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Habsburg Monarchy (German: Habsburgermonarchie) or Habsburg Empire is an umbrella term coined by historians to denote the numerous lands and kingdoms of the Habsburg dynasty, especially for those of the Austrian line. Although from 1438 to 1806 (with the exception of 1742 to 1745), a member of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the Holy Roman Empire itself, over which the emperor exercised only very limited authority, was not considered to be part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

The formation of the Habsburg Monarchy began with the election of Rudolf I as King of Germany in 1273 and his acquisition of the Duchy of Austria for his house in 1282. In 1482, Maximilian I acquired the Netherlands through marriage. Both territories lay within the empire and passed to his grandson and successor, Charles V, who also inherited Spain and its colonies and ruled the Habsburg Empire at its greatest territorial extent. The abdication of Charles V in 1556 led to a broad division of the Habsburg holdings between his brother Ferdinand I, who was his deputy in the Austrian lands since 1521 and the elected king of Hungary and Bohemia since 1526, and his son Philip II of Spain. The Spanish branch (which also held the Netherlands, Burgundy and lands in Italy) went extinct in 1700. The Austrian branch (which also had the imperial throne and ruled Hungary, Bohemia and all the crowns entailed to them) was itself divided between different branches of the family from 1564 to 1665 but thereafter it remained a single personal union.

The Habsburg monarchy was thus a union of crowns, with no single constitution or shared institutions other than the Habsburg court itself, with territories inside and outside the Holy Roman Empire that were united only in the person of the monarch. The composite state became the most common dominant form of monarchies in the European continent during the early modern era.[2][3] The unification of the Habsburg monarchy took place in the early 19th century. The Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified from 1804 to 1867 as the Austrian Empire and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[4][5] It collapsed following defeat in the First World War.

In historiography, the Habsburg Monarchy (of the Austrian branch) is often called "Austria" by metonymy. Around 1700, the Latin term monarchia austriaca came into use as a term of convenience.[6] Within the empire alone, the vast monarchy included the original hereditary lands, the Erblande, from before 1526; the lands of the Bohemian crown; the formerly Spanish Netherlands from 1714 until 1794; and some fiefs in Imperial Italy. Outside the empire, it encompassed all the lands of the crown of Hungary as well as conquests made at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. The dynastic capital was Vienna except from 1583 to 1611, when it was in Prague.[7]

Origins and expansion

Silver medal by Scharff commemorating the 600th anniversary of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1882 (obverse)

The first Habsburg who can be reliably traced was a certain Kanzelin, who died in the late 10th century; legend has the family name originating with the Habsburg Castle in modern Switzerland.[8] After 1279, they came to rule in Austria. The Duchy of Austria was part of the elective Kingdom of Germany within the Holy Roman Empire. King Rudolf I of Germany of the Habsburg family assigned the Duchy of Austria to his sons at the Diet of Augsburg (1282), thus establishing the "Austrian hereditary lands". From that moment, the Habsburg dynasty was also known as the House of Austria. Between 1438 and 1806, with few exceptions, the Habsburg Archduke of Austria was elected Holy Roman Emperor.

The Habsburgs grew to European prominence as a result of the dynastic policy pursued by Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. Maximilian I married Mary of Burgundy, thus bringing the Burgundian Netherlands into the Habsburg inheritance. Their son, Philip the Handsome, married Joanna the Mad of Spain (daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile). Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (son of Philip and Joanna) inherited the Habsburg Netherlands in 1506, Habsburg Spain and its territories in 1516, and Habsburg Austria in 1519.

At this point, the Habsburg Empire was so vast that Charles V was constantly travelling throughout his dominions and therefore needed deputies and regents, such as Isabella of Portugal in Spain and Margaret of Austria in the Low Countries, to govern his various realms. At the Diet of Worms in 1521, Emperor Charles V came to terms with his younger brother Ferdinand. According to the Habsburg compact of Worms (1521), confirmed a year later in Brussels, Ferdinand was made Archduke, as a regent of Charles V in the Austrian hereditary lands.[9][10]

Following the death of Louis II of Hungary in the Battle of Mohács against the Ottoman Turks, Archduke Ferdinand (who was his brother-in-law by virtue of an adoption treaty signed by Maximilian and Louis at the First Congress of Vienna) was also elected the next King of Bohemia and Hungary in 1526.[11][7] Bohemia and Hungary became hereditary Habsburg domains only in the 17th century: Following victory in the Battle of White Mountain (1620) over the Bohemian rebels, Ferdinand II promulgated a Renewed Constitution (1627) that established hereditary succession over Bohemia. Following the Battle of Mohács (1687), in which Leopold I reconquered almost all of Hungary from the Ottoman Turks, the emperor held a diet in Pressburg to establish hereditary succession in the Hungarian kingdom.

Charles V divided the House in 1556 by ceding Austria along with the Imperial crown to Ferdinand (as decided at the Imperial election, 1531), and the Spanish empire to his son Philip. The Spanish branch (which also held the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Portugal between 1580 and 1640, and the Mezzogiorno of Italy) went extinct in 1700. The Austrian branch (which also ruled the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary and Bohemia) was itself divided between different branches of the family from 1564 until 1665, but thereafter it remained a single personal union.

Austrian monarchy

Around 1700 the term monarchia austriaca came into use as a term of convenience for the Habsburg territories.[6]

Names

  • Habsburg Monarchy (German Habsburgermonarchie): This was an unofficial umbrella term, but very frequent, name even during that time. The entity had no official name. It was also known as "Danubian Monarchy" (German Donaumonarchie)
  • Austrian Empire (1804–1867): This was the official name. Note that the German version is Kaisertum Österreich, i.e. the English translation empire refers to a territory ruled by an emperor, not just to a "widespreading domain".
  • Austria-Hungary (1867–1918): This name was commonly used in the international relations, though the official name (translated to English) was Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.[12][13][14][15] An unofficial popular name was the Danubian Monarchy (German: Donaumonarchie) also often used was the term Doppel-Monarchie ("Dual Monarchy") meaning two states under one crowned ruler.
  • Crownlands or crown lands (Kronländer) (1849–1918): This is the name of all the individual parts of the Austrian Empire (1849–1867), and then of Austria-Hungary from 1867 on. The Kingdom of Hungary (more exactly the Lands of the Hungarian Crown) was not considered a "crownland" after the establishment of Austria-Hungary 1867, so that the "crownlands" became identical with what was called the Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial Council (Die im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder).

The Hungarian parts of the Empire were called "Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen" or "Lands of Holy (St.) Stephen's Crown" (Länder der Heiligen Stephans Krone). The Bohemian (Czech) Lands were called "Lands of the St. Wenceslaus' Crown" (Länder der Wenzels-Krone).

Names of some smaller territories: