The Austria – Hungarian
1870 - 1914
Spencer, Grace, Laura
Foreign Policy
Major Aims
To gain land in the Balkans at the expense of Turkey (this was
called the "Drang nach Osten" or the drive to the East) e.g.
annexation of Bosnia.
To prevent the growth of South Slav nationalism (Yugoslavism)
undermining her Empire. She viewed with considerable unease
the growth of Serbian power in the Balkans. Serbia was seen as the
major threat to the unity of the Empire as there was a large
Serbian minority in the Empire.
To prevent Russian influence from spreading in the Balkans or
in the Mediterranean e.g. Congress of Berlin.
Three Emperors’ League
Under the leadership of Chancellor Otto von
Bismarck, Germany forged ahead in 1873 by joining
the two most conservative powers in Europe --- AustriaHungary and Russia --- to form the Three Emperors'
The three empires pledged to consult one another on
mutual interests in Europe and to remain neutral
when any one member state took military action
against a non- member, particularly France or the
Balkan nations.
Other Alliances
The Austro-Hungarian government feared attack from
In 1879 Austro-Hungary and Germany agreed to form
a Dual Alliance. This became the Triple Alliance
when in 1882 it was expanded to include Italy.
The three countries agreed to support each other if
attacked by either France or Russia.
The Triple Alliance was renewed at five-yearly intervals.
The formation of the Triple Entente in 1907 by
Britain, France, and Russia, reinforced the belief that
they needed a military alliance.
The Austro-Hungarian Navy was fairly small.
The Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army was officially under
the control of the Commander-in-Chief, Emperor Franz
By 1914 Josef was 84 years old and the chief of staff, Count
Franz Conrad, had more power over the armed forces.
Conrad, favoured an aggressive foreign policy and
advocated the use of military action to solve AustroHungary's territorial disputes with Italy and Serbia.
The Black Hand
-it was a secret military society formed by members of the
Serbian army in the Kingdom of Serbia
-it was founded on September 6, 1901.
-It was intent on uniting all of the territories containing
significant Serb populations annexed by Austria-Hungary.
-Through its connections to the June 1914, assassination in
Sarajevo of Franz Ferdinand, an Archduke of Austria, the
Black Hand may have been one of the principal causes to
the start of World War I.
The Black Hand
In 1914 it was decided by Apis that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the apparent
heir of Austria, should be assassinated. Towards that end, three young
Bosnian-Serbs were recruited and trained in bomb throwing and
marksmanship. Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Čabrinović and Trifko Grabež
were smuggled across the border back into Bosnia.
The decision to kill the Archduke was apparently initiated by Apis, and not
sanctioned by the full Executive Committee.
Those involved probably realized that their plot would invite war between
Austria and Serbia. They had every reason to expect that Russia would side
with Serbia.
However it is very unlikely that they anticipated that their small war would
expand into world war.
Assassination of Archduke
Franz Ferdinand
After Nedeljko Čabrinović's first unsuccessful attack,
Princip succeeded in killing the Archduke.
The guilt for the crime settled loosely on Serbia in general.
• Tensions between Serbia and Austria
eventually drew in the other European
powers and escalated into a world war.
-During the Empire’s existence, the capitalist mode of production
spread and replaced medieval institutions.
-Between 1879 and 1900, more
than 25, 000 km of railways were
built. The railway reduced
transportation costs throughout
the Empire, opening new markets
for products from AustroHungarian lands.
-Many state institutions and the modern administrative system of Hungary
was established during the period.
-The GNP per capita grew roughly 1.76% per year from
1871-1913. That was a higher level of growth than Britain,
France, and Germany.
-However, in a comparison with Germany and Britain, the
Austrian-Hungarian economy as a whole still lagged considerably,
as sustained modernization had begun much later.
-Austro-Hungary’s most important trading
partner was Germany, followed by Great
-Trade with geographically neighbouring
Russia, however, had a relatively low weight.
-In 1873, the old capital of Buda and Obuda were officially merged with a third
city, Pest, creating the metropolis of Budapest. This city grew into AustroHungary’s administrative, political, economic, trade and cultural hub.
-The strong agriculture and food industry of the Empire with the center of
Budapest became predominant within the Empire and made up a large
proportion of the export to the rest of Europe.
disparities of economic development existed within the Empire. In
general, the western areas became more developed than the eastern.
-Economic growth centered on Vienna and Budapest, the Austrian lands
(areas of modern Austria), the Alpine region and the Bohemian lands.
-This division of labour between the east and west, besides the existing
economic and monetary union, led to an even more rapid economic
growth throughout Austria-Hungary by the early 20th century.
-In the later years of the 19th century, rapid economic growth spread to the central
Hungarian plain and to the Carpathian lands.
-By the end of the 19th century, economic differences gradually began to even out as
economic growth in the eastern parts of the Empire consistently surpassed that in
the western.
Domestic issues facing
The major factors that kept the Empire together were:
Loyalty to the Emperor: Francis Joseph was personally very
popular throughout the empire. He was multi-lingual and
spoke nearly all the languages of the Empire.
The Catholic religion: - 90% of the population of the
Austrian half of the Empire were Catholic and 60% of the
Hungarian half were.
The civil service and the army, both of which were
dominated by Germans.
Mutual suspicion among the subject peoples.
•The "Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867" created semiindependent states of Hungary and Austria linked by personal
•Nationalism was a big issue facing the new Austria-Hungary
because of the huge ethnic separation of the two major
•There was an ongoing push for political and cultural equality
for every race in the country
The main ethnic groups in Austria-Hungary
Germans 24%
Magyars (Hungarians) 20%
Czechs 13% *
Poles 10% *
Ruthenians (Ukranians) 8% *
Croats 5% *
Serbs 4% *
Slovaks 4% *
Slovenes 3% *
Italians 3%.
* These peoples are Slavic
• Language was one of the most contentious
issues in Austro-Hungarian politics. All
governments faced difficult and divisive
hurdles in deciding on the languages of
government and of instruction.
There were no common laws in Austria-Hungary. All
laws, even the ones with identical content like the
compromise of 1867, had to pass the parliaments both
in Vienna and Budapest
Government in Austria-Hungary was becoming
increasingly more of a cosmopolitan bureaucracy. In
other words the government was a multicultural
organization of non-elected officials who made the
rules and the laws
Hungary and Austria maintained separate parliaments, each
with its own prime minister.
Linking/co-ordinating the two fell to a government under a
monarch, wielding power absolute in theory but limited in
The monarch’s common government had responsibility for
the army, for the navy, for foreign policy, and for the
customs union.

The Austria – Hungarian Empire