The Habsburg Monarchy Essay

The Habsburg Monarchy Essay

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How did the Habsburg Monarchy cope with the demands of mass politics 1867 - 1914

The Habsburg Monarchy first had to deal with the Magyar demands of autonomy which culminated into the Compromise of 1867. From then the Emperor Francis Joseph would have the title of King of Hungary. This dual monarchy was to be a success in satisfying both the Habsburgs and the Magyars but had the effect of causing both disappointment and resentment to the significant national minorities in the empire. The Habsburg Monarchy managed to appease many nationalities such as the Poles and Italians (though they had always strived for a unified Italy) by giving them a favoured position in the empire, in which their nobility and relative autonomy was sustained. I will split this answer up into two sections; the Cisleithanian (Austrian) and the Hungarian parts of the empire. Both dealt with the nationalities within their borders differently and consequently were faced with varied political parties representing the demands of their group. The Habsburg Monarchy ruled over a nations of poor, more backward countries of Europe; and in an age where small countries tend to get absorbed by their more powerful neighbours, national minorities were more willing to remain part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Sked points out that the majority of important political movements did not want a break from the Monarchy; rather they wanted either reforms such as the use of their cultural language in schools or proportionate representation in government. Another reason for the lack of any real demand for sovereignty within the empire by its various national minorities is that the division between the Slavs (which constituted roughly half the total population) meant they were unable to exert any real power as a unified nation.

The Compromise of 1867 was the result of the weakness of the Habsburg Empire after the defeat of the battle of Sadowa in 1866 in which its influences of control in Venetia and the German Confederation were lost. John W. Mason argues that the Compromise was a way for the Habsburgs to preserve itself against ’the Russians in the Balkans’(2) and was also a way of strengthening the empire against the rise of Slav nationalism. The Compromise however caused great outrage and resentment among the minorities in both halves of the empire. The most significant outcome was the rise in Czec...

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3. Mason, p.8

4. Alan Sked - The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire 1815-1918 (Longman, 1989) p. 223

5. Mason, p.36

6. Sked - The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, p. 229

7. Sked - The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, p.229

8. Carl E. Schorske - Politics and Psyche in fin de siecle Vienna: Schnitzler and Hofmannsthal (American Historical Review: Vol. 66, No. 4     , p.930)

9. Schorske (American Historical Review: Vol. 66, No. 4, p.935)
Mason, p.41

10. Sked, p.231

11. Mason, p.1 (taken from L. B. Namier - ‘The Downfall of the Habsburg Monarchy’ in Vanished Supremacies, Penguin, 1962)


1. John W. Mason - The Dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1867-1918 (Longman, 1997)

2. Alan Sked - The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire 1815-1918 (Longman, 1989)

3. Carl E. Schorske - Politics and Psyche in fin de siecle Vienna: Schnitzler and Hofmannsthal (American Historical Review: Vol. 66, No. 4     , p.930)

4. C. A. McCartney - The Habsburg Empire 1790-1918 (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968)

5. Hans Kohn - The Habsburg Empire 1804-1918 (Van Nostrad, 1961)

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