Copyright © 2000
(50,000 BC to 400 BC)
Ancient Times & The Illyrians
(1,300 BC to 9 BC)
La Tene Celts
(450 BC to 58 BC)
Classical Times & Roman Civilization
(101 BC to 400 AD)
(100 BC to 470 AD)
(470 to 976)
The House of Babenberg
(976 to 1246)
The Early Habsburgs
The Habsburg Empire
The Thirty Years War
The Baroque Emperors & Prince Eugene
Maria Theresa & Joseph II
The Time of Napoleon
Metternich & the Biedermeier Era
The World War & the End of an Empire
The First Austrian Republic
Anschluss & the Nazi Era
The Second Austrian Republic
The following text is a work in progress.
As a territorial concept, Austria refers to a state that frequently and dramatically changed dimensions throughout the course of its history. From 996 to around 1500, Austria was smaller than it is today. After 1500, it assumed truly imperial dimensions and remained imperial until 1918. As a political concept, Austria also has refered to different forms of government. After 1282, the Habsburg dynasty bore the name of Austria, "the House of Austria," and Austria was coextenisve with the lands they ruled. In the 18th century, the term Austrian Monarchy (Monarchia Austriaca) came into use. In 1804, Austria was reconstituted as an empire, Kaisertum Österreich (Austrian Empire). In 1867, it was restructured into the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and Austria referred to the western part of the monarchy. After World War I, Austria became the name of the First Austrian Republic. After the Anschluss, the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938, Austria was incorporated into the Third Reich, and the Nazis banned the word Austria. In 1945, the Republic of Austria, the so-called Second Austrian Republic, was re-established.
So where does the historian begin the history of Austria? One of the obvious difficulties of determining the founding of Austria is that it cannot be definitively and temporally located as an historical event. Given the complex constitutional and territorial evolution of Austria as a political entity, reasonable arguments can be made for "founding acts" in 976, when the German king invested a Babenburg margrave with holdings in the Danube Valley; in 996, when the first documented reference to Ostarrichi occured; in 1156, when Austria's status as an independent polity within the German empire was enhanced; in 1192, when Austria's Alpine expansion began with the acquisition of Styria; in 1282, when the Habsburgs became rulers of Austria; in 1493, when Maximilian I was elected Holy Roman Emperor, marking the beginning of Austria's international expansion through interdynastic marriages; in 1526, when the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand I was elected as King of Bohemia and King of Hungary; in 1749, when Maria Theresa consolidated the "House of Austria" into a modern, bureaucratic state; in 1804, when Francis I proclaimed the birth of the Austrian Empire; in 1867, when the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary was established; in 1918, when the First Austrian Republic was proclaimed; in 1945, when the republic was reestablished as the Second Austrian Republic; or in 1955, when Austria regained its full sovereignty after the signing of the Austrian State Treaty. When faced with such a problem, any one solution will innevitably appear somewhat random, or even exclusive of important preceeding events. This book is designed to serve as a survey of Austrian history - covering its most important political, military, and cultural periods and events. It is not designed to be comprehensive in historical scope or analysis. Other, more learned scholars, have covered each seperate period of Austrian history in considerably more detail. The safest way to proceed, then, is to start at the beginning, as best as that can be determined by the historical-archeological record.
(50,000 BC to 400 BC)
The area covering present-day Austria had been settled by man since paleolithic times (50,000 BC to 8,000 BC). Evidence of human occupation during that era was discovered, for example, in caves in Gudenus Hohle near Weissenkirchen and on Mt. Schlenken near Hallein (Hietsch 8). These nomadic tribes of the Early Stone Age lived mainly by hunting. During neolithic times (around 5,000 BC) there was general occupation in the higher grounds of the region. Agriculture and stock raising now supplemented hunting, fishing, and food gathering. Moreover, the region became an important economic source through the development of salt-mining. Salt mines in Dürrnberg, Hallstatt, and Hall have in fact been in operation from the neolithic era (Wangermann 13).
About 10,000 years ago, the Alpine glaciers advanced northward over the Bavarian plateau toward the site of present-day Munich. These solid rivers of ice - some as thick as 6,000 feet in depth - carved out the relief of the Alpine valleys as we know them today. The lakes of the Bavarian plateau, including those of the Salzkammergut region, were also created by the receding glaciers during this time.
During the New Stone Age, the indigenous hunters encountered farming peoples from the more advanced southwest Asia, who were migrating up the Danube Valley into central Germany about 4,500 BC. These populations mixed and settled in villages to raise crops and breed livestock. The people of this Danubian culture lived with their animals in large, gabled wooden houses, made pottery, and traded with Mediterranean peoples for fine stone and flint axes and shells. As their hand-hoed fields wore out, they moved on, often returning years later. The Late Stone Age also saw the beginning of pile-dwellings on several lakes. These waterfront structures are believed to be early trading-posts.
The Bronze Age began in central Germany, Bohemia, and Austria in about 2,500 BC, with the working of copper and tin deposits by prospectors from the eastern Mediterranean. By 2,300 BC, Battle-ax-wielding Indo-Europeans began to migrate into Europe from south-western Asia. These were the ancestors of the Germanic peoples that settled in northern and central Germany, the Baltic and Slavic peoples in the east, and the Celts in the south and west.
During the period between 2,000-400 BC, central & southern Germanic tribes mixed with the Bell-Beaker People - skilled metalworkers who came from Spain and Portugal. The Bell-Beaker People, probably Indo-Europeans, developed a thriving Bronze Age culture in Germany and traded amber from the Baltic coast for bronze, pottery, and beads from the Mediterranean.
Ancient Times & The Illyrians
(1,300 BC to 9 BC)
By the Late Stone Age (3,000 BC to 1,800 BC), people began to settle in lake-dwellings in the Salzkammergut region. The beginnings of trade over the Alpine passes also occured during this period. The Germanic Migrations began around 2,200 BC.
Around 1,300 BC, an Illyrian tribe, the Norici, settled along the eastern foothills of the Alps. Illyrians, people of Indo-European stock who are considered ancestors of modern Albanians, settled on the northern and eastern coasts of the Adriatic Sea. Included among them were the Dalmatians and the Pannonians. Eventually, the ancient region of Illyria would include the western part of the Balkan Peninsula from the Danube River to Epirus.
The Greeks established cities on the coast in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, and in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, Macedonian kings conquered parts of Illyria. The last Illyrian kingdom was organized in the 3rd century BC with the capital at Scodra (now Shkodër, Albania). Their piracy put the Illyrians in conflict with Rome, which waged two victorious wars against them in 228 and 219 BC.
After Dalmatia seceded from the Illyrian kingdom, the Romans conquered Scodra and established, in 168 BC, a colony there that they named Illyricum. Gradually, Dalmatia was conquered (78-77 BC) and finally added to Illyricum; then, by 35-34 BC the southern areas of the former kingdom of Illyria were added, and, in 9 BC, Pannonia in the north. After an Illyrian revolt in AD 6-9, Illyricum was divided into the provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia. In the 4th century AD, the name Illyricum was given to a large Roman prefecture that included the former colony as well as a large area north of the Adriatic Sea and much of the Balkan Peninsula. Under Rome the region prospered, and many roads and towns were built; Diocletian and several other emperors came from Dalmatia. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the region of ancient Illyria became part of the Byzantine Empire
La Tene Celts
(450 BC to 58 BC)
During the Late Iron Age period in central and northwestern Europe, in the centuries leading up to the Christian Era, La Tene Celts came to dominate the area of present-day Austria through control of the salt trade, as well as the copper and iron trades that followed. The Celts established the first stable state structure in the area as well, which the Romans called Noricum. La Tene culture (the name meaning The Shallows), was named after a Celtic site at the eastern end of the Lake of Neuchatel in Switzerland, where a discovery was made in the mid-19th century of many iron weapons, implements, and jewelry. The period covered by La Tène follows that of the Hallstatt culture and extends roughly from about 450 BC to the subjugation of Gaul by Julius Caesar in 58 BC.
La Tene culture was initially influenced by the Etruscan and Greek civilizations but developed regional variations through the centuries as the Celts spread through most of central and western Europe, over to Britain, north to Jutland, and elsewhere. Some common features may be noted throughout, however, such as curvilinear ornamentation (S shapes and spirals) and animal art forms. Burials were by inhumation - i.e, by covering with cairns of stones. The period was that of beginning urbanization, new industries, and new artistic traditions. The Germanic tribes who came in contact with the Celts absorbed much of the Celtic Culture. Eventually, these Germanic peoples would displace the Celts of Central Europe.
Classical Times & Roman Civilization
(101 BC to 400 AD)
During Classical Times, much of the region south of the Danube River was known as Noricum - incorporated into the Roman Empire in 101 BC. The Romans divided the territory of present-day Austria into three provinces: Rhaetia (Vorarlberg and Tirol), Noricum (Salzburg, Carinthia, Styria, Upper and Lower Austria), and Pannonia Superior (the Vienna basin, Burgenland, and half of Hungary). The western uplands region between the upper Rhine River, the lower course of the Inn River, and the Bavarian and subalpine plateau was known as Rhaetia, an area which also included parts of modern-day Germany and Switzerland. The plains region in the east and southeast was known as Pannonia, and included areas in present-day Hungary and Slovenia. The Romans invaded all three regions about 15 BC and made them provinces of the empire.
Under Roman control, the provinces eventually became outposts for offensive and defensive action against various barbarian tribes. To a large extent Roman strategy was based on the fact that the region contains important passes through the Eastern Alps and thus commands vital transportation arteries between northern, southern, western, and eastern Europe. One of the first Roman military posts in the region was Vindobona (now Vienna), which was located on the site of a Celtic settlement on the edge of the Eastern Alps and on an arm of the Danube. Vindobona became an important strategic crossroad for two main trade routes and for numerous roads leading into the fertile basin of Niederösterreich. Carnuntum (now Petronell), east of present-day Vienna, was another important Roman center in the area.
Prior to the opening of the Christian era, the southern part of the country now called Austria was inhabited by the Taurisci, a Centic tribe called who were later called the Norici and who were conquered by the Romans about 14 BC. The land they inhabited was later included in the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Noricum. Under Roman rule, Vindobona, the modern Vienna, became a place of some significance. The part of the country north of the Danube was peopled by the Marcomanni and the Quadi - two Germanic tribes who would become the BBavarians. Both of these tribes were frequently at war with the Romans - particularly during the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who died at Vindobona in 180 AD while campaigning against them (Steed Chapter 1).
The First Coming of the Germans
As a result of periodic overpopulation and land hunger, combined with pressure from remote peoples and the attraction of the wealth of the peaceful Roman provinces, tribes of the Germanic peoples attacked the provincial frontiers at various times starting in AD 166. The frontiers completely broke down during the 4th century AD. Goths, Rugians, Lombards, Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Huns at one time or another crossed the Vienna Basin. The Alamanni advanced into Rhaetia, the Herulians captured Juvavum (now Salzburg), and the Goths advanced along the Drava (Drau) River.
The Slavs and the Avars moved into Pannonia from the east and southeast at about the same time the Germans invaded the northwest. By the mid-6th century the Bavarians had occupied Tirol, and the Alamanni had settled to the west. The Slavic peoples were split into northern and southern groups by Avars and Bavarians contending for control of the Danube River valley. The Avars left only superficial traces in the country, but the Slovenes built settlements in the depopulated valleys of the Eastern Alps. The Germans finally overwhelmed the Slovene settlements, which could not depend on a continuous stream of new settlers. In a few areas of what are now Kärnten and Steiermark the Slovenes managed to establish permanent settlements.
By the 2nd century BC, Germanic peoples had already occupied northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The first clash between the Germanic peoples and the neighboring Romans was in the 2nd century BC, when the Cimbri and Teutons invaded Gaul and were defeated in present-day Provence, France by the Roman General Gaius Marius (101-102 BC). By this period, however, much of Germany was occupied by such Germanic tribes as the Suevi, Cherusci, and others. When the Romans in turn attempted to conquer the area east of the Rhine River early in the 1st century, they were defeated by the Cherusci chief Arminius (Hermann).
Much of what is known about Germanic peoples comes to us from historical accounts written by two Roman authors: Commentaries (51 BC) by Julius Caesar and Germania (AD 98) by Cornelius Tacitus. By comparing the two writings, it is possible to trace the evolution of Germanic society in the intervening period. In Caesar's time, land tenure did not involve private property; instead, fields were divided annually among clans. By the time of Tacitus, however, land was distributed annually to individuals according to social class. The basic sociopolitical unit was the pagus (clan). In Caesar's period, some pagi had military leaders as chiefs, but only during wartime. By Tacitus's time, however, several pagi, at least, had full-time, elected chiefs. These leaders did not have absolute power but were limited by a council of nobles and an assembly of fighting men. Military chiefs had groups (comitium) of men who swore allegiance to them in both peace and war.
In the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, two ancient Germanic peoples, the Cimbri and the Teutons, were the first Germanic tribes to invade Roman territory. They first came into contact with the Romans in the province of Noricum (now southern Austria) in 113 BC. The Cimbri, victorious in several engagements, were prevented from devastating Italy by their defeat in 101 BC by the Roman general Gaius Marius, near present-day Vercelli in northern Italy. When the battle was lost, their women killed their children and themselves. According to the account of Julius Caesar, the Audatici of Belgium were the descendants of the Cimbri and the Teutons. The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus mentioned a people bearing the name of Cimbri, few in number but of great reputation, who sent ambassadors to Augustus, emperor of Rome. They lived, according to the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, on the Chersonesus Cimbrica (Peninsula of the Cimbri), now known as the Jutland Peninsula, which is the mainland part of Denmark.
By the mid-2nd century AD Germanic pressures on the Roman frontiers intensified. The emperor Marcus Aurelius waged successful warfare against such tribes as the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Iazyges. By this period, German mercenaries were beginning to be used by the Roman armies.
During the 3rd century, more migrations caused a crisis within the empire, as Goths, Alamanni, and Franks penetrated German borders. The movement stopped temporarily in the late 3rd century during the reigns of the emperors Diocletian and Constantine the Great, but it resumed under pressure from the non-Germanic Huns, who came out of Central Asia in the 4th century. By the 5th century, the Germans occupied the whole Western Roman Empire.
(100 BC to 470 AD)
The first centuries of the Christian Era saw a succession of loose power structures over the Alpine region by migrant Germanic and Asiatic peoples such as the Goths, the Huns, the Lombards, the Avars, and others - all of whom had as their objective the wealth of Roman centers in Italy to the south and Gaul to the west. While these migrations were occuring, three other groups were in the process of forming permanent settlements in the area of present-day Austria. The Alamanni, who came from Swabia, settled in the extreme western part of the region (now Voralberg). The Bavarians, who came from Bohemia, settled in the north and west (now Lower and Upper Austria, Salzburg, and northern Tirol). The Slavs, escaping the Avar oppression, settled into the south and east (Styria, Carinthia, and southern Tirol). It was during these "dark centuries" that Austria was fully opened up for the first time.
In the 5th Century, the Huns, sweeping in from Asia, set off a wave of migration. Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, Lombards, & other Germanic tribes overran what was left of the Roman Empire. It was out of this period of chaos and motion that emerged a people that settled into central Europe - a people called the Baioarii.
The Origin of the Bavarians
There is some mystery as to the origins of these people who became known as Bavarians. The first mention of them by name occurs in 520 AD in a Frankish "tabulation of peoples" (Riezler 8). In 565 AD, the Roman poet Venantius Fortunatas refers to the area between the rivers Inn and Lech as "Baioaria". By this time, the Bavarians controlled the land of present-day Bavaria, Tirol, Upper Austria, and Salzburg. So where did the Bavarians come from?
It is now generally believed that the Bavarians are the descendants of the "lost" Germanic tribe known to the Romans as the Marcomanni. The Marcomanni, who came originally from northern Europe in present-day Saxony, moved south in the 1st century BC into Bohemia (present-day Czechoslavakia), pushing out the Celtic people known as the Boii. The Marcomanni stayed in Bohemia for about 500 years, eventually taking on the Celtic name of their homeland. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, they engaged the Romans in a series of armed conflicts. The name Marcomanni literally means "men of the marches" or borders (Gibbon i.98,261-263). The ancient Celtic name for Bohemia was Boja or Bojos, which has subsequently been transplanted to Bojoheim, Baiheim, or Beheim (Kohlrausch 76). The name Bavarians, derived from Baioarii, Bajuvarii, and Bajjawarjos, literally means "inhabitants of the Boiic land" (Leeper 58).
These Austrians were part of that larger Germanic group known as Bavarians who settled into the area of present-day Bavaria and northern Austria in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD. Our search for the origin of the Gottscheers must begin with them.
There is some mystery as to the origins of these people who became known as Bavarians. The first mention of them by name occurred in 520 AD in a Frankish "tabulation of peoples" (Riezler 8). In 565 AD, the Roman poet Venantius Fortunatas referred to the area between the rivers Inn and Lech as "Baioaria". By this time, the Bavarians controlled the land of present-day Bavaria, Tirol, Upper Austria, and Salzburg. So where did the Bavarians come from?
It is now generally believed that the Bavarians are the descendants of the "lost" Germanic tribe known to the Romans as the Marcomanni. The name Marcomanni literally means "men of the marches" or borders (Gibbon i.98,261-263), and refers to their geographic location in relation to the Roman Empire. The Marcomanni, who came originally from the upper Main valley in present-day northern Bavaria or from the Elbe valley in present-day Saxony, moved into Bohemia in the year 6 BC, pushing out a Celtic people known as the Boii, who were settled about the Hercynian forest in southern Bohemia, in present-day Czechoslavakia (Todd 31, 58-59). Considered the most important of the southern Suevic tribes, the Marcomanni were led by a brave noble, Maroboduus, who took his people into the Bohemian plateau (Kohlrausch 37) through the Elbe valley, settling into the region surrounding present-day Prague. They were probably accompanied by another Germanic tribe, the Quadi, who were closely associated with the Marcomanni throughout their history, and who settled in Moravia, southeast of Bohemia in present-day eastern Czechoslavakia (Todd 62). The Marcomanni stayed in Bohemia for about 500 years, eventually taking on the Celtic name of their homeland. The ancient Celtic name for Bohemia was Boja or Bojos, which has subsequently been transplanted to Bojoheim, Baiheim, or Beheim (Kohlrausch 76). The name Bavarians, derived from Baioarii, Bajuvarii, and Bajjawarjos, literally means "inhabitants of the Boiic land" (Leeper 58).
Prior to settling in Bohemia, the Boii took part in the Celtic migrations into the Po Valley in northern Italy around 400 BC, settling near present-day Modena, Italy. Their ritualized cremation of their dead distinguished the Boii from other Celtic tribes in the Po Valley region, and connected them to their Bohemian origins (Cunliffe The Ancient Celts 73). Following the First Punic Wars (264-241 BC), the Romans turned their attention to the Celts on their northern borders. In 232, they reclaimed territory from the Senones. Further activity from the Romans in the western Apennines alarmed the Boii. Strengthened by a significant force of Gaesatae - mercenary Celts from beyond the Alps - the Boii, along with the Taurisi and Insubres, marched on Rome (Cunliffe The Ancient Celts 77). With 50,000 infantry and 20,000 horse and chariots, the Celts invaded Etruria. In 225 BC, the Celts met the Romans at the Battle of Telamon, a coastal area about 100 miles north of Rome. Two Roman armies, one under Consul Lucius Aemilius, the other under Consul Gaius Atilius, conveged on the Celtic forces near the town of Telamon. The Roman victory was decisive, leaving 40,000 Celts dead and taking at least 10,000 prisoner (James 84-85). Following the Second Punic War, Roman armies quickly moved against the Celtic peoples living the the Po Valley. The Boii, faced with the growing Roman threat, moved northward to their original Transalpine homeland - eventually settling in Bohemia around 189 BC (Cunliffe The Ancient Celts 78).
The relationship between the German and Celtic tribes of Europe during the latter half of the 1st millennium BC has been the topic of much conjecture and debate. Among the most fertile meeting grounds of the two peoples was Bohemia. The Celts had occupied this area since Hallstatt times, and at the start of the 2nd Century BC, a Celtic tribe known as the Boii settled about the Hercynian forest, in present-day southern Bohemia. These people, who gave their name to the region, played a significant role in the development and dissemination of certain industrial techniques - particularly in iron-working. They established four iron-working centers in Bohemia: around Nove Straseci, the Prague region, in the foothills of the Ore mountains, and in southern Bohemia. When the Marcomanni entered Bohemia in 6 BC, they came in close contact with people possessing advanced skill in producing quality iron weapons. The Marcomanni, who already possessed some advanced knowledge and skills in metallurgy, no doubt benefited from their contact with the fleeing Celts (Todd 30-32). The influence of the Celts on the Marcomanni can be seen primarily in minor metalwork objects such as brooches and pins (Todd The Early Germans 20).
The Celts and Germanic peoples of Europe during this time shared a similar social structure. The tribal existance was a function, primarily, of the successful control of natural resources - particularly of land. Tribal groupings were, by and large, fluid and constantly changing. Tribal bounds and loyalties, for example, could change quite rapidly with the vicissitudes of war. Frequently, large tribal confederacies would lose smaller tribes who wished to break away from their parent body, as was the case with the Suevic confederacy early in the Roman era. The tribes described by Tacitus may have only been together a few centuries by the time they came into contact with the Roman writers. What kept tribes together varied from tribe to tribe. Centralized leadership played a role in some groups - e.g., Maroboduus and the Marcomanni - but this was not the case for other tribes. Some peoples shared a sense of common origin and community, which found expression in various religious cults (Todd The Early Germans 29-30).
The leadership among Germanic tribes was centered around the king and his retinue. The king, who was chosen among men of noble blood who had proven themselves in warfare, was able to maintain a large following of warriors only through his success on the battlefield. The greatest of German kings - Marboduus included - learned their skills in warfare from their service in the Roman armies. The concept of an elevated social class among the Germans occured fairly late in their development. Between the latter half of the 1st Century BC and the middle of the 2nd Century AD, certain Germanic tribes began to cremate their warrior heroes in rich ceremonies, quite different from the normal inhumations tha twere provided for the average tribesman. These special burials, far from the main burial sites, involved elaborate furnishings, including fine Roman articles of silver and bronze (Todd The Early Germans 33-36).
Tribal assemblies were usually designed to confirm or reject proposals made by the king and his tribal counsel, which consisted of elders and leading warriors. These were usually rare occurances. In 180 AD, the Marcomanni were ordered by Roman Emperor Commodus to restrict their tribal assemblies to only once per year. The primary decision-making body of the tribe was the king's retinue, made up of the leading warriors of the tribe, who were bound to the king by oaths of loyalty, proved themselves to the king on the field of battle, and who shared in the rewards of battle. Occasionally, a successful king would include in his retinue warriors from other tribes. In return for their loyalty and bravery, the warriors not only received the spoils of war, but they also had a focus for their idealism, as well as an outlet for their warlike energies. Their loyalty, however, was usually only as long-lasting as the king's string of victories on the battlefield (Todd The Early Germans 30-32).
For most members of the Germanic tribes, the individual household was the most significant aspect of their social existence. The nuclear family focused around the patriarchal figure who usually built his own long-house. Polygamy existed only with those individuals who could afford to support more than one wife. Slavery was highly uncommon - usually restricted to prisoners of war.&nbbsp; The system of inheritance included both the paternal as well as the maternal sides of each family. In cases where there were no children, the line of inheritance usually ran from brother, to paternal uncles, to maternal uncles. The relationships between a child and his maternal uncles was unusually close in Germanic societies - a phenomenon that carried into modern European culture. The role of the clan in the lives of the people was surprisingly minimal. Outside of participating in intra-tribal feuds - an important institution for defusing disputes that could otherwise undermine the community - the immediate family held the highest level of importance for the average tribesman (Todd The Early Germans 32-33).
The Germanic society was a warrior society - geared toward waging war against rival Germanic tribes, as well foreign peoples. The armies of the Marcomanni - like most German armies of that era - were comprised mainly of foot-soldiers. The lack of suitably large and swift horses in northern Europe imposed serious limitations on the development of cavalries. The size, physical strength, and warlike energy of the Germans, however, were most effectively deployed in infantry formations. As for equipment, Tacitus noted the state of the average German fighter:
The Marcomanni who engaged the Romans in battle during the first two centuries AD fought primarily with javelins, lances, and shields. It was only in the 3rd Century that swords began to play a significant role in the battle techniques of the Marcomanni. Body armour was never used by the Marcomanni against the Romans. Early on, their shields were long and oval or rectangular; later on, the shields were smaller and oval in shape. Like most German warriors, they fought wearing their everday garments, with some choosing to fight naked (Todd 150). They rarely engaged in siege strategies - preferring to go after easier prey (Todd The Early Germans 36-42).Even iron is not plentiful with them; this has been inferred from the sort of weapons they have. Only a few of them use swords or large lances: they carry spears - called framea in their language - with short and narrow blades, but so sharpp and easy to handle that they can be used, as required, either at close quarters or in long-range fighting. Their horsemen are content with a shield and a spear; but the foot-soldiers also rain javelins on their foes: each of them carries several, and they hurl them to immense distances, being naked or lightly clad in short cloaks. There is nothing ostentatious about their equipment: only their shields are picked out in th colors of their choice. Few have breast plates, and only one here and there a helmet of metal or hide (Germania 6).
By the 3d Century, the German warrior, still reliant mostly on his physical strength and fighting qualities, did start incorporating new weaponry in their approach to warfare. The main addition to their arsenal was the throwing-axe, effective at long-range, as well as close-up combat. The Germans also began to favor the bow and arrow around this time. Their swords, which were mainly used by the leaders of the tribe, now became two-edged and longer than those used at the turn of the millennium (Todd 144-145). Ironically, the more advanced swords used by the Germans against the Romans could have been the result of increased trade with Rome. Although some Germanic tribes began to utilize the horse in warfare around this time - the Goths being the clearest example of this - there is no record that the Marcomanni ever used horses in a significant manner during battle (Todd The Early Germans 42-46). Among the Suebic tribes in general, when horses were used, the warrior would usually dismount at the start of the battle - engaging the enemy on foot (Todd 155).
The overriding concern of the Romans with regard to their northern neighbors was one of security. Toward this end, the Romans developed systems of control, aimed at weakening the Germans. Frequently, the Romans purchased their loyalty through providing wealth and even Roman citizenship to the Germanic leaders. As Rome became the source of these leaders' wealth and growing power, they were less willing to wage war on them. Moreover, the new-found wealth of these leaders served to turn other tribal leaders against them - generally producing a "divide and conquer" effect. The power of Roman money was also used to exploit and deepen the divisions between the tribal leaders and the main body of the tribe (Todd The Early Germans 84-86).
During the first centuries of the first millennium AD, the land north of the middle Danube enjoyed a special relationship with the Roman Empire, not unlike that of some of the frontier provinces themselves. In 19 AD, Drusus Caesar established Quadan Vannius as ruler of large tracts of land north of the Danube. Soonafter, Vannius annexed Bohemia and Moravia, the home of the Marcomanni and the Quadi. During the reign of Antoninus Pius, the Quadi requested that Rome assign a king to their tribe. Such diplomatic victories for Rome were quite frequent and commonplace - usually tied to financial or trade arrangements (Todd The Early Germans 86-87). It was this Roman diplomacy that contributed greatly to the stability of the frontiers during the 1st and 2nd centuries (Todd 22).
The commercial activity of the Romans among the Germanic peoples was astonishing in scope and variety. Roman trade reached from the British isles to Russia and beyond. Throughout most of Germanic Europe, trading activity with the Romans took place. Through Roman trade, the Germans came into possession of numerous items - including vessels of silver and bronze, glassware and pottery, brooches, textiles, foodstuffs, and considerable quantities of Roman weaponry. In return, the Romans received amber that made its way from the Baltic coast and the Black Sea (Todd The Early Germans 87-88). When Caesar first encountered the Suebic peoples in 55 BC, he observed that they "give access to traders, to secure buyers for what they have captured in war rather than to satisfy and craving for imports." Interestingly, the Suebic leaders would not allow wine to be imported, "believing that men are threby rendered too soft and womanish to endure hardship" (de Bello Gallico 4, 20)
Trading activities between the Romans and the Germans would occur in commercia, or trading posts, that could be found throughout the Germanic lands. Sometimes, trading occured in major cities throughout the frontier provinces, such as Raetia (present-day Augsburg, Bavaria), which was used by the Hermunduri, who Tacitus calls "our faithful allies."
Traders were frequently former Roman officers who had made contacts and formed friendships with the Germans. One such trader, Quintus Atilius Primus, operating in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries, organized his commercial operations in Moravia, among the Quadi. Sometimes, these traders would serve as intelligence gatherers for the Roman armies (Todd The Early Germans 88-89).Because they are so loyal, they are the only Germans who trade with us not merely on the river bank but far within our borders, and indeed in the splendid colony that is the capital of Raetia. They come over where they will, and without a guard set over them. The other Germans are only allowed to see our armed camps; to the Hermanduri we exhibit our mansions and country houses without their coveting them (Germania 41).
Tribes along the frontier borders of the empire, such as the Marcomanni, the Quadi, and the Hermunduri, utilized Roman coinage in their commercial transactions with Rome. During the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, great quantities of silver coins - called Republican denarii - were used and horded by these frontier peoples. These coins were, in fact, used within German society as a primitive form of currency - one used to pay for obligations and for services rendered, and to act as a medium for gifts. They were not used for everyday transactions. It should be emphasized that most of the Roman trading was directed toward the warlike elites of the Germans and their leaders, who, the Romans perceived, controlled whatever resources might be of value to them. Moreover, its primary purpose was one of control and influence, rather than monetary (Todd The Early Germans 90-103).
At the time they fought against the Romans in 6 AD, their population was estimated to be about 100,000 (Todd 5). Their primary settlement areas, which were restricted to the old Boiic region, were nestled along the western side of the upper Elbe, in the valleys of the Ohre and Vltava rivers (Todd 58). Despite the early battles with the Romans, however, their relationship with their advanced southern neighbors at times seems to have been quite good. In the first half of the 1st Century AD, they enjoyed a healthy trading relationship with Rome. Until that point in their history, they had been led by kings of their own race. As their contact with the Roman Empire became more extensive, however, the power of their kings became dependent - in varying degrees - on the authority of Rome. The Marcomanni also received military and financial assistance from the Romans in their struggles with other tribes (Tacitus 42). Their loyalty and trade seems to have ended, however, in 89 AD, which marked the beginning of a long period of armed conflict between the Marcomanni and the Romans (Todd The Early Germans 7). In 98 AD, the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, wrote of the Marcomanni:
In the latter half of the 2nd Century AD, the Marcomanni engaged the Romans in a series of armed conflicts that became known as the Marcomannic Wars, which took place in the Danube Valley from 166-175 AD, and from 178-180 AD (Todd 18). During the early phase of this period, the Marcomanni and Quadi, another Germanic tribe, broke through into northern Italy, destroying the town of Opitergium (present-day Oderzo, northeast of Venice), and laying siege to the important trade city of Aquileia at the head of the Adriatic. This early Germanic advance sent shock waves throughout Italy - underscoring the precarious state of security along the northern borders (Todd The Early Germans 55). Along with the Quadi, another Germanic tribe, they fought Commodus in 183 AD - a conflict that ended in a negotiated peace. By the end of the 2nd Century, after a period of unregulated commerce, Marcus Aurelius had formalized trading arrangements with the Marcomanni - specifying regular places and days in which the two people could engage in trade. Conflict arose again in the middle of the 3rd Century. Between 249-252 AD, the Marcomanni were defeated by Marcus Antonius in conflicts that took place in the Upper Danube region (Gibbon i.98,261-263).The Macomanni are conspicuous in reputation and power: even their homeland, from which they drove out the Boii, was won by their bravery. ...Down to our own times the Marcomanni and Quadi still had kings of their own race, the noble lines of Maroboduus and Tudrus; but now they sometimes have foreign rulers set over them. The power of the kings depends entirely on the authority of Rome. They occasionally receive armed assistance from us, more often financial aid, which proves equally effective (Germania 42).
(470 to 976)
The Bavarians in the Dark Ages (from the 5th-8th
For the better part of the 5th Century, the Bavarians remained in Bohemia, taking no part in the numerous invasions of the Roman provinces by other German tribes. Towards the end of the century, perhaps as early as 470 AD, the Bavarians abandoned their Bohemian homeland and headed southwest - most likely due to pressure from the migraating Lombards who thereafter took their place in Bohemia (Leeper 57). Before they left Bohemia, they were calling themselves Bojoari or Bajovari - the source of the name Bavarians (Kohlrausch 76).
For the next 50 years, a mysterious silence falls over the fate of the Bavarians. For a people as important and developed as the Marcomanni, the likelihood that they simply vanished is highly unlikely. Most historians agree that they continued their existence as a people under their new name. There is also evidence that the Bavarians were accompanied on their migration by the remnants of other Suevic tribes, such as the Quadi and the Narisci (Leeper 57). Upon their arrival in their present-day homeland, they took in the remnants of several additional Suevic kinfolk already living in the region - namely, the Herulians, the Rugians, the Scyrians, and the Turcilingians (Kohlrausch 76).
There is no record of any significant warfare in the 6th Century between the Bavarians and the neighboring tribes upon their arrival in the Danube region. Their western neighbors, the Swabians (formerly the Alamanni), were close Suevic kinsmen to the Bavarians, despite their divergent histories (Leeper 58-59). The Alamanni were a confederacy of Germanic tribes that inhabited the region between the Main and Danube rivers beginning in the 3rd Century. They invaded Gaul several times and, early in the 5th Century, conquered the territory that is now Alsace and a large part of Switzerland.
To the south and east, the Lombards (formerly the Langobardi) controlled Carniola, parts of Carinthia, and south Tirol up to the mountain pass of the river Eisack (Leeper 64). The Lombards, also from the Suevic confederacy, originally settled along the lower Elbe River. They invaded and conquered northern and central Italy between 568 and 572. In 572 the chief of the Lombards, Alboin, founded the kingdom of Lombardy. The Lombards were gradually converted to Christianity, adopted the Latin language, and were assimilated by the inhabitants of the land. The Lombard dynasty was overthrown in 774 by Charlemagne.
Kingdom of Bavarian
(508 to 788)
The Early Dukes of Bavaria (420-690)
The early dukes of Bavaria, who emerged under the suzerainty of the Frankish kings in the 6th Century, belonged to the family of the Agilolfings who chose Ratisbon (Regensburg, Bavaria, at the confluence of the Danube and Regan River) early on as their capital (Leeper 71). The earliest Bavarian duke in the historical record is Theodon I, who lived between 420-511 AD. He was followed by his son, Theodon II, who died in 537. The dukes of Lower Bavaria - Theodon III (died 565), Theobaldo I (died 567), and Theodebert (died 584) - preceeded Garibald I, who held the title Duke of Bavaria. Duke Garibald I, who reigned between 560-590, seems to have had the power of a sovereign. His daughter, Theodelinda, became Queen of the Lombards. Two other genealogical origins have been associated with this duke of Bavaria: the Heruli Prince Fara (died 535) and Agilulf the Bavarian (born 470). Agilulf, who married Cloderic's sister, Princess de Bourgogne, in 490 in France, was succeeded by his son Agivald Agilolfing (born 500), who, according to one genealogy, was the father of Garibald I (Tompsett "The Duchy of Bavaria").
In 592, Garibald's son, Tassilo I, who reigned between 590-610, successfully stemmed the Slavic invasion of the region at a battle that occured in the Pustertal. Tassilo's son, Garibald II, after suffering a defeat at Lienz, once again drove back the Slavs to beyond the present-day Austrian-Italian border (Leeper 71-72). In 630, Garibaldi II, who reigned between 610-640, was able to throw Frankish influence off for a time - but this independence was short-lived. The Franks under Charles Martel again subdued the Bavarians (Wittmann "Bavaria").
It was probably during the reign of Garibaldi II - during the Frankish reign of King Dagobert - that the oldest existing sections of the Bavarian Lawbook, the Lex Baiowariorum, were composed. Although written in Latin, the spirit of the document is purely Teutonic, with many Bavarian and Frankish words used to express non-Roman concepts. The oldest sections of the code focus mainly on weregelds - i.e., monetary compensations for killing or bodily injury. The meticulous precision with which these weregeld laws were calculated, and the apparent lack of moral disapproval for the violent acts themselves, reflect a pre-Christian sensibility common to most early Germanic peoples. For example, six shillings was the proper compensation for cutting off a freedman's thumb, three shillings for his first or little finger, and two shillings for the middle fingers. Compensations for slaves were proportionately lower. Interestingly, the double weregeld allowed for women reflected the Bavarian view of a woman's defenselessness. This double weregeld also applied to visiting pilgrims and travellers for the same reason (Lex Baiowariorum, tituli IV, V, and VI, summarized in Leeper 73-74).
The dukedom in the House of Agilolfing was primarily heriditary. The duke was elected, by the people or the chief men of the nation, from among the near relatives of his predecessor - although the Frankish kings reserved the right to invest the dukes. According to the Lex Baiowariorum, the duke, as absolute ruler, excercised supreme power over his people. He was, however, guided in his leadership by custom, tradition, the wisdom of the chief men of the nation, and the popular feelings of the people. The duke's life was protected by a more than fivefold weregeld, and under later laws, violence against the duke was punishable by death and confiscation of the killer's property. The only offences that carried a penalty of death for a free Bavarian were conspiracy against the duke's life, and inviting enemies into the province. After the highest level of protection granted to the Agilolfing dukes, the next highest was the double weregeld granted to the five noble families of Huosi, Drozza, Fagana, Hahilinga, and Anniona - probably the descendants of kings of seperate lesser tribes incorporated within the Bavarian nation, along with the Marcomanni. Below these nobles was the general body of the Bavarian freemen, who possessed the rights to hold land, speak in the assemblies, wear their hair long and carry weapons, and fight alongside their countrymen in battle. Below the freemen were the freedmen, and below them, the bondmen - most of whom were personally free, but still bound to their lord's land and service. The only slaves within the Bavarian nation were war-captives and criminals condemned to slavery by their actions (Lex Baiowariorum, tituli III, summarized in Leeper 74-75)
The Later Dukes of Bavaria (690-788)
With the death of King Dagobert in 638, Frankish rule over the Bavarians came to an end. From 640 to 690, there is a gap in the historical record of the Bavarians. What occured during these fifty years can only be surmised. Duke Theodo, who reigned between 690-717, appears to have been an independant sovereign. Like many of his Agilolfing predecessors before him, he chose Ratisbon (Regensburg, Bavaria) as his capital. It was probably through Theodo's invitation that Bishop Hroudperht of Worms - Saint Rupert - first came to Bavaria around 696. It was Saint Rupert who gave Theodo religious instruction and ultimately baptized him. Seeking out a quiet spot to build his church, Rupert found his home at Seekirchen, on the shore of the little Wallersee, nine miles northeast of Salzburg. After being granted all the lands surrounding Salzburg, Rupert proceeded to build a monastery and church in honor od Saint Peter, the patron of Worms. Before he died, Theodo divided the Bavarian duchy between his four sons, Theodobert, the eldest, Theodobald, Grimoald, and Tassilo II. Theodobald and Tassilo II died before their father, whose inheritance passed on to Grimoald in Freising, and Theodobert in Salzberg (Leeper 86-87).
After Theodo's death in 717, conflict and hostility between the two brothers eventually lead to Grimoald's defeat at the hands of Charles Martel in 728. After Grimoald lost his throne, he was murdered - leaving his sons to perish in obscurity.&nnbsp; Theodobert's son, Hugbert, who reigned from 728-735, had played a significant role in Grimoald's downfall. It was during Hugbert's short reign that Boniface arrived in Bavaria. Hugbert was succeeded by Odilo, who reigned from 735-748. Odilo's rule was marked by constant hostilities between the Bavarians and the Carolingians. His first priority, however, was ecclesiastical in nature. He established several monasteries - including those at Mondsee in 739, and Niederaltaich in 741 (Leeper 90-93).
When Oldio died in the latter half of 748, young Duke Tassilo III, only seven at the time, came under the tutelage of Pipin, who was annointed King in November 751 at the Pope's behest by Boniface. The following period of Frankish tutelage had a great influence on Bavaria, especially on Bavarian Law (Leeper 94). It was during this time that many of the sections of the Lex Baiowariorum that deal with Church matters was composed. The special favor granted to churchmen was clearly evident in the particularly heavy weregelds protecting them - a bishop by his weight in gold, a priest by 300 shillings, and a deacon by 200 shillings. Church tithes and dues were safeguarded by law, and all freemen were allowed to leave their freehold property to the Church if they so desired. Clerical celibacy was enforced, and severe penalties were handed out to those who worked or travelled on a Sunday - the offender being sentenced to slavery since he was "unwilling to be free on the holy day" (Lex Baiowariorum tituli I.i, VI.iv, I.xii). The Frankish influence on the Bavarians could also be seen in the growing practice of the commending and granting of fiefs - gradually changing Bavaria from an alodial to a feudal state. The introduction of Grafen, or Counts, also came about as a result of Frankish influence. The Count would serve as the commander of his military district or county, while also serving as the political and judicial head of the Gau. He collected dues, fines, and taxes for the duke from his vassals (Leeper 95).
Tassilo III, who reigned from 748-794, was perhaps the greatest of the later Bavarian dukes, and would be remembered as the last of the Agilolfing dukes. Born in 741, the year his father founded the monastary at Niederaltaich, Tassilo III was as much a patron of learning and religion as he was a dynamic, autocratic ruler who forged a sense of Bavarian independence and patriotism, through his opposition to Charlemagne, that has lasted through to the present day. During his younger years, he remained loyal to Pipin - leading a Bavarian contingent force, assisting the Frankish king in his Lombard campaignes in 756. In that year, he swore an oath of fidelity to Pipin before that Frankish Diet at Compiegne. He went on to fight with Pipin against Saxony in 758, and against Aquitaine in 760 and 762. In an effort to assert his independence, Tassilo, while accompanying Pipin on another Aquitaine campaign in 763, abruptly withdrew his troops - committing harisliz, or desertion. Because of Pipin's numerous preoccupations during this time, Tassilo's bold move was cleverly calculated. Indeed, for eighteen years (763-781), Bavaria enjoyed a de facto independence (Leeper 95-96).
Tassilo engaged in an energetic foreign policy on all fronts. Through his marriage to Liutpirc, the daughter of the Lombard King Desiderius, he forged a new closeness with the Lombards that lead to Bavaria's acquiring the lands of the Vinstgau and other tirolese territory. The Christianization of the Slavs was helped considerably by his farsighted vision of the region. He successfully defeated the anti-Christian forces that emerged among the Slavs after Cheitimar's death in 769, and after conquering Carantania, he installed the German Duke Waltune to watch over the region which was granted nominal autonomy thereafter (Leeper 97-98).
These later Bavarian dukes were great patrons of the Church, founding numerous monasteries throughout present-day Bavaria and Austria. In 741, Odilo established the monastery at Niederaltaich on the Danube near the Austrian frontier. He was also responsible for the founding in 739 of the Benedictine monastery of Mondsee, east of Salzburg on the northern tip of present-day lake Mondsee. In 769, Tassilo III founded the monastery of Innichen (San Candido, Italy) in the Pustertal. In 777, he founded the monasteries at Mattsee, north of Salzburg, and Kremsmünster, south of Linz. Throughout his reign, ecclesiastical affairs took up a great deal of Tassilo's time and energy. His pious devotion to Christianity lead to the founding of no fewer than seventeen monasteries (Budinger i.110), including those at Scharnitz, north of Innsbruck in Tirol, and Schäftlarn, Tegernsee, and Wessobrunn, all located south of Munich. Many of these monasteries, that were located at the entrances of uncolonized territories, were important in the later colonization of southern and eastern Austria (Leeper 91-92, note 100).
The downfall of Tassilo III came about at the hands of no lesser historical figure that Charlemagne. After the death of his brother, Charles invaded the Lombards, and in two campaigns, overthrew and annexed the Lombard Kingdom. During the next few years, Charlemagne was engaged in wars with the Saxons. After his successes in Saxony, Charlemagne turned his attention to Bavaria. In 781, he called Tassilo III to appear before the royal court at Worms to renew his old oath of allegiance to the king. The next six years were generally peaceful - although local fighting between the Franks and the Bavarians did occur during this time. In 787, Charlemagne once more called upon Tassilo III to renew his oaths of allegiance at Worms. This time, Tassilo did not show, forcing Charlemagne to invade Bavaria - leading the Neustrian forces himself through Swabia to the Lech, while his son King Pipin advanced with his Lombard army on Tirol. The Pope, as well as many of the clergy throughout Bavaria, turned against Tassilo during this time for his refusal to appear at Worms. In the face of such opposition, Tassilo was forced to yield, and on October 3, 787, he surrendered his duchy to Charlemagne himself on the Lechfeld, where, for the third time, he swore and oath of allegiance to the king. Bavaria was then given back to Tassilo as a Frankish fief (Leeper 100-101).
The following year, 788, Tassilo was called once more before the royal assembly - this time to answer charges of engaging in treasonous negotiations with the Avars. He was convicted of this, as well as harisliz in abandoning Pipin at Aquitaine twenty-five years before, and sentenced to death. Charlemagne commuted Tassilo's death sentence to life internment in a monastery, along with his wife and children. Tassilo, whose long hair was shorn, was taken first to the monastery at Saint Goar on the Rhine, west of Frankfurt. He was later imprisoned at the monastery at Jumieges, west of Rouen on the Seine in France. In 794, Charlemagne called him one last time to appear, this time before the Synod at Frankfurt, and confess to his past guilt. Perhaps yielding to force majeure, or perhaps guided by the spirt of the cloisters, to which he was always attracted, Tassilo confessed and renounced his rights and those of his family. He ending up at the monastery at Lorsch, south of Frankfurt on the Main, where he died on December 11, 794 (Leeper 101-102).
The Christianizing of the Bavarians in the 7th & 8th
Prior to the 7th Century, the Bavarians and Swabians were heathen people who shared pagan religious beliefs similar to other Germanic peoples. They worshipped the great gods of war: Wuotan (who also symbolized supreme dignity and wisdom), Tiu or Ziu (called Eor or Erch by the Bavarians), Tonar of the sacred hammer, the goddesses Perchta, Freia, Frigga, and many others. They also revered the warlike Walkuren and the Fates (or Norns). The natural elements also played an important role in their belief system - i.e., sacred trees, fountains, and hills. Their priests officiated over animal, and sometimes human, sacrifices to the gods (Leeper 82).
In was to this spiritually backward environment that the Irish missionaries, lead by St. Columban, came to spread the Word of God. By the latter part of the 6th Century, these Irish missionaries first made their way into Swabia from trhe west. In 573 AD, Columban set out with twelve companions through pagan England and on through France where he won the favor of the Frankish kings who allowed him to set up a centre for missionary work in Bregenz among the Swabians. Accompanied by his countryman St. Gall, Columban travelled throughout the Rhine area proclaiming the Catholic faith, denouncing the pagan beliefs and practices he encountered (Leeper 84-85). Columban also preached and founded monasteries and churches in the area of present-day Austria (Robertson 15). The direct influence of these Irish monks on Austria and Bavaria was considerable, for they were the first to bring the Gospel to these people (Leeper 85).
The nature of Columban's religious expression, however, was decidedly monastic and absent ecclesiastic organization. The Irish missions did laid the groundwork for the later Church superstructure that would be brought by Bavarians with the cooperation of the Church in Rome. The main figure associated with the ecclesiastical penetration of Austria was a Rhenish noble, St. Rupert, who first came to Bavaria in 696 and who later chose Salzburg as his base for his Austrian mission (Wangermann 15). It was in Salzburg that he founded the abbey of St. Peter (now a Benedictine house), considered by many the "mother church" of all Austria and Bavaria (Leeper 87). The conversion of Austria made swift progress, evident from the fact that the Pope elevated Salzburg to a bishopric.
The evangelization of the Bavarians was completed by two of Rupert's successors - St. Emmeram, who worked out of Regensburg, and St. Corbinian (670-725), who worked out of Freising. In 715-716, Bavarian Duke Theodo (645-717) travelled to Rome to ask the Pope to supply diocesan bishops for Bavaria. Pope Gregory II, in response, sent Bishop Martinian and two clergymen to Bavaria to formally organize the Bavarian Church (Leeper 88). This would set the stage for the most important figure to emerge in the Christianization process in Austria and Bavaria.
St. Boniface (circa 675-754), was an English Benedictine missionary, known as the Apostle of Germany. Born Winfrid or Wynfrith in Crediton, Devonshire, he was educated at the monastery in Nursling, Hampshire, at which he became an abbot about 717. In 718 he was authorized by Pope Gregory II to preach Christianity to all the tribes of Germany. Boniface traveled through Thüringen, Bavaria, Friesland, Hessen, and Saxony. In 723 the pope called him to Rome, consecrated him bishop, and furnished him with letters to Charles Martel, Frankish ruler of Austrasia, and all princes and bishops, requesting their aid in his work. Returning to Hessen the following year, Boniface destroyed the objects of heathen worship and founded churches and convents.
It was in the year 735 that St. Boniface focused his attention on Bavarian. During his three-year stay in Bavaria, he saw the clear need for episcopal organization (Leeper 89-90). In 738 he revisited Rome and returned to Bavaria shortly thereafter as papal legate with a plan for diocesan organization. Following a synod held by Boniface, the Duchy of Bavaria was divided into four dioceses: at Passau (headed by Vivilo), at Saltzburg (headed by by the abbot of Saint Peter's, John the Scot), at Freising (headed by Corbinian's brother Erembert), and at Regensburg (headed by Gawibald). Archbishop Boniface would rule over the entire province himself. In recognition of his services, Pope Gregory III named him archbishop and primate of all Germany, with power to establish bishoprics. Boniface made a third journey to Rome in 738 and was appointed papal legate for Germany. He was killed at Dokkum, West Friesland (now in the Netherlands), by a band of non-Christians. By 767, Salzburg completed its own Cathedral (next to St. Peter's) - beautifully endowed by the support of its Bavarian sponsors. Salzburg would become an archbishopric in 798, achieving primacy over the other Bavarian bishoprics.
During the 8th Century, the land comprising Bavaria was admired for being rich and fertile, and the Bavarians themselves were admired as a good, hard-working people. Bishop Arbeo of Freising wrote of them:
Bavaria in the 9th CenturyMost splendid country, brilliant in its charm, wealthy in forests, fruitful in wine, rich in iron, gold, silver and purple; the men are tall and bursting with pride, but good and capable; the country is blessed with grain, cattle and herds, so many that they almost cover the ground; even the mountains are fruitful and ready for pasture; good herbs in superfluity; the woods are copiously endowed with deer, elk and auerochs, with chamoix and ibex, and with game of every type.
In 791, Charlemagne, after he had established his authority over the Bajuvarii (Bavarians) crossed the river Enns, and moved against the Avars. He followed this initial attack with several campaigns, led by his lieutenants. By 805, the Avars were finally conquered, and their land incorporated within the Frankish empire. This victory brought the region clearly under Frankish rule. During this time, Charlemagne erected a mark - called the East Mark - designed to defend the eastern border of his empire. From 799 to 907, this small region was ruled by a series of margraves, but as the Frankish empire grew weaker, the mark suffered more and more from the ravages of its eastern neighbours. During the 9th century, the Frankish supremacy gradually vanished, and the mark was overrun by the Moravians, and later by the Magyars, who destroyed the few remaining traces of Frankish influence (Steed Short History).
The gradual eastward extension of the Carolingian Empire was stopped by the arrival of the Magyars - a Finno-Ugric people who form the ethnic core of the Hungarian nation - in the Danubian region in 862. Within fifty years, the Magyars had seized the Hungarian plain, conquered Moravia and the eastern Danubian marches of the Carolingian Empire, and penetrated deep into Frankish territory. A reorganization of the German portion of the Carolingian Empire in the first half of the tenth century enabled the Germans to rally their forces and defeat a Magyar invasion force at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955. This new and essentially German empire became known as the Holy Roman Empire and eventually regained much of the territory lost to the Magyars. Nevertheless, the Magyars' continuing military strength and their conversion to Christianity during the reign of King Stephen (from 997-1038) enabled Hungary to become a legitimate member of Christian Europe and check German expansion to the east.
By 794, Bavaria had become a Frankish province ruled by representatives of the Frankish king. It came into greater prominence when Louis the German, who had received the eastern part of the Frankish kingdom by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, made his residence in Bavaria. His grandson Arnulf, Duke of Carinthia, was crowned emperor in 896. One of his relatives, Margrave Leopold, who fell in a battle in 906 against the Magyars, is regarded as the first of the line of Seheyren-Wittelsbach (Wittmann "Bavaria").
Bavaria in the 10th Century
Upon the extinction of the Carolingian dynasty, Arnulf, son of Leopold, claimed the position of a sovereign prince. This involved him in war with Henry I the Saxon, King of Germany, whose partly successful attempt to conquer Arnulf was completed by Otto I. After the deposition of Eberhard I, the elder son of Duke Arnulf, in 939, Bavaria no longer had native-born rulers. Bavarians would be ruled but Saxons, Franconians, and members of the Welf family who ruled as vassals of the king with the title of duke. Not until Emperor Frederick I, in 1180, rewarded Otto of Wittelsbach for his courage by granting him Bavaria did a genuine Bavarian ascend the throne of his fathers. Otto and his energetic successors laid the foundation of the future importance of Bavaria (Wittmann "Bavaria").
After Otto the Great was elected German king in 936, a new era in the development of present-day Austria began. Many historians believe that in is Otto rather than Charlemagne who must be regarded as the real "founder" of Austria. In August 955, he achieved a great victory over the Magyars on the Lechfeld, freed Bavaria from their presence, and refounded the East Mark for the defense of his kingdom. By 976, his son, the emperor Otto II, entrusted the government of this mark to Leopold, a member of the family of Babenberg. Under the Babenbergs, its administration was conducted with vigour and success. Leopold and his descendants ruled Austria until the extinction of the family in 1246. By their skill and foresight, they raised the mark to an important place among the German states.
(976 to 1246)
Between 976 and 1246, the Duchy of Austria was one of extensive feudal possessions of the Babenberg family - possibly descended from, or succeeded, a powerful Franconian family of the 9th century, from whose castle the city of Bamberg probably took its name. Through their ties of blood and marriage to two successive German imperial dynasties, the Babenbergs gradually acquired lands roughly corresponding to the modern provinces of Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria, and Carinthia. When the Babenberg line died out in 1246, their lands passed to the ambitious king of Bohemia, Ottocar II. As king of Bohemia, Ottocar was one of the small circle of "elector-princes" who were entitled to participate in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. When Ottocar failed to be elected emperor in 1273, he contested the election of the new emperor, Rudolf von Habsburg. The Bohemian king met his defeat and death in battle in 1278, and the former Babenberg lands passed to the Habsburgs, who added them to their already extensive lands in present-day Switzerland, southwestern Germany, and eastern France.
The Creation of Austria
Under the Holy Roman Empire, the territories that constitute modern Austria were a complex feudal patchwork under the sway of numerous secular and ecclesiastical lords. Most of the territories originally fell within the boundaries of the Duchy of Bavaria. Over the years, various territories were effectively detached from Bavaria, either becoming part of the newly established duchies of Carinthia in 976 and Styria in 1180 or, like Salzburg and Tirol, falling under the jurisdiction of powerful bishops. In the final years of the reign of Emperor Otto the Great (936-973), a small margravate roughly corresponding to the present-day province of Lower Austria was formed within what was then considered to be Bavaria. In 976, Emperor Otto II installed Leopold of Bavaria as Margrave of that region (Wangermann 16).
On November 1, 996, the German Emperor Otto III transferred the title for a small stretch of land located in Neuhofen - in present-day Lower Austria - to ecclesiastical authorities. There was nothing particularly exceptional about this transaction or the practice of imperial grants to ecclesiastical authorities per se. The original Latin codex, however, contains a key passage: "... regione vulgari vocabulo Ostarrichi ... in loco Niuuanhova dicto ..." ("a region called Ostarrichi in the vernacular... situated in Niuuanhova [Neuhofen]..."). The importance of this passage is twofold. First, although the term Ostarrichi - from the Old High German ostar (meaning "east") and richi (or reich, meaning "domain" or "realm" in this context) - was frequently used before 996 as a generic description for a variety of "eastern regions" on the frontiers of the Ottonian empire, this codex documents the first use of Ostarrichi as a reference to a specific place in contemporary Österreich-Austria. Second, after 996, the frequency of the use of this term as a reference to a territory or principality east of Bavaria in the Danube Valley increased and eventually established itself as a proper name.
The Latin designation for Österreich - Austria - has a similar etymology and developed in a similar manner. It is a hybrid compound from the German root word austar or ostar with the Latin suffix ending -ia commonly used for the names of countries. And similar to Ostarrichi, Austria initially appeared in early medieval codexes as a generic term for "regions in the east." Around the middle of the 12th century, Austria established itself as the conventional term in Latin for Austria. The Margravate of Austria was eventually detached from Bavaria and became a separate duchy in 1156. The document establishing the Duchy of Austria was signed on September 17, 1156, and read:
For their loyalty to the king, the Babenbergs were given virtual sovereignty over their newly established duchy through a document known as Privilegium Minus.In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Frederick, by favour of the divine mercy, august emperor of the Romans. Although a transfer of property may remain valid from the actual act of performing such transfer, and those things which are lawfully possessed can not be wrested away by any act of force: it is, however, the duty of our imperial authority to intervene lest there can be any doubt of the transaction. Be it known, therefore, to the present age and to future generations of our subjects, that we, aided by the grace of Him who sent peace for men from Heaven to earth, have, in the general court of Regensburg which was held on the nativity of St. Mary the Virgin, in the presence of many of the clergy and the catholic princes, terminated the struggle and controversy concerning the duchy of Bavaria, which has long been carried on between our most beloved uncle, Henry duke of Austria, and our most dear nephew, Henry duke of Saxony. And it has been done in this way: that the duke of Austria has resigned to us the duchy of Bavaria, which we have straightway granted as a fief to the duke of Saxony. But the duke of Bavaria has resigned to us the march of Austria, with all its jurisdictions and with all the fiefs which the former margrave Leopold held from the duchy of Bavaria. Moreover, lest by this act the honour and glory of our most beloved uncle may seem in any way to be diminished,-by the counsel and judgment of the princes, Vladislav, the illustrious duke of Bohemia, proclaiming the decision, and all the princes approving,-we have changed the march of Austria into a duchy, and have granted that duchy with all its jurisdictions to our aforesaid uncle Henry and his most noble wife Theodora as a fief; decreeing by a perpetual law that they and their children alike, whether sons or daughters, shall, by hereditary right, hold and possess that same duchy of Austria from the empire. But if the aforesaid duke of Austria, our uncle, and his wife should die without children, they shall have the privilege of leaving that duchy to whomever they wish. We decree, further, that no person, small or great, may presume to exercise any jurisdiction in the governing of that duchy without the consent or permission of the duke. The duke of Austria, moreover, shall not owe any other service to the empire from his duchy, except that, when he is summoned, he shall come to the courts which the emperor shall announce in Bavaria. And he shall be bound to go on no military expeclition, unless the emperor ordain one against the countries or provinces adjoining Austria. For the rest, in order that this our imperial decree may, for all ages, remain valid and unshaken, we have ordered the present charter to be written and to be sealed with the impress of our seal, suitable witnesses to be called in whose names are as follows: Pilgrim, patriarch of Aquileija, etc. etc.
Heinrich II "Jasomirgott"
The first Babenberg Duke of Austria was the son of Leopold III, Heinrich II, called "Jasomirgott" (1141-1177).
(1273 to 1440)
From the late 13th century, the rise of Austria is closely associated with the rise of the House of Habsburg. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Habsburgs increased their holdings in the eastern part of the Holy Roman Empire. Archduke Rudolf IV proclaimed the indivisibility of Habsburg hereditary possessions, which corresponded roughly to the modern republic of Austria. From 1438 until 1806 (except for 1742-1745), the archdukes of Austria held the title of Holy Roman emperor.
During the reign of Emperor Maximilian I from 1486 to 1519, the Habsburg empire became a great power, with its territory expanding significantly because of several advantageous marriages. Maximilian's own marriage to Mary of Bourgogne brought a large part of that territory into the empire. He also arranged the marriage of his son Philip (later Philip I of Castile) to Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand V and Isabella I - thus establishing the Habsburg claim to Spain and its possessions in Italy and the Americas. Philip's son Ferdinand I married into the ruling house of Bohemia and Hungary and became king of Bohemia in 1524. Ferdinand's brother Charles had become Holy Roman emperor as Charles V after the death of Maximilian in 1519. It was under Charles' rule that the Habsburg inheritances were effectually combined - i.e., the Habsburg hereditary lands in Austria, the Low Countries, and Spain and its possessions. The extent of the Habsburg empire, however, proved impossible for one monarch to rule. In 1521 and again in 1522, Charles gave Ferdinand lands in Austria and part of Germany. Division of the Habsburg dynasty into Spanish and Austrian branches was completed when Charles abdicated in 1556 as king of Spain, in favor of his son Philip II and, in 1558, as Holy Roman emperor in favor of his brother Ferdinand.
The Mythological Origins
This empire, perhaps the greatest and most influential in European history, has its historical origins in a small region in present-day Switzerland called the Argau, centered on the confluence of the Aare and Reuss rivers, where the family's castle, Habichtsburg (hawks castle), was constructed in the year 1020. The Habsburgs could not link their origins to the existing German dynasties of the era - i.e., the Saliens or the Staufens. So, from as early as the 14th century, Habsburg genealogists have attempted to trace their origins back to the Romans, through a Roman patrician family called Colonna, who claimed their descent via the counts of Tuscany to Julius Caesar. In the 15th century, another legend attempted to trace their origins to the Pierleoni and the counts of Aventine, who counted among their members Pope Gregory the Great and Saint Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine order. Also during this century, another legend surfaced tracing the "Frankish" origins of the Habsburgs back to the Carolingians, the Merovingians before them, and back further to the Trojans. Each of these mythological origins had a political purpose at the time of their dissemination - whether it be a connection to the imperial Roman past, the sacred descent from popes and saints, or the descent from the Frankish empires (Berenger 8-9).
The Historical Origins
In 1649, a theory developed by the French scholar Jerome Vignier proposed that the Habsburgs were descended from the dukes of Alsace - specifically, from Eticho in the 7th century and on through his ancestors who ruled over Alsace and Swabia. This theory was particularly embraced when Maria Theresa married the duke of Lorraine, Francis Stephen, presenting the new Lorraine dynasty as a restoration of the House of Alsace founded by Eticho (Berenger 9). This genealogy led unquestionably to Guntram the Rich, count of Alsace and Brisgau, in the 10th century. He is believed to be the "count Guntrum" who was deprived of his estates in 952 by Otto the Great for treason. Part of his confiscated lands were returned as part of an amnesty. Situated within the kingdom of Burgundy, this Habichtsburg domain was an allodial land - i.e., land that was the absolute property of its owners, free from feudal dues or taxes. The fact that Guntram was known as "the Rich" underscores the considerable extent of his holdings in Alsace, Breisgau, and the Aargau. So, from the beginning of this family's known historical origin, the Habsburgs were well established in the heart of Europe and of medieval Christendom - a geographic location that became known as the "crossroads of Europe", where political, intellectual, and cultural currents mingled (Wandruszka 25).
Early Habsburg Genealogy
|Guntram "the Rich"||died March 26, 973 (950)||Count in the Breisgau
Duke of Lower Alsace
Lord of Muri
|Lancelin||died August 981 (991)||Count of Altenburg, Klettgau & Thurgau|
|Radbot||died 1043||Count in the Klettgau
Built the castle Habsburg in 1020
|Werner II||died November 11, 1096||Count in the Klettgau|
|Otto II||died November 8, 1111||Count of Habsburg (the first named)|
|Werner III||died August 1167||Count of Habsburg
Landgrave in the Upper Elzas
|Albrecht III||died November 25, 1199||Count of Habsburg
Landgrave in the Upper Elzas
|Rudof II "the Old"||died April 10, 1232||Count in Laufenburg, the Zurichgau & the Aargau|
|Albrecht IV||died December 13, 1239||Crusades|
One of Guntram's sons, Lancelin, was designated count of Altenburgh and lived within his domains near Windisch, the site of the Roman colony Vindonissa. His second son, Werner, became bishop of Strasburgh. It was Werner who built the castle of Habsburg overlooking Windisch - the home of the future counts of Habsburg. Lancelin's first son, Radbot, married the duke of Lorraine's daughter, Ita. From this marriage alone, the Habsburgs were descended from the dukes of Lorraine, and were related to the dukes of Swabia, as well as the Capetian kings of France. The Habsburgs that emerged on the historical stage of the 10th century were closely related to the leading families on the Upper Rhine. Radebot had two sons, Otho and Werner. It was Radebot's first son, Otho (died November 8, 1111), who was the first to be distinguished as count of Habsburg (Wandruszka 25-26).
The most important figure to emerge during this time was Lancelin's son Werner I, who became the Bishop of Strassburg (It should be noted that another theory emerged in the 20th century that has Werner I actually being the brother of Ita, and hence, the brother-in-law of Radbot). As a boyhood friend and strong supporter of Emperor Henry II, he played a significant part in the further development of Habsburg power. It would have been Werner I, acting as Bishop of Strassburg, who would have interceded on the part of the Habsburgs and obtained a pardon from Henry II for Guntram's grandsons. Bishop Werner was also an advocate of the policy of expansion into Burgundy, where the interests of the Empire certainly coincided with those of the Habsburgs. The building of the family castle in the year 1020 was, in fact, connected with the conflicts occuring on the Burgundian border (Wandruszka 26).
Among the numerous stories, legends, and didactic tales associated with the Habsburg family throughout the centuries, perhaps the oldest is associated with the building of the Habichtsburg (hawks castle) at the confluence of the Aare and Reuss rivers in the present-day Swiss canton of Aargau. These tales were handed down through the centuries as a family treasure of pragmatic and pedagogical lessons in the education of power and leadership. As the story is told, Radbot initially constructed the castle without ramparts, walls, or defensive towers. After Bishop Werner castigated him for these omissions, Radbot promised him that he'd surround the castle with strong fortifications by the following morning. The next day, Radbot took the bishop to a window and showed him the host of men drawn around the castle, with horsemen dressed in mail dispersed throughout the line at regular intervals, like towers on a castle wall. The bishop reacted favorably, saying:
The story exemplified for the Habsburg princes the fact that rulers are best protected by the loyalty and affection of the people they rule. Indeed, a remarkable number of Habsburg rulers, from Rudolf I to Franz Josef, strove successfully to capture the love and devotion of their subjects, while maintaining a sense of majesty and election (Wandruszka 26-28).Verily keep to such walls, and well for thee!
Naught is so sure as troth that will for aye endure.
May living walls, its tower of strength,
guard Habsburg now for centuries' length!
The sight inspires with joyful awe
the German shires.
(from a 19th century poem by Karl Simrock)
Bishop Werner was also responsible, in large part, for shaping the image and identity of the Habsburgs as a pious, Christian family. Radbot and his wife Ita, no doubt influenced by the bishop, founded the Benedictine monastery of Muri in the Aargau. This monastery became the repository for the oldest and most important records of the family's early history. In the Habsburgs' Alsatian realm near the Rhine at the eastern edge of the Hardt forest, Radbot's brother Rudolf founded the nunnery of Othmarsheim. The Othmarsheim church's similarity to Charlemagne's chapel at Aachen illustrated the family's importance and confidence, even as early as the beginning of the 11th century. Later in that century, the nunnery of Hermetswyl was also founded (Wandruszka 28).
During the time of the investiture conflict between the empire and the papacy, Werner II (the son of Radbot and Ita) carried on the leadership of his father and grandfather. It was under his guidance that the Benedictine monastery of Muri became one of the strongholds of the Cluniac and Hirsaw reforms. Werner's own son Otto, who was the first of his family to be designated count of Habsburg, became a vassal of Emperor Henry V during the campaign against the Hungarian King Koloman. On September 29, 1108, an imperial document from Pressburg mentions a "Graf Otto de Havichsburg" - the first historical evidence of a Haabsburg travelling in the Danube region (Wandruszka 28-29). During the 12th century, the successors of Count Werner II of Habsburg increased their inheritance and power through marriages, royal donations of land from the Holy Roman emperor, and through becoming prefects, advocates, and administrators of the surrounding abbeys, towns, and districts. The ties between the Habsburgs and the Hohenstaufens grew closer during this time - as did their ties with many of the important families of that region. As several of these families to which the Habsburgs were closely allied through marriage began dying out - the result of the numerous wars and conflicts of that era - the Habsburgs inherited their properties and privilages. This process was made easier due to the good relations between the Habsburgs and the emperor. These relations reached new heights following the double election of 1198, when Rudolf II "the Old", one of the great noblemen in southwest Germany, fully supported young Frederick II upon his appearance in Germany. The Emperor Frederick II repayed the loyalty and support by standing as godfather to Rudolf's grandson, the future King Rudolf I (Wandruszka 29-30).
An important characteristic of the Habsburgs' approach to their possessions was the concept of collective inheritence, as opposed to the principle of primogeniture, wherein the eldest son inherits the total holdings upon the death of the predecessor. Although this strong adherence on the part of the Habsburgs to collective inheritance led to the inevitable fragmentation of the total holdings, the ultimate result was unity within the house, simply because each member of the family took part in the inheritance. This policy also led to stability within the domain. The importance of the "house" concept throughout the history of the Habsburgs had a solid foundation in these laws of inheritance. In retrospect, the Habsburgs proved to be the most tenacious guardians of the traditions of the original European aristocracy, and its legal thinking in terms of family and clan (in contrast to the ancient and modern principles of public law) (Wandruszka 30-32).
The son of Rudolf II "the Old", Albert IV, possessed considerable territories in Suebia, Alsace, and the Argau. After a series of successful conflicts against neighboring barons, Albert IV fought bravely in the wars of Italy under the banner of Emperor Frederic II. Soonafter, he answered the call for crusade in the Holy Land against the Saracens. Before leaving, he assembled his family and followers at the convent of Muri, where he addressed his three sons with portentious words of fatherly advice:
He then departed for the Holy Land, amidst the tears and lamentations of his family, leading thirty barons to Marseilles, where they embarked for Ptolemais in Syria. He died at Askalon on December 13, 1239, and was buried in the Holy Land. That somber day at the convent of Muri, three of Albert's sons had listened to their father's wisdom. Albert, the canon, and his brother Hartman both died young. A third son, however, would play a major role in the history of Austria and greater Europe. His name was Rudolf I, and he was destined for greatness (Coxe 4-5)Be mindful that the counts of Habsburg did not attain their height of reputation and glory by fraud, insolence, or selfishness; but by courage and devotion to the public weal. As long as you follow their footsteps you will not only retain, but augment the possessions and dignities of you illustrious ancestors.
Rudolf I (1218-1291)
Called the Great Founder of the House of Austria, Rudolf I was the first Habsburg to come to power in Austria, and his ascension to the throne in 1273 marked the beginning of over 600 years of Habsburg rule in Europe. Born on May 1, 1218 at the ancient castle of Limburgh in Brisgau in the Alsace region, Rudolf was the son of Albert IV and Countess Heilwige of Kiburg. He was presented at the baptismal font by Emperor Frederic II. During his youth, he was trained in wrestling, skilled in horsemanship, and excelled in throwing the javelin. The influence of his warlike father led to Rudolf's superiority over his companions in all military excercises (Coxe 5).
After his father died in the Holy Land in 1239, Rudolf pursued an independent line of political strategy and warfare. For some time, he was engaged in either protecting the surrounding estates from bandits and hostile barons, or invading overly-ambitious neighbors (Coxe 9-10). One such invasion took place in 1242 against Hugh of Tuffenstein who had provoked Rudolf's resentment through verbal antagonisms - something for which the contumatious baron payed dearly with his life and fortress. Rudolf also engaged in hostilities with his two uncles, Hartman and Rudolf of Lauffenburg - hostilities that were eventually resolved through negotiation. In the conflict between the papacy and the empire, he supported the Hohenstaufens. In 1253, he was excommunicated by Pope Innocent IV for destroying property of Bishop Bertold of Basle. To obtain revocation of this excommunication, Rudolf served under Ottocar in his campaigns against the Prussians, and later, Bela, king of Hungary. When he returned to his native country, he became involved in a series of wars in Alsace and Switzerland, assisting the Bishop of Strasburgh in his hostilities with the citizens of Stassburgh (Coxe 6-8). His service to the bishop soured, however, when the churchman refused to remedy a land dispute involving his uncle. His reaction was quick and decisive. Placing his hand on his sword, he warned:
During the Terrible Interregnum, Rudolf strove to increase the power of his family - especially in Switzerland. Throughout his extensive domains, of which Swabia formed the center, he showed himself a good, if stern ruler, and won many friends, especially in the south. While the turbulent barons of the region harassed the peasants with incessant depredations, and pillaged innocent, defenseless travellers, Rudolf adopted a system of conduct that distinguished him as a man of honor and respect. He quickly became a protector of sorts for the peasants and freemen against the numerous bandits and corrupt nobility. He soon gained the confidence of the neighboring republics - some giving him the command of their armies, and others appointing him their prefect and protector (Coxe 9-10).Since you pay no regard to the greatest services, and seem inclined rather to offend than conciliate your friends, Rhodolph of Hapsburgh, instead of your ally, is become your most inveterate enemy. While I am master of this weapon, neither you nor any other person shall wrest from me those dominions, which I am to inherit by right of my mother; and since, in contradiction to every principle of justice, you grasp at the possessions of others, know that you shall shortly lose your own (qtd. in Coxe 8).
In 1265, the citizens of Zurich chose him as their prefect and invested him with the command of their troops. Zurich had been threatened by the formidable neighboring confederacy of Regensberg, that surrounded Zurich on three sides. Rudolf assembled a force that included his own troops, the Zurich forces, and the mountaineers of the cantons of Uri, Schweitz, and Underwalden, and proceeded against the enemy near Zurich. Rudolf quickly realized early victories which caused the count of Regensberg and his confederacy of neighboring barons to withdraw to their numerous fortresses. But Rudolf's vigilence and activity soon led to his capturing the castles of Glanzenberg, Balder, and Utleberg - all in close, strategic proximity to Zurich. His method of conquest was frequently one of strategy and wit, rather than brute force. At Glazenberg, for example, he sent a small, select group of men down the Limmat River, which flowed directly to the castle. When the men were close enough to the castle walls to be heard, they let out a cry as if their boat had capsized and they were drowning. When the garrison opened the gates and rushed to the spot where they hoped to plunder the drowning men, Rudolf's band hastened into the castle and captured it without resistence. At Balder, he approached the ramparts with only thirty men, defiantly brandishing their swords and making reproachful gestures. Seeing such a small party, and enraged by the impudence of Rudolf's men, the Balder troops rushed out of the gates after them. But their attack was foiled by the vast body of Rudolf's forces, who were hiding in a nearby thicket. And in Utleberg, Rudolf noticed that every day there emerged from the castle a body of men on grey horses who went out to hunt or plunder, and returned in each evening. One evening, Rudolf dressed up the same number of his own men, mounted on grey horses, and sent them rushing toward the castle, as if being pursued by some enemy. The confused garrison threw open the gates, and the fortress was easily captured and destroyed. These examples reveal a great deal about the character, intelligence, and ingenuity of Rudolf of Habsburg (Coxe 10-13).
After Pope Gregory X threatened to appoint a regent to govern the empire if steps were not taken to restore order to the country by the election of a prince who would exercise an effective rule, Rudolf was chosen emperor on October 1, 1273. He was a tall, lean man with bony cheeks and a distinctive hooked nose. Known as a courageous warrior and a skilled diplomat, Rudolf distinguished himself both for his unrelenting sternness and genial kindness. Six of the seven electors voted for Rudolf; Ottocar of Bohemia abstained from the vote. Ottocar ruled from Meissen and the mountains in the north of Bohemia as far as the Adriatic. In 1251, the Bohemian king entered Vienna, and soonafter, added Austria, Styria, Carinthia, and Krain to his inherited domains. When Ottocar was summoned to answer for this alienation of the imperial fiefs, Rudolf proved himself an astute politician in the proceedings against Bohemia. Recognizing that it was impossible to force the German princes to the position of vassals, he utilized every opportunity to enhance the power of his house, for only the possession of great domains could ensure for a German king a position of prominence.
During this time of the Terrible Interregnum, the Germany was in a constant state of discord, violence, and confusion. The greater princes, unable to control the licentious barons, who acted as if they were sovereignties to themselves, had no influence on the distant provinces. The gradual decline of the imperial power was hastened by the death of Conrad IV and the phantom sovereignties of William of Holland and Richard, earl of Cornwall. The chronicles of that time use Biblical language to describe the chaos: "In those days there was no king in Israel, and every one did that which was right in his own eyes" (Coxe 16-17). Conditions had degenerated to such an extent that Pope Gregory X threatened to appoint a regent to govern the empire if steps were not taken immediately to restore order to the country by the election of a prince who would exercise an effective rule. Faced with this threat, the electors of Germany met at Frankfurt in September 1273 to select the next king of the Romans. Those present were the Archbishop of Mentz (Werner of Eppenstein), the Archbishop of Cologne, the Archbishop of Treves, the King of Bohemia, Otho Margrave of Brandenburg, Albert Duke of Saxony, Louis Duke of Bavaria and Count Palatine. It was Werner of Eppenstein, the Archbishop of Mentz, who was Rudolf's strongest champion. When Werner travelled to Rome to receive the confirmation of his office from the Pope, he was escorted across the Alps personally by Rudolf and his best men - guarding the archbishop elect from the numerous banditti who preyed on those travelling through that region. He received a similar escort on his return from Rome. Impressed by Rudolf's attentions, talents, and character, Werner now sought to repay the count of Habsburg for his cordiality and respect. He quickly gained the support of the electors from Cologne and Treves. After matrimonial alliances were arranged between Rudolf's daughters - Matilda to Louis Duke of Bavaria, Agnes to Albert of Saxony, and Hedwige to Otho of Brandenburg - Rudolf's nomination was unanimous, with Ottocar alone abstaining (Coxe 17-19).
On October 1, 1273, Rudolf of Habsburg was crowned King of the Romans at Aix-la-Chapelle with the ancient crown of Charlemagne. He was fifty-five years old. The ceremony was followed by the marriages of his two daughters, Matilda and Agnes. Faced with the immediate threat of Ottocar, Rudolf moved quickly to secure the ratification of the reigning pontif, Gregory X. In a letter to the Pope, written immediately after his election, Rudolf wrote:
It is fortunate for the history of Europe that Gregory, unlike his predecessors, saw the necessity for consolidating the German states in order to foster stability and further the propagation of the Christian faith. Rudolf's ambassadors were received warmly by the Pope, and quickly agreed to the conditions upon which Gregory's sanction of Rudolf was based - i.e., to honor past imperial donations to the papacy, to accept no office or dignity within papal territories without the Pope's consent, to leave undisturbed the possessions of the house of Anjou (particularly Naples and Sicily), and to lead personally a crusade against the infidels in the Holy Land. In return for these concessions, Gregory gave Rudolf his cordial support, refused to consider Ottocar's overtures, and even persuaded Alphonso to renounce his pretentions to the crown (Coxe 23-24).The Roman Empire, having been some time vacant, the electors, who have long possessed the right of choosing a King of the Romans, met at the appointed time and place; and although there were many of much higher rank, and much greater merit than myself, yet, after mature deliberation, they raised me to the Imperial dignity, and even solicited my consent, with considerable importunity. Conscious, however, of my deficiency, and trembling with astonishment and fear, I hesitated whether I should accept so eminent a situation; until at length trusting in Him, who, in high and ineffable decrees of His providence, changes as He wills the conditions of mortals, adds strength to the feeble, and gives eloquence to the simple, I assumed courage sufficient to venture, weak as I am, upon so laborious and difficult an office, hoping that neither the grace of God, nor the favour of His Holy Church, nor your paternal affection will be wanting to me. Turning, therefore, all my thoughts to Him, under whose authority we live, and placing all my expectations on you alone, I fall down before the feet of your Holiness, beseeching you, with the most earnest supplications, to favour me with your accustomed kindness in my present undertaking; and that you will deign, by your mediation with the Most High, to support my cause, which I may truly call the cause of the whole German empire, that He may condescend to direct my steps according to His will, and lead me in ways of His commandments. That I may be enabled, therefore, successfully to perform what is most acceptable to Him and to His Holy Church, may it graciously please your Holiness to crown me with the Imperial diadem; for I trust I am both able and willing to undertake and accomplish whatever you and the Holy Church shall think proper to impose upon me (qtd. in Coxe 21-22).
Six of the seven electors voted for Rudolf; only Ottocar of Bohemia abstained from the vote. When Rudolf summoned Ottocar to do homage for his fiefs (as was the imperial custom), Ottocar responded with disdain and condescension for the count of Habsburg. A second summons was contemptuously ignored. He responded to Rudolf's third summons by sending his ambassador, the bishop of Seccau, to the diet at Augsburg. The bishop delivered a virulent invective against Rudolf, containing all the power and haughtiness that Ottocar surely wanted to convey. He claimed that Rudolf's election was illegal and that he, Ottocar, held his domains by indisputable title. At one point, while the bishop was delivering his angry message in Latin, Rudolf interrupted him saying, "Bishop, if you were to harangue in an ecclesiastical consistory, you might use the Latin tongue; but when discoursing upon my rights and the rights of the princes of the empire, why do you employ a language which the greater part of those who are present do not comprehend?" By appealing to the pride of the German princes in this way, Rudolf's rebuke created an assembly of indignant leaders, now clearly on the side of the new emperor, who no longer had the patience for Ottocar's haughty rantings. Saved from a violent confrontation with the princes through Rudolf's sense of courtesy, the bishop left Augsburg to return to the alienated King of Bohemia. After passing a unanimous decree confirming Rudolf's election, the diet of German princes declared Ottocar "guilty of contumacy", and ordered him to restore Austria, Carinthia, and Carniola to Rudolf immediately. The burgrave of Nuremberg and the bishop of Basle were sent to deliver the declaration personally, in the name of the diet, and to demand that Ottocar acknowledge Rudolf as the King of the Romans. Ottocar's response was uncompromising: "I will not tamely yield those possessions which I have acquired at the expense of so much blood." And then, with bitter invectives against Rudolf, Ottocar expressed his utter disdain of an election process that chose a petty count of Habsburg over other more powerful candidates. Violating the laws of nations, he killed the heralds who had announced the diet's resolutions and delivered the ban of the empire. During this entire period, Rudolf had acted with prudence and circumspection, using the most geneal methods of bringing Ottocar to terms of conciliation. But the Bohemian king remained steadfast in his contempt for the Habsburg emperor. The stage was set for war between Rudolf and Ottocar (Coxe 24-26).
Once the inevitability of conflict seemed apparent, Rudolf acted quickly. First, he approached those princes who had found themselves in recent years in perpetual conflict with the king of Bohemia, and solidified his relationships with them - particularly with Ladislaus, the king of Hungary. Rudolf arranged for the marriage of his daughter to Andrew, duke of Sclavonia, and brother to Ladislaus. He also cemented relations with Meinhard, count of Tirol, by arranging a marriage between his son Albert and Meinhard's daughter Elizabeth. Then, Rudolf moved against Ottocar's allies - namely, Henry of Bavaria, compelling him, by force of arms, to abandon his Bohemian alliance. He secured Henry's cooperation, once more, with an arranged marriage - this time between his daughter Hedwige and Henry's son Otho (Coxe 30-31).
In the early Autumn of the year 1276, Rudolf, accompanied by Henry and 1,000 Bavarian reinforcements, made his way through southern Bavaria, by way of Radisbon (present-day Regensberg) and Passau. He easily overran the lands lying south of the Danube along the Wachau, received warmly by the peasants of the region who embraced the king of the Romans as their deliverer. Then he moved down the southern bank of the Danube toward Vienna, where, after capturing Kloster Neuburgh, Rudolf laid siege to the city of Vienna, which sheltered Ottocar and his supporters. After five weeks, the lack of provisions and Rudolf's threat to destroy the vineyards of the region led to Ottocar's capitulation. On November 22, 1276, an agreement was established that Ottocar would renounce his claims to Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Windischmark, as well as the Hungarian lands he took from Ladislaus, king of Hungary. In return, the sentence of excommunication and deprivation would be revoked, and Ottocar, after taking the oath of allegience to Rudolf and doing homage to the emperor, would be invested with Bohemia, Moravia, and his other fiefs. On November 25th, a dejected Ottocar crossed the Danube with a large escort of Bohemian nobles and was received by Rudolf in the presence of the princes of the empire (Coxe 31-33).
Rudolf was a tall, lean man with bony cheeks, pale complexion, a nearly bald head, and a distinctive aquiline nose. His natural countenance was grave and composed, yet when he spoke, his face bacame bright and animated. He had an uncanny way of appealing to those who came in contact with him. His skill at persuasion was universally acknowledged. One of his eulogists, Dornavius, commented, "He fascinated persons of all ranks, as if with a love potion." He dressed in plain, simple clothing, believing that a sovereign's majesty consisted of princely virtues and not magnificent apparel. He was a devout, pious Christian, who respected the humble ministers of the Gospel more than the haughty prelates of the Church. He was diligent in respecting and supporting all members of the Church and their mission. His courteous demeanor toward the working clergy was recorded in many contemporary chronicles, such as the time he encountered a priest walking the muddy roads between Fahr and Baden, on his way to delivering the host to a sick person. Rudolf dismounted and insisted that the priest take his horse, saying that it wasn't right that he rode while the bearer of Christ's body trudged through the muddy road. After the priest agreed, Rudolf expressed his gratitude and veneration to the God, who had raised him from his humble beginnings to the throne of the Roman Empire (Coxe 53-54).
The contemporary chronicles are filled with stories of Rudolf's magnanimity,
such as the time when the knight who had killed Rudolf's horse in battle was
brought before him in order to be executed. Rather than seek vengence,
Rudolf freed him, saying, "I have been a witness to his intrepidity, and
should never forgive myself if so courageous a knight should be put to
death." On another occasion, Rudolf was accidently wounded by an
arrow during a competition. When the man was seized and sentenced to lose
his right hand, Rudolf forbade the action, saying, "If he had before lost
his right hand, he would not have wounded me; but what advantage can I now
derive from the infliction of the punishment?" It was precisely this
kind of magnanimity and wisdom that made him such an attractive figure to his
contemporaries (Coxe 54-55).
On August 26, 1278, Ottocar lost his throne and his life on the Marchfeld in one of the most significant battles in European histor. The ancient possessions of the Bohemian royal house were left to Ottocar's son Wenceslaus, who was still a minor. The Austrian lands had to be given up; they were formally granted by Rudolf to his sons, according to the prevailing laws of the empire which stipulated that the sovereign could not retain confiscated lands. Albrecht was given Austria and Styria, and Count Meinhard II of Tirol was given Carinthia and Carniola. In this manner, Austria came permanently into the possession of the Habsburgs (Rickett 20).
After his victory at the Marchfeld, Rudolf's primary focus was to establish peace and stability to the region. The creation of a strong central power, to bring about this goal, was also the object of Rudolf's politics. For the consolidation of his kingdom about the Danube, peace and stability were necessary, and these could only be guaranteed by a strong imperial government. During that time, no fixed imperial constitution existed, and the development of such a constitution would have been resisted by the territorial princes. Rudolf was shrewd enough to abstain from attempting forcibly to increase his constitutional powers, and contented himself with preserving such domains and rights as were still left to the crown. He sought to recover the many imperial possessions which had been lost since 1245. In addition, he saw to it that the taxes laid upon the imperial cities and towns were properly paid - although he failed to establish a uniiform system of taxation owing to the resistance of many cities. These cities eventually had to be put down by force of arms before they came to an agreement with the Emperor (Kampers Rudolf of Habsburg).
The time of Rudolf's rule ushered in a period of national peace for Austria and Germany which was to last for two hundred years. Using as his model the pacific settlement made by the Emperor Frederick II, in the Landfrieden at Mainz in 1235, he drew up a number of agreements which were the chief means of protecting commerce and trade. These agreements, however, were frequently broken by the princes and towns which claimed certain rights that transcended the agreements. The widespread system of robbery, under the form of feuds, prevailed more and more throughout Germany. But even in such cases, Rudolf did not take vigorous measures against the princes. In Swabia, his governor, Count Albert of Hohenberg, fought without much success against Count Eberhard the Illustrious of Wurtemberg. Moreoverm, he proceeded by force of arms against Siegfried, the ambitious Metropolitan of Cologne. But it was not the warlike measures of Rudolf, but the defeat of Siegfried near Worringen in 1288 at the hands of the duke of Brabant in the quarrel concerning the inheritance of duke Walram of Limburg that curbed the ambitious efforts of the archbishop (Kampers Rudolf of Habsburg).
In 1289, Rudolf was more successful in his efforts to settle the disputes in the House of Wettin. His chief ambition, however, was to secure the imperial crown for his house - an ambition he failed to realize. The electoral authority grew stronger during his reign, and the system of electing its kings remained the weak link in the German Empire. Until the very last, Rudolf endeavored to increase the power of his family. Indeed, Rudolf created for his family, in the east of the empire, a strategic position that would shape the later course of the historical evolution of the German Empire. Considering the difficult conditions in which he found himself throughout much of his rule, Rudolf contributed immensely to the restoration of unity in the empire. By his wise moderation and sound political sense, he secured for himself general recognition, being the first emperor in quite some time to achieve this end. The many diets which he held must also have strengthened the feeling of the unity of the empire (Kampers Rudolf of Habsburg).
Rudolf's foreign policy showed the same wise moderation. He abstained
from taking any action in the Italian question - while maintaining the rights of
the empire. However much the pope strove to secure the support of the
German king against the powerful Charles of Anjou in order to check his power in
the south of the peninsula, Rudolf was always able to skillfully avoid the
overtures. Even the attractions of the imperial crown were of no account
in the eyes of this sober and calculating prince. In Burgundian affairs,
he intervened only as far as his action was likely to increase the power of his
house - i.e., by strengthening it on the imperial frontiers towards Burgundy.
Otherwise his policy in the west was guided by the principle of preserving
peaceful relations with France. The death of this upright and popular
monarch on July 15, 1291 was received with lamentations throughout the empire.
He was buried at Speyer (Kampers Rudolf of Habsburg).
(1440 to 1618)
Frederick III (1415-1493)
Frederick III, Holy Roman emperor (1440-1493), and as Frederick IV, king of Germany (1440-1486). The son of Ernest of Habsburg, duke of Steiermark (Styria) and Kärnten (Carinthia), Frederick was elected Holy Roman emperor and king of Germany in 1440 and crowned by the pope in Rome in 1452, the last time an emperor was crowned in that city. Because he had sacrificed the liberty of the German church in order to secure papal support, he incurred the disfavor of the German princes. Frederick was an incapable ruler who ignored revolts and failed to defend the Habsburg domains against invasion. Nevertheless, by marrying his son and successor, Maximilian, to Mary of Bourgogne in 1477, he increased the wealth and power of his dynasty. In 1486, when Maximilian was elected German king, Frederick turned the government over to his son and settled in Linz, where he devoted himself to the study of sciences.
Maximilian I (1459-1519)
Maximilian I, German king (1486-1519) and Holy Roman emperor (1493-1519), who established the Habsburg dynasty as an international European power. Maximilian, the eldest son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, was born in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. In 1477 he married Mary, daughter of Charles the Bold, duke of Bourgogne, but his right to the Bourguignon realm-which included the present Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) and considerable portions of what is now northern and eastern France-was challenged by the French king, Louis XI. Maximilian successfully defended his wife's inheritance in a war with France that lasted until 1493, and he subdued the rebellious cities of the Netherlands. In 1490 he recovered Austria, which had been occupied by Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. By the Treaty of Pressburg (1491), Maximilian secured the right of succession to the thrones of Hungary and Bohemia, which were held by the Habsburg family for the next four centuries. In 1493 Maximilian succeeded his father as king and emperor. Two years later he embarked on a war to prevent France from acquiring territory in Italy. In 1496 he arranged the marriage of his son Philip (see Philip I) to Joanna the Mad, heiress to the thrones of Castile and Aragón, thus laying the basis for two centuries of Habsburg rule in Spain. Maximilian made peace with Louis XII of France in 1504, and four years later joined Louis in the League of Cambrai against Venice. In 1511, however, he again opposed France in an alliance (the Holy League) with England, Spain, and the pope, and he was largely responsible for the imperial and English victory over the French in the Battle of the Spurs (1513). Maximilian was a patron of the arts; his writings include two autobiographical poems.
Charles V (Holy Roman Empire), Holy Roman emperor (1519-1558), and, as Charles I, king of Spain (1516-1556), who fought a losing battle to keep his Roman Catholic empire together in the face of emergent Protestantism and outside pressure.
Charles was the son of Philip I, king of Castile, and Joanna the Mad; maternal grandson of Ferdinand V of Castile and Isabella I; paternal grandson of the Habsburg Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I; and great-grandson of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. He was born in Ghent (Gent) (now in Belgium) on February 24, 1500. On the death of his father in 1506, Charles inherited the Burgundian realm; following the death of Ferdinand in 1516, he became ruler of the vast Spanish kingdom; and when Maximilian died in 1519, he gained the Habsburg lands in central Europe, where his younger brother, Ferdinand, later Emperor Ferdinand I, was governor. Also in 1519, Charles, having bribed the electors, was designated Holy Roman emperor; he was crowned king of Germany in Aix-la-Chapelle (now Aachen, Germany), on October 23, 1520.
Charles was now by far the most powerful sovereign in Christendom. His inherited lands far exceeded those of the Frankish emperor Charlemagne. His territory included the Spanish kingdoms of Aragón and Castile; the Netherlands; the Italian states of Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia; Spanish conquests in America and Africa; and the Habsburg lands. He ascended the imperial throne at a time when Germany was agitated by Martin Luther. In an unsuccessful attempt to restore tranquillity, a great diet was held in Worms in 1521, before which Luther made a memorable defense of his doctrines. The diet rejected his position, and Charles subsequently issued an edict condemning Luther. At this time rivalry between France and Spain over the Italian lands and Burgundy led King Francis I of France to take up arms against Charles, whose attention was drawn away from Germany's internal affairs.
The war between Charles and Francis, in which Charles was allied with Henry VIII of England and the powerful Charles, duke of Bourbon, proved disastrous to France. Francis was taken prisoner in 1525, when the French were defeated at Pavia (near Milan, Italy). In January 1526 he was forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid, relinquishing his claim to Italy and abandoning Burgundy. Soon after his release the following year, Francis renewed the struggle, now aided by Henry VIII and Pope Clement VII, who was anxious to rid Italy of the imperial armies. The pope was captured at Rome in 1527 and was kept captive for seven months. The war ended with the signing by Charles and Francis of the Peace of Cambrai in 1529. Francis again renounced the Italian lands, and Charles ceded Burgundy to France. In 1530 the pope crowned the victorious monarch in Bologna as Holy Roman emperor, the last coronation of a German emperor by the pope.
Charles had been anxious to end the war with the French so that he could put down the religious revolt in Germany and prevent the Ottoman Turks from overrunning Europe. The Turks controlled the Balkan Peninsula, and in 1526, the year that Ferdinand I laid claim to the Hungarian throne, Sultan Suleiman swept over Hungary. Three years later the Turks laid siege to Vienna. In 1535 the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, in the service of Charles, led an expedition to Africa, defeated the Turks at Tunis, and freed about 20,000 Christian slaves. In 1538 Charles formed an anti-Turkish alliance with Pope Paul III and the city-state of Venice. The alliance was unsuccessful, and in 1547 Ferdinand signed a 5-year treaty with the Turks.
The failure of Charles to repel the Turks resulted in part from his inability to bring religious peace to his empire, particularly Germany. The spread of disorder during the Reformation emboldened the German princes to seek autonomy for their states. The peasants took advantage of the turmoil in 1524 and revolted. In 1530, shortly after his coronation, Charles convoked a diet in Augsburg to discuss the religious problem. The Protestant princes stated their creed in the Augsburg Confession, which was unacceptable to Charles. Negotiations thereafter failed, and in 1531 the princes formed the Schmalkaldic League. The domestic unrest and the continued war with the Turks forced the emperor to postpone his suppression of the Protestants and to grant them some liberties in 1532 in the Peace of Nuremberg.
In 1536 Charles was again at war with France. The war was terminated by the Treaty of Nice in 1538, granting Francis most of the Piedmont (Piemonte) region of Italy. The war was resumed in 1542 and ended in 1544 by the Treaty of Crépy, which largely reaffirmed the earlier Peace of Cambrai. Charles, no longer fighting the French or Turks, turned his attention to the princes and the city-states of the Schmalkaldic League. In 1546 the emperor moved against the southern German principalities, and at Mühlberg, Saxony (Sachsen), on April 24, 1547, he scored a decisive victory against the Protestants. His success was temporary; in 1551 Magdeburg, a great stronghold of Protestantism, fell to Maurice, duke of Saxony, but Maurice, who had previously supported the emperor, suddenly deserted Charles, allying himself with King Henry II of France. Charles fled before the Protestants. In 1552, through his brother Ferdinand, he concluded the Peace of Passau, by which the Lutheran states were allowed the exercise of their religion. In 1555 the settlement was reaffirmed in the Peace of Augsburg. Meanwhile, in 1552, Henry II had seized the bishoprics of Toul, Metz, and Verdun, and an attempt by the emperor to reconquer Metz failed.
Weary of the constant struggles and heavy responsibilities of his scattered realms, Charles in 1555 resigned the Netherlands and, in 1556, Spain, to his son Philip II. In 1556 Charles announced his intention to abdicate the imperial crown in favor of his brother, Ferdinand I, who officially became emperor in 1558. Charles retired that year to the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste in Extremadura, Spain, where he died on September 21, 1558.
Ferdinand I (1503-1564)
Ferdinand I (Holy Roman Empire), Holy Roman emperor (1558-64), king of Bohemia (1526-64), and king of Germany (1531-64). The son of Philip I, king of Castile, and Joanna the Mad, queen of Castile, he was born on March 10, 1503, at Alcalá de Henares, Spain. In 1521, he became governor of the duchy of Württemberg and of the Habsburg hereditary lands, where he sought to check the spread of the Reformation. When his brother-in-law, King Louis II of Hungary, died in 1526, Ferdinand claimed through his wife the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary. He was crowned king by the Bohemians early in 1527. Although crowned almost simultaneously in Hungary, he was rejected there by the nobles, who were led by John I Zápolya and supported by the Turks. A long series of indecisive wars ensued against the Ottoman Turks and the forces of John I and his son, John II. A truce finally concluded in 1562 gave Ferdinand sovereignty over a small part of Hungary, for which he was obliged to pay tribute to the Turks.
Meanwhile, in 1531, Ferdinand had been elected king of Germany as a reward for his loyalty to his brother, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Good relations between the brothers, however, did not continue because Charles reserved the imperial crown for his son Philip, later King Philip II of Spain, instead of for Ferdinand. Friendly feeling was restored in 1555, largely because Ferdinand successfully arranged the Treaty of Passau in 1552 and the peace of Augsburg in 1555. On Charles's abdication in 1556 of the Spanish crown, Philip was made king of Spain, while Ferdinand assumed the duties of emperor; he was not crowned, however, until after Charles's formal abdication as emperor in 1558. Subsequently Ferdinand attempted to effect a reunion of Roman Catholics and Protestants but failed because he insisted that bishops retain their secular authority. He died on July 25, 1564, in Vienna.
The Peasants' War (1524-1526)
The Peasants' War was a German revolt in which the peasantry and the lower classes of the towns rose up against their feudal overlords. It was caused by the growing economic, religious, and judicial oppression to which the lower classes of Germany were subjected by the nobles and clergy. Fighting between peasants and retainers of the nobles broke out in 1524 in Stuhlingen, near what is now the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen, and the insurrection rapidly spread over much of central, western, and southern Germany except Bavaria; it also was strong in Austria. The peasants' demands included the right to choose their own ministers, the abolition of serfdom, the right to fish and kill wild game, the abolition of many kinds of feudal dues, and the guarantee of fair treatment in courts presided over by the feudal nobles. The revolt was particularly violent in Thüringen, where it was made a religious issue by the sect of Anabaptists, headed by the German religious leader Thomas Münzer. Münzer was successful in overthrowing the feudal regime and in maintaining for a time a community of peasants in which all property was commonly owned; in 1525, however, he was defeated decisively and executed. By the end of 1525, after both sides had committed atrocities and thousands were killed, the nobles in the Swabian League succeeded in putting down the rebellion everywhere in Germany; the revolt continued into the following year in Austria. The peasants of Germany won no concessions by their revolt; in Austria the nobles abolished a few of the evils that brought it about. Paradoxically, the opposition of Martin Luther, whose principles were adopted by the dissatisfied peasants and lent inspiration to the revolt, contributed to the defeat of the peasants. Luther, sympathetic with their aspirations, was adamantly against their armed revolt.
Rudolf II (1552-1612)
Rudolf II, Holy Roman emperor (1576-1612), king of Hungary (1572-1608), and king of Bohemia (1575-1611), born in Vienna, the son and successor of Emperor Maximilian II. Rudolf's ability to rule was impaired by frequent fits of insanity and by a passionate interest in science, to which he devoted most of his time. He was the patron of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and the German astronomer Johannes Kepler. His sanction of religious persecution aroused bitter discontent, and in 1604 an insurrection broke out in Hungary. By 1608 Rudolf's brother Matthias had assumed control of both Hungary and Bohemia, and in 1609 Rudolf was compelled to grant a charter of religious liberties to the Bohemians.
Ferdinand II (1578-1637)
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman emperor (1619-1637), king of Bohemia (1617-1619), and king of Hungary (1621-1625). He was born in Graz, Austria, the grandson of Emperor Ferdinand I, and was educated by Jesuits, from whom he acquired a deep antipathy toward Protestantism. In 1618, in protest against Ferdinand's efforts to restore Catholicism, Bohemian rebels threw two of Ferdinand's ministers out of a window. This incident, known as the Defenestration of Prague, was the immediate cause of the Thirty Years' War. The Bohemians replaced Ferdinand with Frederick V, elector of the Rhenish Palatinate. Ferdinand, as a Habsburg, became Holy Roman emperor in 1619 and, allied with Bavaria and the Catholic League, defeated the Bohemians at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. He deposed Frederick and sent him into exile. Ferdinand was waging war simultaneously against a force of Hungarian Protestants led by Gabriel Bethlen. Following his victory Ferdinand negotiated with Bethlen and secured the title of king of Hungary. The imperial forces, commanded by the count of Tilly and Albrecht von Wallenstein, were successful in the war against the Protestant forces in Germany in 1625.
By 1627 Ferdinand had outlawed all religions but Roman Catholicism and had banished the Protestant laity and clergy from Bohemia. In 1629 the Edict of Restitution empowered the Roman Catholic church to recover all property seized by Protestants since the Treaty of Passau had imposed a religious settlement on Germany in 1552. The edict, however, alienated some of Ferdinand's allies, and this, together with the assumption of Protestant King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden and the assassination of Wallenstein, weakened the imperial authority. Although his armies won the Battle of Nördlingen in 1634, Ferdinand was unable to carry out his plan to repress Protestantism throughout the empire. The termination of the Thirty Years' War was left to his son Ferdinand III.
(1618 to 1648)
Although primarily a war between German peoples, the Thirty Years War and its outcome was of great importance for the history of Europe because it came to involve nearly all of the countries of Western Europe, and it effected the other great European wars occuring during that same era. The primary cause of the Thirty Years' War was the internal decay of the empire beginning in 1555. This decay could be seen in the weakness of the imperial power, in the gross lack of patriotism manifested by the various estates of the empire, and in the paralysis of the imperial authority and its agencies among the Protestant estates of Southwestern Germany, which had been in a state of discontent since 1555. As a result of this internal decay, Germany was in a continual state of unrest during this period. This decay of the empire actually served to encourage the other nations of Western Europe to infringe upon its territory. Spain and the Netherlands made use of the period of the twelve-years truce to secure a footing in the neighbouring district of the Lower Rhine so as to increase their strategic base. For nearly a hundred years, France had made treaties with many of the estates hostile to the emperor. Henry IV of France was murdered in 1610 at the very moment he was about to interfere in the war over the Jülich-Cleve succession. James I of England was the father-in-law of the head of the Protestant party of action in Germany, Elector Frederick V of the Palatinate, and was inclined to take part in a continental quarrel. Denmark sought obstinately to obtain the power of "administration" over the dioceses of Northern Germany that had become Protestant, and to get control of the mouth of the Elbe. Gustavus Adolphus (1611-32), of Sweden, also showed a strong desire to interfere in German affairs. At the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, all these countries, it is true, were prevented from taking part in it by internal difficulties or by wars in other directions. Still the disposition to do so existed everywhere.
Another cause of the Thirty Years' War was that the countries forming the Austrian provinces belonged to the empire. The empire, owing to the geographical position of these countries, became involved in the contemporary affairs in Eastern Europe. The general aristocratic reaction that appeared throughout Europe at the end of the fifteenth and in the sixteenth centuries gradually became so powerful in the eastern and northern countries that a life-and-death struggle between its representatives and the sovereign power broke out at the beginning of the seventeenth century in the more active districts of these sections. These causes gave the first impulse to the Thirty Years War. Moreover, the dynasty ruling the countries forming Austria was a branch of the Habsburg family, whose most distinguished line at that era ruled Spain. From the reign of Philip II (1556-98), the Spanish Habsburgs were the champions of Catholicism in Western Europe and the chief rivals of France in the struggle for supremacy in Europe. Beginning in 1612, especially during the administration of Philip IV (1621-65) and his distinguished minister Olivarez, they displayed increased energy and tried to induce the German Habsburgs to support their plans. The empire was all the more affected by this Spanish policy because the head of the German Habsburgs was Emperor of Germany.
A further important cause of the Thirty Years' War was the religious sectarianism which, after diminishing for a short time, grew more intense early in the 17th century. In the Catholic movement (about 1592), which followed the Council of Trent, only Catholic theologians and a few princes had taken part. The second movement, however, carried with it the masses of the clergy and laity, and was marked by an ardent spirit of faith and a passionate demand for the spread of Catholicism. If among Protestants the idealistic enthusiasm was perhaps not so great, still their partisan feeling was equally violent and their combativeness no less ardent. After the war began, it soon became manifest that social and economic reasons made Germany a favourable soil for its growth. Economic life in Germany had, for a long time, flourished greatly. From the second half of the 16th century, however, economic conditions had grown stagnant. Consequently there existed a large number who were glad to have the opportunity of supporting themselves as paid soldiers and of enriching themselves by plunder. Moreover, the nobles who were numerous in proportion to the rest of the population took advantage of the opportunity to indulge their private feuds and robberies. As only a small number of them were attracted by foreign wars, they were ready, therefore, for internal disorders. Soon there appeared leaders of ability who gathered both nobles and burghers under their banners and retained them in their service by indulging their evil instincts. The people of Germany, who had been long unaccustomed to war and were not trained to bear public burdens, chafed under the hardships now imposed upon them. This discontent, combined with the ease with which troops were equipped, aided in prolonging the war.
The Struggle of the Nobility Against the Empire
At the beginning of the 17th century, the regions ruled by the German Habsburgs included Upper and Lower Austria, Bohemia together with Moravia and Silesia, the lesser part of Hungary which had not been conquered by the Turks, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Tirol, and the provinces bordering on Germany. This territory, however, was divided among three branches of the family: the main line, the Styrian line, and the Tirol-Vorarlberg line. Although the main line of the German Habsburgs held by far the larger area of these landed possessions, its territories did not form a compact whole. These loosely connected countries, each having its own provincial estates, were largely composed of nobles and maintained an incessant opposition to the dynasty. This opposition led to a desire for religious freedom - i.e., the right to become Protestant and tto introduce Protestantism into their domains.
The struggle of the nobility against the dynasty reached its height during the last decade of the reign of Rudolph II (1576-1612). Even at that time, the nobility maintained relations with the active Protestant party in the empire. In 1604, the Hungarian nobles revolted with the aid of the ruler of Transylvania, and in 1607, they rebelled again and became the allies of the Turks. On June 25, 1608, Rudolph was obliged to transfer the government of Hungary, Austria, and Moravia to his more compliant brother Matthias. He did not, however, give up his rights as King of Bohemia, and in 1609, he was able to pacify an outbreak of the Bohemian nobility only by granting the Imperial Charter which gave religious liberty not only to the nobles and their dependents in Bohemia but also to those living on the crown lands. This concession greatly strengthened the power of the nobles.
After the death of Rudolph II, Cardinal Klesl sought, as the councillor of Matthias (1612-19), to avoid any new crisis, in an effort to gain time to reorganize the resources of the ruling dynasty. Matthias, like Rudolph, had no son and the royal family chose as his successor Ferdinand, the head of the Styrian branch of the Habsburgs, who had restored Catholicism in Styria. In 1617, the dynasty persuaded the Bohemians to accept Ferdinand as their future king, and in 1618, they prevailed upon the Hungarians to elect him king. Before this, in May 1618, the Bohemian nobles had revolted again under the leadership of Count von Thurn on account of the alleged infringement of the charter granted by Rudolph. The dynasty, however, was not yet ready for war. When Matthias died in March 1619, the Hungarians and the inhabitants of Moravia joined the revolt, and in June, Thurn advanced on Vienna with an army to persuade the Austrians also to join. The determined attitude of Ferdinand, however, prevented the insurrection and Thurn withdrew. Ferdinand was now able to go to Frankfort, where his election as emperor on August 28, 1619 secured the imperial dignity for his family. Two days prior, the Bohemians had elected the leader of the Protestants, Frederick of the Palatinate, as rival King of Bohemia.
The inhabitants of Lower Austria now joined the revolt. Bethlen Gabor, Prince of Transylvania, made an alliance with its leaders, and in conjunction with them once more threatened Vienna at the close of 1619. Thereafter, discipline steadily declined in the Bohemian army, and the leaders disagreed with one another. The expected aid was never received from the Protestant party, with the exception of a few of the less important nobles of the empire who joined the insurrectionary forces. In October 1619, Ferdinand obtained the help of Maximilian of Bavaria, who had the largest army in the empire. He also received help from the Protestant Elector of Saxony. Spain and Poland also sent troops. Maximilian so greatly terrified the Protestant party, which had formed the Union since 1608, that it was broken up. He then advanced into Bohemia supported by Austrian troops and decisively defeated the Bohemians in the battle of the White Mountain, near Prague. The Elector Frederick, called the "Winter King" (because of the brief duration of his rule), fled Bohemia. Ferdinand took possession of his provinces and restored order there. The war with Transylvania, however, was carried on with interruptions until 1626.
The emperor placed Frederick, the Elector Palatine, under the ban of the empire on January 22, 1621 - the latter refusing to beg for pardon. Reconciliation was made more difficult by the demand of Maximilian of Bavaria for that part of the Palatine lands called the Upper Palatinate, which he wanted as recompense for the expenses of the war. He also desired, in accordance with a traditional claim of the Bavarian ruling family, the electoral dignity belonging to the Palatinate. On February 21-25, 1623, the emperor gave him this with some hesitation and under certain conditions. Maximilian gained for himself the desired land by transplanting the war to the territory of the Palatinate. Spanish troops had established themselves in these districts as early as 1620, and aimed at retaining possession of the Palatinate for the purpose of establishing communication between the Italian possessions of Spain and its territories in Burgundy and the Netherlands. In carrying out this scheme, the Spaniards in the same year (1620) had seized the Valtellina and the territory of the Rhætian League. Prior to this, when Ferdinand became the head of the German-Habsburg dynasty in 1617, Spain had expressed its desires for the reversion of the Austrian possessions in Alsace.
At this point, none of the victors desired to continue the war. The emperor was fully occupied with the restoration of his power in his hereditary possessions and with the war against Transylvania. The Spaniards had only a small military force, as was shown by the spiritless manner in which they recommenced war with the Netherlands in 1621. Maximilian, it is true, desired to obtain possession of his conquests, but he had no confidence in the Spaniards, and found it very difficult to bear the burdens of war, as he received no outside aid of importance. The Count Palatine received no active help, either from the Protestant estates of the empire or from abroad. By the beginning of 1622, however, several adventurous partisans of his - Ernest of Mansfeld, Christian of Brunswick (called "mad Christian"), and Margrave George Frederick of Baden - collected 50,000 mercenaries, an army of unusual size for that era. This force was intended to oppose the army of Maximilian and the Spaniards, and as quickly as its numbers decreased they were recruited afresh.
The Bavarian commander-in-chief Tilly defeated this force when it attempted to prevent his army and the Spaniards from occupying the fortified towns of the Electoral Palatinate. After an undecisive engagement at Wiesloch on April 27, 1622, he caused the complete defeat of the army of the margrave at Baden at Wimpfen on May 6, 1622. This was followed by a severe defeat of Christian at Höchst on June 20, 1622. After this, however, the Netherlands, the foe of Spain, allowed the still unconquered Mansfeld to enter their territory. From here, he advanced into East Frisia in 1623. The plan was that Christian should come to his support with a new army. Tilly, however, pursued Christian and completely defeated him on August 6, 1623, at Stadtlohn in Westphalia. Unfortunately, he was unable at that moment to attack Mansfeld. Under these circumstances, Tilly was obliged to remain in northwestern Germany. The estates of this territory had taken no part in the war, and soon a violent discontent emerged among the people, as a result of the quartering of the soldiers and the forced contributions demanded of them.
A denominational movement now also gradually made itself felt. In 1623 for the first time a Catholic was elected bishop in the Diocese of Osnabrück. As a result, the estates of Lower Saxony demanded the emperor's guarantee for the security of their lands which had formerly belonged to the Church. The emperor, however, was willing only to promise security against force, not against a judgment of dispossession. In 1624, Maximilian began to make the Upper Palatinate Catholic once more. In Swabia, the Catholic estates sought to regain the many ecclesiastical foundations that had been acquired by the Protestants. A large number of suits concerning ecclesiastical property were still in litigation before the courts of the empire. There developed on the one side the desire, and on the other the dread, that all the changes in the entire empire made by the Protestants contrary to the Religious Peace of Augsburg might be done away with. Foreign countries began to give increasing attention to the war. France sought especially to separate Maximilian from the emperor; the Netherlands granted subsidies; in 1624 a French embassy intrigued against the Habsburg dynasty at the German and northern Courts; England and Holland negotiated both with King Christian IV of Denmark and with Gustavus Adolphus to induce these rulers to take part in the war. Christian, who belonged to the estates of the empire as Count of Holstein, was elected commander of their forces by the oppressed and aroused estates of the lower Saxon circle, and on December 9, 1625, he came to an agreement with England and Holland and marched into the empire.
Thus the enemies of the emperor and the Duke of Bavaria became so powerful that the emperor could no longer leave the burdens or the direction of the war to a single prince of the empire - even to a prince as able as Maximilian. The struggle now threatened to engage all of Europe. Wallenstein, a Bohemian noble, and the ablest of all the leaders of mercenaries, offered to collect and maintain in the same way as the enemy a force larger and better equipped than that of the Protestants. Acceptng Wallenstein's offer, Ferdinand appointed him general on April 7, 1625. For some unknown reason, Wallenstein and Tilly did not come to an understanding. In 1626, Wallenstein took up a position on the Elbe. Mansfeld planned to surround him and establish communication with the Prince of Transylvania, but Wallenstein defeated him on April 25 at the bridge over the Elbe at Dessau. Mansfeld, however, was able to march to Transylvania, where he found that Bethlen Gabor had decided to make peace. Shortly after his arrival, he died of fever. Wallenstein increased his army to 70,000 men and in the summer of 1627, he defeated Mansfeld's troops, now without a leader, at Kosel in Silesia on July 9th. Tilly had defeated the Danish King Christian on August 27, 1626, in a hotly-contested battle at Lutter on the Barenberg. During the winter, Christian equipped and assembled a new army, but Tilly drove him from the lower Weser and Elbe, but did not take Stade.
The Edict of Restitutution
The success of the imperial and Bavarian armies in Northern Germany enabled the Catholics to reclaim the lands of the Church. In 1626 the energetic Francis William of Wartenberg, a relative of Maximilian, became Bishop of Osnabrück. He sought to be made bishop also of the dioceses of Minden and Verden, which had become Protestant. In 1627 the Austrian Archduke Leopold William became Bishop of Halberstadt; in the early part of 1628 he was defeated by a prince of Saxony in his attempt to secure the Archdiocese of Magdeburg, but in the summer of 1628 he obtained the right of succession to the Archdiocese of Bremen. In Southern Germany Maximilian undertook in 1627 to make the Electoral Palatinate Catholic again. Catholic demands were now sent to the emperor from all sides. In accordance with the Habsburg method of administration and with the emperor's own way of thinking, these demands were all turned over in September, 1628, to the Aulic Council for judicial investigation. Following this, Ferdinand issued in March, 1629, the Edict of Restitution. In its first part the edict settled the meaning of the disputed ordinances of the Religious Peace; it then ordered that all legal suits arising from the Religious Peace which were pending before the imperial courts were to be settled summarily in accordance with the edict. It further appointed three commissions which were to determine and correct the infringements of the Religious Peace in all parts of the empire. The Guelphs in Northern Germany were obliged to surrender what they had taken of the Diocese of Hildesheim in 1523 with the exception of a small part; in March, 1630, imperial commissioners took possession of Magdeburg, and in May and July, 1630, Francis William of Wartenberg established himself at Verden and Minden. In Southern Germany Würtemberg, in particular, was forced to make restitution.
In the beginning of the trouble, at the period of the Bohemian revolt the more powerful of the Protestant estates had held to the emperor. The transfer of the electorate to Maximilian, however, had made Saxony and Brandenburg indignant because it put an end to the parity of religions in the Electoral College. To keep Brandenburg from joining the other side Wallenstein devastated it between 1626 and 1627. The Edict of Restitution, however, alienated all the Protestant rulers and nobles from the emperor. From desire of peace and from lack of strength they took no steps against him. It was not until the Catholic estates also became estranged from the emperor that a crisis arose in the internal affairs of the empire which largely influenced the continuance of the war.
Wallenstein's method of recruiting and maintaining his army required the establishment of extremely large divisions of the army. Following a custom introduced by Ferdinand in Austria, he assigned to each of these divisions a definite district for the collection of recruits and supplies. At first these districts were in the domains of the rulers and nobles hostile to the emperor; gradually, however, the territories of the spiritual princes who had been united by Maximilian in the League were thus assigned and finally, in May, 1628, the domains of the Elector of Saxony who had, in other respects, been protected by the Habsburgs. The estates resisted, appealing to the Law of the Imperial Diet of 1570, and complaining that their countries were used as recruiting depots without their consent. They protested against the extraordinary amount of the enforced contributions, their long duration, and against the amount of plunder. They emphasized these complaints by threats to take the law in their own hands. They watched the emperor with suspicion when, after he had placed (1621) the Elector Palatine under the ban of the empire without the consent of the Electors, he revived other imperial privileges that had fallen into disuse. Thus he declared the estates of Lower Saxony, which had taken part in the Danish war against his orders, guilty of treason punishable by the loss of their territories. The estates knew instinctively that their territorial sovereignty, which had existed as a fact from 1555, depended solely on the passivity of the empire in foreign affairs, and that they would have to be more submissive to the emperor's authority should the civil war develop into a European one, as appeared more likely from year to year. This thought troubled them greatly. Their horizon was narrow; they were ignorant of European politics. They said that under Wallenstein's influence Ferdinand would make the imperial power absolute, and that German liberty, that is their freedom as princes, was endangered. The fact that Wallenstein's army was composed of Catholics and Protestants alike, and that he appointed as general so zealous a Lutheran as Hans Georg von Arnim, impressed the Catholic estates with the idea that their community of interests with the emperor had become weaker, and induced them through self-interest to unite with the Protestant estates in opposition to the emperor. Maximilian in particular was anxious and discontented. An Italian Capuchin, Valerio Magni, irritated him by reports about Wallenstein and the intentions of the emperor, while Wallenstein fanned the flame by his harsh treatment of the Bavarian Elector, by his constant demands for greater military authority from the emperor, and by securing his own appointment as prince of the empire (April, 1628).
The first clear symptoms of the tension between the emperor and the estates of the empire were: the meeting of the League at Würzburg in January, 1627; the session of the Electors at Mülhausen in October-November, 1627; and the meeting of the Catholic Electors at Bingen in June, 1628. The assembly at Mülhausen already demanded a change in the military organization and the dismissal of Wallenstein. At first Ferdinand sought to reduce the tension by working upon Maximilian; in the Treaty of Munich, 1628, he guaranteed to him the Electoral dignity and the possession both of the Upper Electoral Palatinate and of that on the right bank of the Rhine for thirty years. In the course of 1628, however, the emperor s markedly advantageous position over the estates was seriously injured by his desire, after completing the reorganization of his Austrian territories to secure the continuance of the imperial crown in his family by the election of his son as King of the Romans. This desire made him dependent on the good will of the Electors. In the spring of 1628 he forced Wallenstein to reduce the size of his army a little, and in the autumn of the same year to make a much larger reduction. Encouraged thereby the Electors refused to accede to the emperor's wish for the convocation of the Electoral College, and wanted to defer it until the end of the war. The Edict of Restitution also deferred the meeting, but only for a short time. At Ferdinand's demand the Elector of Mainz finally convoked the college for June, 1630. Before it met the emperor again forced Wallenstein to dismiss a large part of his troops. The meeting of the Electors, which was held at Ratisbon from 3 July till 12 November, 1630, the two Protestant Electors not attending, took place under entirely changed political and military conditions.
A European Conflict
About 1625 the Spanish Habsburgs began to develop an energetic policy, as they had done in the sixteenth century. They believed a great opportunity had come to give Protestantism a crushing blow; they even hoped for the aid of France, although this hope proved vain. The Spanish troops were sent first against the Netherlands; in 1626 Spinola took the important fortress of Breda. In the meantime Austria and Bavaria were to aid Spain by cutting off the Netherlands from its main source of commercial revenue, the Baltic. In this way the Spaniards thought to use against the Dutch the same means which the latter had employed against them when they strove to cut off the Spanish fleets carrying to Spain the product of the silver mines of America. At first Ferdinand hesitated and Maximilian still more. However, it was agreed at the Brussels conference of 1626 to blockade the coast of the North Sea and at least one port on the Baltic. Austria soon found that it could further its own interests in this enterprise. Ferdinand planned to gain a free water-route to the sea for his products by treaties with the countries on the banks of the Elbe and Oder, and by treaties with the large Dutch commercial cities to obtain a good outlet for his exports, especially in sending Hungarian copper to Spain. In 1627 the Dukes of Mecklenburg were deprived of their possessions for aiding the King of Denmark, and Wismar was confiscated as a good port on the Baltic. In pursuance of the scheme the Spaniards were now to appear with a fleet in the Baltic so as to enable Wallenstein to gain the supremacy at sea. During this period, however, Spain's performances on sea were a disappointment, and on this occasion, also, no fleet appeared. Upon this the Hanseatic towns, whose aid in carrying out the plan had been counted on from the first, were intimidated by Denmark from sending ships. Wallenstein attempted to build a fleet himself, but only a small flotilla, capable of inflicting occasional surprises under Gabriel Leroy, came into existence. The last hope of aid from Spain vanished when the Spanish fleet carrying silver was destroyed in the autumn of 1628. The defects of Wallenstein's method of carrying on war appeared at the same time in consequence of the peculiar character of the problems he was to solve. He did not dare to use his army for difficult sieges or sudden attacks; where he was forced to do so his projects failed. He left the strongly fortified city of Magdeburg, which controlled the passage over the Elbe, untaken in his rear. He wished to take by storm in May, 1628, the city of Stralsund, which formed the connexion between the German Baltic coast and Sweden, but he gave up this plan, and besieged it from the land side. He could not force the city to surrender, however, as Danish and Swedish troops came to its aid. His victory in August, 1628, over a Danish army of relief at Wolgast did not change the result. Denmark, it is true, signed the Peace of Lubeck, 22 May, 1629, on condition that all conquered territories should be restored. But this brought Gustavus Adolphus on the scene of war.
In the autumn of 1629, Gustavus Adolphus declared before the Swedish Diet that the emperor wanted to conquer Sweden and the Baltic, and that he should be prevented from doing so, but that if Sweden were victorious on German soil the German states would become the booty of Sweden. Up to this time, notwithstanding many offered inducements, the king had limited himself to wars with weaker opponents. He had, however, always carried on war, not only from love of it, but also from the necessity of supporting his army in foreign countries, as Sweden being a poor country, could not otherwise maintain it. In the meantime the king neglected nothing to increase the prosperity of Sweden. Just then he hoped to secure the wealth of the north German cities and princes. But now, the politico-commercial plans of the emperor threatened to put an end to Sweden's trade in copper, its one valuable natural source of wealth, while Wallenstein's troops threatened to expel the Swedish forces from the country beyond the Baltic, from the revenues of which, especially the customs, it largely drew its pecuniary means. Self-defence as well as the spirit of adventure forced the king to put some check upon the emperor. Nevertheless, he hesitated until the summer of 1630, when on 6 June he landed on the German coast of Pomerania. Except for a few persons of importance Gustavus was not welcomed, even by the Protestants, and was obliged to make his way in Pomerania by force of arms. In a short time his money was entirely gone, and he debated for months whether he might venture inland. Wallenstein could perhaps have crushed him, but instead, he left the way open to him, for, through resentment at the emperor's command in the spring of 1630 to reduce the number of his troops he had disbanded the greater part of the imperial forces in the districts now entered by Gustavus, and had allowed other detachments to be sent to fight in the Netherlands and Italy. The year previous Tilly had vainly begged Maximilian's permission to attack the Netherlanders at the right moment in their own country, giving as his reason that the money of the Dutch was constantly used to renew the opposition to the Bavarian troops. Maximilian, however, had not the courage to enter into open conflict with a foreign foe. Thus the Dutch stadtholder, Frederick Henry, in 1629, after the great Spanish general Spinola had been recalled, was able to besiege Bois-le-Duc, and thus give the first great rebuff to Spain. It was not Tilly who now hastened to the aid of the Spaniards; an imperial force, detached from Wallenstein's army, was sent. But when the Dutch seized the fortification of Wesel and thus endangered the retreat of the imperial troops, a part of the imperial force fell back. Bois-le-Duc surrendered on 14 September, and the Dutch were able to take the offensive.
In France Richelieu had, from 1624 to 1628, re-established the internal authority of the government to such an extent that after twenty years of cautious foreign policy more positive measures could be adopted. This change was first of all made evident to the Habsburgs in Lorraine. Duke Charles of Lorraine (from 1624), a vassal of the emperor, laid claim as heir to the Duchy of Barr in Alsace; but Richelieu disputed his rights and harassed the secular authority of the Bishop of Verdun so that the latter took refuge in the empire. In 1627 the male line of the Dukes of Mantua-Montferrat in upper Italy became extinct. The next heir was the Duke of Nevers, a relative of the Bourbons. He took possession at once of Mantua, and hoped to secure Montferrat also by the marriage of his son with the daughter of his predecessor, for the succession to Montferrat was in the female line. Montferrat, though, lay far below Mantua in the western part of upper Italy. Consequently Spain and Savoy were able to seize the district for themselves before the Duke of Nevers could enter it. Spain wished to maintain controlling influence in upper Italy, which it had acquired during the reign of Charles V. France on the other hand, now saw Savoy, which had become dependent on it, suddenly taking sides with Spain. Spain asked for the decision of the emperor, who was suzerain of Mantua. Ferdinand interfered in the quarrel, not only because his dynasty had always considered the imperial rights in Italy of much value, but also because he had constantly, from the time he ruled Styria, been opposed to Venice, which he believed might become dangerous. Still, neither he nor Spain carried on the negotiations rapidly nor with insistence, as their attention was claimed in other directions. Thus Richelieu had time to punish Savoy (1628-29). After this Ferdinand's troops besieged Mantua and the Spaniards under Spinola besieged Casale. Richelieu did not yet consider France strong enough to oppose the Habsburgs directly. When Mantua was taken and Casale's position became very precarious, Richelieu proposed a truce; this was signed at Rialto on 4 September, 1630. Then Richelieu sent his most adroit negotiator, Père Joseph, to Ratisbon, where the electors were still in session. He hoped to withdraw France from the struggle but to raise up enemies enough against Austria elsewhere.
On 17 June 1630, Richelieu made a treaty with the Netherlands by which he gave them a subsidy for the continuance of the war against Spain. By means of the truce, which was brought about by France, between Gustavus Adolphus and Poland at Altmark in September, 1629, Gustavus was at liberty to take part in the war within the empire. Nevertheless, he hesitated to assume responsibilities which would permit France to interfere with his management of the war. From March, 1629, negotiations had been actively carried on by Richelieu with the imperial estates but so far to little purpose. His aim was to separate them from the emperor by bringing them into a neutral confederation under his guidance. By representing that the friendship of France, an essentially peaceful country, would protect them against the pretensions of the warlike emperor, and that their alliance with France would guarantee their "German liberties" against Austria, he hoped to separate them from the emperor in a neutral confederacy. However, Maximilian was not slow to make the counter-proposal that France should form an alliance only with the Catholic estates, abandoning all the agreements made so far with the Protestants. In this way it would be possible to isolate the Habsburgs and yet complete the Catholic restoration in western Europe. The basis of these negotiations from October, 1629, was the draft of a treaty between France and Bavaria. Richelieu transferred the negotiations with the emperor to the place where the College of Electors was in session, because he hoped here to come to a settlement with the estates. Success in these undertakings, however, was made difficult for Richelieu by the landing of Gustavus Adolphus on German soil in June. When the emperor announced (13 August, 1630) Wallenstein's resignation to the Electors, they declared themselves ready to aid him against Gustavus on condition that both the imperial troops and those of the different estates should be united under Maximilian as commander-in-chief. Ferdinand used the friendliness of the Electors to exert pressure upon the French negotiator. Although the latter was only to come to an agreement regarding upper Italy, still Ferdinand made him promise in the Peace of Ratisbon (13 October) that when the Duke of Nevers received Mantua and Montferrat in fief, France would neither attack the empire itself nor aid others in any manner to attack it, and that the Duke of Lorraine should be included in this agreement. This imperial success, however, came to nothing, because the estates and the emperor did not reach an agreement. The Protestant Electors, instead, invited the Protestant estates to meet at Leipzig and form a neutral party (Assembly of the Princes at Leipzig, February-April, 1631). The Catholics came to an agreement with the emperor that the imperial troops should be under the command of Tilly, but Maximilian had made up his mind that Tilly should only be employed to protect Bavaria against a possible attack by Gustavus Adolphus. He insisted, therefore, that the imperial troops and his own should not be united into one army. This enabled Richelieu, whose overthrow seemed certain in November, 1630, to avoid confirming the Peace of Ratisbon, and, contrary to agreement, to make the treaty of Bärwalde (23 January, 1631) with Gustavus Adolphus. In this treaty Gustavus, whom the need of money had finally made compliant, pledged himself to carry on war against the emperor for four years.
Austria Against Sweden
After Wallenstein's deposition Gustavus was able to clear the entire lower course of the Elbe of the imperial troops, which were disbanding and had no commander. His farther advance would take him through the territories of the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony, and these princes refused to let him pass. Tilly thus gained time to assume command on the Elbe and Oder, and immediately attempted (February, 1631) to force Gustavus to a battle; but the latter was not to be drawn into one. During this period, in which no decisive action took place, Tilly's position became critical, because, as had happened at Stralsund, a Swedish detachment under Dietrich von Falkenberg had thrown itself into Magdeburg, in September, 1630, and, supported by the citizens, refused to permit the imperial troops to enter. Magdeburg was the city which Wallenstein had so carefully avoided. Tilly determined to take it, and stormed it on 20 May, 1631. But a fire, which the Swedes are accused of starting when they saw that the city was lost, laid it in ashes, and took from Tilly the advantage he had gained. In the meantime Gustavus had taken advantage of the withdrawal of his opponents towards Magdeburg to seize the fortresses of Frankfort and Landsberg on the middle course of the Oder, and to wring from the Elector of Brandenburg Küstrin and the fortress of Spandau at the junction of the Spree and the Havel Rivers. Fearing that the Elector of Saxony would also yield to Gustavus, Tilly tried to terrify the wavering ruler; this, however, forced the latter under the influence of the Lutheran general, von Arnim, who had formerly been an officer of Wallenstein's, and forming a temporary alliance with Sweden, on 17 September, 1631, the combined troops of Saxony and Sweden destroyed Tilly's army at Breitenfeld, near Leipzig. The victory had a great moral effect, but did not decide the war. In northwestern Germany Pappenheim had an excellent position which enabled him to control the line of the Weser for the emperor, and the emperor and Bavaria had sufficient means to raise new troops. The strength of Gustavus Adolphus was always much below that of his enemies. Conscious of this, he felt the necessity of entering rich districts which he could use for the support and strengthening of his troops; in addition he wished to come into communication with the Protestant estates of southwestern Germany that were favourable to him, and perhaps hoped when there to persuade France to undertake a common war against the emperor. These views probably influenced his military decisions after the battle of Breitenfeld. He left the Saxons to occupy the Austrians by an attack on Prague, and without moving against Pappenheim he went straight towards the dioceses on the Main and the middle course of the Rhine in order first to defeat them, and then their chief, Maximilian, before striking a decisive blow against the emperor. While living in the centre of the empire during the winter of 1631-32 he prepared his plans to secure absolute Swedish control over the Protestant estates and to secularize the dioceses that had remained Catholic. He also carried out his schemes for using German money to increase the prosperity of Sweden.
Maximilian's fear of Sweden constantly increased, and in May, 1631, he made his first treaty with France It was however, very hard for him to assume a neutral position towards the Protestant princes who opposed the emperor and the empire. Gustavus Adolphus on his part was not inclined to spare the champion of Catholicism in the empire for the sake of Richelieu. Finally, Maximilian so completely lost courage that negotiations for a truce were begun in December, 1631, and the truce was concluded in January, 1632. For the emperor, this was the most dangerous moment of the war. The Saxons had taken Prague. Richelieu continued to be hostile although the emperor had agreed to the Treaty of Cherasco (April, 1631), in which he waived the recognition by the Duke of Nevers of his suzerainty over Mantua; this treaty replaced that of Ratisbon. Contrary to the agreement made at Cherasco, Richelieu did not withdraw his troops from Piedmont, but, through the treachery of Pignerolo, retained it. He made the flight to Lorraine of Gaston of Orléans, who lived in discord with his brother Louis XIII, a pretext to carry the war into Lorraine and there to seize one fortress after another. In this way his troops were kept near the seat of war, between the Germans and Dutch. In January, 1632, Gustavus Adolphus urged that Richelieu should take Hagenau and Zabern in Alsace from the Habsburgs. Richelieu hesitated, and Père Joseph persuaded him for religious reasons to reject the proposal. During all these months the emperor had had no commander to whom he could entrust the direction of his forces. His son, Ferdinand III, was still too young, so from necessity he turned again to Wallenstein. The latter kept him in suspense and only consented when granted powers so great as to raise suspicion against himself. The contract was made on 13 April, 1632, although Wallenstein actually assumed command several weeks earlier. Gustavus reopened the campaign in February, 1632, and began the siege of Bamberg. But Tilly came with fresh troops and relieved the city. He wished to open communications with Wallenstein at Eger and thus force Gustavus to withdraw from the interior of Germany, but Wallenstein did not stir; consequently Gustavus was free to advance directly towards Bavaria. On 15 April there was an undecided battle at Rain on the Lech; Tilly was mortally wounded and the Bavarians withdrew from the battlefield. This left the road to Munich open to the Swedes and permitted them to plunder the Bavarian lowlands. However, Maximilian retained Ingolstadt and Ratisbon, the two strategically important points of his country. Gustavus Adolphus simply lost time in the Bavarian campaign. In northwestern Germany Pappenheim was successful in his undertakings. New imperial forces gathered both in Bohemia and Swabia. In June Wallenstein conquered Bohemia, formed a junction then with Maximilian, and kept Gustavus inactive at Nuremberg for weeks. In vain Gustavus tried to draw Wallenstein into a battle, and when he attempted to storm Wallenstein's position (3 September) he was defeated. For about six weeks he marched aimlessly through Franconia and Swabia pursued by Wallenstein. The latter suddenly drew off towards Saxony in order to unite there with Pappenheim, and cut off Gustavus's road to the Baltic. Gustavus followed and on 16 November, forced a battle at Lützen near Leipzig, just as the forces of Wallenstein and Pappenheim met. The Swedes gained the victory, but they paid for it with the life of Gustavus Adolphus. On the imperial side Pappenheim, the emperor's most daring and capable cavalry general, was killed.
The death of the Swedish king did not make any essential change. His policies were carried on in the same manner and with equal skill by his trusted councillor Axel Oxenstiern. The strength of the Swedish forces had been declining throughout the year 1632. The important questions to be decided were: whether, as the Swedish power declined, the Protestant princes would act independently of it under the leadership of Saxony, taking upon themselves the cause of Protestantism and of the independence of the princely rulers; also whether the emperor could find a commander who would make the unreliable and sluggish Wallenstein unnecessary. On account of these difficulties the next two years were more occupied with negotiations than with battles. Oxenstiern brought Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, who had been trained under Gustavus Adolphus and who was the ablest of the younger commanders among the German Protestants, and with him Saxony into closer union with Sweden; he also made an agreement with the Protestant rulers of the central German states at the assembly at Heilbron (March, 1633). In November, 1633, Bernhard by a daring advance took Ratisbon; Austria lay open to him, while a revolt of the Bavarian peasants crippled Bavaria's strength. The duke, however, did not venture into Austria and by January Maximilian had subdued the peasants. Sweden rapidly lost its popularity even among the Protestants of central Germany, for it demanded much. In addition, Oxenstiern flooded these states with Swedish copper coin and sent their good silver to Sweden, thus ruining them economically. As early as 1634 the influence of Richelieu over these states was greater than that of Sweden. Wallenstein used his army but little in 1633. He was constantly occupied with negotiations, chiefly with Saxony, but also with Sweden, with a view to imposing a peace on the Habsburgs. The commander of the Saxon forces, von Arnim, persuaded him to agree to one truce after another. In this way Saxony saved its strength and gained time to improve its position in the empire both as regards Sweden and the emperor. Although he afterwards denied it, even Richelieu believed early in 1634 that Wallenstein was ready to enter into relations with France also. Ferdinand and Maximilian, however, had already planned his downfall; he was murdered at Eger on 25 February, 1634.
France was the only country successful in war and politics from 1632 to the middle of 1634. An increasing number of fortresses in Lorraine came under its control. In the spring of 1632, after making a treaty with the Archbishop of Trier to protect him from the Swedes, French troops occupied Coblenz and Ehrenbreitstein on the opposite side of the Rhine. Richelieu also carried on negotiations with the Archbishop of Cologne, who was Bishop of Liège as well, by which he hoped to bring French troops into northwestern Germany in the flank of the imperial forces there, and also to garrison Dinan which belonged to the Diocese of Liège. From this latter point France would be able to exercise a strong influence on the war between Spain and the Netherlands. Dinan was not obtained owing to a revolt of the citizens of Cologne. However, from this time on, Richelieu pressed steadily forward towards Alsace. He wished the Protestant princes to request him to garrison the fortified Alsatian towns, and for a time in 1634 he occupied Montbéliard, which belonged to Wurtemberg, and the Diocese of Basle. Spain had already, in 1633, sent troops both from Italy and from the Netherlands to the upper Rhine as protection. Richelieu's plans were held in check by the slow progress of the war in the Netherlands. Notwithstanding the treaty of 1630, by which France granted subsidies, the States General showed but little warlike spirit, while the southern part of the Netherlands was positively averse to war. A Spanish attack by sea on the Netherlands ended in September, 1632, in a complete defeat. On the other hand, an attack by the Stadtholder of the Netherlands on Maastricht in 1633 led to the capture of the fortress, not, as hoped and planned, to a revolt of the southern provinces against Spain. Neither did it force France to openly take part in the war. Negotiations for peace were begun and it was only by his greatest efforts, and by his promise that France also should declare war on Spain, that Richelieu was able to frustrate them.
In the autumn of 1634 conclusive action was also taken in the empire. Ferdinand's son assumed command of the imperial troops, and Maximilian drove the Swedes out of Ratisbon. In this year the command of the Bavarian army was assumed by the Duke of Lorraine who had been obliged to fly from his country. Von Arnim's attempt to take Prague a second time failed: In southwestern Germany the Swedes had undoubtedly the strongest army. Early in September the imperial and Bavarian armies united at Nördlingen, which the Swedes under Hom had wished to capture, and completely destroyed (6 September, 1634) the remainder of the finely-disciplined troops to which Gustavus Adolphus had owed his successes. After this the men who fought under the Swedish flag were only mercenaries, greedy for plunder, like those of the other armies of the time. To prevent the emperor from becoming absolute master in the empire, Richelieu had to declare war on him. Almost at the time of his declaration, war was also proclaimed by Ferdinand and Philip IV (May, 1635).
Austria & Spain Against France & Sweden
The prospect of the interference of France had led Saxony to make friends with the emperor. Both desired by the Treaty of Prague (30 May, 1635) to lay the foundation for a general peace between the estates of the empire and the emperor and for their union against a foreign foe. To this end amnesty was to be granted to all the estates which, within a definite time, agreed to the treaty. The treaty also sought to readjust the constitutional relations between the emperor and the estates suitably to the historical development and yet so as to make the empire an organic whole. From 1555 the estates had almost forgotten the advantages of their union in the empire until the Swedish supremacy had reawakened this consciousness. France's declaration of war also aroused the sense of nationality; most of the German rulers, following the example of Brandenburg, agreed to the treaty between the emperor and Saxony. On 12 May, 1636, it was proclaimed as a peace of the empire. Some, indeed, signed it very unwillingly at Strasburg; the widowed Landgravine of Hesse Cassel put off her agreement without daring openly to reject the treaty. Finally, in December, 1636, Ferdinand's son was elected King of the Romans, and on 15 February, 1637, he succeeded his father as emperor.
The emperor, Bavaria, and Spain, decided to begin energetic offensive operations against France. In 1635 a combined imperial and Bavarian army forced back the French in Alsace and Lorraine, but the commanders of these forces lacked courage and caution. In 1636 the combined troops had to be withdrawn, finally, across the Rhine, after their numbers had been greatly reduced. In 1635 the Spaniards had seized and rendered powerless the Elector of Trier, and, by skilful Fabian movements, had destroyed two armies of French and Dutch which had entered the Spanish Netherlands. In 1636, it is true, the forces of Spain and Holland soon balanced each other. Spain now turned with superior forces against France. The German cavalry general, Jan van Werth, who shared in the direction of the campaign, wished to advance straight towards Paris, but the heads of the expedition allowed themselves to be detained before the small fortress Corbie, until the French had brought together 50,000 men. This army forced the Spaniards to withdraw once more. Saxony made an unfortunate attempt, with the aid of imperial troops, to drive the remains of the Swedish forces completely out of Germany; the campaign ended in the severe defeat of the combined army by the Swedish general, Baner, at Wittstock (4 October, 1636). The fantastic plan of the Spaniards to revenge the defeat, by a combined attack of their fleet and the imperial and Saxon land forces on Livonia so as to strike the Swedes in the rear, failed because the fleet, while on its way, was defeated (1639) by the Dutch in the English Channel. By a desperate defence, Brandenburg sought to save at least its fortresses from the Swedes. In 1639 Baner twice made forced marches as far as Prague, plundering and terrifying as he went. From the close of 1536 the Habsburgs were placed in an unfavourable defensive position in the west. France took into its service the army fighting under Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, on the upper Rhine, and in December, 1638, Bernhard conquered Briesach on the right bank of the Rhine. In 1637 after a celebrated siege, Holland retook the town of Breda which had been lost in 1626. Neither the Dutch nor the French made any further progress in the Netherlands, nor could they derive the expected advantages from the capture of Arras (August, 1640), by which they had pierced the line of fortresses protecting the southern Netherlands. Even in 1639, the Habsburgs maintained their superiority in numbers, but their enemies conducted the war with greater skill. Consequently the imperialists gained but little when Piedmont in 1639 proclaimed its independence of France.
The union of the German estates consequent upon the French attack did not beget any warlike enthusiasm. They longed for peace and hoped that the peace congress proposed in 1636 would assemble. Soon the prolongation of the war, and its disasters, aroused renewed discontent with the imperial policy. The complaint was everywhere heard that the emperor was continuing the war only for the advantage of Spain. The negotiations between Maximilian and France, which had been carried on almost from the beginning of the war, were renewed in 1637, although as usual, without result. In 1639 Duke Bernhard died unexpectedly. France enlisted his troops and placed them under the command of the able General Guébriant; and in this way acquired, what it had not had before an experienced army of its own on German soil. in the winter of 1639-40 Guébriant boldly forced his way into the interior of the empire intending to unite with Baner. As he advanced the Landgravine of Hesse broke off the negotiations with the emperor; thus once more foreigners gained allies in the heart of Germany. In January, 1641, Baner planned to capture Ratisbon again, but the thaw that set in discouraged him. Guébriant also saw that he could not long maintain himself in so advanced a position; as in 1631, the imperial forces controlled the line of the Weser and threatened him on that side. In the spring of 1641 Saxony and the emperor prepared to repeat against Sweden the offensive operations which had failed in 1663. The plan failed, owing to the simultaneous deaths of von Arnim, the Brandenburg statesman, Count Schwarzenberg, and Baner. The young Frederick William became Elector of Brandenburg in December, 1640, and early in the summer of 1641 issued a proclamation of neutrality. This gave the Swedes time to place their troops under the command of Torstenson, who was much superior to Baner in energy. Moreover, the rising of the French nobility was not as successful as the Habsburgs had hoped. Guébriant, indeed, was obliged to withdraw from the empire to aid in its suppression, but on his way to France he defeated at Kempen in January, 1642, the imperial and Spanish troops, who were going to the help of the French nobles. In the meantime the war had taken a decisive turn in favour of the French, in an unexpected place. The inhabitants of Barcelona, oppressed by the Spanish soldiers quartered upon them, revolted and were soon joined by the whole of Catalonia (June, 1640). Richelieu at once sent aid to the rebels. In December, 1640, Portugal also shook off the Spanish yoke. For several years Spain was crippled at the chief seat of war by these conflicts in the Pyrenean peninsula. On the other hand the French, under the leadership of young commanders, Turenne and Condé, became experts in the art of war. By June, 1642, Piedmont was again under control. In 1643 Condé completely destroyed the finest and most celebrated troops of the Spanish army at Rocroi in the Netherlands. The Provinces of Hainault and Luxemburg in the southern Netherlands fell into his hands. In 1644, Holland seized the mouth of the Scheldt and France Grevelingen, and in 1645 France occupied the greater part of Flanders and in 1646 Dunkirk. Henceforth, the Spaniards held only a few of the large cities in the Spanish Netherlands. The people, excepting the nobility, remained loyal to them.
The Results of the Thirty Years' War
The German Habsburgs were forced to take the defensive and their cause was in great danger. Allied with Maximilian they were compelled to use their main force to prevent the occupation of southern Germany by the French. They bravely fought in this part of Germany under Mercy during the years 1643-45, but were continually obliged to fall back. On 5 May, 1645, they gained a famous victory over Turenne at Mergentheim; on 3 August, 1645, the French were victorious at Allersheim and Mercy was killed. Still the imperial and Bavarian troops were always at least strong enough to save Bavaria from the incursions of the French. In the meantime, however, the imperial forces had not been able to bring a sufficiently large army against the Swedes. These, it is true, were obliged to encounter (1642) a new enemy in Denmark. But the Danes accomplished just as little as their imperial allies. The imperial forces were severely defeated by Torstenson at Breitenfeld in November, 1642, and at Jüterbogk and Magdeburg in October, 1644. After these two victories, Torstenson formed an alliance with George Rákóczy, the successor to Bethlen Gabor as Prince of Transylvania. Resolved to carry the war directly into the hereditary lands of the emperor, Torstenson advanced at once as far as Brünn, but there saw that he was too weak for such an undertaking. The result of the Swedish victories in this year was the permanent loss by the imperialists of the control of the Weser, and of their position in northwestern Germany. Denmark concluded a treaty of peace in 1645.
During the years 1642-45 the German estates unceasingly demanded peace. As early as 1640, at a session of the Electors at Nuremberg, the opinion was expressed, that a part of Pomerania should be ceded to the Swedes if this would content them. In 1641 at the suggestion of the electors the first Diet held since 1613 met at Ratisbon, and its success proved that the effort made in the Peace of Prague to revive the organization of the empire had borne good fruit. The Diet granted the emperor considerable subsidies. The estates, however, showed very plainly that they believed the emperor was over-considerate of Spain. France and Sweden encouraged this view by expressing their readiness to open negotiations. The opinion gained ground among the estates that if Austria did not break off its connexion with Spain the estates would once more abandon the emperor, form a union among themselves, and make a treaty of peace for the empire with France and Sweden. The estates hoped that these two countries would consent not to interfere in the internal affairs of the empire, especially as regards religion. The economic suffering and misery of the population of the empire had greatly increased, largely through the marauding expeditions of the Swedes, and final success in the war was clearly out of the question. John Philip von Schönborn, Bishop of Würzburg, was especially active in supporting the proposal that the estates should separate from the emperor and establish peace in the empire without him. Maximilian encouraged the bishop, though reluctantly. One after another, the smaller German estates brought letters of protection from the Swedes in order to escape being plundered by them. In this way these territories became neutral without any further formalities. Of the larger principalities Brandenburg abandoned its neutrality in 1644 without, however, becoming friendly to the emperor on this account. On the other hand, Saxony, which was exhausted and desperate, made a direct treaty of neutrality with Sweden in 1645. Under these circumstances the emperor early in 1643 also declared himself ready to negotiate. He wished, however, that the treaty of peace should be general, not limited in geographical extent as was the case in 1630. The negotiations were to be carried on with France at Münster, with Sweden at Osnabrück, where the Swedish embassy had been since the spring of 1643. About the middle of 1643 the imperial delegates appeared at both designated places, and the French delegates followed in the spring of 1644. At the close of 1644, the imperial delegates presented their first proposition, to which the French did not reply until November, 1645. A last dispute had arisen over the question whether the emperor alone should negotiate for the empire or whether the estates should also be represented. The quarrel was practically settled by the invitation to be present sent to the various estates by France and Sweden. On 26 August, 1645, the emperor also invited them. In the same year representatives of Spain and Holland also appeared at Münster. An ambassador of Venice and a papal nuncio likewise took part as mediators between France and the emperor.
The course of the negotiations was influenced by the results of the last events of the war, and it was decided by the military conditions of 1646. In this year the Swedes under Wrangel united with Turenne and the two armies occupied Bavaria. This led Maximilian to make a treaty of neutrality with Sweden in March, 1647. The entire empire was now occupied by the armies of France and Sweden, but the emperor retained undisputed possession of his hereditary lands. The outbreaks of the years 1647-48 were directed against him. The French, however, could not aid these revolts, as internal troubles in France claimed their attention and made them desirous of coming to a settlement with the emperor and the empire. While Turenne marched back to France (1647) Wrangel seized Prague, but was expelled by the emperor and Maximilian, who broke his agreement with Sweden. In 1648 Turenne appeared again and, allied with the Swedes, defeated the imperial and Bavarian forces at Zusmarhausen and cruelly ravaged Bavaria. The attack on Prague was renewed by the Swedes alone in July, 1648, under Königsmark. They took part of the city, but the Austrians brought together a larger army and forced them to withdraw in November, 1648.
At the opening of the negotiations for peace the emperor had hoped to be able to indemnify Sweden and to separate it from France, but on Sweden's refusal to accept his proposals he was obliged to give up his intention of making peace only if Spain were included in it. Supported by Maximilian, France induced the emperor and empire to remain neutral during the Franco-Spanish war. This success for France, however, did not prevent Holland from concluding peace with Spain on 5 June, 1648. But France received recompense for this disappointment in a new and great victory of Condé at Lens in the Netherlands, on 20 August, 1648. To secure peace for the empire, Austria consented in 1648 to give up its hereditary lands in Alsace and the city of Breisach to France; it also finally recognized the incorporation of the territories of Metz, Toul, and Verdun into France. It postponed, however, the decision as to the claims of France on the Duchy of Lorraine, and prevented France being made an estate of the empire for its conquests in Alsace. Sweden received the land around the mouth of the Oder with Stettin and Hither Pomerania, the territory near the outlet of the Weser, and the dioceses of Bremen and Verden, as well as Wismar, and was made an estate of the empire, because it and not the Electorate of Saxony, had been the leader of the Protestant estates in the negotiations for peace. In addition it was to receive money to pay its mercenaries.
Taken in general, all the states and territories of the empire were confirmed in the possessions that they had had in 1618. The exceptions were: Electoral Saxony was confirmed in the possession of Lusatia which had been conceded to it in 1620; Bavaria was left in possession of the Upper Palatinate and of the fourth electorship, while a new, eighth electorate was created for the Palatinate; by the intervention of France, Brandenburg received, besides Further Pomerania, a number of dioceses with the right to secularize them. This and the similar concession to Sweden for Bremen and Verden undermined one of the main foundations of the organization of the empire, which for hundreds of years had rested on the existence and importance of the spiritual domains. In other particulars it was evident that the more important states sought, and probably sincerely, not to damage the efforts made in the Peace of Prague to revive the organization of the empire, yet in various instances they inflicted much injury upon it. It was contrary to the organization of the empire that the negotiations, deviating from the original intention, were not limited to external matters. Sweden and a large number of the Protestant estates were not willing to consent to this. To settle the claims made by the different religious denominations to one and the same territory the year 1624 was taken as the normal year, and the denomination which had prevailed in that year in a territory, was, as a rule, to be the permanent religion of that territory. Calvinism was included in the religious peace. The compulsory force of the principle, cujus regio, ejus religio, was restricted by granting private liberty of conscience, but only to a limited extent. The result of these regulations was in the main that the period of the violent religious disputes which had divided the empire was closed. It was also hoped that an effective working of the organic parts of the empire -- the imperial and provincial diets, the supreme court, the Aulic Council, and the district constitution -- would be secured for the future by an arrrangement of their relations with one another and of their authority. The details of this reconstruction were left to the decision of a future Diet. It was settled, however, that grants of supplies were to be made not by majority votes, but by the voluntary agreement of the estates. All the rulers, even the petty ones in southern and western Germany, were declared sovereign in the internal government of their territories with certain exceptions. Moreover, the right to have diplomatic relations with foreign countries and to make treaties with them was granted to every estate. In reality this regulation only gave legal recognition to conditions that actually existed.
Austria was exempt from all these regulations, especially from the changes in the canon law prevailing there. This showed how little injury the war had inflicted upon it, and also the increasing differentiation between its domains and those of the other estates of the empire. The seal was impressed upon this differentiation by the fact that France secured (1647) the appointment of John Philip von Schönborn as Elector of Mainz and consequently Chancellor of the Empire, and especially by the fact that the treaty conceded to France and Sweden lasting diplomatic influence in the empire in return for their evacuation of the imperial territories. To counterbalance the influence which Austria exercised within the empire in virtue of her possession of the imperial crown, France and Sweden received the right to superintend the execution of the treaty in the empire, consequently to continually interfere in imperial affairs. On this basis the Peace of Westphalia with France and Sweden was settled on 24 October, 1648. The chief results of the Thirty Years War were: the foundation and recognition of a unified Austria under the rule of the German Habsburgs; the revival, in a certain doubtful sense though of the Holy Roman Empire; the establishment of Sweden on German soil; the permanent weakening of Denmark; the renunciation by Holland of all efforts to drive Spain out of southern Netherlands; an enormous increase of the power of France. The question whether Spain would be able to maintain itself as a great power alongside of France led to eleven more years of war between the two states, and was decided, in favour of France, by the Treaty of the Pyrenees. This treaty and that of Westphalia were the basis of the preeminent position of France during the second half of the seventeenth century.
(1637 to 1740)
Ferdinand III (1608-1657)
Ferdinand III (1608-1657), Holy Roman emperor (1637-1657), king of Hungary (1625-1657), and king of Bohemia (1627-1657). He was born in Graz, Austria, the son of Emperor Ferdinand II. He was educated by Jesuits and was a noted scholar and musician. Two years after being crowned king of Hungary, Ferdinand was made king of Bohemia. He became the nominal commander of the imperial armies fighting the Thirty Years' War after the Austrian general Albrecht von Wallenstein was assassinated in 1634. In that capacity he headed the forces that defeated the Swedes at Nördlingen later in the year. Ferdinand became Holy Roman emperor upon his father's death in 1637. He was willing to end the Thirty Years' War but he did not want to proceed without his ally, Spain. He refused to accept the proposal made by the diet of Regensburg in 1640 for a general amnesty to Protestants. In 1648, however, he signed the Peace of Westphalia, which decreed that the prevailing religion in each part of the empire should be determined by the ruler of that part. This solution was based on the Peace of Augsbury (1555), which helped to resolve religious conflict by recognizing Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism and allowing states to decide which religion could be practiced. The Peace of Westphalia considerably weakened the Holy Roman Empire because it recognized the sovereignty and independence of the individual states. Because Ferdinand was a Roman Catholic, and his religion was permitted by the terms of the peace to dominate in his hereditary dominions, the Protestants there were not accorded religious freedom. In 1656 he dispatched an army to Italy to aid Spain against France and in the following year entered into an alliance with Poland against Sweden.
Leopold I (1640-1705)
Leopold I, Holy Roman emperor (1658-1705), king of Bohemia (1656-1705), and king of Hungary (1655-87), who extended the Habsburg possessions, created a standing imperial army, and consolidated the central Austrian administration. He was born in Vienna, the son of Emperor Ferdinand III. His reign was marked by wars, particularly against the Ottoman Turks and France. The first war against the Turks was concluded by a compromise in 1664, but when the Turks besieged Vienna in 1683, they were defeated by Jan III Sobieski of Poland, leading the combined Polish and imperial forces. Leopold's general, Prince Eugene of Savoy, finally defeated the Turks at Senta in 1697, and the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) acknowledged Habsburg control over virtually all Hungary.
Leopold's wars with France were less successful. The first ended in the Treaty of Nijmegen (1679), which enhanced Louis XIV's power. Leopold later joined the League of Augsburg and the Grand Alliance against France. Peace was ultimately made by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), but four years later Leopold was again embroiled with France in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). He did not, however, live to see it to a conclusion; he died on May 5, 1705, and was succeeded by his son, Joseph I.
Joseph I (1678-1711)
Joseph I, Holy Roman emperor (1705-11). The eldest son of Emperor Leopold I, Joseph was crowned king of Hungary in 1687 and succeeded to the imperial throne and that of Bohemia when his father died. He continued the War of the Spanish Succession, begun by Leopold, against Louis XIV of France, in a fruitless attempt to make his brother Charles (later Charles VI, Holy Roman emperor) king of Spain; in the process, however, owing to the victories won by his military commander, Prince Eugene of Savoy, he did succeed in establishing Austrian hegemony over Italy. Joseph also had to contend with a protracted revolt in Hungary, fomented by Louis XIV. Neither conflict was resolved until after his death.
Charles VI (1685-1740)
Charles VI, Holy Roman emperor (1711-1740) and, as Charles III, king of Hungary (1712-1740), the son of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, born in Vienna. When Charles II, king of Spain, died childless in 1700, Leopold proclaimed his son king of Spain in opposition to Duke Philip of Anjou, who had been willed the Spanish throne. Philip became king as Philip V and thus precipitated the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). Charles had numerous allies and Philip was aided only by France, but after alternate successes and reverses Charles renounced his claim to Spain in the treaties of Rastatt and Baden (1714). In 1711 Charles had succeeded his brother Joseph I as Holy Roman emperor; in 1713 he issued the Pragmatic Sanction to secure the succession of his daughter Maria Theresa in the event that he should die without a male heir. In 1716 the emperor renewed an alliance with Venice and entered into successful warfare against the Turks, with the help of his able general, Prince Eugene of Savoy. By the 1718 Treaty of Passarowitz, Charles gained control of parts of Serbia and Walachia. In 1733, he engaged unsuccessfully in the War of the Polish Succession. Under the Treaty of Vienna, which terminated the war in 1735 (but was not ratified until 1738), Charles ceded the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily to Spain in exchange for the duchies of Parma and Piacenza. During a second war with the Turks from 1737 to 1739, Charles lost most of the territory he had won in 1718. He was succeeded by Maria Theresa, but her right to the throne was contested in the War of the Austrian Succession.
Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736)
Austrian general, considered the foremost strategist of his time. Eugene was born on October 18, 1663, in Paris, and was originally named François Eugène de Savoie-Carignan. When his mother was exiled by Louis XIV, king of France, Eugene renounced his French citizenship and joined the Austrian army under Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. Eugene participated in various campaigns in the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97), distinguishing himself in the struggle against his former sovereign, Louis XIV; he was at the head of victorious forces in several battles. In 1697 he was named commander of the imperial army in Hungary, and in the same year, by routing the Ottoman Turks at Senta, he paved the way for the signing of the Peace of Karlowitz (1699).
Louis XIV, seeking to obtain his services, offered to appoint Eugene a marshal of France and ruler of the province of Champagne, but he refused. On the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701, Eugene was placed in command in Italy, where he won a series of victories culminating in the bloody and indecisive struggle at Luzzara in 1702. He returned to Vienna and was named president of the Imperial Council of War, in which capacity he shared, with the English commander John Churchill, 1st duke of Marlborough, in the victory over the French at Blenheim in 1704. Leopold then sent Eugene to Italy, where the French had thus far been victorious, and he shortly succeeded in raising the siege of Turin and in driving the French from the country. For these achievements he was made governor of Milan and a lieutenant general. In 1708 he commanded the German armies in the victories at Oudenaarde, Lille, and Malplaquet; in all these battles he was again allied with Marlborough.
Eugene suffered the first of a series of defeats by the French at Denain in 1712, and was forced two years later to negotiate the Treaty of Rastatt and Baden. In 1716, soon after receiving the command of the Hungarian army, he defeated the Turks at Peterwardein, at Timisoara, and at Belgrade; on the decisive rout of the Turks two years later, the war ended with the Treaty of Passarowitz. In 1724 he became vicar-general of Italy. Almost ten years later, he assumed command of the imperial army in the War of the Polish Succession. Peace was concluded in 1735, and Eugene relinquished his military office for the last time. He died in Vienna on April 21, 1736.
(1740 to 1792)
In accordance with the Pragmatic Sanction, Charles's eldest daughter, Maria Theresa, who in 1736 had married Francis, duke of Lorraine, ascended the Habsburg throne. (In 1745 Francis became Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, but his wife remained the power on the throne.) Maria Theresa's ascension and rival claims to Habsburg dominions led to war (see Austrian Succession, War of the) and culminated in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). As a result Austria lost most of Silesia, economically the best developed province of Bohemia, to Prussia. This spurred reforms in imperial administration, finance, education, and the legal system; lightened the burdens of the serfs; and reduced the authority of the nobility.
Maria Theresa's son, Joseph II, motivated by the ideas of the Enlightenment, abolished serfdom altogether; improved civil and criminal procedures; decreed religious toleration and freedom of the press; reformed the Roman Catholic church by removing its control over secular matters; and tried to centralize imperial administration. His reforms aroused widespread opposition. At the time of his death, Hungary and Belgium were in full revolt, and there was unrest in the Austrian hereditary lands and Bohemia. Joseph's brother and successor, Leopold II, revoked most of the reforms and was forced to recognize Hungary as a separate unit of the Habsburg lands. Even so, Joseph's reign had regenerated the monarchy and opened it up to European trends. During the era of enlightened despotism, Austria acquired part of Poland by joining with Russia and Prussia in the partition of that country.
Maria Theresa (1717-80)
Maria Theresa, archduchess of Austria and queen of Hungary and Bohemia (1740-80), who strengthened and unified the Austrian monarchy in the 18th century. Born in Vienna on May 13, 1717, she was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. In 1736 she married Francis Stephen of Lorraine (later Holy Roman Emperor Francis I), and the couple eventually had 16 children, including two future emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II, and Marie Antoinette, later queen of France.
Charles VI's efforts to guarantee Maria Theresa's succession as ruler of the Habsburg dominions led to the War of the Austrian Succession (see Austrian Succession, War of the). The war lost her Austrian Silesia, but she was able to retain her other dominions, and in 1745 she acquired the title of Holy Roman emperor for her husband. In the years after the war Maria Theresa accomplished sweeping internal reforms that strengthened her central administration and revitalized the army. With her state chancellor, Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz, she also drastically reordered Austria's foreign policy, abandoning the traditional alignment with Great Britain in favor of collaboration with France and Russia against Prussia. After trying without success to reconquer Silesia in the Seven Years' War (1756-63), she turned to a more pacific policy. On the advice of Kaunitz and her son Joseph, however, she participated in the first partition of Poland (1772), thereby acquiring Galicia.
After Francis's death in 1765 Maria Theresa recognized Joseph as coregent but retained ultimate authority for herself. She largely resisted her son's desires for further internal reforms, although she did abolish serfdom on crown lands. Often pondering abdication, she always demurred because she considered Joseph too rash, particularly in his religious policies. She died on November 29, 1780, in Vienna.
Pious and faithful but unfriendly toward the Enlightenment, Maria Theresa has often been dismissed as a traditional dynast. Her actions derived from a conviction that she held a trust from God and from a maternalistic conception of her responsibilities. She was, however, intensely pragmatic, conscious of the obligations of power, and a shrewd judge of her ministers.
Joseph II (1741-90)
Joseph II (1741-90), Holy Roman emperor (1765-90), who tried unsuccessfully to reform and unify the Austrian Habsburg domains.
The eldest son of Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa, Joseph was born in Vienna on March 13, 1741. He became emperor and coruler of the Austrian lands with his mother when Francis died in 1765. During this period he worked with state chancellor W. A. von Kaunitz to expand Habsburg power, acquiring Galicia from Poland (1772) and Bukovina from Turkey (1775). His attempt to annex Lower Bavaria, however, was thwarted by Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia.
As sole ruler after Maria Theresa's death in 1780, Joseph embarked on a thorough reform of church and state in accordance with the rational principles of the 18th-century Enlightenment. He granted religious toleration to Protestants, ended discriminatory laws against Jews, and drastically reorganized the predominant Roman Catholic church, closing many monasteries, subjecting the education of priests to state control, and limiting the power of the pope to intervene in Austria. Joseph eliminated most forms of censorship, freed the serfs, separated the executive from the judiciary, and promulgated a new law code. To unify the administration of the various Habsburg realms, he abolished numerous organs of local government and tried to impose the German language on his Hungarian and Slavic subjects. In foreign affairs Joseph maintained close ties with Russia.
Joseph's reforms met with resistance in many quarters, and before his death in Vienna on February 20, 1790, he was forced to rescind many of them.
Leopold II (1747-92)
Leopold II, Holy Roman emperor (1790-92), son of Emperor Francis I and Maria Theresa and brother of Emperor Joseph II and Queen Marie Antoinette of France. He was born in Vienna. On the death of his father in 1765, he became the grand duke of Tuscany. Imbued with the ideas of the Enlightenment, he reformed the government of the grand duchy, dismantling feudal institutions and rationalizing taxation and finances. In 1790 he succeeded his brother as emperor. During his brief reign, his sister was deposed by the French revolutionists, and he formed (1792) a military alliance with Prussia against France. He was succeeded by his son Francis II.
(1792 to 1815)
Warfare with France
From 1792 to 1815 the Habsburg Empire was involved almost continuously in warfare, first in the French Revolution and then in the Napoleonic Wars. The French rebels' democratic and nationalistic ideas were a threat to the absolutist Habsburgs, who were drawn into the conflict after Leopold II was succeeded by his reactionary son, Francis II, in 1792. Austrian military involvement began with a successful Austro-Prussian invasion of France, then faltered when the French forces drove the invaders back across the border and, during the winter of 1794 and 1795, conquered the Austrian Netherlands. In 1806, after Napoleon's conquest of most of Germany, Francis dissolved the Holy Roman Empire. In anticipation of this move, in 1804 the monarch had declared himself Francis I, hereditary emperor of Austria. It was not long before Napoleon's fortunes turned, however, and Austria was part of the coalition that drove him into exile in 1814. Francis's power and territory were to some extent restored by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Although Austria lost some territories in Belgium and southwest Germany, it gained Lombardy, Venetia, Istria, and Dalmatia. The diplomatic skill of Austrian chancellor Prince Klemens von Metternich made the Habsburg Empire the center of the new European order. Austrian influence in both the German Confederation, which replaced the Holy Roman Empire, and the Holy Alliance, was at a peak.
Napoleon I (1769-1821)
As emperor of the French, Napoleon I consolidated and institutionalized many reforms of the French Revolution. One of the greatest military commanders of all time, he conquered the larger part of Europe and did much to modernize the nations he ruled. Napoleon was born on August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, and was given the name Napoleone (in French his name became Napoleon Bonaparte). He was the second of eight children of Carlo (Charles) Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino Buonaparte, both of the Corsican-Italian gentry. No Buonaparte had ever been a professional soldier. Carlo was a lawyer who had fought for Corsican independence, but after the French occupied the island in 1768, he served as a prosecutor and judge and entered the French aristocracy as a count. Through his father's influence, Napoleon was educated at the expense of King Louis XVI, at Brienne and the École Militaire, in Paris. Napoleon graduated in 1785, at the age of 16, and joined the artillery as a second lieutenant.
After the Revolution began, he became a lieutenant colonel (1791) in the Corsican National Guard. In 1793, however, Corsica declared independence, and Bonaparte, a French patriot and a Republican, fled to France with his family. He was assigned, as a captain, to an army besieging Toulon, a naval base that, aided by a British fleet, was in revolt against the republic. Replacing a wounded artillery general, he seized ground where his guns could drive the British fleet from the harbor, and Toulon fell. As a result Bonaparte was promoted to brigadier general at the age of 24. In 1795 he saved the revolutionary government by dispersing an insurgent mob in Paris. In 1796 he married Joséphine de Beauharnais, the widow of an aristocrat guillotined in the Revolution and the mother of two children.
Also in 1796, Bonaparte was made commander of the French army in Italy. He defeated four Austrian generals in succession, each with superior numbers, and forced Austria and its allies to make peace. The Treaty of Campo Formio provided that France keep most of its conquests. In northern Italy he founded the Cisalpine (Italian) Republic (later known as the kingdom of Italy) and strengthened his position in France by sending millions of francs worth of treasure to the government. In 1798, to strike at British trade with the East, he led an expedition to Turkish-ruled Egypt, which he conquered. His fleet, however, was destroyed by the British admiral Horatio Nelson, leaving him stranded. Undaunted, he reformed the Egyptian government and law, abolishing serfdom and feudalism and guaranteeing basic rights. The French scholars he had brought with him began the scientific study of ancient Egyptian history. In 1799 he failed to capture Syria, but he won a smashing victory over the Turks at Abu Qìr (Abukir). France, meanwhile, faced a new coalition; Austria, Russia, and lesser powers had allied with Britain.
Bonaparte, no modest soul, decided to leave his army and return to save France. In Paris, he joined a conspiracy against the government. In the coup d'etat of November 9-10, 1799 (18-19 Brumaire), he and his colleagues seized power and established a new regime-the Consulate. Under its constitution, Bonaparte, as first consul, had almost dictatorial powers. The constitution was revised in 1802 to make Bonaparte consul for life and in 1804 to create him emperor. Each change received the overwhelming assent of the electorate. In 1800, he assured his power by crossing the Alps and defeating the Austrians at Marengo. He then negotiated a general European peace that established the Rhine River as the eastern border of France. He also concluded an agreement with the pope (the Concordat of 1801), which contributed to French domestic tranquillity by ending the quarrel with the Roman Catholic church that had arisen during the Revolution. In France the administration was reorganized, the court system was simplified, and all schools were put under centralized control. French law was standardized in the Code Napoléon, or civil code, and six other codes. They guaranteed the rights and liberties won in the Revolution, including equality before the law and freedom of religion.
In April 1803 Britain, provoked by Napoleon's aggressive behavior, resumed war with France on the seas; two years later Russia and Austria joined the British in a new coalition. Napoleon then abandoned plans to invade England and turned his armies against the Austro-Russian forces, defeating them at the Battle of Austerlitz on December 2, 1805. In 1806 he seized the kingdom of Naples and made his elder brother Joseph king, converted the Dutch Republic into the kingdom of Holland for his brother Louis, and established the Confederation of the Rhine (most of the German states) of which he was protector. Prussia then allied itself with Russia and attacked the confederation. Napoleon destroyed the Prussian army at Jena and Auerstädt (1806) and the Russian army at Friedland. At Tilsit (July 1807), Napoleon made an ally of Czar Alexander I and greatly reduced the size of Prussia (see Tilsit, Treaty of). He also added new states to the empire: the kingdom of Westphalia, under his brother Jerome, the duchy of Warsaw, and others.
Napoleon had meanwhile established the Continental System, a French-imposed blockade of Europe against British goods, designed to bankrupt what he called the "nation of shopkeepers." In 1807 Napoleon seized Portugal. In 1808, he made his brother Joseph king of Spain, awarding Naples to his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat. Joseph's arrival in Spain touched off a rebellion there, which became known as the Peninsular War. Napoleon appeared briefly and scored victories, but after his departure the fighting continued for five years, with the British backing Spanish armies and guerrillas. The Peninsular War cost France 300,000 casualties and untold sums of money and contributed to the eventual weakening of the Napoleonic empire.
In 1809 Napoleon beat the Austrians again at Wagram, annexed the Illyrian Provinces (now part of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), and abolished the Papal States. He also divorced Joséphine, and in 1810 he married the Habsburg archduchess Marie Louise, daughter of the Austrian emperor. By thus linking his dynasty with the oldest ruling house in Europe, he hoped that his son, who was born in 1811, would be more readily accepted by established monarchs. In 1810 also, the empire reached its widest extension with the annexation of Bremen, Lübeck, and other parts of north Germany, together with the entire kingdom of Holland, following the forced abdication of Louis Bonaparte.
In all the new kingdoms created by the emperor, the Code Napoléon was established as law. Feudalism and serfdom were abolished, and freedom of religion established (except in Spain). Each state was granted a constitution, providing for universal male suffrage and a parliament and containing a bill of rights. French-style administrative and judicial systems were required. Schools were put under centralized administration, and free public schools were envisioned. Higher education was opened to all who qualified, regardless of class or religion. Every state had an academy or institute for the promotion of the arts and sciences. Incomes were provided for eminent scholars, especially scientists. Constitutional government remained only a promise, but progress and increased efficiency were widely realized. Not until after Napoleon's fall did the common people of Europe, alienated from his governments by war taxes and military conscription, fully appreciate the benefits he had given them.
In 1812 Napoleon, whose alliance with Alexander I had disintegrated, launched an invasion of Russia that ended in a disastrous retreat from Moscow. Thereafter all Europe united against him, and although he fought on, and brilliantly, the odds were impossible. In April 1814, his marshals refused to continue the struggle. After the allies had rejected his stepping down in favor of his son, Napoleon abdicated unconditionally and was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba. Marie Louise and his son were put in the custody of her father, the emperor of Austria. Napoleon never saw either of them again. Napoleon himself, however, soon made a dramatic comeback. In March 1815, he escaped from Elba, reached France, and marched on Paris, winning over the troops sent to capture him. In Paris, he promulgated a new and more democratic constitution, and veterans of his old campaigns flocked to his support. Napoleon asked peace of the allies, but they outlawed him, and he decided to strike first. The result was a campaign into Belgium, which ended in defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. In Paris, crowds begged him to fight on, but the politicians withdrew their support. Napoleon fled to Rochefort, where he surrendered to the captain of the British battleship Bellerophon. He was then exiled to Saint Helena, a remote island in the south Atlantic Ocean, where he remained until his death from stomach cancer on May 5, 1821.
The cult of Napoleon as the "man of destiny" began during his lifetime. In fact, he had begun to cultivate it during his first Italian campaign by systematically publicizing his victories. As first consul and emperor, he had engaged the best writers and artists of France and Europe to glorify his deeds and had contributed to the cult himself by the elaborate ceremonies with which he celebrated his rule, picturing himself as the architect of France's greatest glory. He maintained that he had preserved the achievements of the Revolution in France and offered their benefits to Europe. His goal, he said, was to found a European state-a "federation of free peoples." Whatever the truth of this, he became the arch-hero of the French and a martyr to the world. In 1840 his remains were returned to Paris at the request of King Louis-Philippe and interred with great pomp and ceremony in the Invalides, where they still lie.
Napoleon's influence is evident in France even today. Reminders of him dot
Paris-the most obvious being the Arc de Triomphe, the centerpiece of the city,
which was built to commemorate his victories. His spirit pervades the
constitution of the Fifth Republic; the country's basic law is still the Code
Napoléon, and the administrative and judicial systems are essentially
Napoleonic. A uniform state-regulated system of education persists. Napoleon's
radical reforms in all parts of Europe cultivated the ground for the revolutions
of the 19th century. Today, the impact of the Code Napoléon is apparent in the
law of all European countries.
Napoleon was a driven man, never secure, never satisfied. "Power is my mistress," he said. His life was work-centered; even his social activities had a purpose. He could bear amusements or vacations only briefly. His tastes were for coarse food, bad wine, cheap snuff. He could be charming-hypnotically so-for a purpose. He had intense loyalties-to his family and old associates. Nothing and no one, however, were allowed to interfere with his work.
Napoleon was sometimes a tyrant and always an authoritarian, but one who believed in ruling by mandate of the people, expressed in plebiscites. He was also a great enlightened monarch-a civil executive of enormous capacity who changed French institutions and tried to reform the institutions of Europe and give the Continent a common law. Few deny that he was a military genius. At Saint Helena, he said, "Waterloo will erase the memory of all my victories." He was wrong; for better or worse, he is best remembered as a general, not for his enlightened government, but the latter must be counted if he is justly to be called Napoleon the Great.
Andreas Hofer (1767-1810)
The Tirolese patriot Andreas Hofer was born in Saint Leonhard in the Austrian Alps. When the Tirol was transferred to Bavaria, an ally of France, by the Peace of Pressburg of 1805, Hofer became the leader of resistance to Bavarian rule. He raised a force of Tirolese that in 1809 drove out the Bavarian army. In spite of assurances given to Hofer by Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, the Tirol was surrendered to the French by the armistice of Znaim, and a force of 40,000 French and Bavarian troops attempted to occupy the territory. Hofer repulsed the invasion and was elected governor of the Tirol. However, the Treaty of Schönbrunn of October 1809 again ceded the Tirol to Bavaria, and French troops occupied the region. Hofer revolted once more, but he was defeated and two months later was betrayed to the French, who court-martialed and executed him in Mantua, Italy.
Congress of Vienna
A European conference was called to reestablish the territorial divisions of Europe at the end of the Napoleonic Wars after the downfall of Napoleon. The conference was held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. Representatives of all the European powers, except Turkey, assembled at the Congress, which was interrupted in February 1815 by Napoleon's escape from Elba. Most conspicuous among the numerous monarchs who attended the Congress was Alexander I, emperor of Russia, who supported such generally unpopular causes as the unification of the German states and the establishment of a constitutional government in Poland. Of the diplomats, Prince Klemens von Metternich, the Austrian minister of state who acted as the president of the Congress, played what was probably the most prominent part in the negotiations. Although the major powers-Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria-had agreed that neither France nor Spain, nor any of the smaller powers, should be party to any important decisions, the French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, who represented the restored French king Louis XVIII, succeeded in securing for France an equal share in the deliberations. Great Britain was represented mainly by its foreign minister Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, and by the general and statesman Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington. The principal delegate from Prussia was Prince Karl August von Hardenberg.
As a result of the negotiations at the Congress, France was deprived of all the territory conquered by Napoleon; the Dutch Republic was united with the Austrian Netherlands to form a single kingdom of the Netherlands under the house of Orange; Norway and Sweden were joined under a single ruler, Charles XIV John of Sweden; and the independence and neutrality of Switzerland were guaranteed, with the union of its cantons reconstituted as a loose confederation. In addition, Russia received the major part of the former duchy of Warsaw as the kingdom of Poland, with Alexander I as king; Prussia received West Prussia, Posen (now the Polish province of Poznan), the northern half of Saxony, and the greater part of the provinces of the Rhine and Westphalia; Hannover received territorial additions and became a kingdom; Austria was given back most of the territory it had recently lost and was compensated in Germany and Italy (Lombardia and Venice) for the loss of the Austrian Netherlands. The formerly Venetian part of Dalmatia (now in Croatia) also went to Austria; Britain kept Cape Colony in South Africa, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Mauritius, Helgoland, and Malta; the king of Sardinia recovered Piedmont, Nice, and Savoy and received Genoa; the Bourbon king Ferdinand I was restored to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; and the duchy of Parma was bestowed on Napoleon's wife, Marie Louise of Austria. A territorial commission was convened at Frankfurt, and by 1819 it had established the German Confederation, uniting 39 sovereign states, including Prussia, under the presidency of Austria.
The Congress took the important step of condemning the slave trade and also provided for freedom of navigation on rivers that traversed several states or formed boundaries between states. Its chief accomplishment was in reestablishing a balance of power among the countries of Europe, with the result that the peace of Europe remained practically undisturbed for 40 years.
(1810 to 1848)
Francis II, the last Holy Roman emperor (1792-1806) and, as Francis I, first emperor of Austria (1804-35). Born in Florence, Italy, and educated in Vienna, he succeeded his father Leopold II as Holy Roman emperor. From the start of his reign until 1815 Francis was involved in the wars of the French Revolution and in the Napoleonic Wars. After the extension of French control over western Germany and the reorganization of the German states by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803, Francis consolidated his power in Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and northern Italy and proclaimed himself emperor of Austria in 1804. Two years later he formally dissolved the old Holy Roman Empire. As emperor of Austria, Francis gave Prince Klemens von Metternich almost complete control of foreign affairs after 1809 and devoted himself to the internal administration of the empire. The marriage of his daughter Marie Louise to Napoleon in 1810 earned for Francis three peaceful years in which to re-create Austrian strength for participation in the campaign that would bring about (1814-15) Napoleon's downfall. By the decisions of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Francis recovered most of the territory Austria had lost to Napoleon. The last 20 years of his reign were marked by paternalistic measures, reactionary tendencies, and repression of liberalism.
Prince Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar von Metternich
Metternich was an Austrian statesman and diplomat, who was the dominant figure in European politics between 1814 and 1848. Metternich was born into an aristocratic family on May 15, 1773, in Koblenz, Germany, and attended the universities of Strasbourg and Mainz. His family fled the revolutionary French armies to Vienna in 1794, and Metternich there married Countess Eleanor Kaunitz, whose family was prominent at the Austrian court. He served the Habsburgs first as an envoy to the Congress of Rastadt (1797) and then as ambassador to Saxony (1801), Prussia (1803), and Napoleonic France (1806).
In 1809 Metternich was appointed minister of foreign affairs for the Habsburg state, then in disarray following several defeats by the French army. He arranged the marriage of the Austrian archduchess Marie Louise to Napoleon, but he planned to renew the war with France when the opportunity arose. After Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign in 1812, Metternich played a leading role in the formation of a new European coalition that two years later defeated the French emperor. At the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), which redrew the map of Europe after Napoleon's downfall, he blocked Russian plans for the annexation of the whole of Poland and Prussia's attempt to absorb Saxony. He succeeded in creating a German Confederation under Austrian leadership but failed to achieve a similar arrangement for Italy. His attempt to make the postwar Quadruple Alliance (Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria) into an instrument for preventing revolution in Europe also failed. As chancellor of the Habsburg Empire (1821-48) he was, however, able to maintain the status quo in Germany and Italy, and he remained Europe's leading statesman until driven from power by the Revolution of 1848. He died in Vienna on June 11, 1859.
Metternich equally resented liberalism, nationalism, and revolution. His ideal was a monarchy that shared power with the traditional privileged classes of society. He was a man of order in an increasingly disorganized world of rapidly changing values. Vain and indolent by nature, he often assumed responsibility for policies he had not himself formulated. Some have judged him a reactionary who tried to stem the tide of democratic progress. To others he was a constructive force, misunderstood by contemporaries and historians alike.
The Biedermeier Era (1815-1860)
The Biedermeier was a furniture and interior design style popular in Germany and Austria between 1815 and 1860. Characterized by a cheerful, homely bulk, Biedermeier is an adaptation of the luxurious, neoclassical French Empire and Directoire styles to inexpensive materials and comfortable, sometimes vulgar, bourgeois tastes. The term, derived from "Papa Biedermeier," a comic figure in satiric poetry published in the German periodical Fliegende Blätter (Flying Papers), is sometimes applied to the music, painting, sculpture, and literature of the same period and region.
(1848 to 1916)
The Revolution of 1848
From 1815 to 1848 the course of the Austrian Empire, directed by Metternich, was essentially dedicated to preserving the status quo. The empire was still basically rural, though significant industrial growth had taken place since the late 1820s. Nationalism became entwined with the problems of social change; the pressures were heightened by peasant discontent. In March 1848 a rebel movement in Vienna forced Metternich to resign. The revolution quickly spread as Germans, Magyars, Slavs, Italians, and others turned against the imperial regime. Ferdinand I abdicated in December, and his 18-year-old nephew, Francis Joseph I, began a reign that would last until 1916. The new emperor promulgated a constitution for Austria that set up a parliamentary government and emancipated the peasants from feudal burdens. Italian rebels took over the government in Milan, and Hungary declared itself all but independent, bound to the empire only through its Habsburg monarch. In addition, a constitutional assembly drew up a plan for the administrative organization of the empire along national lines.
The revolutionary forces soon were weakened as the goals of different social classes and nationalities clashed. The Habsburg armies defeated the Italian rebels and, with the help of conservative Russia, crushed the Hungarian rebellion. Francis Joseph dropped all liberal pretensions. He abolished constitutional government and rejected the plan for imperial reorganization along national lines. The only reform that survived was the abolition of serfdom.
Ferdinand I (1793-1875)
Ferdinand I (of Austria and Hungary), emperor of Austria (1835-48) and king of Hungary (1830-48). He was the son of Francis I, emperor of Austria, who was also Holy Roman emperor as Francis II. Ferdinand was completely controlled by the reactionary Austrian statesman Prince Klemens von Metternich; and, after the revolutionary outbreak of December 1848 forced Metternich from office, Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his nephew Francis Joseph I.
In the 1850s Austria faced the problems of protecting the empire from nationalism, especially in Italy and Prussia, and from Russian advances into the Balkan Peninsula. During the Crimean War (1853-1856) Austria threatened to intervene on the side of England and France if Russia did not evacuate the Romanian principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. After the Russians complied in 1854, Austria occupied the territories until the end of the war. The prolonged conflict ruined Austria's finances, however, and its long-time ally Russia became an enemy, supporting the anti-Austrian policies of France and Prussia.
After a war that broke out in 1859, the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia expelled Austria from the Italian Peninsula, gained Lombardy, and created the kingdom of Italy. After this defeat, the emperor tried to strengthen his government by promulgating a limited constitutional system, which satisfied none of the opposition groups.
Austria fared no better in its struggle with Prussia for supremacy in Germany. The Prussian chancellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck, was determined to eliminate Austria from German affairs and bring about the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership. The climax was reached on the battlefield of Sadowa (1866) with a Prussian victory. The German Confederation was dissolved and Prussia took the lead in the reorganization and eventual unification of Germany. In addition, Austria lost Venetia to Prussia's ally, Italy (see Seven Weeks' War).
The Dual Monarchy
After the war, in 1867, Emperor Francis Joseph was forced to come to a compromise (German Ausgleich) with the Hungarian nation, represented by the nobility. The compromise gave Hungary its own constitution and a nearly independent status. After 1867 the empire was known as Austria-Hungary, and popularly referred to as the dual monarchy. Austria and Hungary were separate states, each with its own constitution, government, parliament, and language. The Magyars predominated in Hungary while the Germans had a privileged position in Austria. The two states were linked by a single monarch, who was emperor in Austria and king in Hungary, and by common ministers of foreign affairs, war, and finance.
The 1867 compromise inspired movements for autonomy among other national
groups within the empire. Besides Magyars and Germans (about 10 million each),
the empire as a whole was also home to nine major nationalities: Czechs, Poles,
Ruthenes (Ukrainians), Slovaks, Serbs, Romanians, Croats, Slovenes, and
Italians. About 6.5 million Czechs living in Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian
Silesia made up the largest, most advanced, and most restless minority. All
efforts of the national groups to achieve autonomy were stymied by Hungarian
determination never to alter the political structure created by the compromise.
The constitution of 1867 regulated the political system in the Austrian half of the dual monarchy until 1918, but its liberal provisions were restricted in practice. Voting was tied to property qualifications, for example, and the aristocracy retained considerable influence. The ministers were responsible to the emperor, who had emergency powers to govern without parliament. As Austria experienced significant economic growth, there was increased social conflict, stronger national movements, the rise of mass political parties, and virulent anti-Semitism. From the 1880s political life was dominated by conflicts among the various nationalities.
Alongside the negative features of Austrian political life there were some solid achievements. Under Vienna's mayor, Karl Lueger, a program of "municipal socialism," including the building of hospitals, schools, and parks, made the city among the most progressive in Europe. Vienna was also the scene of extraordinary artistic and intellectual innovation.
The Alliance with Germany
The establishment of the German Empire in 1871 led to reorientation of Habsburg foreign policy toward the Balkan Peninsula. The intention of the foreign minister, Hungarian Count Gyula Andrássy, was to preserve the status quo. Adopting a policy of friendship with Germany, Andrássy promised that Austria-Hungary would not interfere in German internal affairs; in return, Germany backed Austro-Hungarian attempts to limit Russian influence in southeastern Europe. When Russia defeated the Ottomans in 1878, Austria-Hungary, supported by Germany and Great Britain, intervened to prevent the Russians from seizing all Ottoman possessions in Europe. The Congress of Berlin (1878) restricted Russian acquisitions; it also permitted Austria-Hungary to administer the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1879 Germany and Austria-Hungary signed a formal alliance; with the addition of Italy in 1882 it became known as the Triple Alliance. From its inception, this alliance-the mainstay of Austria-Hungary's international position-was dominated by Germany, which subordinated Austria-Hungary's foreign policy interests to its own.
Serbia, made independent of the Ottoman Empire by the Congress of Berlin, was a satellite of Austria-Hungary until 1903, when new leaders came to power intent on unifying all the South Slavs in the Habsburg monarchy, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, into an enlarged Serbian state. In 1908, after a revolution in the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary annexed the two provinces. The Serbs, backed by Russia, protested vehemently. Only Germany's support of Austria-Hungary prevented war. By the time Serbia emerged from the Balkan Wars victorious and territorially enlarged, Austro-Hungarian leaders were convinced that war with Serbia was inevitable.
Francis Josef I (German Franz Josef) (1830-1916)
Francis Josef I, emperor of Austria (1848-1916) and king of Hungary (1867-1916), the last important ruler of the Habsburg dynasty; his policies played a major role in the events that led to World War I (1914-1918).
Francis Josef was born in Vienna, the eldest son of Archduke Francis Charles, who was brother and heir of Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I. Because Francis Charles renounced his right to the throne, Francis Josef became emperor when Ferdinand abdicated during the revolution of 1848. With Russian help, he and his prime minister, Felix, prince zu Schwarzenberg, restored order in the empire and reestablished Austrian dominance in the German Confederation. In 1854 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, with whom he had one son and three daughters. Francis Josef's failure to support Russia in the Crimean War (1853-1856) permanently damaged Austro-Russian relations. In the decade that followed, Austria lost most of its Italian possessions, as well as its position of leadership in Germany. Weakened by these reverses, Francis Josef began to negotiate with Hungary on its demands for autonomy. In 1866 Transylvania was reunited with Hungary. In 1867 Austria and Hungary agreed to create a dual monarchy in which the two countries would be equal partners. Under the empire of Austria-Hungary, as it was known after 1867, Hungary had complete independence in internal affairs, but the two countries acted jointly in foreign affairs. The same year, Francis Josef and Elizabeth were formally crowned king and queen of Hungary.
As the dual monarch, Francis Josef planned to grant some form of self-government to the Austrian Slavs, but the German and Hungarian elites who controlled the empire opposed the plan. The resulting dissatisfaction among Francis Josef's Czechoslovakian and Serbian subjects further weakened the Habsburg realms and caused increased friction with Russia, which championed the cause of Europe's Slavic peoples. Beginning in the 1870s, Austria-Hungary gradually became subservient to its powerful neighbor and ally, the Prussian-dominated German Empire.
Francis Josef's later years were marked by a series of tragedies in his family. In 1889 his only son and heir to the throne, Archduke Rudolf, committed suicide; in 1898 his wife was assassinated by an Italian anarchist; and in 1914 his nephew, Francis Ferdinand, who had replaced Rudolf as heir to the throne, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. The murder of Francis Ferdinand precipitated the crisis between Austria-Hungary and Germany on the one hand, and Serbia and Russia on the other, that led to World War I. Francis Josef did not live to see Austria's defeat in the war and the extinction of the Habsburg monarchy.
(1914 to 1918)
Charles I (1887-1922)
Charles I (of Austria), emperor of Austria (1916-1918) and, as Charles IV, king of Hungary, born in Persenbeug, Austria. He was the last Austro-Hungarian monarch and the last of the Habsburg rulers. Charles was the eldest son of Archduke Otto and grandnephew of Emperor Francis Joseph I. Following the assassination of his uncle, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and the death of Francis Joseph, Charles succeeded as emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. During World War I, in a secret letter, he supported the claims of France against those of the Austrian ally Germany in Alsace-Lorraine and proposed that Germany withdraw from Belgium. Charles disavowed the letter when it was published in April 1918, but it had a disheartening effect on the Central Powers. Upon the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on November 11, 1918, Charles abdicated the throne of Hungary. In March 1919 he left Austria, and in April the Austrian parliament formally deposed him. Twice in 1921 Charles launched unsuccessful attempts to regain the Hungarian throne. Banished from Hungary, he went into exile on the island of Madeira, where he died.
World War I
On June 28, 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and his wife were assassinated in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist. After receiving German assurances of support, the Austro-Hungarian foreign office sent a harsh ultimatum to the Serbian government, holding it responsible for the assassination and requiring its total acceptance of Austria-Hungary's demands within three days. Despite a conciliatory reply that accepted all but two of the demands, and mediation efforts by the European powers, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28. Germany's declaration of war on Russia and France in early August transformed the conflict into World War I.
Austro-Hungarian military activity during the first year of the war was concentrated against Russia and Serbia. In May 1915 Italy, which had declared its neutrality in 1914, left the Triple Alliance and entered the war on the side of the Allies. The Austro-Hungarian army suffered many setbacks, and the monarchy, weakened by decades of internal dissension, began to disintegrate after the death in 1916 of Francis Joseph I. He was succeeded by his grandnephew, Charles I of Austria. In 1917 the new emperor failed in several secret attempts to achieve a separate peace with the Allies, angering the Germans in the process. At the same time representatives of the Czechs, Poles, and South Slavs set up organizations in the Allied countries to gain sympathy and recognition. By late 1917 nationalist activities made the monarchy increasingly untenable.
During the spring and summer of 1918 Austro-Hungarian forces were defeated on every military front; shortages of food and other necessities triggered strikes and demonstrations at home and mutinies in the army and navy. Recognizing that the collapse of the monarchy was inevitable, the nationalist groups within the empire organized national councils that acted like separate governments. The South Slavs, meeting in Zagreb on October 7, 1918, advocated union with Serbia, and on October 28 the Czechs proclaimed an independent republic in Prague. The Hungarian government announced its complete separation from Austria on November 3. That same day Austria and Hungary each signed an armistice with the Allies. On November 12 Charles relinquished all part in the administration of the state and left Austria. Within days Austria and Hungary declared themselves republics.
(1918 to 1938)
The First Austrian Republic
The Austrian Republic came into being as a disorganized and impoverished state of some seven million people. The dissolution of the monarchy deprived Austria of the industrial areas of Bohemia and Moravia and ended the large internal market created by the union between Austria and Hungary. German-Austrians desired union with the new German Republic, but this was forbidden by the peace treaties of Versailles and Saint-Germain. The new constitution (1920) created a federal state, with a bicameral legislature and a democratic suffrage.
Economic reconstruction took place with the aid of outside agencies. Between 1919 and 1920 U.S., British, and Swedish organizations provided food to relieve the desperate situation. Rising inflation heightened the country's distress, and in 1922 Austria appealed for help to the League of Nations. The league arranged for a large loan to prevent economic collapse. In return, Austria pledged to remain independent for at least 20 years. The deflationary policies that were a condition of the loan caused much economic hardship and unemployment, but Austrian finances slowly stabilized.
The internal political situation remained uneasy because of antagonisms between Socialist-dominated Vienna and the conservative provinces. On July 15, 1927, the Socialists organized mass demonstrations in Vienna to protest the acquittal of three members of a right-wing group, who were on trial for killing two people during a clash with the Socialist Schutzbund (Defense League). The Palace of Justice was burned, and about 100 people were killed when police fired on the demonstrators.
(1938 to 1945)
Fascism and Anschluss
A succession of federal governments, dominated by the conservative Christian Social Party, could not overcome either the continuous unrest or the economic misery of the Great Depression. The rise of Austrian Nazism (see National Socialism) became a new destabilizing factor. Faced with his party's declining electoral strength and growing opposition from the left and the extreme right, the Christian Social chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss, dissolved parliament in 1933 and ruled by decree. Backed by the army and the Heimwehr (Home Defense League), a Fascist paramilitary organization, in February 1934 the government crushed the Socialist opposition. Later all political parties were abolished except the Fatherland Front, which Dollfuss had created to unite the conservative forces. In April he introduced a constitution that did away with parliamentary government and vested control in the executive. Dollfuss was killed in July during an attempted Nazi putsch (takeover). Under the new chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, the regime drifted on, weakened by internal rivalries but sustained by promises of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to maintain the status quo. His guarantee lasted only until the Rome-Berlin Axis was established in 1936. Schuschnigg soon reached an agreement with Adolf Hitler that acknowledged Austria as "a German state."
When Schuschnigg called for a plebiscite on Austrian independence in 1938, Hitler demanded and received his resignation. The Anschluss (annexation) was accomplished when German troops entered Austria on March 12, and a Nazi government was formed, headed by Arthur Seyss-Inquart. Austria, now called the Ostmark (Eastern March), was divided into seven administrative districts under the central authority of the German Third Reich.
World War II
In October 1943 the chiefs of state of the United States, Great Britain, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) signed the Moscow Declaration, which proclaimed the reestablishment of an independent Austria as one of the Allied war aims. Soviet troops liberated the eastern part of Austria, including Vienna, in April 1945. A provisional government headed by the Socialist leader Karl Renner was recognized by the Western occupation powers in October. National parliamentary elections were held in November, with ten parties participating. The Austrian People's Party (similar to the prewar Christian Social Party) won 85 of a total of 165 seats in the Nationalrat, the Socialists won 76 seats, and the Communists won four seats. In December both houses of parliament elected Renner president of the republic. A coalition government, with the People's Party leader Leopold Figl as chancellor, was then formed.
(1945 to the Present)
The Allied Occupation
In the meantime Austria had been divided into four zones of occupation controlled, respectively, by the United States, France, Great Britain, and the USSR. Vienna was similarly divided. By the terms of a June 1946 agreement, the Austrian government received qualified authority over the entire country, including the right to legislate and to administer the laws. The occupation powers retained authority on such matters as demilitarization and the disposal of German-owned property. German economic assets in each zone were assigned to the respective occupying power. Laws passed in 1946 and 1947 eliminated Nazi influence from public life, but former Nazis without criminal records were allowed to participate in general elections in 1949.
The Austrian government faced immediate problems that severely taxed its limited powers. The war had shattered industry and disrupted agricultural production and transportation and communication systems. The people of Austria had suffered much, including starvation. The first task of the Figl government was to institute a relief program. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) made major contributions, and by mid-1947 the danger of starvation had ended. The economic recovery was greatly facilitated after 1948 by United States aid given under the European Recovery Program. By 1951 industrial production had exceeded prewar peaks; it continued to rise in the succeeding years.
Restoration of Austrian Sovereignty
The most significant event in the postwar era was the restoration of Austrian sovereignty in May 1955, after long negotiations that had begun in 1947. The main issue between the USSR, on the one side, and the United States, Great Britain, and France, on the other, was the future of Germany. The Soviets would not give up their strategic position in Austria unless Germany was "neutralized." Among other issues were Soviet claims to German-owned property in Austria and Yugoslav territorial claims. Finally, in exchange for Soviet concessions Austria promised "…not to join any military alliances or permit any military bases on its territory." The four Allies and Austria signed the State Treaty on May 15, 1955, formally reestablishing the Austrian republic. The treaty prohibited Anschluss between Austria and Germany, denied Austria the right to own or manufacture nuclear weapons or guided missiles, and obligated Austria to give the USSR part of its crude oil output for years to come. The United States, Great Britain, and France gave up any claims on German assets, and in August the USSR relinquished control of the Austrian oil fields, 300 formerly German-owned enterprises, and 97,200 hectares (240,000 acres) of land. All occupation troops were withdrawn by October, and the legislature adopted a constitutional provision pledging Austrian military neutrality. In December Austria became a United Nations member. Six years later, in 1961, Austria completed payment to the USSR of $150 million for former German businesses.
The Second Republic
From 1945 until 1966 Austria was governed by a coalition of the Socialist and People's parties. The number of positions each party received depended on its share of votes in parliamentary elections. This framework was extended to the economic sphere, as the state, industry, labor, and agricultural interests developed a partnership and created a modified market economy. Prosperity rested in part on nationalized industries, such as electric power plants and oil refineries; the government also controlled the banks. A new Austrian national consciousness developed based on shared experiences of wartime devastation, reestablishment of national sovereignty, successful reconstruction of the country, and the international prestige gained from Austria's unique position as a bridge between East and West.
The coalition weathered occasional differences and the loss of prewar and wartime leaders. President Renner died in December 1950 and was succeeded by the Socialist Party leader, Theodore Koerner. While Socialist candidates were elected to the presidency (until 1986), the People's Party supplied all the federal chancellors until 1970. Elections to the Nationalrat in 1956, 1959, and 1962 resulted in little change in the relative strength of the two main parties. In 1957 Austria became embroiled in a dispute with Italy over the status of Austrians in the South Tirol, which had been under Italian rule since 1919. The settlement finally reached in 1970 called for implementation of a 1946 agreement guaranteeing the linguistic and cultural rights of the German-speaking Austrian population.
In 1960 Austria became a signatory to the pact establishing the European Free
Trade Association. The government announced in July 1961 that it would seek an
association with the European Economic Community (EEC) that was compatible with
its military neutrality. The initial Socialist Party opposition to participation
gradually waned, and in 1972 Austria signed a bilateral free-trade agreement
with the EEC.
The coalition government broke down in October 1965 because of a budget dispute that eventually forced the resignation of Chancellor Joseph Klaus. However, his party gained a small majority in the Nationalrat elections of March 1966, allowing Klaus to form the first People's Party government in the Second Republic
The Socialists won a narrow electoral victory in March 1970, which for the first time made them the largest party in the Nationalrat. Lacking a majority, however, Socialist leader Bruno Kreisky tried, but failed, to form a coalition with the People's Party. In May he was appointed chancellor and formed the first Austrian all-Socialist cabinet, supported in the Nationalrat by the smaller Freedom Party. In the 1971 elections the Socialists received an absolute majority of 93 seats and were able to govern alone. The Kreisky era was marked by modernization and a dramatic increase in the standard of living for people in all social classes. Many social and labor reforms were introduced. Kreisky's foreign policy initiatives gave Austria a position in international affairs far beyond its size. Despite his popularity and achievements, opposition developed around environmental issues, financial scandals, proposed tax increases, and especially the building of a nuclear power plant near Vienna. When antinuclear forces won a narrow victory in a 1978 referendum, the government was forced to abandon the nearly completed plant. Kreisky resigned in 1983, after the Socialists lost their absolute majority in the Nationalrat.
The new Socialist chancellor, Fred Sinowatz, formed a coalition with the Freedom Party; however, the alliance collapsed in 1986 when the Freedom Party took a sharp turn to the right under its new leader, Jörg Haider. Mismanagement and layoffs in the public sector coupled with controversy over privatization fueled discontent with the government, the Socialists, and the political patronage system. The presidential election in 1986 was won by the People's Party candidate, Kurt Waldheim, former secretary general of the United Nations, despite allegations that he had lied about his actions in the German army during World War II. The vote reflected the ambiguous attitude of many Austrians toward their country's Nazi past.
After parliamentary elections in November, Chancellor Sinowatz resigned and Franz Vranitzky, another Socialist, took office, forming a coalition with the People's Party. His government had to deal with continuing cutbacks in the public sector, high budget deficits, and international unease over Waldheim's election. The coalition survived the elections of October 1990, but lost seats to the right-wing Freedom Party. In 1991 Waldheim announced that he would not seek reelection the following year, and the Socialist Party changed its name to the Social Democratic Party. Thomas Klestil, a career diplomat and former ambassador to the United States, was elected president in 1992, partly on the promise to press forward Austria's application to join the European Union (EU). In 1994, five years after it was first submitted, Austria's application to join the EU was endorsed by the European Parliament and approved by Austrian voters in a nationwide referendum. The country officially joined the EU on January 1, 1995.
In the mid-1990s a number of violent incidents against minorities occurred in Austria, including numerous letter bombings. Underground extremist right-wing groups claimed responsibility for the attacks, heightening fears of a resurgent neo-Nazi movement in the country and spawning large public protests against the persecution of minorities.
In the October 1994 parliamentary election, the ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the People's Party retained a legislative majority but lost 23 seats. It was the worst showing by the coalition since 1945, reflecting rising dissatisfaction with the government's direction. The Freedom Party, which advocated greater restrictions on Austria's ethnic minorities, continued to make gains, winning a total of 42 seats in the Nationalrat. In October 1995 the ruling coalition collapsed over a budget dispute. In December the Social Democratic Party won elections once again, and in March 1996 it reunited with the People's Party to form a new government.
By late 1996 Haidar's right-wing Freedom Party had increased in popularity. An outspoken opponent of immigration and the EU, Haidar won support among working-class Austrians by arguing that both posed dangerous threats to Austrian jobs. He also tapped into a growing dissatisfaction among Austrians over budgetary cuts designed to meet EU criteria for participation in a common European currency by 1999. In January 1997 Vranitzky resigned as chancellor and leader of Austria's Social Democratic Party. He designated Finance Minister Viktor Klima as his successor.
Copyright © 2000 by Richard Jaklitsch