Vormaerz (Biedermeier age): After Napoleon appointed himself Emperor 
of France in 1804, Emperor Franz II founded the Austrian Empire 
on August 8, 1804, and abdicated the crown of the Holy Roman 
Empire in 1806. The Habsburg lands suffered considerably from the  
Napoleonic Wars, which cost a great deal of money, led to national 
bankruptcy in 1811 and set back the slowly developing industry. It 
took 10 years for the economy to get over this crisis. On the other 
hand the Continental System, the blockade enforced by Napoleon against 
Britain, also led to the development of new products (e.g. beet 

In terms of foreign policy matters Austria reached the peak of its 
power by 1815, partly because of its position as a decisive power 
during the Wars of Liberation, partly because of the person of 
Metternich: Vienna was chosen as the place for the congress during 
which the new European order was established. The Austrian Empire 
recovered parts of its former provinces but waived the Austrian 
Netherlands and the Vorlande in south-western Germany for the benefit 
of dominating the newly created German Confederation and in exchange 
for Lombardy and Venetia in Italy. The "Holy Alliance" of 
Russia, Austria and Prussia guaranteed stability, it opposed all 
liberal movements in Europe and confirmed this attitude at the 
congresses of Aix-la-Chapelle 1818, Karlsbad 1819, Troppau 1820, and 
Laibach and Venice 1822, and it was only towards the end of the 
century that Great Britain and France changed their course.

After the Napoleonic Wars domestic policy was characterised by a harsh 
police regime which suppressed any sign of liberalism, kept foreign 
literature away from the country and thus promoted the retreat of the 
bourgeoisie into the private sphere. This  Biedermeier culture and 
especially its music became very popular in urban areas: it had 
already started its advance during the 18%%sup th/%  century 
owing to the works of W. A. Mozart and J. Haydn, and now it 
became even more popular with the music of L. van  Beethoven, F.  
Schubert and the waltz composers J.  Strauss the Elder and J.  Lanner. 
The dramatic works of playwright F.  Grillparzer strengthened 
people´s loyalty to the Habsburg monarchy, J.  Nestroy and F.  
Raimund led the Old Viennese  Volkstheater to new heights. The most 
important painters of the time were L.  Kupelwieser and F. G.  
Waldmueller, who also made social criticism a recurring theme in his 

Although there was considerable economic growth from the 1820s 
onwards, which was partly made possible by laws granting privileges to 
industrial promoters, many people led a very wretched life. Most of 
them were industrial workers who lived in the suburban areas of 
Vienna, others had come from the overpopulated parts of Bohemia and 
the Austrian Alpine Regions. Inventors and new entrepreneurs from 
various regions of Germany settled down in Austria because they could 
sell their products more easily here, and they also developed new 
products. Many of them were travelling craftsmen and thus introduced 
new ideas from England to continental Europe, for instance, the 
technology of railway construction, which started in the 1830s. The 
horse-drawn railway from Linz to Budweis was outdated by the time it 
was finished in 1832, but the steam railway from Vienna to Moravia 
(opened in 1837 from Vienna to Deutsch-Wagram and completed shortly 
afterwards) marked the beginning of a new era of transport policy. At 
the same time a steamship company was founded and steam navigation 
began on the River Danube, in 1831 the first ship went from Vienna to 
Budapest, in 1932 from Vienna to Linz.

In 1831/1832 a cholera epidemic reduced the economic activities in the 
area around Vienna to a minimum and a series of poor harvests also 
affected economic development. The manorial system and feudal 
institutions were considered outdated and people became more and more 
dissatisfied. Emperor Franz I was always very sceptical of any 
new developments and a Staatskonferenz ("state conference") 
had to be established to rule the monarchy for his feeble-minded son 
Ferdinand (1835-1848). In addition, a new generation of young 
intellectuals insistently demanded a constitution and the 
liberalisation of the state. Finally, on March 13, 1848, the 
 revolution of 1848 broke out in Vienna which resulted in the 
overthrow of  Metternich, who had been the most important political 
figure of the Vormaerz period, and which brought about freedom of the 
press, a constitution, and an election of the Reichstag in summer. On 
September 7, 1848, the law on the final abolition of serfdom 
was passed and thus the feudal system, which had lasted for more than 
1,000 years, was made obsolete.

J. Marx, Die wirtschaftlichen Ursachen der Revolution von 
1848 in Oesterreich, 1965; W. Haeusler, Von der Massenarmut zur 
Arbeiterbewegung, 1979; P. Csendes (ed.), Oesterreich 1790-1848, Das 
Tagebuch einer Epoche, 1987; Buergersinn und Aufbegehren, exhibition 
catalogue, Vienna 1987/1988.

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