Austrian history

Brief history of Austria summarized

A brief review of the history of Austria, a country with certain links to Germany.

Middle Ages

From the fourth century BC the Celts lived in present-day Austria. At the end of the 1st century BC the Romans conquered the region up to the Danube and in 45 AD they created the province of Noricum. The Romans built cities like Vindobona (Vienna) in Austria. They also built roads and introduced the Roman way of life.

However, beginning in the fourth century AD, waves of tribesmen, including Germans and Avars, invaded Austria. Then Charlemagne, King of the Franks (768-814) conquered the area and made it part of his empire. After Charlemagne’s death, his empire was divided into three parts. Louis the German took the eastern section, which included Austria. Under Frankish rule, Austria prospered.

However, in the early 10th century a people called the Magyars began raiding Austria. The Magyars were defeated by the German King Otto I in 955, after which the Germans regained control of the region and the Magyars became the ancestors of the modern Hungarians.

In 1156 the Holy Roman Emperor made Austria a Duchy and its ruler became a Duke. Once again, Austria prospered. However, when an Austrian duke died in 1246, King Ottokar of Bohemia (Czech Republic) was elected duke and married the last duke’s widow.

In 1273, Rudolf von Habsburg became Holy Roman Emperor. He defeated the Czech king and in 1282 made his son Albert Duke of Austria. The Habsburgs ruled Austria for centuries. Little by little they acquired more territory and built a great empire in Central Europe.

In 1358 Rudolf IV, known as The Founder, became Duke of Austria. He founded the University of Vienna. In 1437, the Austrian Duke Albert II also became King of Hungary and Bohemia (Czech Republic). In 1438 he became Holy Roman Emperor. Austria was now the dominant power in Central Europe.

Years 1500-1800

However, in the early 16th century, Austria faced a powerful threat from the Turks. In 1529 the Turks besieged Vienna, but failed to capture it.

Despite the Turks, the Austrian Empire prospered during the 16th century, and trade grew. (Although the majority of the population is still peasant).

Meanwhile, all of Europe was shaken by the Reformation. A large number of people in the Austrian Empire converted to Protestantism. However, the Catholic Counter Reformation gained some ground. In addition, Rudolf II (1576-1612) persecuted the Protestants.

Later, Austria participated in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), which caused devastation in many Habsburg lands. Furthermore, in 1683 the Turks besieged Vienna again. However, an army of Germans and Poles relieved Vienna. Afterwards, the Turks slowly fell back.

During the 18th century Austria prospered despite several long wars. The first of these was the War of the Spanish Succession of 1701-1714, which ended with the incorporation of Sardinia and part of Italy into the Austrian Empire.

More problems were created because Emperor Charles VI (1711-1740) did not have a male heir. He convinced foreign powers and national assemblies within his empire to accept his daughter as the next ruler. Maria Teresa succeeded him in 1740.

However, Frederick the Great of Prussia quickly took Silesia and started the 1740-1748 War of the Austrian Succession. During the war, Maria Theresa had to fight against the Prussians, French and Spanish.

In 1748 Maria Theresa’s husband, Francis of Lorraine, was named Emperor Francis I. When he died in 1765, she ruled with her son Joseph II (1765-1790).

At the end of the 18th century, the French Revolution plunged Europe into chaos. From 1792 to 1815, Austria and France fought a series of wars.

During that period, in 1806 Napoleon dissolved the Holy Roman Empire. The ruler of Austria gave up the title of Holy Roman Emperor and became Emperor Francis I of Austria.

XIX century

After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, Klemens Metternich, the Foreign Minister became the leading figure in Austrian politics. He introduced a repressive regime opposed to liberal ideas. However, despite the repression, Austria prospered and industrialization took place in some areas in the mid-19th century.

However, during the 19th century nationalism was a growing force in the Austrian Empire. The various peoples, such as the Hungarians and the Czechs, were increasingly dissatisfied with Austrian rule.

Then, in 1848, a wave of revolutions swept across Europe, including the Austrian Empire. Metternich resigned, and at first the Emperor made concessions. However, the army remained loyal and Emperor Ferdinand I abdicated in favor of his nephew Franz Joseph. The new emperor restored absolute rule in Austria and the old order returned.

However, Austria was defeated by France in a war in 1859. It was also defeated by Prussia in 1866. After that, Austria ceased to be the dominant power in Central Europe. That role passed to Prussia.

After the war, in 1867, the Austrian Empire was divided into two parts. It became the Austro-Hungarian Empire, made up of Austria on one side and Hungary on the other. Both were ruled by the same Emperor.

At the end of the 19th century, industry in the Vienna area grew rapidly. In addition, railways were built throughout the empire. However, the various ethnic groups of the Austro-Hungarian Empire still yearned for independence.

Twentieth century

Then, in 1914, Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, was assassinated. That event led to World War I.

In October 1918, even before the war was officially over, the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to disintegrate as the various races declared their independence. On November 11, 1918 the Emperor abdicated and on November 12 the Republic of Austria was declared.

During the 1920s Austria recovered from the war, but in the early 1930s, like the rest of the world, Austria suffered from depression.

In July 1934 the Nazis attempted a coup and shot Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss. However, the troops defeated the coup. However, Hitler was determined to absorb Austria. In early 1938 Hitler forced the Austrian government to appoint Nazis to important posts.

Chancellor Schuschnigg proposed a referendum on the question of whether Austria should join Germany. However, Hitler was not satisfied and German troops massed along the border. Schuschnigg resigned and on March 12, 1938, German troops occupied Austria.

Austria suffered greatly during World War II. Many Austrian soldiers died and the country suffered from Allied bombing and Russian invasion in 1945. However, in 1943 the Allies decided to restore an independent Austria after the war.

The first provisional government in Austria was formed in April 1945 and in July 1945 Austria was divided into 4 zones by the allies (USA, France, Great Britain and Russia). The first parliamentary elections were held in November 1945.

In 1955 Austria became an independent nation again. Parliament declared permanent neutrality. Austria joined the United Nations in December 1955.

The late 20th century was a time of prosperity and economic growth for Austria. Then, in 1995, Austria joined the EU. Austria joined the euro in 1999.

XXI century

Like the rest of the world, Austria suffered in the 2009 recession but soon recovered. Today Austria is a prosperous country. At present, the population of Austria is 8.7 million inhabitants.

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