Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

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Austro-Hungarian Monarchy


Dual Monarchy,

the Hapsburg empire from 1867 until its fall in 1918.

The Nature of Austria-Hungary

The reorganization of Austria and Hungary was made possible by the Ausgleich [compromise] of 1867, a constitutional compromise between Hungarian aspirations for independence and Emperor Francis JosephFrancis Joseph
or Franz Joseph,
1830–1916, emperor of Austria (1848–1916), king of Hungary (1867–1916), nephew of Ferdinand, who abdicated in his favor.
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's desire for a strong, centralized empire as a source of power after Austria's defeat in the Austro-Prussian WarAustro-Prussian War
or Seven Weeks War,
June 15–Aug. 23, 1866, between Prussia, allied with Italy, and Austria, seconded by Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, Hanover, Baden, and several smaller German states.
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 of 1866. The Hungarians gained control of their internal affairs in return for agreeing to a centralized foreign policy and continued union of the Austrian and Hungarian crowns in the Hapsburg ruler.

The agreement to establish the Dual Monarchy, which was worked out primarily by the Austrian foreign minister, Count BeustBeust, Friedrich Ferdinand
, 1809–86, Saxon and Austrian politician. He held various portfolios in the Saxon ministry and served as premier (1853–66), but his opposition to Bismarck forced his resignation after Saxony's defeat in the Austro-Prussian War.
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, and two Hungarians, the elder Count AndrássyAndrássy, Julius, Count
, 1823–90, Hungarian politician. One of the leading figures in the 1848–49 Hungarian revolution, he supported the liberal program of Louis Kossuth and after the Hungarian defeat he went into exile, mostly in Paris and London, until 1858.
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 and Francis DeakDeak, Francis,
Hung. Deák Ferenc , 1803–76, Hungarian politician. A landed proprietor and lawyer, he entered the Hungarian diet in 1833 and became minister of justice after the revolution of Mar., 1848.
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, divided the Hapsburg empire into two states. Cisleithania [Lat.,=the land on this side of the Leitha River] comprised Austria proper, Bohemia, Moravia, Austrian Silesia, Slovenia, and Austrian Poland; it was to be ruled by the Hapsburg monarchs in their capacity as emperors of Austria. Transleithania [Lat.,=the land on the other side of the Leitha River] included Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia, and part of the Dalmatian coast; it was to be ruled by the Hapsburg monarchs in their capacity as kings of Hungary. Croatia was given a special status and allowed some autonomy but was subordinated to Transleithania, which also nominated the Croatian governor.

Austria-Hungary was the greatest recent example of a multinational state in Europe; however, of the four chief ethnic groups (Germans, Hungarians, Slavs, and Italians) only the first two received full partnership. The Hapsburg-held crown of Bohemia was conspicuously omitted in the reorganization. Both Cisleithania and Transleithania elected independent parliaments to deliberate on internal affairs and had independent ministries. A common cabinet, composed of three ministers, dealt with foreign relations, common defense, and common finances. It was responsible to the emperor-king and to the delegations of 60 members each (chosen by the two parliaments), which met to discuss common affairs. The regular armed forces were under unified command and currency was uniform throughout the empire, but there were separate customs regimes.

Domestic Policy: Divide and Rule

The strength of the Dual Monarchy lay in its vastness, its virtual economic self-sufficiency, and its opportunities for commercial intercourse from the Swiss border to the Carpathians. Its weakness was less in its ethnic diversity than in the unequal treatment accorded to its minorities in the spirit of the maxim "Divide and rule." Of the Slavic elements the Czechs and Serbs were the most disaffected. The efforts of the TaaffeTaaffe, Eduard, Graf von
, 1833–95, Austrian premier (1868–70, 1879–93), of Irish descent. A childhood friend of Emperor Francis Joseph, he was twice premier.
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 ministry to satisfy Czech demands failed. The Italian minority was won to the Italian nationalist cause (see irredentismirredentism
, originally, the Italian nationalist movement for the annexation to Italy of territories—Italia irredenta [unredeemed Italy]—inhabited by an Italian majority but retained by Austria after 1866.
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). The Romanians of Transylvania had bitter grievances against their Hungarian masters.

As nationalist movements gained within the empire, they enlarged their demands from cultural autonomy to full independence and ultimately broke up the monarchy. These movements existed not only in the oppressed provinces, but also among Hungarian extremists, who desired total independence, and among Austrian Pan-Germans, who advocated the union of German-speaking Austria with Germany.

The greatest danger to the monarchy probably was Pan-SlavismPan-Slavism,
theory and movement intended to promote the political or cultural unity of all Slavs. Advocated by various individuals from the 17th cent., it developed as an intellectual and cultural movement in the 19th cent.
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, spreading from Serbia and encouraged by Russia among the South Slavs. Archduke Francis FerdinandFrancis Ferdinand,
1863–1914, Austrian archduke, heir apparent (after 1889) of his uncle, Emperor Francis Joseph. In 1900 he married a Czech, Sophie Chotek. She was made duchess of Hohenberg, but because she was of minor nobility their children were barred from succession.
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, heir to the throne, apparently had a project by which Croatia was to become the nucleus of a third, South Slavic, partner in the monarchy; his assassination (1914) at Sarajevo cut short this hope and precipitated World War I.

Foreign Policy

Austria-Hungary early became reconciled with Germany and joined the Three Emperors' LeagueThree Emperors' League,
informal alliance among Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia, announced officially in 1872 on the occasion of the meeting of emperors Francis Joseph, William I, and Alexander II.
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. At the Congress of Berlin (1878; see Berlin, Congress ofBerlin, Congress of,
1878, called by the signers of the Treaty of Paris of 1856 (see Paris, Congress of) to reconsider the terms of the Treaty of San Stefano, which Russia had forced on the Ottoman Empire earlier in 1878.
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) Count Andrássy, the foreign minister, secured a mandate over Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina
, Serbo-Croatian Bosna i Hercegovina, country (2015 est. pop. 3,536,000), 19,741 sq mi (51,129 sq km), on the Balkan peninsula, S Europe. It is bounded by Croatia on the west and north, Serbia on the northeast, and Montenegro on the southeast.
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. In 1879 he entered an alliance with Germany, joined also by Italy in 1882 (see Triple Alliance and Triple EntenteTriple Alliance and Triple Entente
, two international combinations of states that dominated the diplomatic history of Western Europe from 1882 until they came into armed conflict in World War I.
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). The formation of the Triple Entente (France, England, Russia) to oppose this alliance led to the tense diplomatic situation that preceded World War IWorld War I,
1914–18, also known as the Great War, conflict, chiefly in Europe, among most of the great Western powers. It was the largest war the world had yet seen.
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. The foreign policy of Graf von AehrenthalAehrenthal, Alois Lexa, Graf von
, 1854–1912, Austro-Hungarian foreign minister (1906–12). The chief event of his ministry was the Austrian annexation (1908) of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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 led to the Bosnian crisis of 1908–9, and the reckless demands that his successor, Graf von BerchtoldBerchtold, Leopold, Graf von
, 1863–1942, Austro-Hungarian foreign minister (1912–15). During the Balkan Wars he successfully worked for the creation of an independent Albania to block Serbian access to the Adriatic Sea.
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, made on Serbia after the assassination of Francis Ferdinand helped to precipitate the cataclysm.

Destruction of the Monarchy

The internal weakness of the empire became immediately obvious. Czech regiments deserted wholesale from the beginning; Italy and Romania, eying their respective minorities in Austria and Hungary, joined the Allies; Croats and Slovenes, won by Serbian propaganda, joined (1917) in agreement with the Serbs to found a South Slavic state (see YugoslaviaYugoslavia
, Serbo-Croatian Jugoslavija, former country of SE Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula. Belgrade was the capital and by far the largest city. Yugoslavs (i.e.
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). Abroad, the Czechs under Thomas Masaryk were the best known of several legions fighting on the Allied side, and in Oct., 1918, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary proclaimed their independence.

The Austrian defeat at Vittorio VenetoVittorio Veneto
, town (1991 pop. 29,231), Venetia, NE Italy, in the Alpine foothills. It is a secondary industrial and commercial center and a spa. There, in Oct.–Nov.
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 was followed by unconditional surrender; on Nov. 11, Emperor Charles ICharles I,
1887–1922, last emperor of Austria and, as Charles IV, king of Hungary (1916–18); son of Archduke Otto and grandnephew and successor of Emperor Francis Joseph. He married Zita of Bourbon-Parma.
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 abdicated; on Nov. 12, German Austria was proclaimed a republic. The treaties of Versailles, Trianon, and Saint-Germain fixed the boundaries of the successor states. The breakup of the Dual Monarchy fulfilled the 19th-century liberal ideal of national self-determination. At the same time, the creation of small, strongly nationalist states, cut off from each other by tariff walls, has been criticized as representing a "Balkanization of Europe."


See H. Kohn, The Hapsburg Empire: 1804–1918 (1961); A. J. May, The Passing of the Hapsburg Monarchy, 1914–1918 (2 vol., 1966) and The Hapsburg Monarchy, 1867–1914 (1951, repr. 1968); Z. A. B. Zeman, The Twilight of the Hapsburgs (1970); E. Crankshaw, The Fall of the House of Hapsburg (1971, repr. 1983); L. Valiani, The End of Austria-Hungary (1973); R. J. Evans, The Making of the Hapsburg Monarchy: 1550–1700 (1979).

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