History of Austria

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

Premodern history

Various Celtic tribes settled the Central European territory that is now Austria in pre-Roman times. The Roman Empire eventually annexed the Celtic kingdom of Noricum and made it a province. Petronell-Carnuntum, now in eastern Austria, was an important army camp that later became the seat of the Upper Pannonia region. For approximately 400 years, Carnuntum was home to 50,000 people.

The region was overrun by Bavarians, Slavs, and Avars after the Roman Empire fell. In 788, King Charlemagne of the Franks conquered the region, encouraging colonization and introducing Christianity. The key regions that presently make up Austria were handed to the family of Babenberg as part of Eastern Francia. The marchia Orientalis, as it was known, was awarded to Leopold of Babenberg in 976.

The oldest documented mention of the term Austria is from 996, and it is spelled as Ostarrîchi, alluding to the Babenberg March's domain. The Privilegium Minus raised Austria to duchy rank in 1156. The Babenbergs also took over the Duchy of Styria in 1192. The Babenberg line died out with Frederick II's death in 1246.

As a consequence, the duchies of Austria, Styria, and Carinthia were virtually taken over by Ottokar II of Bohemia. His reign came to an end in 1278 when he was defeated at Dürnkrut by Rudolph I of Germany. Following that, Austria's history has primarily been defined by its reigning dynasty, the Habsburgs.

Early Habsburg period (1453-1680)

The Habsburgs began to amass new territories around the Duchy of Austria in the 14th and 15th century. In 1438, Emperor Sigismund's son-in-law, Duke Albert V of Austria, was chosen to succeed him. With the exception of Albert, who barely ruled for a year, every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was a Habsburg from then on.

The Habsburgs began to acquire land outside of their inherited holdings as well. Archduke Maximilian, Emperor Frederick III's only son, married the heiress Maria of Burgundy in 1477, gaining control of the majority of the Netherlands for the family. His son Philip the Fair married Joanna the Mad, the heiress of Castile and Aragon, in 1496, and the Habsburgs acquired Spain, as well as its Italian, African, Asian, and New World extensions.

Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, Austrian control was established in Bohemia and the remaining parts of Hungary not held by the Ottomans. The Ottoman advance into Hungary resulted in many clashes between the two empires, most notably during the Long War (1593–1606). The Turks invaded Styria about 20 times, with some of them being described as "burning, pillaging, and capturing thousands of slaves." Suleiman the Magnificent initiated the first Siege of Vienna in late September 1529, which ended in failure, according to Ottoman historians, with early-season snowfalls.

Great Turkish Wars (1680-1720)

In the 1680s, the Austrian Empire has engaged in the Great Turkish War, a series of conflicts between the Ottomans and the Holy League, whom Austria is part of. As a result, Ottomans would lose several territories in Hungary, except major parts of Croatia and Banat in Treaty of Neusatz. Austrians would not advocate for more advances, as Spanish Succession War would be erupting by the death of Charles II.

In 1699, Austria would agree on son of elector of Bavaria, Joseph Ferdinand would be awarded Spain while Austria and France would be splitting Spanish possessions in Italy. However, that would be annulled as Joseph Ferdinand died in just that year and a second partition treaty would be installed. Spain, Spanish Netherlands and would be inherited by Karl von Habsburg, second son of Leopold I, Holy Roman Empire while Italian possessions (Naples, Sicily and Milan) would go to France.

Spanish, seeing the negative reputation of France after Triple Alliance Wars, would agree on these terms and after the death of Charles II, Karl von Habsburg would be coronated as Charles III in 1701. This would cause the continuation of Habsburg alliance chain between Spain and Austria. In 1705, Leopold I would die and his oldest son, Joseph I, would inherit Austria. In 1706, Joseph I would be having twin sons which would be seen as a sign of God, and would reinforce the prestige of Habsburgs.

Second Chain Of Wars: Sava-Drava Campaign And Great Silesian Wars (1720-1790)

Austrians would have to be engaged in a second series of war with Ottomans during the 1730s. Known as Sava-Drava Campaign, Ottomans would be crushed by Austria and had to award their territories in Croatia, Banat and Serbia via Treaty of Smederovo in 1735. Austrians would be facing another war, by the Great Silesian War declared in 1750. Prussia, using an old claim on Silesia, would be allying France and Sweden. This would also push Austria to establish a coalition of four-nation with Britain, Spain and the Netherlands.

While France and Prussia would have been advancing at first, the tides turned in favor of the coalition, resulting in the Treaty of Vienna. Prussia would have been dismembered, while France would be losing many colonies. Habsburgs would be dominating the Europe until Augustine Wars.

Augustine Wars and New Balance (1790-1860)

Augustine Wars, waved by the French Revolution and Spiga’s coup, would be hitting warily after 1795. Austria would be trying to reestablish Ancien Régime, which turned out to be a failure. France, occupying Habsburg territories of Franche-Comté and Brabant and forming a client state in the Netherlands, and drew the attention of many European nations. Nevertheless, French would be occupying many parts of Europe and be pushing Austria in a state of disarray by puppeting Austria and German principalities.

However, French attack on Ottomans in 1811 would put French in a precarious situation, so they would be facing many defeats, causing Ottoman liberation of Austria and formation of newly fresh and amicable relations between two nations. The British, Ottoman and Austrian would be overrunning France. In 1814, Congress of Vienna would be reestablishing a new balance system between European nations. Austria, giving up parts of Serbia, would be allowed to annex Bavaria which would have been seen as a French loyal state. States of Hannover, Saxony and Pomerania would be reestablished; and the rest of many German principalities would be reunited under a new confederation, a rump continuation of the Holy Roman Empire. Austrian Empire, seeing this as a way to prevent nationalism to rise again, would be accepting this division between German nations.

Nevertheless, Austria would be feeling in threat as Ottomans would highly be increasing their grip over Balkans and Mediterranean Sea while Russia would be establishing new trade routes and posts in Pacific Ocean. Given that, they would be agreeing with other minor German nations on annexation of some territories from Poland. The territories of Weichselland, Sieradzland and Galicia would be annexed and established with Polish Partition in 1834.

An Age of Liberty (1862-1900)

Austrian Empire would see many reforms to catch their rivals and neighborhoods, which would not be much successful. Given their political situation, Austria's contemporary king, Francis II, great-grand son of Joseph I, would be highly hesitant to implement new reforms and give up his royal power. This would cause both liberal and national revolts in many regions of the country. Francis II would be abdicating in favor of his modernist and ambitious brother, Ferdinand VI in 1862. Ferdinand VI would be the main factor of Austrian modernization, both politically and economically. He would first grant new rights to liberal protestors by establishing an assembly and limiting his rights, then he would be defeating many of national protests and be establishing new administrative reforms, whose the most famous is the division of Hungary into smaller regions such as Thisseland, Pannonia, Ungvar and Falviedek.

This new age of liberty would allow many new republican ideologies to develop as communardism (which would be highly dominant in France), progressivism, Faramundizm (a new ideology seeking for German unification and the main organization of Rhenish revolution); the rather Neostabilism (which is a conservative and authoritarian political theory).

This new age would be proven right as Austria would be increasing its prestige by being the mediator power in both Treaty of Amsterdam and Treaty of Angorra, which they would be allowed to annex Bosnia and Bukovina. However, there would be arguments as it would be highly diminishing their military power, which turned out right.

The Crises During 20th Century: Alpine Wars And Rise Of Neostabilists (1900-1935)

Claudia Magdalena, last monarch of Austria

Venice, annexing Marche and forming an allied Latium Republic in Latial Wars of 1908, would have been seen as a threat by the Austrians. Alpine Wars would erupt as Austria would try to prevent another Venetian aggression. They could not, however, be standing the unfavorable geographic conditions and British pressure to accept peace. This would push Austria in a new political debate and the political rise of both Faramundism and Neostabilism. While this political debate was continuing for a few years, Neostabilists would be capturing the government in 1914 and be establishing themselves as their key allies to king.

The new chancellor, Emmerich Stefanov, would be going for nationalist reforms such as establishment of many German schools and possible Germanization of some border regions such as Transylvania and Banat. While they would be also going for economic and

military modernization, whose latter one was seen much vital. In 1922, European Economic Crisis would cause a new wave of authoritarian rulers and new economic reforms. This would cause Austria being slightly less affected, despite being highly close to other German nations where the crisis hit hard.

While they have been going under a series of militarization efforts, they would redevelop their relations with Ottomans, who also underwent a similar process of modernization. This would push them into an alliance with France, who also grew resentment against British and Russian. In 1929, they would be establishing Tripartite Pact, which would be cordial to their cooperation.

Austria in the Great War

The Austrian Empire was one of the three principal members of the Tripartite Coalition. The neostabilists of Austria saw Faramundism, or the ideology of German unification, as a threat to Austrian hegemony in Central Europe. Austrian Chancellor Emmerich Stefanov began a campaign on suppressing Faramundism in and on the peripheries of the Austrian Empire. In the Kingdom of Saxony, Faramundism (and other ideologies deemed by the Austrians as radical) were freely allowed to flourish. This concerned the neostabilists of Austria. A British intelligence report in early 1935 reported a military presence building upon the Austrian-Saxon border. As such, the British were on high alert but wanted to avoid resorting to military intervention at all costs should an Austro-Saxon conflict happen.

Austrian occupation of Saxony (June 1935)

On June 7, 1935, Austrian troops mobilized and invaded the Kingdom of Saxony. Austrian ambassador to Britain, Friedrich Boehme, reported that it was not an act of war against the Kingdom of Saxony but a response to the Saxon monarchy's calls to quell the "state of anarchy" and restore order. The Saxon government was also reported to be in debt to the Austrian monarchy, which the Austrians used to justify their occupation. Austrian news reported the occupation as "welcomed" by the Saxon public. However, post-war analyses revealed this statement to be largely untrue. Britain, still unwilling to intervene directly, resorted to diplomatic means to resolve the issue, which resulted in Britain eventually recognizing the Austrian occupation on June 27, 1935.

Not long after, by the next week, on July 1, 1935, British intelligence once again reported a large buildup of the Austrian military, this time on the Pomeranian border. This shifted the attitude of Britain towards Austria. On July 5, Britain declared a guarantee of Pomeranian independence, warning Austria of a war should they invade Pomerania.

Austro-Ottoman Invasion of Poland (September 1936)

When the Great War erupted, Poland officially declared neutrality. Austria and the Ottomans tried to coerce the Polish state into siding with the Tripartite Coalition, to allow them access through Polish territory. However, Poland steadfastly refused. As a response, Austria started supplying the German insurrectionists in the north with weapons and auxiliary support. In the south, there have been reports of Ottoman troops crossing Polish borders. The Polish Sejm accused Austria of agitating for war, but this was denied by both Austria.

On the 18th and 20th of September 1936, two explosions damaged parts of the Krakau railway, killing two Austrian servicemen. Three people were arrested, identified by Austria as "Polish nationalists." Although Poland denied any involvement in the attacks, the Austrians maintained that these were "acts of subversion carried out by the Polish state." On 26 September 1936, the Austrian Empire declared war on Poland. This was followed with the Ottomans also declaring war on Poland on the same day. The Austrians overran the northern part of Poland and proceeded to invade the Baltic coast (part of the Russian National Republic).

Operation Vendémiaire: The failed Franco-Austrian invasion of the Netherlands and Rhineland (September 1937)

After several significant losses in Africa and North Germany, Camille Laframboise of France and Stefanov Emmerich of Austria engineered a military operation aimed to shock Great Britain and Russia and distract them from the other active fronts of the war. It also aimed to close what Camille Lafamboise saw as a gap between the Tripartite's Coalition's zone of control: the Rhine and the low countries. The plan was dubbed Operation Vendémiaire (lit. "Operation Grape Harvester" in Occitan). Operation Vendémiaire was launched on September 7, 1937, and began with attacks on the neutral Netherlands and Rhineland.

France had hoped that the Netherlands would easily capitulate, considering that they recently came out of a war in East Asia, while also expecting Rhineland to respond poorly to coordinated Austrian attacks on their eastern border. However, the plan did not do well as anticipated. The French were able to capture Antwerp by the end of September, but the Dutch were able to put up a significant resistance and prevented the French army from moving northward. Instrumental to the defense was Dutch admiral Louw Verduijn, who was vehemently anti-French and a close ally of the King of the Netherlands. By the end of the year, with British reinforcement, the Dutch were able to push back the advancing French and forced a retreat. In Rhineland, the Austrians were able to capture Erfurt and Goettingen, but were forced to retreat after being defeated by an Anglo-Rhenish force in the Battle of Alsfield.

Austrian Defeat (1939)

The failure of Operation Vendémiaire contributed to Austria's decision to surrender to the Cordial League. Despite the failures, Austrian Empress Claudia Maddalena relentlessly campaigned for Austria to continue the fight. She personally spoke in public radio to boost the morale of Austrian soldiers and subjects, and prodded Chancellor Emmerich Stefanov to secure victory. However, the Russian capture of Budapest and British capture of Munich pressured the chancellor to declare surrender in September 1938. Shortly after, the Congress of Amsterdam was held in the Netherlands, discussing the terms of peace for Austria and the Ottoman Empire, all the while still fighting France.

Partition of the Austrian Empire (1939)

In the resulting Congress of Amsterdam (1939), the Austrian Empire was broken up into several independent states.

  • Russian zone of occupation
    • Galicia: A National Republic established as a homeland for Jews.
    • Slovakia: A National Republic for ethnic Slovaks.
    • Magyaria: A national republic for the Magyars (Hungarians). It was originally established as the National Republic of Hungary, but later renamed themselves Magyaria (land of the Magyars) in 1941.
  • British zone of occupation
    • Austria: The Austrian monarchy was abolished, and a liberal democracy was established in Austria.
    • Bohemia: A constitutional monarchy.

Post-war Austria

Austria was reestablished as a liberal republic under the auspices of the British. This government was known as the First Republic of Austria, that lasted from 1939 to 1965. The First Republic of Austria was marred with political tensions, coming from communard, Faramundist, and National Republican groups. Shortly after the war, Faramundist groups, unhappy with the turnout of the war, resorted to a campaign of violence and terrorism. This caused Faramundism to lose support from within Austria and the neighboring states of Saxony, Pomerania, Rhineland, and Hanover.

Instead, support for the National Republican Party of Austria rose. Contrary to the Faramundists, the National Republicans promoted a unique Austrian identity. This movement was supported by Russia. Political strife culminated in the Austrian Civil War, that lasted from 1962-1965. The Austrian National Republicans won the Austrian Civil War, after a peace was brokered by Russia between the rivalling factions. After the National Republicans rose to power, other political parties were banned in Austria.