History of Austria from the 19th Century to the First World War

Austrian Empire (1804-1867)

In 1792 Franz II came to the Roman-German throne. He was the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. In 1804 Napoleon was crowned Emperor of the French. He demanded that Austria should recognize the imperial title. In return, Franz could then become Emperor of Austria. Franz accepted this. In this way he founded the Austrian Empire, which he ruled as Franz I. He is therefore sometimes referred to as Franz II / I. designated.

In 1835 his son Ferdinand succeeded him to the throne as Ferdinand I. He remained childless and handed the throne over to his nephew, his brother’s son, in 1848. So Franz Joseph I became Emperor of Austria. He married Elisabeth von Bayern (Sisi), who became known as Sissi through the later filming with a famous actress named Romy Schneider.

Austria was a multiethnic state in which many languages ​​were spoken. From 1815 it belonged to the German Confederation. Prince von Metternich became Foreign Minister of Austria as early as 1809 and rose to become one of the most powerful men in Europe. His goal was the restoration – he wanted to restore the old order and preserve the absolute monarchy.

In the revolution of 1848/49, which also took place in Austria, Metternich was chased away. The people demanded democracy and independence. When Franz Joseph I took over the throne, the revolution ended.

Prussia and Austria now vied for supremacy in the German Confederation. In 1866 the German War broke out. Prussia and its allies won and the German Confederation dissolved. Under the leadership of Prussia, the North German Confederation was established north of the Main Line. This became the German Empire in 1871. Thus the “small German solution” had triumphed, that is, a German Empire without Austria.

Franz Joseph I was politically weakened by these events and was forced to carry out some far-reaching reforms. So he finally agreed to create an Austrian parliament. Austria became a constitutional monarchy.

Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy (1867–1918)

Austria now turned more to its areas in the southeast and east. It joined forces with Hungary in 1867 to form the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. Thus the long-standing resistance of the Hungarians against the Habsburg rule was broken. At the same time, Franz Joseph I asserted himself in the European power structure after there had been no Greater German solution. Joint institutions of both countries were now given the addition kuk for “imperial and royal”.

In terms of size, Austria-Hungary was now the second largest state in Europe and the third largest in terms of population. Many peoples lived here. That brought problems.

In 1878 Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was finally incorporated into the state in 1908. Before that, the area was officially part of the Ottoman Empire. This annexation provoked protests not only from the Ottomans, but also in Russia and in the Kingdom of Serbia, because in Bosnia-Herzegovina mainly southern Slavs lived. The resulting Bosnian crisis meant an increased risk of war. The outbreak was ultimately prevented because Russia saw itself unable to fight the two alliance (Austria-Hungary and German Reich) and France did not offer any support. The Ottoman Empire was compensated by a monetary payment.

A secret organization in the Kingdom of Serbia wanted to liberate Bosnia-Herzegovina and unite it with Serbia and Montenegro. That is why the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand (a nephew of Franz Joseph I) was murdered in the assassination attempt in Sarajevo. That was the trigger for the First World War: Austria-Hungary asked the German Reich for support and declared war on Serbia. Russia now supported Serbia and declared war on Austria-Hungary. Russia itself was allied with France and Great Britain and so the first of the warring parties were determined.

In 1916 Emperor Franz Joseph I died. As he had no sons of his own, his great-nephew, Karl I, became Emperor of Austria.

In 1918 the First World War ended with the victory of the Entente and its allies. The political map of Europe changed enormously as a result. Hungary left the real union with Austria. That was the end of the dual monarchy. The emperor did not formally abdicate, but resigned from his government business and finally left for Switzerland. He was not allowed to return to Austria.

History of Austria 2