Austria-Hungary in 1700

Austria-Hungary in 1700
Map of the Holy Roman Empire
Development of Austria Hungarian borders

1 Austria-Hungary

The state called Austria Hungary would only be founded in 1867, but the state that more or less covered its territory had come into existence much earlier. The Great Turkish war that started with the siege of Vienna in 1683 ended with a peace treaty that joined all the lands of the Kingdom of Hungary to the Habsburg crown in 1699. Calling this state Austria-Hungary in the 1700 situation seems strange, but actually reflects the situation in 1700. The Habsburg emperor ruled Austria (i.e. his territories in the empire) and the kingdom of Hungary.

The term 'Habsburg monarchy' is an alternative name for this state, nowadays common among historians 1). The big problem of this label is that it suggests that that the state was a monarchy and that somebody was monarch of it. Both are not true. On the contrary: the big weakness of the Habsburg territories was that they were a collection of territories unable decide as a whole. Another weakness was that the 'monarch's' authority varied from territory to territory. Therefore both the representative and executive powers were splittered, something odd for a 'monarchy'.

Of course the fact that the Archduke of Austria was also emperor made that there were very close ties between the emperor and Austria-Hungary, especially because the ruler of Austria-Hungary was almost always referred to by his title as emperor. The description of the Holy Roman Empire tries to shed some light on this relation.

2 Population of Austria-Hungary in 1700

In 1700 the territories that are now Austria had about 2,100,000 inhabitants. Let's add 100,000 for South Tirol. Bohemia and Moravia had perhaps 2,500,000. Silesia had about 1,000,000. Slovenia perhaps 300,000. Altogether the 'Austrian' part of Austria-Hungary would come to about 6 million 2). The Kingdom of Hungary would come to about 3,500,000 inhabitants, which was so low due to the devastation of the War against the Ottomans.

3 Some territories of Austria-Hungary in 1700

3.1 The territories of the Austrian Kreis

The territories of the Austrian Kreis included nowadays Austria, Slovenia and South-Tirol. They held the capital Vienna and some institutions of the central government of Austria-Hungary. In Vienna and elsewhere the end of the Great Turkish War started a wave of Baroque architecture connected with architects Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt.

On the Adriatic coast Austria-Hungary had some ports. Trieste was still slumbering as a small fortified town of 3,000 inhabitants. It was specialized in producing the already famous Prosecco wine, that it had named after a nearby village. In other ports, like Fiume (ruled from Graz) and Buccari the story was the same. After the Venetians had lost in the Austro-Turkish War (1716–1718) the Adriatic sea became free for trade, and Trieste and Fiume would start to grow as major ports and commmercial centers.

3.2 The territories of the Bohemian Crown

Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia were the territories of the Bohemian Crown. In 1526 the estates of Bohemia had elected Ferdinand I as king of Bohemia, and so Habsburg rule in these territories started. The lands of the Bohemian crown were important. Prague had one of the oldest universities north of the Alps, and in 1583 Rudolf II would even make Prague his capital. This led to a prosperous period for Prague, with the court of Rudolf II leading Central Europe in arts and culture, but also in employing astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler. The thirty years war had put and end to this period, and Prague fell from 60,000 to 20,000 inhabitants.

In Upper Silesia there was a nascent coal and iron industry. Coal mining was still done primarily by open pits targetting the outcrops of coals seams. Some mines went underground, but not more than a few dozen meters. All this gained only a few hundred tons of coal a year. Iron mining was also still small. 8-10 smelt mills processed local ores, each consuming about 100 tonnes of ore a year. There was also significant mining for lead, but that collapsed at the start of the eighteenth century 3). The Upper-Silesian mining industry was significant on the scale of Austria-Hungary, but dwarfed by that of England, e.g. England's yearly output of over 150,000 tons of coal.

3.3 The Kingdom of Hungary

The Great Turkish War of 1683-1699 had brought a devastated and partly depopulated kingdom of Hungary under Habsburg rule. Transylvania (pop. c. 500,000) was a bit troublesome. The territory had a long history of political independence. It furthermore held a significant number of Calvinists and other Protestants. About 20% of its population was German, but because of religious differences this probably did not help the Habsburg cause.

4 Notes

1) E.g. The Habsburg Monarchy, 1618-1815 by Charles W. Ingrao. On page xiii of the introduction Ingrao notes that he specifically does not use the term 'Empire' of 'Germany' when referring to this state.
2) Exact population figures are not that easy to find. As an aid I used Population Statistics
3) For Upper Silesian mining The Impact of Mining on the Landscape: A Study of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin in Poland chapter 2