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Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
Other names
Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie (de)
Osztrák-Magyar Monarchia ( hu)

Civil Ensign Imperial & Royal Coat of arms
Indivisibiliter ac Inseparabiliter
"Indivisible and Inseparable"
Imperial anthem

Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze / Unsern Kaiser, unser Land!
"God preserve, God protect / Our Emperor, our country!"
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1914.
Capital Vienna (main capital) and Budapest
Languages Official languages:
German, Hungarian, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Croatian, Italian, Serbian
Unofficial languages:
Slovak, Slovene, Bosnian, Rusyn, Yiddish
Religion Roman Catholic; also Protestant, Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Sunni Islam (after the annexation of Bosnia)
Government Constitutional monarchy, personal union through the Dual Monarchy
Emperor- King
 -  1867–1916 Francis Joseph I
 -  1916–1918 Charles I & IV
 -  1867 Friedrich von Beust (first)
 -  1918 Heinrich Lammasch (last)
Prime Minister
 -  1867–1871 Gyula Andrássy (first)
 -  1918 János Hadik (last)
Legislature Imperial Council,
Diet of Hungary
 -  Upper house Herrenhaus,
House of Magnates
 -  Lower house Abgeordnetenhaus,
House of Representatives
Historical era New Imperialism / World War I
 -  1867 Compromise 1 March 1867
 -  Czecho-Slovak indep. 28 October 1918
 -  State of SCS indep. 29 October 1918
 -  Vojvodina 25 November 1918
 -  Dissolution 31 October 1918
 -  Dissolution treaties¹ in 1919 & in 1920
 -  1914 676,615 km² (261,243 sq mi)
 -  1914 est. 52,800,000 
     Density 78 /km²  (202.1 /sq mi)
Currency Gulden
Krone (from 1892)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Austrian Empire
German Austria
Hungarian Democratic Republic
First Czechoslovak Republic
West Ukrainian People's Republic
Second Polish Republic
State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs
Banat, Bačka and Baranja
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
Kingdom of Romania
Today part of  Austria
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Czech Republic
1) Treaty of Saint-Germain signed 10 September 1919 and the Treaty of Trianon signed 4 June 1920.
Austro-Hungarian Empire
Official Long names
(and English translation thereof)
en: The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen
de: Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder und die Länder der heiligen ungarischen Stephanskrone
hu: A birodalmi tanácsban képviselt királyságok és országok és a magyar Szent Korona országai

Austria-Hungary (also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy or K.u.K. Monarchy, Dual Monarchy, Danube Monarchy), more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in Central Europe, which operated from 1867 to October 1918, following the end of World War I. The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, under which the House of Habsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them. The Austrian and the Hungarian lands became independent entities enjoying equal status.

Austria-Hungary was a multinational realm and one of the world's great powers at the time. Austria-Hungary was geographically the second largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire (621,538 square kilometres (239,977 sq mi)), and the third most populous (after Russia and the German Empire). The Empire built up the fourth largest machine building industry of the world (after the United States, German Empire and the United Kingdom).

The dual monarchy existed for 51 years until it dissolved on 31 October 1918 at the end of World War I. Many modern-day nation states have emerged in the territory formerly belonging to the realm. These include Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, large parts of Serbia and Romania, and smaller parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine.

Structure and name

The Habsburg monarch ruled as Emperor of Austria over the western and northern half of the country that was the Austrian Empire ( Cisleithania or "Lands represented in the Imperial Council") and as King of Hungary over the Kingdom of Hungary ( Transleithania or " Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen"). Each enjoyed considerable sovereignty, with only a few joint affairs (principally foreign relations and defence).

Certain regions, such as Galicia within Cisleithania and Croatia within Hungary enjoyed autonomous status, each with its own unique governmental structures. (See: Galician autonomy and Croatian-Hungarian Agreement.)

The division was so marked between Austria and Hungary that there was no common citizenship: a person was either an Austrian or a Hungarian citizen, and no one was allowed to hold dual citizenships. The difference in citizenship also meant that, there were always separate Austrian and Hungarian passports, never a common one.

The Empire of Austria and Kingdom of Hungary have always maintained separate parliaments. (See: Imperial Council (Austria) and Diet of Hungary.) Legally, except for the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, common laws have never existed in the Empire of Austria and Kingdom of Hungary. All laws, even the ones with identical content, such as the compromise of 1867, had to pass the parliaments of both Vienna and Budapest. They were published in the respective official media (in the Austrian part, it was called Reichsgesetzblatt and was issued in eight languages).

Despite the fact that Austria and Hungary shared a common currency, they were fiscally sovereign and independent entities.

From 1527 (the creation of the monarchic personal union) to 1851, Kingdom of Hungary maintained own customs borders, which separated her from the other parts of the Habsburg-ruled territories. Since 1867, the Austrian and Hungarian customs union agreement had to be renegotiate and stipulate in every ten years. The agreements were renewed and signed by Vienna and Budapest at the end of every decade, because both country hoped mutual economic benefit by the customs union.

The two capitals of the Monarchy were Vienna for Austria and Buda for Hungary. In 1873 when Buda united with two neighbouring cities ( Pest and Óbuda), Budapest became the new capital. Vienna served as the Monarchy's primary capital. The Cisleithan part contained about 57% of the combined realm's population and the larger share of its economic resources. Today, the territory it covered has a total population of about 69 million.

1910 census Territory in km2 Population
Austria 300,005 28,571,934
Hungary 325,411 20,886,487
Bosnia & Herzegovina 51,027 1,931,802
Sandžak/ Raška (occupied until 1909) 8,403 135,000

As a multinational empire and great power in an era of national awakening, Austria-Hungary, as a prison of nations according to some, had politics often dominated by disputes among the eleven principal national groups.

The Monarchy bore the name internationally of Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie (by decision of Franz Joseph I in 1868). Its full name, Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder und die Länder der Heiligen Ungarischen Stephanskrone, meant "The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen".

Name in official languages of Austria-Hungary

Names of the Dual Monarchy in the officially recognized languages of its citizens:

  • Bosnian: Austro-Ugarska
  • Croatian: Austro-Ugarska
  • Czech: Rakousko-Uhersko
  • German: Österreich-Ungarn
  • Hungarian: Osztrák-Magyar Monarchia
  • Italian: Austria-Ungheria
  • Polish: Austro-Węgry
  • Romanian: Austro-Ungaria
  • Serbian: Aустро-Угарска/Austro-Ugarska
  • Slovak: Rakúsko-Uhorsko
  • Slovene: Avstro-Ogrska
  • Ukrainian: Австро-Угорщина ( transliterated: Avstro-Uhorshchyna)


The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (called the Ausgleich in German and the Kiegyezés in Hungarian), which inaugurated the empire's dual structure in place of the former unitary Austrian Empire (1804–67), originated at a time when Austria had declined in strength and in power—both in the Italian Peninsula (as a result of the Second Italian War of Independence of 1859) and among the states of the German Confederation. (It had been surpassed by Prussia as the dominant German-speaking power following the Austro-Prussian War, also named the German War, of 1866).

Other factors in the constitutional changes were continued Hungarian dissatisfaction with rule from Vienna and increasing national consciousness on the part of other nationalities (or ethnicities) of the Austrian Empire. Hungarian dissatisfaction arose partly from Austria's suppression, with Russian support, of the Hungarian liberal revolution of 1848–49. However, dissatisfaction with Austrian rule had grown for many years within Hungary, and had many other causes.

By the late 1850s, a large number of Hungarians who had supported the 1848–49 revolution were willing to accept the Habsburg monarchy. They argued that while Hungary had the right to full internal independence, under the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 foreign affairs and defense were "common" to both Austria and Hungary.

After the Austrian defeat at Königgrätz, the government realized it needed to reconcile with Hungary to regain status as a great power. The new foreign minister, Count Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust, wanted to conclude the stalemated negotiations with the Hungarians. To secure the monarchy, Emperor Franz Joseph began negotiations for a compromise with the Hungarian nobility to ensure their support. In particular, Hungarian leaders demanded and received the Emperor's coronation as King of Hungary, and the re-establishment of a separate parliament at Budapest, with powers to enact laws for the lands of the Holy Crown of Hungary.

From 1867 onwards, the abbreviations heading the names of official institutions in Austria-Hungary reflected their responsibility: K. u. k. (kaiserlich und königlich or Imperial and Royal) was the label for institutions common to both parts of the Monarchy, e.g. the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine (War Fleet) and, during the war, the k.u.k. Armee (Army). There were three k.u.k. or joint ministries:}

  • The Imperial and Royal Ministry of the Exterior and the Imperial House
  • The Imperial and Royal War Ministry
  • The Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance

The last was responsible only for financing the Imperial and Royal household, the diplomatic service, the common army and the common war fleet. All other state functions were to be handled separately by each of the two states.

From 1867 onwards, common expenditures were allocated 70% to Austria and 30% to Hungary. This split had to be negotiated every 10 years. By 1907, the Hungarian share had risen to 36.4%. The negotiations in 1917 ended with the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy.

The common army changed its label from k.k. to k.u.k. only in 1889, at the request of the Hungarian government.

  • K. k. (kaiserlich-königlich) or Imperial-Royal was the term for institutions of Cisleithania (Austria); "royal" in this label referred to the crown of Bohemia.
  • K. u. (königlich-ungarisch) or M. k. (Magyar királyi) ("Hungarian Royal") referred to Transleithania, the lands of the Hungarian crown.

Politics and government


There were three parts to the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire:

  1. common foreign, military and joint financial policy under the monarch
  2. the "Austrian" or Cisleithanian government
  3. the Hungarian government

Hungary and Austria maintained separate parliaments, each with its own prime minister. Linking/co-ordinating the two fell to a government under a monarch, wielding power absolute in theory but limited in practice. The monarch's common government had responsibility for the army, for the navy, for foreign policy, and for the customs union.

Due to the lack of common law between Austria and Hungary, to conclude on identical texts, the two parliaments elected delegations of 60 of their members each, which discussed motions of the Imperial & Royal ministries separately and worked toward compromise.

A common Ministerial Council ruled the common government: it comprised the three ministers for the joint responsibilities (joint finance, military, and foreign policy), the two prime ministers, some Archdukes and the monarch. Two delegations of representatives (60–60 members), one each from the Austrian and Hungarian parliaments, met separately and voted on the expenditures of the Common Ministerial Council, giving the two governments influence in the common administration. However, the ministers ultimately answered only to the monarch, and he had the final decision on matters of foreign and military policy.

Overlapping responsibilities between the joint ministries and the ministries of the two halves caused friction and inefficiencies. The armed forces suffered particularly from overlap. Although the unified government determined overall military direction, the Austrian and Hungarian governments each remained in charge of "the quota of recruits, legislation concerning compulsory military service, transfer and provision of the armed forces, and regulation of the civic, non-military affairs of members of the armed forces". Each government could have a strong influence over common governmental responsibilities. Each half of the Dual Monarchy proved quite prepared to disrupt common operations to advance its own interests.

Relations over the half-century after 1867 between the two parts of the Empire featured repeated disputes over shared external tariff arrangements and over the financial contribution of each government to the common treasury. Under the terms of the "Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867", an agreement, renegotiated every ten years, determined these matters. There was political turmoil during the build-up to each renewal of the agreement. The disputes between the two parts of the Empire culminated in the early 1900s in a prolonged constitutional crisis. It was triggered by disagreement over which language to use for command in Hungarian army units, and deepened by the advent to power in Budapest in April 1906 of a Hungarian nationalist coalition. Provisional renewals of the common arrangements occurred in October 1907 and in November 1917 on the basis of the status quo.


The first prime minister of Hungary after the Compromise was Count Gyula Andrássy (1867–1871). The old Hungarian Constitution was restored, and Franz Joseph was crowned as King of Hungary. Andrássy next served as the Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary (1871–1879).

The Empire relied increasingly on a cosmopolitan bureaucracy – in which Czechs played an important role – backed by loyal elements, including a large part of the German, Hungarian, Polish and Croat aristocracy.

Political struggles in the Empire

The traditional aristocracy and land-based gentry class gradually faced increasingly wealthy men of the cities, who achieved wealth through trade and industrialization. The urban middle and upper class tended to seek their own power and supported progressive movements in the aftermath of revolutions in Europe. They were described as "leftist liberals" and their representatives began to be elected to the parliaments of Vienna and Budapest. These leftist liberal parliamentary parties were backed by the big industrialists, bankers, businessmen and the predominant majority of newspaper publishers..

As in the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire frequently used liberal economic policies and practices. From the 1860s, businessmen succeeded in industrializing parts of the Empire. Newly prosperous members of the bourgeoisie erected large homes, and began to take prominent roles in urban life that rivaled the aristocracy's. In the early period of the Empire, they encouraged the government to seek foreign investment to build up infrastructure, such as railroads, in aid of industrialization, transportation and communications, and development.

The influence of liberals in Austria, most of them ethnic Germans, weakened under the leadership of Count Edouard von Taaffe, the Austrian prime minister from 1879–1893. Taaffe used a coalition of clergy, conservatives and Slavic parties to weaken the liberals. In Bohemia, for example, he authorized Czech as an official language of the bureaucracy and school system, thus breaking the German speakers' monopoly on holding office. Such reforms encouraged other ethnic groups to push for greater autonomy as well. By playing nationalities off one another, the government ensured the monarchy's central role in holding together competing interest groups in an era of rapid change.

During the First World War, rising national sentiments and labour movements contributed to strikes, protests and civil unrest in the Empire. After the war, republican, national parties contributed to the disintegration and collapse of the monarchy in Austria and Hungary. Republics were established in Vienna and Budapest.


Foreign policy

By the late 1860s, Austrian imperial ambitions in Italy and Germany had been ended by the rise of new national powers as the countries unified under centralized governments. With the decline and failed reforms of the Ottoman Empire, Slavic opposition in the occupied Balkans grew. Both Russia and Austria-Hungary saw an opportunity to expand in this region. In 1876, Russia offered to partition the Balkans, but Gyula Andrássy, the Imperial Foreign Minister from 1871 to 1879, declined. He believed that Austria-Hungary was already a "saturated" state, and it could not cope with additional territories.

But, the Congress of Berlin in 1878 transferred the province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a predominantly Slavic area formerly of the Ottoman Empire, to Austro-Hungarian control. The whole monarchy was thus drawn into a new style of diplomatic brinkmanship, first conceived of by Andrássy. More than a generation later, instability in the Balkans contributed to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo in 1914. The repercussions led to the outbreak of World War I.

Franz Joseph I. (1885), the emblematic figure of the Empire.


A 20- crown banknote of the Dual Monarchy. Note use of all official languages

The Austro-Hungarian economy changed dramatically during the Dual Monarchy. The capitalist way of production spread throughout the Empire during its 50-year existence replacing medieval institutions. Technological change accelerated industrialization and urbanization. The first Austrian stock exchange (the Wiener Börse) was opened in 1771 in Vienna, the first stock exchange of Kingdom of Hungary (the Budapest Stock Exchange) was opened in Budapest in 1864. The central bank of the Empire (Bank of issue) was founded as Austrian National Bank in 1816. In 1878, it transformed into Austro-Hungarian National Bank with principal offices in both Vienna and Budapest. The central bank was governed by alternating Asutrian or Hungarian governors and vice-governors.

The gross national product per capita grew roughly 1.76% per year from 1870–1913. That level of growth compared very favorably to that of other European nations such as Britain (1%), France (1.06%), and Germany (1.51%). However, in a comparison with Germany and Britain, the Austro-Hungarian economy as a whole still lagged considerably, as sustained modernization had begun much later. Like the German Empire, that of Austria-Hungary frequently employed liberal economic policies and practices. From the 1860s liberal businessmen succeeded in industrializing parts of the empire and the prosperous middle classes erected conspicuously large homes, thus gaining a prominence in urban life that rivalled that of the aristocracy. In 1873, the old Hungarian capital Buda and Óbuda (Ancient Buda) were officially merged with the third city, Pest, thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest. The dynamic Pest grew into Hungary's administrative, political, economic, trade and cultural hub. Many of the state institutions and the modern administrative system of Hungary were established during this period. Economic growth centred on Vienna and Budapest, the Austrian lands (areas of modern Austria), the Alpine region and the Bohemian lands. In the later years of the 19th century, rapid economic growth spread to the central Hungarian plain and to the Carpathian lands. As a result, wide disparities of development existed within the empire. In general, the western areas became more developed than the eastern.

However, by the end of the 19th century, economic differences gradually began to even out as economic growth in the eastern parts of the Empire consistently surpassed that in the western. The strong agriculture and food industry of the Kingdom of Hungary with the centre of Budapest became predominant within the empire and made up a large proportion of the export to the rest of Europe. Meanwhile, western areas, concentrated mainly around Prague and Vienna, excelled in various manufacturing industries. This division of labour between the east and west, besides the existing economic and monetary union, led to an even more rapid economic growth throughout Austria-Hungary by the early 20th century. The most important trading partner was Germany (1910: 48% of all exports, 39% of all imports), followed by Great Britain (1910: almost 10% of all exports, 8% of all imports). Trade with the geographically neighbouring Russia, however, had a relatively low weight (1910: 3% of all exports /mainly machinery for Russia, 7% of all imports /mainly raw materials from Russia). Kingdom of Hungary became the world's second largest flour exporter after the United States. The large Hungarian food export was not limited to the neighbouring Germany and Italy: Hungary became the most important foreign food supplier of the large cities and industrial centers of the United Kingdom.

The empire's heavy industry had mostly focused on machine building, especially for the electric power industry, locomotive industry and automotive industry, while in light industry the precision mechanics industry was the most dominant. Through the years leading up to World War I the country became the 4th biggest machine manufacturer of the world.

Largest cities

Data: census in 1910

Rank City Population
1. Vienna 2,083,630 (city without the suburb. 1,481,970)
2. Budapest 1,232,026 (city without the suburb. 880,371 )
3. Prague 514,300 (city without the suburb. 223,741)
4. Triest, Trieste 229,510
5. Lemberg, present-day Lviv 206,113
6. Kraków 151,886
7. Graz 151,781
8. Brünn, Brno 125,737
9. Szeged 118,328
10. Szabadka, present-day Subotica 94,610
11. Debrecen 90,764
12. Czernowitz 87,100



The never-realised 1900 plan by the engineer C. Wagenführer to link the Danube in Vienna and the Adriatic Sea. It was born from the desire of Austria–Hungary to have a direct link to the Adriatic Sea.


Rail transport expanded rapidly in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its predecessor state, the Habsburg Empire, had built a substantial core of railways in the west, originating from Vienna, by 1841. At that point, the government realized the military possibilities of rail and began to invest heavily in construction. Pozsony (Bratislava), Budapest, Prague, Kraków, Graz, Laibach (Ljubljana) and Venedig ( Venice) became linked to the main network. By 1854, the empire had almost 2,000 km (1,200 mi) of track, about 60–70% of it in state hands. The government then began to sell off large portions of track to private investors to recoup some of its investments and because of the financial strains of the 1848 Revolution and of the Crimean War.

From 1854–1879, private interests conducted almost all rail construction. What would become Cisleithania gained 7,952 km (4,941 mi) of track, and Hungary built 5,839 km (3,628 mi) of track. During this time, many new areas joined the railway system and the existing rail networks gained connections and interconnections. This period marked the beginning of widespread rail transportation in Austria-Hungary, and also the integration of transportation systems in the area. Railways allowed the empire to integrate its economy far more than previously possible, when transportation depended on rivers.

After 1879, the Austrian and the Hungarian governments slowly began to renationalize their rail networks, largely because of the sluggish pace of development during the worldwide depression of the 1870s. Between 1879–1900, more than 25,000 km (16,000 mi) of railways were built in Cisleithania and Hungary. Most of this constituted "filling in" of the existing network, although some areas, primarily in the far east, gained rail connections for the first time. The railway reduced transportation costs throughout the empire, opening new markets for products from other lands of the Dual Monarchy. In 1914, of a total of 22,981 km (14,279.73 mi) of railway tracks on Austrian part of the Empire, 18,859 km (11,718 mi) (82%) were state owned. Locomotive (steam engines and wagons) factories were installed in Vienna ( StEG company, founded in 1839), in Wiener Neustädt (" Wiener Neustädter" founded in 1841), and in Floridsdorf ( Floridsdorf company founded in 1869).

The first Hungarian steam locomotive railway line was opened on 15 July 1846 between Pest and Vác. The largest Locomotive Engine and wagon factories were the MÁVAG company (steam engines and wagons) and the Ganz company (steam engines, wagons, the production of electric locomotives and electric trams started from 1894). By 1910, the total length of the rail networks of Hungarian Kingdom reached 22,000 km (13,670 mi), the Hungarian network linked more than 1,490 settlemets. Nearly half of the empire's railways were built in Hungary, thus the railroad density there became higher than that of Cisleithania. This has ranked Hungarian railways the 6th most dense in the world (ahead of countries as Germany or France).

Metropolitan transit systems

Tramway lines in the cities
The start of construction of the underground in Budapest ( 1894–1896 )

Horse-drawn tramways appeared in the first half of the 19th century. Between the 1850s and 1880s many horse-drawn tramways were built in the municipalities of the empire. Steam trams appeared in the late 1860s. The electrification of tramways started from the late 1880s. The first electrified tramway in Austria-Hungary was built in Budapest in 1887.

Electrified tramway lines in Austrian Empire: Austria: Gmunden (1894), Linz (1897), Vienna (1897), Graz (1898), Ljubljana (1901), Innsbruck (1905), Unterlach (1907), Ybbs an der Donau (1907), Salzburg (1909), Klagenfurt (1911), Sankt Pölten (1911),Piran (1912), in Bohemia: Prague (1891), Teplice (1895), Liberec (1897), Ústí nad Labem (1899), Plzen (1899), Olomouc (1899), Bohemia Brno (1900), Jablonec nad Nisou (1900), Ostrava (1901), Mariánské Lázně (1902), Opava (1905), Budějovice (1909), České Budějovice (1909), Jihlava (1909), Český Těšín/Cieszyn (1911) Galicia: Bielsko-Biała (1895), Kraków (1901), Tarnów (1911), Cieszyn (1911)

Electrified tramway lines in Kingdom of Hungary : Budapest (1887), Brassó / Bra?ov/ (1891), Pozsony /Bratislava/ (1895),Szabadka / Subotica/(1897), Szombathely (1897), Miskolc (1897), Temesvár / Timi?oara/ (1899), Sopron (1900), Szatmárnémeti / Satu Mare/ (1900), Nyíregyháza (1905), Nagyszeben / Sibiu/ (1905), Nagyvárad / Oradea/ (1906), Szeged (1908), Debrecen (1911), Újvidék / Novi Sad/ (1911), Kassa / Košice/ (1913), Pécs (1913), Tram lines in Croatia: Fiume (1899), Pula: (1904), Opatija – Lovran (1908), Zagreb (1910), Dubrovnik (1910)

Bus services

The "Franz Joseph Underground Electric Railway Company" was opened in Budapest on 2 May 1896. It was the first underground in Continental Europe

Shipping and ports

The SS Kaiser Franz Joseph I (12.567 t) of the Austro-Americana company was the largest passenger ship ever built in Austria. Because of its control over the Littorals and much of the Balkans, Austria-Hungary had access to several seaports.

The most significant seaport was Trieste (today part of Italy), where the Austrian merchant marine was based. In addition, the two major shipping companies (Austrian Lloyd and Austro-Americana) and several shipyards were located there. The k.u.k. navy used the port's shipyards to construct new naval ships. This port grew as Venice declined. From 1815 to 1866, Venice was included within the monarchy and was prevented from competing with Austrian-ruled ports. The merchant marine did not develop until Venice's shipping interest declined. The navy became significant during the time of the k.u.k. monarchy, as industrialization and development provided sufficient revenues to develop it.

The most important seaport for the Hungarian part of the k.u.k. was Fiume ( Rijeka, today part of Croatia), where the Hungarian shipping companies, such as the Adria, operated. The largest Hungarian shipbuilding company was the Ganz-Danubius. Another significant seaport was Pola ( Pula, today part of Croatia) – especially for the navy. In 1889 the Austrian merchant marine consisted of 10,022 ships, with 7,992 fishing vessels. The coast and sea trade had a total of 1,859 sailboats with crews of 6,489 men and a load capacity of 140,838 tons; and 171 steamers with a load capacity of 96,323 tons and a crew of 3,199 men.

The first Danubian steamer company, Donau-Dampfschiffahrt-Gesellschaft (DDSG), was the largest inland shipping company in the world until the collapse of the k.u.k. The Austrian Lloyd was one of the biggest ocean shipping companies of the time. Prior to the beginning of World War I, the company owned 65 middle-sized and large steamers. The Austro-Americana owned one third of them, including the biggest Austrian passenger ship, the SS Kaiser Franz Joseph I. In comparison to the Austrian Lloyd, the Austro-American concentrated on destinations in North and South America.


Telephone Herald was a unique service in the World. From 1893, 20 years before the invention of the radio, people could listen to news, cabaret, music and opera in Budapest daily. It operated with a special type of Telephone exchange system.


In 1847 the first telegraph connection (Vienna – Brno – Prague) started operation. The first telegraph station on Hungarian territory was opened in December 1847 in Pozsony /Bratislava/. In 1848, – during the Hungarian Revolution – an other telegraph centre was built in Buda to connect the most important governmental centers. The first telegraph connection between Vienna and Pest – Buda (later Budapest) was constructed in 1850. Also in 1850 Austria joined a telegraph union mit German states.

Austrian Empire:

Kingdom of Hungary:

In 1884, 2,406 telegraph post offices operated in Kingdom of Hungary. By 1914 the number of telegraph offices reached 3,000 in post offices and further 2,400 were installed in the railway stations of Kingdom of Hungary.


The first telephone exchange was opened in Budapest (May 1, 1881), the second was Vienna (June 3, 1881) the third was opened in Prague in 1882.

Austrian Empire:

In 1916 in the Austrian Empire there were 366 million calls, among them 8.4 million long distant calls.

Kingdom of Hungary:

All local telephone exchanges of the towns and cities in Kingdom of Hungary were linked in 1893. By 1914, more than 2000 settlements had telephone exchange in Kingdom of Hungary.

Ethnic relations

Ethno-lingustic map of Austria-Hungary, 1910
Religions in Austria-Hungary, from the 1881 edition of Andrees Allgemeiner Handatlas. Catholics (both Roman and Uniate) are blue, Protestants purple, Eastern Orthodox yellow, and Muslims green.
Literacy in Austria-Hungary (census 1880)
Austria-Hungary 1914, physical

In July 1849, the Hungarian Revolutionary Parliament proclaimed and enacted the first laws on ethnic and minority rights in the world (The next such laws were in Switzerland), but these were overturned after the Russian and Austrian armies crushed the Hungarian Revolution. After the Kingdom of Hungary reached the Compromise with the Habsburg Dynasty in 1867, one of the first acts of its restored Parliament was to pass a Law on Nationalities (Act Number XLIV of 1868). It was a liberal piece of legislation, and offered extensive language and cultural rights. It did not recognize non-Hungarians to have rights to form states with any territorial autonomy.

The "Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867" created the semi-independent states of Hungary and Austria linked by personal union under a common monarch. The Hungarian majority asserted more of their identity within the Kingdom of Hungary. The nationalism of German speakers prevalent in the Empire of Austria created tension between ethnic Germans and ethnic Czechs. In addition, the emergence of national identity in the newly independent Romania and Serbia also contributed to ethnic issues in the empire.

Article 19 of the 1867 "Basic State Act" (Staatsgrundgesetz), valid only for the Cisleithanian (Austrian) part of Austria-Hungary, said:

All races of the empire have equal rights, and every race has an inviolable right to the preservation and use of its own nationality and language. The equality of all customary languages ("landesübliche Sprachen") in school, office and public life, is recognized by the state. In those territories in which several races dwell, the public and educational institutions are to be so arranged that, without applying compulsion to learn a second country language ("Landessprache"), each of the races receives the necessary means of education in its own language.

The implementation of this principle led to several disputes, as it was not clear which languages could be regarded as "customary". The Germans, the traditional bureaucratic, capitalist and cultural elite, demanded the recognition of their language as a customary language in every part of the empire. Italian was regarded as an old "culture language" (Kultursprache) by German intellectuals and had always been granted equal rights as an official language of the Empire, but the Germans had difficulty in accepting the Slavic languages as equal to their own. On one occasion Count A. Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) entered the Diet of Carniola carrying what he claimed to be the whole corpus of Slovene literature under his arm; this was to demonstrate that the Slovene language could not be substituted for German as the language of higher education.

The following years saw official recognition of several languages, at least in Austria. From 1867, laws awarded Croatian equal status with Italian in Dalmatia. From 1882, there was a Slovene majority in the Diet of Carniola and in the capital Laibach (Ljubljana); they ruled to replace German with Slovene as their primary official language. Galicia designated Polish instead of German in 1869 as the customary language of government. The Poles systematically disregarded the large Ukrainian minority in their territory, and did not grant Ukrainian the status of an official language.

The language disputes were most fiercely fought in Bohemia, where the Czech speakers formed a majority and sought equal status for their language to German. German speakers lost their majority in the Bohemian Diet in 1880 and became a minority to Czech speakers in the cities of Prague and Pilsen (while retaining a slight numerical majority in the city of Brno (Brünn)). The old Charles University in Prague, hitherto dominated by German speakers, was divided into German and Czech-speaking faculties in 1882.

At the same time, Hungarian dominance faced challenges from the local majorities of Romanians in Transylvania and in the eastern Banat, Slovaks in today's Slovakia, and Croats and Serbs in the crown lands of Croatia and of Dalmatia (today's Croatia), in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the provinces known as the Vojvodina (today's northern Serbia). The Romanians and the Serbs began to agitate for union with their fellow nationalists and language speakers in the newly founded states of Romania (1859–78) and Serbia.

Hungary's leaders were generally less willing than their Austrian counterparts to share power with their subject minorities, but they granted a large measure of autonomy to Croatia in 1868. To some extent, they modeled their relation to that kingdom on their own compromise with Austria of the previous year. In spite of nominal autonomy, the Croatian government was an economic and administrative part of Hungary, which the Croatians resented.

Language was one of the most contentious issues in Austro-Hungarian politics. All governments faced difficult and divisive hurdles in deciding on the languages of government and of instruction. The minorities sought the widest opportunities for education in their own languages, as well as in the "dominant" languages—Hungarian and German. By the "Ordinance of 5 April 1897", the Austrian Prime Minister Count Kasimir Felix Badeni gave Czech equal standing with German in the internal government of Bohemia; this led to a crisis because of nationalist German agitation throughout the empire. The Crown dismissed Badeni.

The Hungarian Minority Act of 1868 gave the minorities (Slovaks, Romanians, Serbs, et al.) individual (but not also communal) rights to use their language in offices, schools (although in practice often only in those founded by them and not by the state), courts and municipalities (if 20% of the deputies demanded it). From June 1907, all public and private schools in Hungary were obliged to ensure that after the fourth grade, the pupils could express themselves fluently in Hungarian. This led to the closing of several minority schools, devoted mostly to the Slovak and Rusyn languages.

The two kingdoms sometimes divided their spheres of influence. According to Misha Glenny in his book, The Balkans, 1804–1999, the Austrians responded to Hungarian persecution of Czechs by supporting the Croatian national movement in Zagreb.

In recognition that he reigned in a multiethnic country, Emperor Franz Joseph spoke (and used) German, Hungarian and Czech fluently, and Polish and Italian to some degree.

In 1914, Jews in the empire numbered about two million in 1914; their position was ambiguous. Antisemitic parties and movements existed, but the governments of Vienna and Budapest did not initiate pogroms or implement official antisemitic policies. They feared that such ethnic violence could ignite other ethnic minorities and escalate out of control. The antisemitic parties remained on the periphery of the political sphere due to their low popularity among voters in the parliamentary elections.

In that period, the majority of Jews in Austria-Hungary lived in small towns ( shtetls) in Galicia and rural areas in Hungary and Bohemia, although there were large communities in Vienna, Budapest, Prague and other large cities. Of the pre-World War military forces of the major European powers, the Austro-Hungarian army was almost alone in its regular promotion of Jews to positions of command. While the Jewish population of the lands of the Dual Monarchy was about five percent, Jews made up nearly eighteen percent of the reserve officer corps. Thanks to the constitution's modern laws and to the benevolence of emperor Franz Joseph, the Austrian Jews came to regard the era of Austria-Hungary as a golden era of their history.

Linguistic distribution

In the Austrian Empire, 36.8% of the total population spoke German as a mother tongue, and more than 71% of the inhabitants spoke some German. In the Kingdom of Hungary, 54.4% of the total population spoke Hungarian as a mother tongue. Not counting autonomous Croatia, more than 64% of the inhabitants of the Hungarian Kingdom spoke Hungarian.

Linguistic distribution
of Austria–Hungary as a whole
German 24%
Hungarian 20%
Czech 13%
Polish 10%
Ruthenian 8%
Romanian 6%
Croat 5%
Slovak 4%
Serb 4%
Slovene 3%
Italian 3%
Languages in Cisleithania (1910 census)
Land Most common language Other languages (more than 2%)
Bohemia 63.2% Czech 36.8% German
Dalmatia 96.2% Croatian  2.8% Italian
Galicia 58.6% Polish 40.2% Ukrainian
Lower Austria 95.9% German  3.8% Czech
Upper Austria 99.7% German
Bukovina 38.4% Ukrainian 34.4% Romanian 21.2% German  4.6% Polish
Carinthia 78.6% German 21.2% Slovene
Carniola 94.4% Slovene  5.4% German
Salzburg 99.7% German
Silesia 43.9% German 31.7% Polish 24.3% Czech
Styria 70.5% German 29.4% Slovene
Moravia 71.8% Czech 27.6% German
Tyrol 57.3% German 42.1% Italian
Küstenland 37.3% Slovene 34.5% Italian 24.4% Croatian  2.5% German
Vorarlberg 95.4% German  4.4% Italian
Languages of Hungary (1910 census)
Language Hungary proper Croatia-Slavonia
No. of speakers  % of population No. of speakers  % of population
Hungarian 9 944 627 54.5% 105 948 4.1%
Romanian 2 948 186 16.0% 846 <0.1%
Slovak 1 946 357 10.7% 21 613 0.8%
German 1 903 657 10.4% 134 078 5.1%
Serbian 461 516 2.5% 644 955 24.6%
Ruthenian 464 270 2.3% 8 317 0.3%
Croatian 194 808 1.1% 1 638 354 62.5%
Others and unspecified 401 412 2.2% 65 843 2.6%
Total 18 264 533 100% 2 621 954 100%

Note that some languages are considered dialects of more widely-spoken languages. For example, Rusyn and Ukrainian were both counted as " Ruthenian" in the census, and Rhaeto-Romance languages were counted as "Italian".

Religions (1910 census)

In the Kingdom of Hungary,

Kingdom of Hungary Hungary proper & Fiume Croatia & Slavonia
Latin Catholic 49.3% (9,010,305) 71.6% (1,877,833)
Calvinist 14.3% (2,603,381) 0.7% (17,948)
Eastern Orthodox 12.8% (2,333,979) 24.9% (653,184)
Eastern Catholic 11.0% (2,007,916) 0.7% (17,592)
Lutheran 7.1% (1,306,384) 1.3% (33,759)
Jewish 5.0% (911,227) 0.8% (21,231)
Unitarian 0.4% (74,275) 0.0% (21)
Other or no religion 0.1% (17,066) 0.0 (386)

World War I

Preludes: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Russian Pan-Slavic organizations sent aid to the Balkan rebels and so pressured the tsar's government that Russia declared war on Turkey in 1877 in the name of protecting Orthodox Christians. Unable to mediate between Turkey and Russia over the control of Serbia, Austria-Hungary declared neutrality when the conflict between the two powers escalated into a war. With help from Romania and Greece, Russia defeated the Ottomans and by the Treaty of San Stefano created a large pro-Russian Bulgaria. This treaty sparked an international uproar that almost resulted in a general European war. Austria-Hungary and Britain feared that an enlarged Bulgaria would become a Russian satellite that would enable the tsar to dominate the Balkans. British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli moved warships into position against Russia to halt the advance of Russian influence in the eastern Mediterranean so close to Britain's route through the Suez Canal.

Local market in Bosnia, c. 1906

The Congress of Berlin rolled back the Russian victory, by partitioning the large Bulgarian state that Russia had carved out of Ottoman territory, and denying any part of Bulgaria full independence from the Ottomans. Austria occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina as a way of gaining clout in the Balkans. Serbia and Montenegro became fully independent. Nonetheless the Balkans remained a site of political unrest, teeming ambition for independence and great power rivalries. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Gyula Andrássy (Minister of Foreign Affairs) managed to force Russia to retreat from further demands in the Balkans. As a result, Great Bulgaria was broken up and Serbian independence was guaranteed. In that year, with Britain's support, Austria-Hungary stationed troops in Bosnia, to prevent the Russians from expanding into nearby Serbia. In another measure to keep the Russians out of the Balkans, Austria-Hungary formed an alliance, the Mediterranean Entente, with Britain and Italy in 1887 and concluded mutual defence pacts, with Germany in 1879 and with Romania in 1883, against possible Russian attack. Following the Congress of Berlin the European powers attempted to guarantee stability through a complex series of alliances and treaties.

Anxious about Balkan instability and Russian aggression, and to counter French interests in Europe, Austria-Hungary forged a defensive alliance with Germany in October 1879 and in May 1882. In October 1882, Italy joined this partnership in the Triple Alliance largely because of Italy's imperial rivalries with France. Tensions between Russia and Austria-Hungary remained high, so Bismarck replaced the League of the Three Emperors with the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia to keep the Habsburgs from recklessly starting a war over Pan-Slavism.

On the heels of the Great Balkan Crisis, Austro-Hungarian forces occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in August 1878 and the monarchy eventually annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in October 1908 as a common holding of Cis- and Transleithania under the control of the Imperial & Royal finance ministry, rather than attaching it to either territorial government. This occupation was a response to Russia's advances into Bessarabia. The annexation in 1908 led some in Vienna to contemplate combining Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia to form a third, Slavic component of the Empire. The deaths of Franz Joseph's brother, Maximilian (1867), and only son, Rudolf, made the Emperor's nephew, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne. The Archduke was rumoured to have been an advocate for this trialism, as a means to limit the power of the Hungarian aristocracy.

Decision for war

On 28 June 1914, Franz Ferdinand visited the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, where Bosnian Serb militants of the nationalist group Mlada Bosna, supplied by the Serbian militant group Black Hand, ambushed his convoy and assassinated him. There were several members of the Black Hand in Sarajevo that day. Before Franz was shot, somebody had already tried to kill him and his wife. A member of the Black Hand threw a grenade at the car, but missed. It injured some people nearby and Franz Ferdinand made sure they were given medical attention before the convoy could carry on. The convoy took a wrong turn into a street where Gavrilo Princip stood. With a pistol, Princip shot and killed Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. The reaction among the Austrian common people was mild, almost indifferent. As historian Z.A.B. Zeman later wrote, "the event almost failed to make any impression whatsoever. On Sunday and Monday [June 28 and 29], the crowds in Vienna listened to music and drank wine, as if nothing had happened."

While the empire's military spending had not even doubled since the 1878 Congress of Berlin, Germany's spending had risen fivefold, and the British, Russian, and French expenditures threefold. The empire had lost ethnic Italian areas to Piedmont because of nationalist movements that had swept through Italy, and many Austro-Hungarians perceived as imminent the threat of losing to Serbia the southern territories inhabited by Slavs. Serbia had recently gained considerable territory in the Second Balkan War of 1913, causing much distress in government circles in Vienna and Budapest.

Some members of the government, such as Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, had wanted to confront the resurgent Serbian nation for some years in a preventive war, but the Emperor, 84 years old and an enemy of all adventures, disapproved. But now the leaders of Austria-Hungary, especially General Count Leopold von Berchtold, backed by its ally Germany, decided to confront Serbia militarily before it could incite a revolt; using the assassination as an excuse, they presented a list of ten demands called the July Ultimatum, expecting Serbia would never accept. When Serbia accepted nine of the ten demands but only partially accepted the remaining one, Austria-Hungary declared war. Franz Joseph I finally followed the urgent counsel of his top advisers.

Over the course of July and August 1914, these events caused the start of World War I, as Russia mobilized in support of Serbia, setting off a series of counter-mobilizations. Italy initially remained neutral, although it had an alliance with Austria-Hungary. In 1915, it switched to the side of the Entente powers, hoping to gain territory from its former ally.

Main events

General von Hötzendorf was the Chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff. Franz Joseph I, who was much too old to command the army, appointed Archduke Friedrich von Österreich-Teschen as Supreme Army Commander (Armeeoberkommandant), but asked him to give Von Hötzendorf freedom to take any decisions. The latter remained in effective command of the military forces until Emperor Karl I took the supreme command himself in late 1916 and dismissed Conrad von Hötzendorf in 1917.

Serbian front

At the start of the war, the army was divided in two: the smaller part attacked Serbia while the larger part fought against the formidable Russian army. The invasion of Serbia in 1914 was a disaster: by the end of the year, the Austro-Hungarian Army had taken no territory but had lost 227,000 out of a total force of 450,000 men (see Serbian Campaign (World War I)). However in autumn 1915, the Serbian Army was defeated by the Central Powers, which led to the occupation of Serbia. Near the end of 1915, in a massive rescue operation involving more than 1,000 trips made by Italian, French and British steamers, 260,000 Serb soldiers were transported to Corfu, where they waited for the chance of the victory of Allied Powers to reclaim their country. Corfu hosted the Serbian government in exile after the collapse of Serbia, and served as a supply base to the Greek front. In April 1916 a large number of Serbian troops were transported in British and French naval vessels from Corfu to mainland Greece. The contingent numbering over 120,000 relieved a much smaller army at the Thessaloniki front and fought alongside British and French troops.

Russian front

On the Eastern front, the war started out equally poorly. The Austro-Hungarian Army was defeated at the Battle of Lemberg and the great fortress city of Przemyśl was besieged and fell in March 1915. The Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive started as a minor German offensive to relieve the pressure of the Russian numerical superiority on the Austro-Hungarians, but the cooperation of the Central Powers resulted in huge Russian losses and the total collapse of the Russian lines, and their 100 km (62 mi) long retreat into Russia. The Russian Third Army perished. In summer 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Army, under a unified command with the Germans, participated in the successful Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive. From June 1916, the Russians focused their attacks on the Austro-Hungarian army in the Brusilov Offensive, recognizing the numerical inferiority of the Austro-Hungarian army. By the end of September 1916, Austria-Hungary mobilized and concentrated new divisions, and the successful Russian advance was halted and slowly repelled; but the Austrian armies took heavy losses (about 1 million men) and never recovered. However the huge losses in men and material inflicted on the Russians during the offensive contributed greatly to their two revolutions of 1917, and it caused an economic crash in the Russian Empire.

Italian Front

A memorial to soldiers killed in World War I.

In May 1915, Italy joined the Triple Entente and attacked Austria-Hungary. Italy was the only military opponent of the Empire which had a similar degree of industrialization and economic level. The bloody but indecisive fighting on the Italian Front would last for the next three and a half years. It was only on this front that the Austrians proved effective in war, managing to hold back the numerically superior Italian armies in the Alps and at the Isonzo river, through alternating phases, until the last month of war. In 1917, the Battle of Caporetto was a decisive victory of the Central Powers: the Austro-Hungarian and German forces advanced more than 100 km (62.14 mi) in the direction of Venice, but could not cross the Piave River. The military and economic crisis of Italy was resolved by the support of the Entente powers: by 1918, large amounts of war materials and some American, British, and French divisions arrived in the Italian battle zone to aid the Italian army and halted the advance of the empire.

Romanian front

On 27 August 1916, Romania proclaimed war against Austria-Hungary. The Romanian army crossed the borders of Eastern Hungary (Transylvania). By November 1916, the Central Powers had defeated the Romanian army and occupied the southern and eastern parts of Romania. On 6 December the Central Powers captured Bucharest, the Romanian capital city.

The Austro-Hungarian war effort became more and more subordinated to the direction of German planners. The Austrians viewed the German army favorably, on the other hand by 1916 the general belief in Germany was that it was "shackled to a corpse". The operational capability of the Austro-Hungarian army was seriously affected by supply shortages, low morale and a high casualty rate, and by the army's composition of multiple ethnicities with different languages and customs.

The last two successes for the Austrians, the Romanian Offensive and the Caporetto Offensive, were German-assisted operations. As the Dual Monarchy became more politically unstable, it became more and more dependent on German assistance. The majority of its people, other than Hungarians and German Austrians, became increasingly restless.

Role of Hungary

War memorial in Csíkpálfalva (today Păuleni-Ciuc, Romania)

Austria-Hungary held on for years, as the Hungarian half provided sufficient supplies for the military to continue to wage war. This was shown in a transition of power after which the Hungarian prime minister, Count István Tisza, and foreign minister, Count István Burián, had decisive influence over the internal and external affairs of the monarchy. By late 1916, food supply from Hungary became intermittent and the government sought an armistice with the Entente powers. However, this failed as Britain and France no longer had any regard for the integrity of the empire because of Austro-Hungarian support for Germany.

Analysis of defeat

The setbacks that the Austrian army suffered in 1914 and 1915 can be attributed to a large extent to Austria-Hungary becoming a military satellite of Imperial Germany from the first day of the war. They were made worse by the incompetence of the Austrian high command. After attacking Serbia, its forces soon had to be withdrawn to protect its eastern frontier against Russia's invasion, while German units were engaged in fighting on the Western Front. This resulted in a greater than expected loss of men in the invasion of Serbia. Furthermore it became evident that the Austrian high command had had no plans for a possible continental war and that the army and navy were also ill-equipped to handle such a conflict.

Former ambassador and foreign minister Count Alois Aehrenthal had assumed that any future war would be in the Balkan region. In 1917, the Eastern front of the Allied (Entente) Powers completely collapsed. The Austro-Hungarian Empire then withdrew from all defeated countries. Despite great eastern successes, Germany suffered complete defeat in the more decisive western front. By 1918, the economic situation had deteriorated. Leftist and pacifist political movements organized strikes in factories, and uprisings in the army had become commonplace. During the Italian battles, the Czechoslovaks and Southern Slavs declared their independence. On 31 October Hungary ended the personal union officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian state. At the last Italian offensive Austro-Hungarian Army took to the field without any food and munition supply, and fought without any political supports for a de facto non-existent empire. On the end of the decisive joint Italian, British and French offensive at Vittorio Veneto, the disintegrated Austria-Hungary signed a general armistice in Padua on 3 November 1918.


The Communists ruled multiethnic Budapest from 21 March 1919 to 1 August 1919. The statues of the Heroes Square of Budapest are covered with Communist symbols for May Day. At the basement of the original obelisk a new statue was erected: Marx with a worker and a peasant. The statues of historic heroes were toppled, Hungarian national symbols were banned in the name of internationalism.

In the autumn of 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed. In the capital cities of Vienna and Budapest the leftist and liberal movements and politicians (the opposition parties) strengthened and supported the separatism of ethnic minorities. These leftist or left-liberal pro-Entente maverick parties opposed the monarchy as a form of government and considered themselves internationalist rather than patriotic. Eventually, the German defeat and the minor revolutions in Vienna and Budapest gave political power to the left/liberal political parties. As it became apparent that the Allied powers of the British Empire, France, Italy and the United States would win World War I, nationalist movements which had previously been calling for a greater degree of autonomy for various areas started pressing for full independence.

As one of his Fourteen Points, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson demanded that the nationalities of the empire have the "freest opportunity to autonomous development". In response, Karl I agreed to reconvene the imperial parliament in 1917 and allow the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. However the leaders of these national groups no longer trusted Vienna and were now determined to get independence.

On 14 October 1918 Foreign Minister Baron István Burián von Rajecz asked for an armistice based on the Fourteen Points. In an apparent attempt to demonstrate good faith, Karl I issued a proclamation ("Imperial Manifesto of 16 October 1918") two days later which would have significantly altered the structure of the Austrian half of the monarchy. The Polish majority regions of Galicia and Lodomeria were granted independence, and it was understood that they would join their ethnic brethren in Russia and Germany in forming a Polish state. The rest of Cisleithania was transformed into a federal union composed of four parts—German, Czech, South Slav and Ukrainian. Each of these was to be governed by a national council that would negotiate the future of the empire with Vienna, and Trieste was to receive a special status. No such proclamation could be issued in Hungary, where Hungarian aristocrats still believed they could subdue other nationalities and maintain the "Holy Kingdom of St. Stephen".

It was all in vain: four days later, on 18 October United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing replied that the Allies were now committed to the causes of the Czechs, Slovaks and South Slavs. Therefore, Lansing said, autonomy for the nationalities – the tenth of the Fourteen Points – was no longer enough and Washington could not deal on the basis of the Fourteen Points any more. In fact, a Czechoslovak provisional government had joined the Allies on 14 October. The leaders of the South Slavs had already declared in favour of uniting with Serbia in a large South Slav state by way of the 1917 Corfu Declaration signed by members of the Yugoslav Committee.

The Lansing note was, in effect, the death certificate of Austria-Hungary. The national councils had already begun acting more or less as provisional governments of independent countries. With defeat in the war imminent after the Italian offensive in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto on 24 October Czech politicians peacefully took over command in Prague on 28 October (later declared the birthday of Czechoslovakia) and followed up in other major cities in the next few days. On 30 October, the Slovaks followed in Martin. On 29 October, the Slovenes declared their independence from Austria and joined the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs as had the Croatians, who had been ignoring orders from Budapest since the beginning of October. The Hungarian government terminated the personal union with Austria by 31 October, officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian state. There was now nothing left of the Habsburg realm except its majority-German Alpine and Danubian provinces.


The last Habsburg Emperor-King, Charles (Karl I in Austria and Károly IV in Hungary), was persuaded by his Austrian prime minister, Heinrich Lammasch, that he was in an impossible situation. By this time, the German-Austrian state council was challenging his authority in the German-speaking areas of his realm. On 11 November, he issued a proclamation which recognized Austria's right to determine the form of the state and renounced the right to participate in Austrian affairs of state. He also released the officials in the Austrian half of the empire from their oath of loyalty to him. Two days later, he issued a similar proclamation for Hungary. However, he did not abdicate, remaining available in the event the people of either state should recall him.

In Austria and Hungary, republics were declared at the end of the war in November. The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (between the victors of World War I and Austria) and the Treaty of Trianon (between the victors and Hungary) regulated the new borders of Austria and Hungary. The Allies assumed without question that the minority nationalities wanted to leave Austria and Hungary, and also allowed them to annex significant blocks of German- and Hungarian-speaking territory. As a result, the Republic of German Austria lost roughly 60% of the old Austrian Empire's territory. It also had to drop its plans for union with Germany, as it was not allowed to unite with Germany without League approval. The Hungarian Democratic Republic lost roughly 72% of the pre-war territory of the Kingdom of Hungary.

The decisions of the nations of the former Austria-Hungary and of the victors of the Great War, contained in the heavily one-sided treaties, had devastating political and economic effects. The previously rapid economic growth of the Dual Monarchy ground to a halt because the new borders became major economic barriers. All the formerly well established industries were designed to satisfy the needs of an extensive realm. As a result, the emerging countries were forced to make considerable sacrifices to transform their economies. The treaties created major political unease. As a result of these economic difficulties, extremist movements gained strength; and there was no regional superpower in central Europe.

The new Austrian state was, at least on paper, on shakier ground than Hungary. While what was left of Austria had been a single unit for over 700 years, it was united only by loyalty to the Habsburgs. By comparison, Hungary had been a nation and a state for over 900 years. However, after a brief period of upheaval and the Allies' foreclosure of union with Germany, Austria established itself as a federal republic. Despite the temporary Anschluss with Nazi Germany, it still survives today.

Hungary, however, was severely disrupted by the loss of 72% of its territory, 64% of its population and most of its natural resources. The Hungarian Democratic Republic was short-lived and was temporarily replaced by the communist Hungarian Soviet Republic. Romanian troops ousted Béla Kun and his communist government during the Hungarian-Romanian War of 1919. In March 1920, a monarchist revival resulted in the restoration of the Kingdom of Hungary. Royal powers were entrusted to a regent, Miklós Horthy, who had been the last commanding admiral of the Austro-Hungarian Navy and had helped organize the counter-revolutionary forces.

In March and again in October 1921, ill-prepared attempts by Károly IV ( Karl I in Austria) to regain the throne in Budapest collapsed. The initially wavering Horthy, after receiving threats of intervention from the Allied Powers and neighboring countries, refused his cooperation. Subsequently, the British took custody of Karl and removed him and his family to the Portuguese island of Madeira, where he died the following year.

Successor states

The following successor states were formed (entirely or in part) on the territory of the former Austria-Hungary:

  • German Austria and First Austrian Republic
  • Hungarian Democratic Republic, Hungarian Soviet Republic, and Kingdom of Hungary
  • Czecho-Slovakia ("Czechoslovakia" from 1920 to 1938)
  • State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and Kingdom of Serbia (joined on 1 December 1918 to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later Kingdom of Yugoslavia)
  • Second Polish Republic
  • West Ukrainian People's Republic (united with the Ukrainian People's Republic through Act Zluky, while its territory was fully overran by the Second Polish Republic)
  • Duchy of Bukowina and Transylvania united with the Kingdom of Romania ( Union of Transylvania with Romania)

Austro-Hungarian lands were also ceded to the Kingdom of Romania and the Kingdom of Italy. The Principality of Liechtenstein, which had formerly looked to Vienna for protection, formed a customs and defense union with Switzerland, and adopted the Swiss currency instead of the Austrian. In April 1919, Vorarlberg – the westernmost province of Austria – voted by a large majority to join Switzerland; however, both the Swiss and the Allies disregarded this result.

New hand-drawn borders of Austria-Hungary in the Treaty of Trianon and Saint Germain. (1919–1920)
New borders of Austria-Hungary after the Treaty of Trianon and Saint Germain.                     Border of Austria-Hungary in 1914                      Borders in 1914                      Borders in 1920
   Empire of Austria in 1914
   Kingdom of Hungary in 1914

Territorial legacy

Austria-Hungary map new.svg
Kingdoms and countries of Austria-Hungary:
Cisleithania ( Empire of Austria): 1. Bohemia, 2. Bukovina, 3. Carinthia, 4. Carniola, 5. Dalmatia, 6. Galicia, 7. Küstenland, 8. Lower Austria, 9. Moravia, 10. Salzburg, 11. Silesia, 12. Styria, 13. Tirol, 14. Upper Austria, 15. Vorarlberg;
Transleithania ( Kingdom of Hungary): 16. Hungary proper 17. Croatia-Slavonia; 18. Bosnia and Herzegovina (Austro-Hungarian condominium)

The following present-day countries and parts of countries were located within the boundaries of Austria-Hungary when the empire was dissolved:

Empire of Austria ( Cisleithania):

  • Austria (with the exception of Burgenland)
  • Czech Republic (with the exception of the Hlučínsko area)
  • Slovenia (with the exception of Prekmurje)
  • Italy ( Trentino, South Tyrol, parts of the province of Belluno and small portions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
  • Croatia (Dalmatia, Istria)
  • Poland (voivodeships of Lesser Poland, Subcarpathia, southernmost part of Silesia (Bielsko and Cieszyn)
  • Ukraine (oblasts of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil (except its northern corner) and most of the oblast of Chernivtsi)
  • Romania (county of Suceava)
  • Montenegro (bay of Boka Kotorska, the coast and the immediate hinterland around the cities of Budva, Petrovac and Sutomore)

Kingdom of Hungary ( Transleithania):

  • Hungary;
  • Slovakia
  • Austria ( Burgenland)
  • Slovenia ( Prekmurje)
  • Croatia ( Slavonia, Central Croatia, southern parts of the pre-1918 Baranya and Zala counties – today's Croatian part of Baranja and Međimurje county)
  • Ukraine (oblast of Zakarpattia)
  • Romania (region of Transylvania and Partium)
  • Serbia (autonomous province of Vojvodina and northern Belgrade region)
  • Poland (Polish parts of Orava and Spiš)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (the villages of Zavalje, Mali skočaj and Veliki skočaj including the immediate surrounding area west of the city of Bihać)

Austro-Hungarian Condominium

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Montenegro ( Sutorina – western part of the Municipality of Herceg–Novi between present borders with Croatia (SW) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (NW), Adriatic coast (E) and the township of Igalo (NE))
  • Serbia ( Sandžak- Raška region Austro-Hungarian occupied since 1878 while formally part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912)

Possessions of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

  • The empire was unable to gain and maintain large colonies owing to its geographical position. Its only possession outside of Europe was its concession in Tianjin, China, which it was granted in return for supporting the Eight-Nation Alliance in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion. However although the city was only an Austro-Hungarian possession for 16 years, the Austro-Hungarians left their mark on that area of the city, in the form of architecture that still stands in the city.

Other parts of Europe had been part of the Habsburg monarchy once but had left it before its dissolution in 1918. Prominent examples are the regions of Lombardy and Veneto in Italy, Silesia in Poland, most of Belgium and Serbia, and parts of northern Switzerland and southwestern Germany. They persuaded the government to search out foreign investment to build up infrastructure such as railroads. Despite these measures, Austria-Hungary remained resolutely monarchist and authoritarian.

Liberals in Austria, most of them ethnic Germans, saw their influence weaken under the leadership of Count Edouard von Taaffe, Austrian prime minister from 1879–1893. Building a coalition of clergy, conservatives and Slavic parties, Taaffe used its power to weaken the liberals. In Bohemia, for example, he designated Czech as an official language of the bureaucracy and school system, thus breaking the German speakers' monopoly on office holding. These reforms outraged the ethnic groups that lost out, while those who won concessions, such as Czechs, clamored for even greater autonomy. By playing nationalities off one against another, the government preserved the monarchy's central role in holding together competing interest groups in an era of rapid change.

Russian Pan-Slavic organizations sent aid to the Balkan rebels and so pressured the tsar's government that Russia declared war on Turkey in 1877 in the name of protecting Orthodox Christians. With help from Romania and Greece, Russia defeated the Ottomans and by the Treaty of San Stefano created a large pro-Russian Bulgaria. This treaty sparked an international uproar that almost resulted in a general European war. Austria-Hungary and Britain feared that an enlarged Bulgaria would become a Russian satellite that would enable the tsar to dominate the Balkans. Austrian officials worried about an uprising of their own restless Slavs. British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli moved warships into position against Russia to halt the advance of Russian influence in the eastern Mediterranean, so close to Britain's route through the Suez Canal.

The public was drawn into foreign policy: the music halls and newspapers of England echoed a new jingoism or political sloganeering that throbbed with sentiments of war: "We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do / We've got the ships, we've got the men, We've got the money too." The other great powers, however, did not want a Europe-wide war and in 1878 they attempted to revive the concert of Europe by meeting at Berlin under the auspices of Bismarck, who was a calming presence on the diplomatic scene.


Flags and heraldry


Although Austria-Hungary did not have a common flag (a "national flag" could not exist since both halves of the Dual Monarchy consisted of inhabitants of several nationalities), a common civil ensign (introduced in 1869) did exist. The k.u..k. War Fleet until 1918 continued to carry the Austrian ensign it had used since 1786. The regiments of the k.u.k. Army until 1918 carried the double-eagle flags they had used before 1867, as they had a long history in many cases. New ensigns created in 1915 had not been implemented until 1918 due to the war. At state functions, in Austria black-yellow and in Hungary red-white-green were exposed.

The colours black-yellow were used as the flag of the Austrian part. The Hungarian part used a red-white-green Tricolour defaced with the Hungarian coat of arms.

Coat of arms

The double-headed eagle of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty was used as the coat of arms of the common institutions of Austria-Hungary between 1867 and 1915. In 1915 a new one was introduced, which combined the coat of arms of the two parts of the empire and that of the dynasty.

Additionally each of the two parts of Austria-Hungary had its own coat of arms.

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