Sunday, August 19, 2007
The Austro-Hungarian Empire, also known as Austria-Hungary, Dual Monarchy or k.u.k. Monarchy or Dual State, was a dual-monarchic union state in Central Europe from 1867 to 1918, dissolved at the end of World War I.
The dual monarchy was the successor to the Austrian Empire (1804–1867) on the same territory, originating in the compromise between the ruling Habsburg dynasty and the Hungarians.
As a multi-national empire and great power in an era of national awakening, it found its political life dominated by disputes among the eleven principal national groups.
Its economic and social life was marked by a rapid economic growth through the age of industrialization and social modernization through many liberal and democratic reforms.
The Habsburg dynasty ruled as Emperors of Austria over the western and northern half of the country and as Kings of Hungary over the Kingdom of Hungary which enjoyed some degree of self-government and representation in joint affairs (principally foreign relations and defence).
The federation bore the full name internationally of "The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen".
The capital of the state was Vienna. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was geographically the second largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire, and the third most populous (after both Russia and the German Empire). The territory it covered today has a population of about 73 million.
Names of the Empire in languages officially recognized by the Austro-Hungarian Empire:
Hungarian: Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia
Serbian: Aустро-Угарска, Austro-Ugarska
Ukrainian: Австро-Угорщина, Avstro-Uhorščyna
Rusyn: Австро-Магярщина, Avstro-Magyarščina Creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
Article 19 of the Austro-Hungarian constitution stated:
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 Sprache") 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 since everything depended on the decision as to which language could be regarded as landesüblich or 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. While Italian was regarded as an old "culture language" (Kultursprache) by German-speaking intellectuals and had always been granted equal rights as an official language of the Empire, they had particular difficulties in accepting the Slavic languages as equal to German. On one occasion Count A. Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) entered the diet of Carniola carrying what he claimed to be the whole corpus of Slovenian literature under his arm to provide evidence that the Slovenian language could in his view not be substituted for German as a medium of higher education.
Nevertheless the following years saw an emancipation of several languages at least in the Cisleithanian part of the Empire. In a series of laws from 1867 and onwards, the Croatian language was raised to equality with the hitherto officially dominating Italian language in Dalmatia. From 1882 there was a Slovenian majority in the diet of Carniola and in the capital Laibach (Ljubljana), thereby replacing German as the dominant official language. Polish was introduced instead of German in 1869 in Galicia as the normal language of government. The Poles themselves systematically disregarded the large Ukrainian minority in the country, and Ukrainian was not granted the status of an official language.
The language disputes were most fiercely fought in Bohemia and Moravia where the Czechs wanted to establish their language as the dominating language even in the purely German-speaking bordering areas of the country (later called the "Sudetenland"). German-speakers lost their majority in the Bohemian diet in 1880 and their dominating position in the cities of Prague and Pilsen (while retaining a slight numerical majority in the city of Brno (Brünn)) and found themselves in an unfamiliar minority position. The old Charles University in Prague hitherto dominated by the German-speakers was divided into a German and a Czech part in 1882.
At the same time, Magyar dominance faced challenges from the local majorities of Romanians in Transylvania and in the eastern Banat, of Slovaks in today's Slovakia, of Croats and Serbs in the crownlands 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 also looked to union with their fellow-nationalists in the newly-founded states of Romania (1859–78) and Serbia.
Though Hungary's leaders showed on the whole less willingness than their Austrian counterparts to share power with their subject minorities, they granted (it is argued) a large measure of autonomy to the kingdom of Croatia in 1868, parallelling to some extent their own accommodation within the Empire the previous year.
Language was one of the most contentious questions in Austro-Hungarian politics. All governments faced difficult and divisive hurdles in sorting out the languages of government and of instruction. Minorities wanted to ensure the widest possibility for education in their own language as well as in the "dominant" languages of Hungarian and German. On one notable occasion, that of the so-called "Ordinance of April 5, 1897", the Austrian Prime Minister Kasimir Felix Graf Badeni gave Czech equal standing with German in the internal government of Bohemia and also in the purely German-speaking parts of Bohemia, leading to a crisis because of nationalist German agitation throughout the Empire. In the end Badeni was dismissed.
From January 1907 all the public and private schools in the Slovak part of Hungary (with approximately 2m inhabitants) were forced to teach solely in the Hungarian language, burning Slovak books and newspapers. This led to wide criticism by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, among others.
It was not rare for the two kingdoms to divide spheres of influence. According to Misha Glenny (The Balkans, 1804–1999), the Austrians responded to Hungarian badgering of Czechs by supporting the Croatian national movement in Zagreb. (Croatia, in spite of nominal autonomy, was in fact an economic and administrative arm of Hungary, which the Croatians resented).
Emperor Franz Joseph himself was very well aware that he reigned in a multiethnic country and spoke fluent German, Hungarian, Czech, and, to some degree, also Polish and Italian.
The situation of Jews in the kingdom, who numbered about 2 million in 1914, was ambiguous. Anti-Semitic parties and movements existed, but Vienna did not initiate pogroms or implement official anti-Semitic policies. This was mainly out of fear that such ethnic violence could ignite other ethnic minorities and result in violence that could spin out of control. The majority of Jews lived in small towns of Galicia and rural areas in Hungary, Bohemia, although there were large communities in Vienna, Budapest, Prague and other large cities.
Common languages in Cisleithania
Source: Census Dec. 31st 1910, published in: Geographischer Atlas zur Vaterlandskunde an der österreichischen Mittelschulen. K. u. k. Hof-Kartographische Anstalt G. Freytag & Berndt, Vienna, 1911.
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