SHORT HISTORY OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE:
Japanese (coming soon)
the Thirty Years’ War to Prince Eugene of Savoy
The European history of the 17th century was characterized
by two main conflicts, namely by the clashes between Protestants
and Catholics, which affected almost all European countries
during the Thirty Years’ War (1618 - 1648), on the one
hand and by the continuing struggle against the Ottomans,
who tried to extend their territory from the Balkans towards
the west during the second half of the century, on the other.
In the west of the continent, France, ruled by King Louis
XIII and King Louis XIV, tried to gain supremacy in Europe
and to reduce the power of the Habsburgs in Spain as well
as in Germany. As a consequence - apart from the wars between
France and Spain - France started to conquer territories along
the Rhine and formed an alliance with the Ottomans. England
and the Netherlands, the new economic powers, also took part
in these events. During the fight for freedom of the Dutch
against the Spanish a new art of fencing had developed as
a consequence of a military reform of the Orange, which, mainly
based on expert training, permitted troops greater manoeuvrability
Until the beginning of the 17th century the imperial armies
varied in equipment and were only hired for the duration of
a campaign. Now they formed a permanently paid standing army.
Due to the lack of money of the Emperor the army was partly
financed by so-called war-contractors like generalissimo Albrecht
Duke of Mecklenburg, better known as Wallenstein. The peace
treaties of Osnabrück and Münster ended the Thirty
Years’ War in 1648.Compared to other Central European
armies the Ottoman army was organized completely different
and equipped with strange weapons like bows and arrows; it
had been pushing forward to the west since the 60ies of the
17th century and was defeated on August 1, 1664 at Mogersdorf
near St. Gotthard, situated on the river Raab.
But it was not until 20 years later that the advancement of
the Ottomans entered a crucial phase, as the Turkish army,
lead by Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha, marched up in front of
the gates of Vienna in July of 1683. The threat of the imperial
capital and royal residence threatened the whole of Central
Europe. And it was not until September 12, 1683 that Vienna
was relieved by a united army of imperial and Polish troops.
This was the turning point as well as the beginning of the
repulsion of the Turkish army. As a result of the decisive
battle at Zenta, situated on the river Theiß, (1697)
and the peace treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 a large part of
Hungary and all of Transylvania could be regained.
These successes were mainly due to the military genius and
diplomatic skills of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663 - 1736),
who therewith laid the foundation of Austria’s big-power
status during the first third of the 18th century.
18th Century (until 1790)
The 18th century was a time of continuing power struggles
in Central Europe, which were interrupted only by the French
Revolution. The main concern was the struggle for dominance
of France, England, Austria, Russia and Prussia. The extinction
of the Casa de Austria in Spain in 1700 (death of Charles
II) caused a huge power vacuum in Central Europe as well as
During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) Austria
and France struggled to gain supremacy over the regions and
provinces temporarily without a sovereign. In spite of the
glorious victories by the imperial troops which were led by
Prince Eugene of Savoy this struggle was finally resolved
by England’s partisanship. After first supporting the
Habsburgs, England feared a Habsburg hegemony and enforced
a splitting up of the Spanish heritage between the two belligerent
rival powers. Emperor Charles VI obtained the southern part
of the Netherlands and all former Spanish properties in Italy,
while Philip of Anjou became King of Spain and sovereign over
the Spanish overseas territories.
The events on the Balkans were, however, no less fundamental
and of serious consequences. Prince Eugene’s victories
at Peterwardein and Belgrade during the war against the Turks
from 1716 to 1718 secured the biggest extension for the Habsburg
Monarchy as well as its rise to the status of a major power
in Europe. The War of the Polish Succession then followed
between 1733 and 1738.Emperor Charles VI lost almost all of
his possessions gained in 1718 during another war against
the Turks from 1737 to 1739, which was fought in alliance
with the rising power Russia.
By means of the Pragmatic Sanction the Emperor tried to protect
the right of inheritance of his daughter Maria Theresia against
the claims of other European powers, but it was all in vain.
During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) Maria
Theresia had to defend her heritage against almost all neighboring
sovereigns.Her main opponent was King Frederick II of Prussia,
to whom - as the only loss of territory - she had to cede
Silesia in the end. As a result Prussia also gained the status
of a major power in Europe.
A new conflict (the so-called Seven Years’ War from
1756 to 1763) between Austria -initially supported by Russia
and France - on the one hand and Prussia on the other flared
up soon; in the end Frederick II retained his hold on Silesia.
This war culminated in a total reverse of the previous system
of European alliances, and on top of it had global political
consequences, too: during the War of the Spanish Succession
England had already replaced France in the trade with America,
and later on it captured all former French colonies in India
and North America. England thus managed to gain the status
of a world power. The end of this century saw Austria’s
last war against the Turks from 1788 to 1791, in which Emperor
Joseph II - in alliance with Russia - proved to be victorious
and in 1789 field marshal Laudon succeeded in recapturing
Austria and Europe 1789-1866
From the French Wars until 1848
Towards the end of his reign, Joseph II waged another war
against the Turks that again ended with capture of Belgrade
(1789). This victory was more important to Austria than the
French Revolution that took place at the same time. In Paris,
on 14 July 1789, an angry crowd stormed the Bastille, the
state penitentiary, a symbol of the much hated rule of King
Louis XVI. In April 1792, France declared war upon Austria.
The Habsburg Monarchy formed the so-called First Coalition
with Prussia and England.
The ensuing war lasted until 1797 and ended with the defeat
of the allies; for Austria it meant the loss of its dominions
in the west of Europe and of Lombardy. It gained Venetia,
however. In this war, Napoleon Bonaparte had increasingly
distinguished himself as a French general. Austria relied
on the military talent of Archduke Charles, the brother of
Emperor Francis II., who had achieved a number of victories,
including Würzburg in 1796.In 1799, the Secon Coalition
War broke out. It was conducted primarily by Austrians and
Russians against France. The Peace of Lunéville concluded
this war. France under Napoleon, who had crowned himself Emperor
of the French in 1804, very clearly aimed at dominating Europe.
As a consequence, Austria and Russia once again declared war
on France in 1805. It ended with the battle of Austerlitz
(Southern Bohemia) and the Peace of Pressburg (Bratislava).
Austria had to cede the Tyrol to Bavaria which was allied
with France. In 1806, Francis II. (1768-1853) laid down the
crown of the Holy Roman Emperor. He then ruled as Francis
I. of Austria. In 1809, the Habsburg monarchy attempted an
independent initiative. In spite of the long-lasting conflict
with France and its allies, Austria’s willingness to
make sacrifices seemed undiminished. National enthusiasm steadily
increased. Among other things, the establishment of the Landwehr,
a kind of territorial reserve, was testimony to this.
In the campaign, which lasted from April until July, Archduke
Charles won the Battle of Aspern (21./22. May, 1809), but
lost the Battle of Deutsch-Wagram (5./6. July, 1809), which
decided the war. In the Peace of Schönbrunn, Austria
again had to accept heavy territorial losses. Nevertheless,
the Habsburg Monarchy joined a coalition of Russians, Prussians,
Swedes, and the British. Napoleon’s fate was decided
in the Battle of Leipzig between 16 October and 19 October,
1813. At the end of March 1814, the allies arrived in Paris,
and Napoleon abdicated. The Congress of Vienna, which took
place between November 1814 and June 1815, served the purpose
of reorganizing Europe.
Napoleon’s attempt at restoration, which ended with
his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo and the exile of the
French Emperor, was all but an entr’acte. On 20 November
1815, the Second Peace Treaty of Paris was signed. Only a
few years after the Congress of Vienna, however, many European
countries were troubled by revolutionary movements caused
by major social and national problems. On 13 March, 1848,
revolution finally broke out in the Austrian Empire as well.
In Prague, the revolutionary movement was violently crushed.
In Vienna, the rebels succeeded in forcing the Imperial and
Royal troops stationed in the city to leave. It was not until
October that the Imperial city was recaptured by Prince Alfred
Windischgrätz and Feldmarschall-Leutnant Count Joseph
Jellacic, using enormous military means. In Hungary and Italy,
though, the situation remained extremely tense.
Marshal Radetzky and his Time
1848, the outbreak of revolution once again seemed to form
the prelude to the disintegration of the Austrian Empire.
The Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont took the revolutionary events
in Lombardy and in Venetia as an opportunity to declare war
on Austria. In Hungary, revolutionary and national forces
formed and began to march towards Vienna. Only after deploying
all available military forces was it possible to put down
the revolution and conduct war on two fronts. The engagement
thereby sometimes took on the characteristics of a blitzkrieg.
Field Marshal Radetzky, the supreme commander in the area,
defeated the Sardinian-Piedmontese army in a number of skirmishes
and battles, and called a truce which was renounced by Sardinia
in 1849.Once again Radetzky achieved victories at Mortara
and Novara, which brought about peace at least for a few years.
Yet Hungary was different. Fighting there dragged on all winter
and most of the year 1849 and could only be stopped through
the cooperation of Austrian troops with a Russian contingent.
On 2 December, 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I abdicated the throne
in favour of his nephew, Francis Joseph.
Thus began the Francisco-Josephinian era, which lasted for
68 years.After the victories in Italy and Hungary, the young
Emperor strove to consolidate the empire again, and to establish
a strong, centralized government. Francis Joseph tried to
continue using the Austrian army as an instrument to maintain
or restore order in Europe.In 1864, Austria and Prussia combined
to go to war against Denmark. The conflict was about the two
German-speaking principalities of Schleswig and Holstein,
both of which were under Danish administration. The victors
of this war, Austria and Prussia, quarreled over the two territories.
On 8 April, 1866, Prussia formed a league against Austria
with the Kingdom of Italy. Under the command of Archduke Albrecht,
the southern army of the Austrians was victorious near Custoza
(south of lake Garda) on 24 June, 1866. But the war was decided
in the north.The Austrian Army under Feldzeugmeister Ludwig
von Benedek suffered a devastating defeat near Königgrätz
(Hradec Králové, east of Prague) on 3 July.
The Peace Treaty of Prague pushed the Austrian Empire out
of the German Confederation for good. It kept only its positions
in the eastern part of central Europe and in south-eastern
Emperor Franz Joseph and Sarajevo (1867-1914)
a result of Austria’s defeat in the war against Prussia
in 1866 the Habsburg Monarchy lost much of its influence in
shaping the policy of the German states. Thus it was of utmost
importance to create a permanent political structure for its
own provinces. The most pressing problem was the Hungarian
question. Since the revolutionary wars of 1848 and 1849, the
provinces of the Hungarian crown, namely Hungary, Slovakia,
Croatia andTransylvania, had partly lost their former liberties
and came under strict Hungarian civilian and military control.
But this should not last.
In 1867, after lengthy negotiations, the socalled „Compromise
of 1867“ (Ausgleich) could be reached in which the relationship
between the provinces of the Hungarian crown and the rest
of the Empire was completely redesigned.The Habsburg Monarchy
was henceforth divided into two parts, namely the Austrian
provinces (Cisleithania) and the provinces of the Hungarian
crown (Transleithania). Each half was supposed to have its
own government and its own regional parliaments. After 1867
there were only three areas which were handled by both parts
in common, namely foreign affairs, finances and defense. And
only for these three sectors supranational ministers were
This „Compromise of 1867“ brought the most far-reaching
consequences for the army. In those days the „k.u.k.“
(imperial and royal) army and the „k.u.k. (imperial
and royal) navy were formed. In addition to that the „k.u.“
(royal Hungarian) Honvéd was formed in the Hungarian
part of the Dual Monarchy and the „Imperial and Royal
Yeomanry“ (k.u.k. Landwehr) in the Austrian half. The
period of peace between 1867 and 1914 was interrupted only
by one bigger military event, which is known in Austria’s
history as the campaign of the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
in 1878. Bosnia and Herzegovina, former provinces of the Ottoman
Empire, were then occupied by Austro-Hungarian troops.
In 1908 these territories were fully annexed. Apart from that
the Austro-Hungarian Empire participated only indirectly in
the European power game. Austria entered an alliance with
Germany in 1879 which was extended to Italy in 1882. Thus
we speak of the „Dual Alliance“ and of the „Tripartite
Alliance“. From 1908 onwards the Austro-Hungarian Empire
was more and more involved in the conflicts in the Balkans.
After several decades it became apparent that the „Compromise
of 1867“ had not brought about a completely satisfying
solution for the Habsburg Monarchy’s problems.
The demands of the altogether eleven bigger nationalities
of the Habsburg Monarchy, could obviously only be met by means
of a completely new and radical restructuring of the Empire.
Hopes that this goal might be achieved were, above all, placed
in the heir apparent to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Emperor Franz Joseph had, however, not assigned significant
political responsibilities to his nephew restricting him to
a merely military role which included supreme command of the
armed forces in case of war. On Sunday, June 28, 1914, while
visiting Sarajevo, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were
assassinated by a Serbian nationalist.
War I and The End of the Habsburg Monarchy
Austria-Hungary Serbia was the only one to be blamed for the
assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in
Sarajevo, and the only consequence for this could be the subjugation
of Serbia. As a result Austria-Hungary made a number of ultimate
demands on Serbia, which induced Serbia to mobilize and Russia
to lend them political support. Thus, a limited local conflict
developed into a war against an alliance which at the end
of July 1914 saw Austria-Hungary, the German Reich and later,
at the end of October 1914, also the Ottoman Empire as the
"Central Powers" (Mittelmächte) on one side
and Serbia, Russia as well as France and Great Britain, both
allies of Russia, as "The Entente" on the other.
At first the emphasis of all military actions of Austria-Hungary
was concentrated on the Balkans and on Galicia, while the
German Reich set out to overthrow France. But Austria-Hungary
was unsuccessful in Serbia and Galicia as were the Germans
in the West. Already at the end of 1914 Austrians and Germans
had to take every effort to stem the tide of the advancing
Russian army. The danger from the East was not over until
after the Austrian offensive at Tarnòw Gorlice in May
of 1915, the same month in which Italy declared war on the
In spite of all these set-backs for Austria-Hungary and the
German Reich, several important military victories could be
claimed. Bulgaria joined in as an ally of the Central Powers
by autumn of 1915. Serbia was defeated and the Central Powers
were able to establish a land bridge to Turkish territory.
In a first offensive, out of South Tyrol, at the beginning
of 1916, the Central Powers failed to defeat Italy. This resulted
in a series of battles of attrition along the Isonzo frontline
until the end of 1917. In the East the Russian army was forced
to withdraw in 1917 because of the Russian Revolution. This
lead at first to a ceasefire and then to the conclusion of
the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
The defeat of Romania, which in September of 1916 had also
declared war on the Central Powers, was likewise a success.
Another tactical victory was the l2th battle at the Isonzo
in October and November of 1917 which was won by the Austrian
and German armies. But the current military situation obscured
the view on domestic political decay inside the German Reich
and particularly the increasingly chaotic conditions within
the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The lack of food and collapsing
distribution reached catastrophic dimensions in 1917. Austria-Hungary,
already having had severe problems of balance with its 17
different nationalities during peace time, was now threatened
to fall apart.
Emperor Karl I, successor of Emperor Franz Joseph after the
latter's death in November 1916, intensively tried to reach
a peace agreement, but could not succeed. In 1918 strikes
and mutinies began to gain ground. In a last offensive, which
started on June 15, 1918, Austria-Hungary again desperately
tried to bring about a military decision, but this attempt
failed at the Piave river. In autumn of 1918 the Habsburg
Empire began to dissolve and the armed forces disintegrated
rapidly. On November 3rd, 1918 an armistice agreement was
reached and signed by Austria-Hungary at the Villa Giusti
in Padua. At that time the Habsburg Monarchy had already been
split into various national succession states and nations
- Europe had forever changed.
PORTAL LIVING HISTORY SERIES POSTERS:
Poster Austro-Hungarian Paper Money (incl. timeline)
91 x 68 cm (35.5 x 26.5 inches)
The Poster shows the particularly beautiful banknotes from
the period between 1867 and 1918. By designers such as Gustav
Klimt and Koloman Moser.
An ideal gift for anybody with an interest in European (monetary)
Condition: New/Original/Sealed Packaging
of Central Europe 1890 (Austro - Hungarian Empire, Habsburg
Size: 91 x 68 cm (35.5 x 26.5 inches)
An ideal gift for anybody with an interest in European history.
Condition: New/Original/Sealed Packaging