"Money can't buy friends, but you can get a better class of enemy” (Spike Milligan)




Japanese (coming soon)

From 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 and stability.

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.

The 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 overseas.

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 Belgrade.


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.


Field Marshal Radetzky and his Time

In 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 Europe.

Emperor Franz Joseph and Sarajevo (1867-1914)

As 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 appointed.

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.


World War I and The End of the Habsburg Monarchy

For 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 Habsburg Monarchy.

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.

back to top


Poster Austro-Hungarian Paper Money (incl. timeline)
Size: 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) history.
Highly decorative

Condition: New/Original/Sealed Packaging
Premium Reprint
Language: English

Map of Central Europe 1890 (Austro - Hungarian Empire, Habsburg Empire)
Size: 91 x 68 cm (35.5 x 26.5 inches)
An ideal gift for anybody with an interest in European history.
Highly decorative

Condition: New/Original/Sealed Packaging
Premium Reprint
Language: English