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Austria-Hungary (German: Österreich-Ungarn), sometimes called the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a Great Power[1] in Central Europe from the formal union in 1867 (called the Austro-Hungarian Compromise) until November 1918. Throughout its existence Austria-Hungary had only two (Habsburg) sovereigns: Kaiser and King Franz Josef (1830-1916), followed by Kaiser and King Karl I (1887-1922).

Imperial and Royal (k. u. k.) medium coat of arms (1915–1918)


Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kaiser Franz Josef I; painting from E. Bieler, Berlin, about 1910
Ageing Emperor Franz Josef at the wedding of his ultimate successor, the Archduke Karl, to Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma on 21 October 1911
Austria-Hungary showing ethnicities in 1910. Ukrainians should more correctly read Ruthenians. (Modern place-names are given.)

The dual monarchy was the successor to the Austrian Empire (1804–1867), its predecessor the Holy Roman Empire, and the ancient Kingdom of Hungary. The Habsburg dynasty ruled as Emperors of Austria over the western and northern half of the empire, and as Kings of Hungary over the Kingdom of Hungary which enjoyed self-government with its own national parliament, and which also had full representation in joint affairs (principally foreign relations and defence). The dual monarchy bore the full official name of "The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen" although internationally and diplomatically it was known as Austria-Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy. The capital of Austria was Vienna; the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary was Budapest.

Geography and demographics

Four-fifths of Austria-Hungary was mountainous. At 115,840 square miles (exclusive of Bosnia-Herzegovina) the 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) with a population of 45,405,000 (1905). In 1900 there were 9,171,000 Germans in Austria and 2,135,000 in Hungary, 15,690,000 Slavs in Austria and 5,180,000 in Hungary, and 8,742,000 Magyars in Hungary[2]: a multi-ethnic empire, in an era of so-called national awakening, it found its political life often dominated by internal disputes among the numerous ethnic groups.

Economic development

Its economic and social life was marked by rapid economic growth through the age of industrialisation[3]; it had oil[4], considerable heavy industries (i.e: Skodawerke A.G. at Pilsen and Witkowitzer Mines and Iron Works in Moravia.) and shipyards (Trieste, Pola and Fiume), extensive railways, and underwent social modernisation through many liberal and democratic reforms.


Austria-Hungary had a coastline on the Adriatic Sea stretching almost from Venice all the way to Albania, a thriving merchant navy (notably Austrian Lloyd) centred on Trieste, and a substantial war navy (Kriegsmarine) equal to that of Italy, whom they defeated at the Battle of Lissa (German War of Brothers in 1866) and kept almost completely contained in Italian harbours during World War I.[5][6][7]. Austria-Hungary was the first Mediterranean sea power to have a completed new dreadnought battleship, a month ahead of the Italians and a whole year before France.[8]

World War I

Despite the Central Powers' victories over Russia, Serbia and Romania in The Great War, Austria-Hungary was totally exhausted by 1918 and after significant Allied support to Italy that year, undermined by the United States President Woodrow Wilson's propaganda promises to the ethnic subjects of the Empire, the dual monarchy was unable to continue the war on the Italian front, which had been holding up well, but now collapsed. After the enforced Armistice, Austria-Hungary, facing revolutions of socialists and communists internally, began to disintegrate, and was subsequently destroyed/dismembered by the imposed treaties of the victorious plutocratic Liberal Western Allies in 1919-20.[9][10]

A greatly reduced Hungary continued as a Kingdom, with a Regent, until 1945.


Religion (1910 census)

  • 76.6 % Catholic (incl. 64–66 % Latin & 10–12 % Eastern)
  • 8.9 % Protestant (Lutheran, Reformed, Unitarian)
  • 8.7 % Orthodox
  • 4.4 % Jewish
  • 1.3 % Muslim


  • 1905 621,538 km2 (239,977 sq mi)


  • Gulden (1867–1892)
  • Krone (1892–1918)

Further reading

  • The Habsburg Empire by Franz Hubmann, English edition, RKP London, 1972. ISBN 0-7100-7230-9
  • The Habsburgs - Embodying Empire, by Andrew Wheatcroft, London, 1995/6. ISBN-13: 978-0-140-23634-7
  • The Habsburg Empire by Pieter M. Judson, Harvard University Press, and London, 2016. ISBN 978-0-674-04776-1
  • Twilight of the Habsburgs - The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Josef, by Alan Palmer, London, 1994, ISBN 0-297-81346-3
  • Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria by Joseph Redlich, London, 1929.

See also


  1. For God and Kaiser - The Imperial Austrian Army by Richard Bassett, Yale University Press, and London, 2015, ISBN 978-0-300-17858-6
  2. Austria-Hungary by Karl Baedeker, 10th edition, Leipzig, 1905, p.xii.
  3. Economic Development in the Habsburg Monarchy and in the Successor States edited by John Komlos, Columbia University Press, New York, 1990, ISBN 0-88033-177-1
  4. Oil Empire - Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia, by Alison Fleig Frank, Harvard University Press, and London, 2007, ISBN-13 978-0-674-02541-7
  5. A Fleet in Being - Austro-Hungarian Warships of WW1 by Russell Phillips, Truro, UK, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9927648-0-7
  6. Austro-Hungarian Battleships by Ryan Noppen, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84908-688-2
  7. The Battle of the Otranto Straits - Controlling the Gateway to the Adriatic in WW1, by Paul G. Halpern, Indiana University Press, USA, 2004, ISBN 0-253-34379-8
  8. Noppen, 2012, p.27.
  10. The Tragedy of Trianon by Sir Robert Donald, G.B.E., LL.B., London, 1928.