strong agitation which, aggravated by the subsequent Balkan wars, resulted in the assassination of Archduke Francesco Ferdinando in Sarajevo (1914).

The Austrian military circles believed that the opportunity had come to crush Serbia and, with the ultimatum of 23 July 1914, they started the First World War, during which the monarchy revealed all its internal weakness. When Francesco Giuseppe died (1916), his successor Charles I found himself the liquidator of a bankruptcy inheritance. In 1918 the national committee in Prague proclaimed Czechoslovakian independence, the detachment of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes took place, and a Polish republican government was formed. Destroyed the army in the battle of Vittorio Veneto, Charles I abandoned the power and the National Assembly of the Austria German proclaimed the Republic, followed by Hungary.

Austria History - From 15th Century to the End of the Empire