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Franzisko-josephinische Ära#

Franz Josef, Reign of, the era encompassing the rule of Emperor Franz Josef I (1848-1916). Due to the length of Franz Joseph's rule and the many changes that took place during that time, the era is divided into several periods: 1) Neoabsolutism 1848-1860, 2) Transitional period 1860-1867, 3) liberal age 1867-1879, 4) "Period of Emerging Nationalities" 1879-1893, 5) Age of intense struggles for nationality and for democracy 1893-1914, 6) World War I and the end of the Monarchy.

1) The first period was characterised by the subjugation of Hungary and Lombardy, the maintaining of leadership in the Deutscher Bund as well as the dissolution of the Parliament elected in 1848. As a result of the New Year's Eve Patent (Silvesterpatent) of 1851, absolutism was restored; however the state had gone through considerable changes due to the abolition of the feudal social structures; municipalities, the administration of political districts and federal courts had been set up. The Industrial Revolution began, in Vienna the building of the Ringstrasse avenue was made possible. Diplomatic defeats in the Crimean War in 1853-1856 and military losses in Italy in 1859 (loss of Lombardy, agreement to the unification of Italy) ended this period.

2) After 1860 Austria unsuccessfully endeavoured to install a constitutional monarchy with Hungary. The lost war against Prussia and Italy in 1866 forced Austria to withdraw from the Deutscher Bund and to relinquish Venetia and resulted in the Compromise, or "Ausgleich", with Hungary in 1867.

3) The dual Austro-Hungarian Monarchy formed a single-monarch confederacy in 1867. Three Imperial Ministries (the ministries of Foreign Affairs, War and Finance) were responsible for the areas concerning both Austria and Hungary, 60 deputies from each Parliament were elected to decide on matters of common interest and assign quotas. Each half of the Empire had its own constitution, a bicameral Parliament, a government (including its own ministers of finance and war) and separate administrative structures until 1879. The western half of the empire ("Cisleithania", official name: "the kingdoms and lands represented in the Reichsrat (Imperial Diet)") had liberal governments which abolished the Concordat of 1855, introduced the Imperial Primary School Law of 1869, a new Code of Criminal Procedure in 1872 and installed a new administrative court in 1875. The period was characterised by rapid economic growth (the building of the railway system, founding of numerous industrial firms), which was halted by a recession in 1873. The concerns of the German-speaking ruling class in regard to the preservation of their lifestyle dominated domestic policy, foreign policy was dominated by the occupation of Bosnia and Hercegovina in 1878 as well as the alliance with the German Empire in 1879. Austria was making the transition to a modern state with a industrial bourgeois society against the backdrop of liberalism.

4) This was followed by the Taaffe era, marked by the return of the Czechs to the Reichsrat (Imperial Diet), the rise of German nationalistic tendencies, the attainment of political power by a larger population base (five-guilder-men) and the political organisation of the lower classes (workers, farmers, lower middle-class).

5) In 1893 the transition to mass democracy began (the common man began to participate in politics) with stark national and social contrasts. Steps within this development were voting reforms implemented in 1897 and 1907, which helped the Social Democrats to become a significant political factor in the state and was to aid the effort to transform Austria into a federalist state. This period also saw enormous progress in transportation (expansion of the railway network), industry (in particular in Lower Austria, Bohemia, Moravia), technology (telegraph, telephone, gas, electricity, automobile) and in construction in Vienna and almost all the other cities in the provinces. The Austrian school system was expanded; music, literature, art and journalism reached cultural heights.

6) The last years of Franz Josef's reign were dominated by World War I.


Das Zeitalter Kaiser Franz Josephs, exhibition catalogue, Grafenegg 1984 and 1987; Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848-1918, ed. by the Academy of Sciences, 1973ff. (until 1989, 8 vols.).