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History of the City Vienna and Austria


Only a few cities can look back to such an agitated history as the city of Vienna. On one hand, the history of origination and colonization goes back up to the times of the romans, on the other hand there was a strong fight of competition for the dominance of Vienna. With the time of the Habsburger, the era of royal splendor established that last 1000 years and that still today can be admired in the Hofburg located in the centre of Vienna.

The history of the city Vienna cannot be described in some paragraphs. lso, it can be onlöy described in relation to the history of Austria. This is why we dedicated an own page to the city history of Vienna.

First Roman Colonization

In the first century AD, a legionnaire camp was arranged by the romans in the place where today is the centre of Vienna. In this camp that was called Vindobona, originally only men were stationed, but soon, the relatives of those men joined and this place established to be a well working infrastructural net of craftsmen and merchants. As the rod construction was already quite advanced, a vivid exchange developed with the city that was also originated at the same time and today is the 3rd district, in which beside Romans also Celtics lived. The province Pannonia finally existed until the year 433. After it could continuously defend itself against the assaults of the marksmen in the 2nd century, it could not cope any more with the attacks of the Germans in the end of the 3rd century. Vandals, Goths and Huns caused the downfall of the Roman province Pannonia.

The area of the former province was strategically very important for the Romans for the conquest of Germany, as it was located at the bank of the Danube and bordered the Bernstein road. Thus, it is not surprising that later, when the Romans were not there anymore, the whole area was highly required by some single warlike clans. Chronologically, after the Huns, the Langobards came, Avards, Franks and Hungarians, who in the period of time between the 5th and the 12th century fought for the territory around Vienna. What really happened in the Roman colonization between the 5th and the 12th century can be only tried to be reconstructed on the basis of archaeological findings. Unfortunately, there are too less written findings of that time to evaluate them as definite references.

Early Medieval Times

The first time Vienna was namely mentioned was in the year 881 in the annals of Salzburg. These are historical records that were originated in the 9th century and in which the historical events of the time perios between the 8th and the 10th century were kept. The name Vienna appeared in the relation of the fights between the Francs and the Hungarians that were captured apud weniam (before Vienna). The translated word weniam means forest beck, with which on one hand, the beck flowing close to the Roman colony could have been meant, or, on the bother hand, the colony itself.

The further 300 years were marked by numerous battles in and around the area of Vienna until in the year 1155, Vienna was finally named by the Babenbergs as the new centre of Ostarrichi that was founded by them in the year 996. From now on, the municipal development of Vienna prospered under the regime of Henry II., who was already since 1141 margrave of Austria and named in the year 1156 as duke. Together with bishops from Passau, Heny II. supported the construction of churches and convents. Thanks to the engagement of the church and the duke, until the beginning of the 13th century, Vienna developed to a prosperous city in many aspects with 8000 inhabitants. Due to its central location and specially by the connection with the prospering Venice, Vienna became the medieval focal point, thus it advanced to be the second most important german speaking city after Cologne.

After Vienna was named as a free district town in the year 1237, its political-economic supremacy should get even more important in the debate for its authority. After in the year 1246 no male Babenberg was left who could claim his right of governance, it came to some fights. Thus, first the Bohemian King Ottokar Przemsyl claimed his right to Austria that he could just maintain for 20 years. During the battle on the Marchfeld in the year 1278, the German King of that time, Rudolf of Habsburg won against Ottokar. With this won battle, the supremace of the Habsburgs in Vienna bagun that was supposed to last several centuries.

This era of the Habsburgs that put the whole of Vienna in a representative glory, remained alive up today. Only with the construction of the Hofburg, the construction and reconstruction of the St. Stephan's Church and the foundation of the fisrt university in the year 1365, the city picture of Vienna was supposed to change completely. With the prosperity of the claim to power of Habsburg, the claim of an increasingly self-confident getting bourgeoisie for voice grew at the same time. The compromise for both parties was the introduction of a city hall in the year 1282 and the inauguration of the city regiment. From the year 1936, this founded city regiment was supposed to be composed in equal parts of a third by Patricians, Merchants and Craftsmen.

This initial equality did not last for long. With the strengthening of other cities and the decline of the until then very prosperous winehouse in Vienna, a non stoppable economical depression began. In the domestic politics people were looking for a scapegoat and "found" it in a small minority of merchants. Now, the jewish people were accused to be allied with the Hussit movement who were famous for plundering in Prag. With the first jewish pogrom in the year 1421, 800 members of the jewish communitiy were disapproppriated. They were either cast out or murdered by the order of the German King of that time, Albrecht.

In the domestic politics it did not became really quiet in the streets of Vienna until the death of Albrecht VI., after the two brothers Albrecht and Friedrich III. argued for the dominance of Vienna up to the year 1463. Friedrich III. was already coronated in the year 1440 as the German King and in the year 1452 to the Emperor of the hallow Roman Kingdom of the German nation. Under his guidance, Vienna became a diocese city, and the St. Stephan church got thereby the significance of a cathedral. By his leadership that was preferably diplomatic, and his awe against military fights, it happened that even his followers were on the side of his opposers. Finally, he was beaten by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus in the year 1485, so that he could reside the last 5 years of his live in Vienna. To the contrary, Friedrich was forced to peregrinate and resided alternatively in Graz, Linz and the new town of VIenna. After the death of Friedrich in the year 1493, his son Maximilian I. took over his function. He already was the German King since the year 1486 and became the Emperor of the hallow Roman Kingdom in the year 1508.

First Turk Colony in Vienna

Maximilian I. could not forgive the citizens of Vienna that in many places, they were not at their father's side. As his father, he managed the skills of Vienna from a distance and was represented by a bureaucracy led by him. After he died in the year 1519, his grandchild Karl V. first inheritated the Habsburg country. After he resigned, he was replaced by his brother Ferdinand I. form 1558 up to 1564. His premiership in Vienna was from 1521 up to 1564, in which Vienna was colonised by the Turks. This first colony of the Turks resulted got off lightly for Vienna. From Spetember up to October, the Ottomans tried to destroy the city walls of Vienna, a thing they succeeded in on the 12th and 14th of October. With the coming beginning of the winter and the already rain-sodden streets until then that clearly hindered the provision of supplies for the Ottomans, they left again on October 15th.

From now on, people in Vienna wanted to be armed against such attacks. A well fortified fortification was originated all around the centre of Vienna. Not only the Hofburg as residence of the Habsburgs was supposed to be expanded. Also the infrastructure was supposed to gain in quality. Road cosntruction (1558) and water tubes (1565) provided a regained fortification after the losses caused by the Turks in relation with 1200 community centres and aristocratic families that were originated up to the 16th century.

Recatholization of Vienna by Ferdinand II.

Ferdinand II., born in the year 1578 in Graz and died in te year 1637 in Vienna, was from 1617 with an interruption from 1619 to 1620 King of Bohemia, from the year 1618 King of Hungary and from 1619 Emperor of the holy Roman Empire. After the death of his father when he was 12, his mother put the Jesuits in charge of him. The jesuit order that was founded by Ignatius of Loyola in the year 1534 can be considered as the pioneer of the counter-reformation. Thus, this jesuit custody developed to a strict catholic education in which Ferdinands hate against the prostestants was supposed to be fueled. As a rancorous protectionist of the catholic doctrine he swore himself to perform with a special hardness the recatholization in the course of the counter-refomation that begun in the year 1540.

Under his guidance, the catholic churches and convents sprung up like mushrooms. For this purpose, he got support from Spain and Italy. A further wave of immigrants came. The church buildings required special master builders, stonecutters, sculptors and painters, so that in the 17th century, Vienna counted 60.000 inhabitants. But until the end of the 17th century, large parts of the population were supposed to be carried off by a plague epidemic.

Second Turk Colonization of Vienna

Shortly after the pest broke off in the year 1679/80, the Turks stood again in front of the gates of Vienna a few years later. In the year 1683 and after a battle of three months, the Turks could be successfully banished from the area of Vienna. The battle at Kahlenberg, in which the Turks could be routed out on September 12th 1683, made history as a conmemorative day, but further 14 years had to follow until Prince Eugen of Savoyen finished in victory the fight against the Turks in the battle at Zenta.

Again, the cityscape of Vienna was supposed to change and expand radically fter the damages of the colonization by the Turks. Now, all the nobel places, churches and not least the Hofburg got their baroque exterior. Also the infrastructure developed within modern innovations. New markets developed by manufactures that specialised in the production of high quality products as porcelain or silk. In the year 1723, the new gained attraction of Vienna made the number of inhabitants increase to 120.000 and counting.

The Attraction of Vienna Continues Booming under Maria Theresia

This upward trend of the number of inhabitants was due to the regime of Maria Theresias from the year 1740. After the death of her father, there was apparently no male heir apparent who could take over this task. Thus, she not only doubled the strength of her army and introduced additional taxes for the military, but also provided an economical boom with the introduction of a currency reform.

But in the broadest sense, she concentrated on the reformation of social drawbacks, as for example the introduction of the general compulsory education or the prohibition of torture. Her son, Joseph II., continued these social reforms on a grand scale. Hospitals and cementeries were built, child labour and death penalty were prohibited. Also the legal and social position of those of different faith were improved.

Vienna in Times of Revolution and Restauration

If Maria could still score with the style of the enlightened absolutism and her social reforms, with the assumption of office of the successors of Joseph, the political course became again more authoritarian. People wanted to avoid that in Vienna, the same turbulaces ocurred as it was the case in France since the year 1789. But France was interested to expand its revolutional ideas beyond the borders. Trough a pact wit Prussia, Austria, at that time bordering with France, was supposed to get ready for te worst. The time from 1792 up to 1815 is marked by six of such coalitions in which different European powers allied martially against France.

In the course of these conflicts, the Austrian Emperor had to give up some territotrial and power claims until he escaped to Hungary in the year 1809 from the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon. Four years later, Napoleon finally had to capitulate so that the Emperor could return in the year 1813. Now, in the whole of Europe, some new borders had to be determined that were strongly changed by Napoleon. In this sense, with the Congress of Vienna that took place from atumn 1814 up to summer 1815 order was supposed to be imposed. For this purpose, approximately 200 European powers came together and conferred under the guidance of the Austrian foreign minister, Prince of Metternich.

In the Congress of Vienna, the German Confederation was originated that was supposed to replace the dissolved holy Roman Empire of German Nations. In this institution that mainly consisted on german speaking states, 39 member states signed the Act of German Confederation, a certificate with which the foundation of the German Confederation was documented. The task of the confederation was to provide peace and balance on a European level. This balance should be guaranteed by a military constitution that introduced tenable Federal Armed Forces.

But not only the country borders were supposed to get back their old arrangement. Under Metternich , the old pre-revolutionary conditions should be restored also in the domestic politics. His anti liberal and anti national attitude, that he acieved during a long time after the year 1815 with a police monitoring system, resulted to be his doom in te revolution of March of the year 1848. He was forced by te Austrian citizens to resign and escape. But in autumn 1848, the royal troups won again the dominance so that now, after the resignment of the Emperor, his nephew, Franz Joseph took over his position.

The Imperial and Royal Danube Monarchy

The Emperor Franz Joseph I. should be familiar to everybody latest in the Sisi movies. In this trilogy one gets a little introduction in the political and historical circumstances took place after the year 1854, the year of the wedding with Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria, called Sisi. The German Confederation was supposed to provide a balance between the powers, but Prussia and Austria were not in accordance about the supremacy in the German Confederation.

During the war with Prussia, with the defeat in the year 1866, Austria suffered strong consequences from the battle at Königgrätz. Austria was now forced to split from the German states. The consequence of this isolation was that now, a special attention was set in the negotiations with Hungary, which wanted to get more independent since te year 1848. In the interest of the Habsburgs, an approach took place to that effect that the imperial and royal Danube monarchy was founded in which Austria and Hungary were united to a double monarchy from June 8th 1867 up to October 31st 1918.

First World War

The Emperor Franz Joseph had some grave and personal strokes to suffer. In the year 1889, his son Rudolf committed suicide, in the year 1898 his wife was murdered, in the year 1914 , Franz Ferdinand, nephew and future heir apparent, was shot together with his wife by a Bosnian student. This assassination was the last straw for the conflicts happening in the Balkans since a longer period of time.

With the war declaration against Serbia, the Danube monarchy finally caused the first world war(from 1914 to 1918). Franz Joseph died in the year 1916, so that his German-Asutria was founded. With it, the first communist party outside the recently originated Sovjet Union was originated.

Vienna after the War: The Red Vienna

After the end of the war, Vienna had a lot to lose. Originally, it was the gorgeous representative residence of an imperial governance dynasty, it was now onloy the capital of a small state, the Federal Republic of Austria that was governed in a christian and social way. But there also was a huge change of opinion that was shown in the year 1919 with the victory of the social democratic party in Vienna. With this strong change from the originally traditionally guided Vienna, a large-scaled restructuring of the political ressort. Health, social matters and education had an advantage through the newly structured tax program and the flowing subsidies.

But in the year 1927, the break between the christian-social Federal government and the social democratic government of Vienna was supposed to get deeper. The motive for this was given by the acquittal of fachist bruiser groups against which the social democrats protested with the escalade of the place of justice. The bloody fights resulted in more than 80 deads and several hundred injured people.

Several crises and turbulences resulted in the dissolution of the Austrian Parliament in te year 1933. Subsequently, the social democrats were declared by te Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß to the enemies of Austria. The social democrats defended themselves in the year 1934 against the austrofachist dictatorship with arms, so that finally Austria was affected by a civil war.

The Semifachism or Austrofachism

After the fatal assassination of Dollfuß, in the year 1934, Kurt Schuschnigg took over the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria and led the regime in a not less authoritarian style. This style of governance that was justified with Dollfuß, is historically called semi fachism or austrofachism, because it strongly orientated to the faschist ideologies and the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. In the year 1938, the austrofachism ended with the connection of Austria to the German empire.

Kurt Schuschnigg still tried to fight against this conection with a popular vote, but the menace of Hitler to get into Asutria with his troups was much too straight. Schuschnigg was required to resign as chancellor. His office was taken over by Arthur Seyß-Inquart, who was charged by the austrian federal president of tat time, Wilhelm Miklas, with the formation of a new governemnt. From the 11th up to 13th of March 1938, he was head of government of Austria and fulfilled the connection. The German troups that crossed the ustrian borders with 65.000 people were highly acclaimed by the population.

Actually, the connection of Austria was supposed to take place in several steps. But Hitler and Seyß-Inquart avoided these deadlines with te immediate decision over the law for the reunion of Austria with the German Empire. With his refuse to sign this law, the Federal President Miklas resigned. Seyß-Inquart could now sign his own law as two functions and public it. Already four days after the resign of Schuschnigg, Hitler, born in Austria-Hungary, held his speech on March 15th 1938 at the Heldenplatz, in which he declared the entry of his country into the German Empire. With this speech, he was acclaimed by thousands.

Austria at the Times of the National Socialism

With the connection of Austria to Hitler-Germany, it shared the national socialist history until the decline of the Greter German Solution in the year 1945. Up to then, the Austrian citizens should not be untroubled with persecutions, detentions ans executions that the Germans performed all over the country. Most of the approimately 72.000 politicians , intelectuals and specially jews were deported to the concentration camps Dachau.

The popular vote that was originally planned by Schuschnigg for the at that time alredy fulfilled connection of Austria was planned for April 10th. In his cleverly staged propaganda together with the synchronized press, Hitler emphasized on "yes" to the reunion of Austria with the German Empire. After the jews, so called half-castes and other people were excluded form the voting due to their ancestry or political opinion, 99,73% of the votings gave Hitler their voice for the connection. With the connection of Austria any kind of independenc eof the country, as it had been before, should be given up. For this purpose, Hitler renamed Austria first to Ostmark and form the year 1942 into Donau- und Alpenreichsgaue.

Austria after the End of the War

After the sovjet troups could get further into Hungary in the year 1945, the fight for Vienna finally ended on April 13th 1945. Vienna was controlled by the red army until September 1945, when the city was subdivided into four zones of occupation. The allied powers consisting on Russians, Americans, French and Englishmen stayed until May 1955.

Under their surveyance, the country that was already declared in 1945 by Karl Renner as the second Republic Austria, could reestablish politically. Under the city administration that was mainly orientated in a social democratic way, the rebuilding of Vienna, that was destroyed by the bombs, succeeded. Not before the signature od the Austrian State Contract of May 15th 1955, Austria recovered its state souvereignity.

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