The Dual Monarchy
• After 1848 the Hapsburg Empire was a problem both to
itself and for the rest of Europe.
• As a critic remarked, “there was a standing army of
soldiers, a kneeling army of priests, and a crawling
army of informers that supported the empire.”
• In the age of national states, liberal institutions, and
industrialism, the Habsburg lands remained primarily
dynastic, absolutist, and agrarian.
• But the Habsburgs had proven their capacity to survive
as many had tried unsuccessfully to dismember it.
• After 1815, under Metternich, it guided the rest of
Habsburg Response to 1848
• The response to the
revolts of 1848-1849 had
been the reassertion of
• Francis Joseph, who
became emperor in 1848
and ruled until 1916, was
honest and hardworking,
but unimaginative.
• He reacted to events –
rarely commanded them.
Francis Joseph’s Administration
• During 1850s, his ministers attempted to impose a
centralized administration on the empire.
• The system amounted to a military and bureaucratic
government dominated by German-speaking Austrians.
• They abolished all internal tariffs in the empire.
• They divided Hungary, which had been so revolutionary in
1848, into military districts.
• The Roman Catholic Church controlled education.
• Minorities, who had supported the empire against the
Hungarians, received no rewards for their loyalty.
• But even though this centralization of power brought
internal resentment, the empire eventually faltered
because of the setbacks in Habsburg foreign affairs.
Foreign Policy
• Austrian refusal to support Russia during the
Crimean War meant that the new czar would no
longer help preserve Habsburg rule in Hungary as
Nicholas I had done in 1849.
• The Austrian defeat in 1859 at the hands of
France and Piedmont and the subsequent loss of
territory in Italy confirmed the necessity for a
new domestic policy.
• For seven years the emperor, civil servants,
aristocrats, and the politicians tried to construct a
viable system of government.
October Diploma
• In 1860 Francis Joseph issued the October
Diploma, which created a federation among
the states and provinces of the empire.
• There were to be local diets dominated by the
landed classes and a single imperial
• The Magyar nobility of Hungary, however,
rejected the plan.
February Patent
• Consequently, in 1861, the emperor issued the
February Patent, which set up an entirely
different form of government.
• It established a bicameral imperial parliament, or
Reichsrat, with an upper chamber appointed by
the emperor and an indirectly elected lower
• Again the Magyars refused to cooperate in a
system designed to give political dominance in
the empire to German speaking Austrians.
• Magyars sent no delegates to the legislature.
Government until WWI
• However, for the next 6 years, the February
Patent governed the empire, and it prevailed in
the Austria proper until World War I.
• Ministers were responsible to the emperor, not
the Reichsrat, and civil liberties were not
• Armies could be levied and taxes raised without
parliamentary consent.
• When the Reichsrat was not in session, the
emperor could simply rule by decree.
Magyar Negotiations
• Negotiations continued secretly between the
emperor and the Magyars.
• These produced no concrete result until the
Prussian defeat of Austria in the summer of
1866 and the consequent exclusion of Austria
from German affairs.
• The military disaster compelled Francis Joseph
to come to terms with the Magyars.
• The Ausgleich, or Compromise of 1867, transformed the Habsburg
Empire into a dual monarchy, thereafter generally known as
• Francis Joseph was crowned king of Hungary in Budapest in 1867.
• Except for the common monarch, Austria and Hungary became
almost wholly separate states.
• They shared ministers of foreign affairs, defense, and finance, but
the other ministers were different for each state.
• The ideas behind the creation of Ausgleich were laid down in the
memoirs of Count von Beust, the Austrian prime minister.
• There were also separate parliaments.
• Each year, sixty parliamentary delegates from
each state met to discuss mutual interests.
• Every ten years, Austria and Hungary
renegotiated their trade relationship.
• By this cumbersome machinery, unique in
European history, the Magyars were reconciled to
Habsburg rule.
• They had achieved the freehand they had long
wanted in Hungary.
Nationalities in the Dual Monarchy
• The Compromise of 1867 had introduced two
different principles of political legitimacy into
the two sections of the Habsburg Empire.
• In Hungary, political loyalty was based on
nationality because Hungary had been
recognized as a distinct part of the monarchy
on the basis of nationalism.
• In effect Hungary was a Magyar nation under
the Habsburg emperor.
• In the rest of the Habsburg domains, the
principle of legitimacy meant dynastic loyalty
to the emperor.
• Many of the other nationalities wished to
achieve the same type of settlement that the
Hungarians had won, or to govern themselves,
or to unite with fellow nationals who lived
outside the empire.
Map of Nationalities in AustriaHungary
The Opposition to the Compromise
• Many of those other national groups opposed the
Compromise of 1867 that in effect had permitted
German-speaking Austrians and the Hungarian
Magyars to dominate all other nationalities
within the empire.
• The most vocal critics were the Czechs of
Bohemia, who favored a policy of trialism, or
triple monarchy, in which the Czechs would be
given a position similar to that of the Hungarians.
• In 1871 Francis Joseph was willing to accept
this concept – the Magyars, however, were
• The Magyars vetoed it lest they be forced to
make similar concessions to their own subject
• Furthermore, the Germans of Bohemia were
afraid that the Czech language would be
imposed on them.
• For more than 20 years, the Czechs were placated by
generous patronage and posts in the bureaucracy.
• By the 1890s, however, Czech nationalism again
became more strident.
• In 1897, Francis Joseph gave the Czechs and the
Germans equality of language in various localities.
• Thereafter, the Germans in the Austrian Reichsrat
opposed these measures by disrupting Parliament.
• The Czechs replied by using the same measures.
Governmental Obstructionism
• By the turn of the century, this obstructionism, which included
playing musical instruments in the Reichscrat, had paralyzed
parliamentary life.
• The emperor ruled by imperial decree through the bureaucracy.
• In 1907 Francis Joseph introduced universal male suffrage in Austria
(but not in Hungary), but this action did not eliminate the chaos in
the Reichscrat.
• In effect, by 1914 constitutionalism was a dead letter in Austria.
• It flourished in Hungary, but only because the Magyars relentlessly
exercised political supremacy over all other competing national
groups except Croatia, which was permitted considerable
Nationalism at End of 19th Century
• There is reason to believe that nationalism
became stronger during the last quarter of the
19th century.
• It was then that language became the single most
important factor in defining a nation – this was
possible with the expansion of education.
• In all countries where nationalistic groups
prospered, their membership was dominated by
intellectuals, students, and educated members of
the middle class, all of whom were literate in the
literary version of particular national languages.
• It is also during this time, that racial thinking
became important in Europe.
• Racial thought maintained there was a genetic
basis for ethnic and cultural groups who had
before been generally defined by a common
history and culture.
• Once language and race became the ways to
define an ethnic or national group, the lines
between such groups became much more sharply
Nationalism Ramifications Outside
• The unrest of nationalities within the Habsburg Empire not only
cause internal political difficulties, it also became a major source of
political instability for all of central and eastern Europe.
• Each of the nationality problems normally had ramifications for
both foreign and domestic policy.
• Both the Croats and Poles wanted an independent state in union
with their fellow nationals who lived outside the empire, and in the
case of the Poles, with fellow nationals in the Russian Empire.
• Other national groups, such as the Ukrainians, Romanians, Italians,
and Bosnians, saw themselves as potentially linked to Russia,
Romania, Serbia, Italy, or to a yet-to-be established south Slavic, or
Yugoslav state.
• Many of these nationalities looked to Russia to protect
their interests or influence the government in Vienna.
• The Romanians were also concerned about the
Romanian minority in Hungary.
• Serbia sought to expand its borders to include Serbs
who lived within Habsburg or Ottoman territory.
• Out of these Balkan tensions emerged much of the
turmoil that would spark World War I.
• Many of the same ethnic tensions account for the
warfare in the former Yugoslavia.
Germans Within the Austro-Hungarian
• The dominant German population of Austria proper was
generally loyal to the emperor.
• A part of it, however, yearned to join the united German
state being established by Bismarck.
• Bismarck had united Germany, but he had also divided it,
for he left about 1/6 of the Germans outside his German
Empire and they were forced to work out a common future
with a dozen other nationalities within Austrian lands.
• These nationalistic Austro-Germans often hated the nonGerman national groups of the empire, and many of them
were anti-semites.
• Such attitudes would influence the youth and young
adulthood of Adolph Hitler.
Implications for Central and Eastern
• For the next century of European and even world
history, the significance of this nationalist unrest within
the late 19th century Austrian Empire and its neighbors
can hardly be overestimated.
• These nationality problems touched all three of the
great central and eastern European empires – the
German, the Russian, and the Austrian.
• All had large Polish populations, an Russia had many
minority groups.
• Each nationality regarded its own aspirations and
discontents as more important than the larger good or
even the survival of the empires that they inhabited.
• The weakness of the Ottoman Empire allowed both Austria
and Russia to compete in the Balkans for greater influence
and thus further inflame nationalistic resentments.
• Such nationalistic stirrings affected the fate of all three
empires from the 1860s through the outbreak of WWI.
• The government of each of those empires would be
overturned during the war, and the Austrian Empire would
• These same unresolved problems of central and eastern
European nationalism would then lead directly to World
War II.
• They continue to fester today.

The Dual Monarchy - NDAPEuropeanHistory