Austria-Hungary, also known as the Dual monarchy or as the ???K.U.K. Monarchy???, was a dualistic state, between 1867 and1918, in which the Kingdom of Hungary enjoyed self-government and representation in joint affairs with the western and northern lands of the Austrian Empire. These affairs were mainly in the form of defence and foreign relations. Austria-Hungary originated in 1867 in a compromise between the Hungarian nobility and the Habsburg monarchy in an attempt to maintain the old Austrian Empire of 1804. As a multi-national empire, it found its political life dominated by disputes among the eleven principal national groups. Although disagreements between the groups frequently afflicted the Empire, the fifty years of its existence saw rapid economic growth and modernization, as well as many liberal reforms. The Empire eventually disappeared as a result of the First World War.
The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 which inaugurated the empires dualist structure (1804??“67) originated at a time when Austria had declined in strength and in power. Other factors in the constitutional changes included continued Hungarian dissatisfaction with rule from Vienna and increasing national consciousness on the part of other nationalities of the Austrian Empire. Hungarian dissatisfaction grew partially from Austrias suppression, with Russian support, of the Hungarian liberal revolution of 1848??“1849. However, dissatisfaction with Austrian rule had grown for many years within Hungary, and had many other causes. By the late 1850s, however, a large number of Hungarians who had supported the 1848-49 revolution were willing to accept the Habsburg monarchy.
Politics and Government
Hungary and Austria maintained separate parliaments, each with its own prime minister. Linking 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.
The first prime minister of Hungary after the Compromise was Count Gyula Andrassy. The old Hungarian Constitution was restored, and Franz Joseph was crowned as King of Hungary. During this time Austria-Hungary was geographically the second largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire, and the third most populous (after Russia and the German Empire).
The era witnessed an impressive development. The formerly backward Hungarian half became relatively modern and industrialized by the turn of the century, although agriculture remained dominant until 1890. In 1873, the old capital Buda were officially merged with the third city, Pest, thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest.
The dynamic Budapest grew into the countrys administrative, political, economic, trade and cultural hub. Technological change accelerated industrialization and urbanization. Many of the state institutions and the modern administrative system of Hungary were established during this period.
The Imperial and Royal governments differed also to some extent in their attitude toward the Empires common foreign policy. Politicians in Budapest particularly feared claiming of territory which would add to the kingdoms non-Hungarian populations. But the Empires alliance with Germany against Russia from October 1879 commanded general acceptance, since Russia seemed the principal external military threat to both parts.
By the late 1860s, Austrian ambitions in both Italy and Germany had been choked off by the rise of new national powers. With the decline and failed reforms of the Ottoman Empire, Slavic opposition in the occupied Balkans grew and both Russia and Austria-Hungary saw an opportunity to expand in this region. Austro-Hungarian forces occupied the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina from August 1878 under the Treaty of Berlin. The Empire claimed this territory in October 1908 as a common holding under the control of the finance ministry.
The Austro-Hungarian economy changed dramatically during the existence of the Dual Monarchy. Technological change accelerated industrialization and urbanization. The capitalist mode of production spread throughout the Empire during its fifty-year existence. Economic growth centered on Vienna, the Austrian lands, the Alpine lands, and the Bohemian lands. In the later years of the nineteenth century rapid economic growth spread to the central Hungarian plain and to the Carpathian lands. As a result of this pattern, wide disparities of development existed within the Empire. In general the western areas achieved far more development than the east. By the early 20th century most of the Empire had started to experience rapid economic growth. However, the Empires economy as a whole still lagged considerably behind the economies of other powers, as it had only begun sustained modernization much later. Britain had a GNP per-capita almost three times larger than the Habsburg Empire, while Germanys stood almost twice as high as Austria-Hungarys.
In July 1849 the Hungarian Revolutionary Parliament proclaimed and enacted the first laws of ethnic and minority rights in the world. However this law ceased to exist after the army of the Russian Tsar and Austrian Emperor crushed the Hungarian Revolution.
Language was one of the most debatable questions in Austro-Hungarian politics. All governments faced difficult and troublesome hurdles in sorting out the languages of government. Minorities wanted to ensure the widest possibility for education in their own language as well as in the “dominant” languages of Hungarian and German.
From January 1907 all the public and private schools in Slovak part of Hungary were forced to teach in Hungarian language only, burning Slovak books and newspapers. This led to major criticism.
Role in WWI
On June 28, 1914, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, visited the Bosnian capital Sarajevo where Serbian militants of the nationalist group The Black Hand assassinated him. Austria-Hungary later received the blank cheque from Germany, stating that they would defend the empire in case of war against Serbia. This immediately involved the dual monarchy in the First World War
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 1914 invasion of Serbia was a disaster. By the end of the year, the Austro-Hungarian Army had taken no territory and had lost 227,000 men out of a total force of 450,000 men. On the Eastern front, things started out equally poorly. The Austro-Hungarian Army was defeated at the Battle of Lemberg and the mighty fort city fell in March 1915.
In May 1915, Italy joined the Triple Entente and attacked Austria-Hungary. 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. Later in 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Army, in conjunction with the German and Bulgarian armies, conquered Serbia.
In 1916, the Russians focused their attacks on the Austro-Hungarian army in the Brusilov Offensive, recognising the numerical inferiority of the Austro-Hungarian Army. The Austrian armies took heavy losses, losing about 1 million men, and never recovered.
By 1918, the economic situation had deteriorated, and uprisings in the army had become more supported. Austria-Hungary signed general armistice in Padua on 3 November 1918.
Although the leadership of the national minorities in the Empire had remained loyal to the Habsburgs throughout the war, worsening fortunes forced them to reconsider their options. As it became apparent that the Allies would win, it became politically convenient for nationalists to reject ties to the old state and to embrace the nationalist ideology of the victorious powers. On top of that, the Empire could no longer provide an encouragement for the nationalities to work together. Other groups also lost faith in the Empire. Prosperity had disappeared, leading to a lack of business interests. Socialists became upset by the loss of the liberal policies that had characterised the pre-war government. Under these conditions, radical nationalists found it easy to rally support to their cause, and an abundance of declarations of independence followed in October 1918. The war officially concluded for Austria-Hungary when it entered an armistice with the Allies on November 3, 1918.
The end of the war marked the end of Austria-Hungary. Contrary to expectations at the time, the break-up of the empire did not lighten national problems in the area, yet made the area more politically unstable than under Habsburg rule.
First to formalise the new circumstances, the Czechs and the Slovaks proclaimed independence on October 28 1918. Hungary followed on 31 October. The South Slavs, combined with Serbia and Montenegro, had formed the ???Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes??? on 29 October 1918.
Both Austria and Hungary became republics. In Hungary, the absence of a King led the country to be run under the control of regency.
* www.ngw.nl ??? Europe ??? Austria
By Njteh Sevagian