At the close of the middle ages the area of Austria had increased Austria at the close of the middle ages. to nearly 50,000 sq. m., but its internal condition does not appear to have improved in proportion to this increase in size. The rulers of Austria lacked the prestige which attached to the electoral office, and, although five of them had held the position of German king, the four who preceded Maximilian had added little or nothing to the power and dignity of this position. The ecclesiastical organization of Austria was imperfect, so long as there was no archbishopric within its borders, and its clergy owed allegiance to foreign prelates. The work of unification which was so successfully accomplished by Maximilian was aided by two events, the progress of the Turks in south-eastern Europe, and the loss of most of the Habsburg possessions on the Rhine. The first tended to draw the separate states together for purposes of defence, and the second turned the attention of the Habsburgs to the possibilities of expansion in eastern Europe.
(A. W. H.*)
At the time of the death of the emperor Maximilian in 1519 Austria under Charles V. and Ferdinand. the Habsburg dominions in eastern Germany included the duchies of Upper and Lower Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the county of Tirol. Maximilian was succeeded as archduke of Austria as well as emperor by his grandson Charles of Spain, known in history as the emperor Charles V. To his brother Ferdinand Charles resigned all his Austrian lands, including his claims on Bohemia and Hungary. Mohács and its results. Austria and Spain were thus divided, and, in spite of the efforts of the archduke Charles in the Spanish Succession War, were never again united, for at the battle of Mohács, on the 28th of August 1526, Suleiman the Magnificent defeated and killed Louis, king of Bohemia and of Hungary, whose sister Anne had married Ferdinand. By this victory the Turks conquered and retained, till the peace of Karlowitz in 1699, the greater part of Hungary. During most of his life Ferdinand was engaged in combating the Turks and in attempting to secure Hungary. In John Zápolya, who was supported by Suleiman, Ferdinand found an active rival.
The Turks besieged Vienna in 1530 and made several invasions of Hungary and Austria. At length Ferdinand agreed to pay Suleiman an annual tribute for the small portion - about 12,228 sq. m. - of Hungary which he held. Charles V. and Austria. During Charles V.'s struggles with the German Protestants, Ferdinand preserved a neutral attitude, which contributed to gain Germany a short period of internal peace. Though Ferdinand himself did not take a leading part in German religious or foreign politics, the period was one of intense interest to Austria. Throughout the years from 1519 to 1648 there are, said Stubbs, two distinct ideas in progress which "may be regarded as giving a unity to the whole period.... The Reformation is one, the claims of the House of Austria is the other." Austria did not benefit from the reign of Charles V. The emperor was too much absorbed in the affairs of the rest of his vast dominions, notably those of the Empire, rent in two by religious differences and the secular ambitions for which those were the excuse, to give any effective attention to its needs.
The peace of Augsburg, 1555, which recognized a dualism within the Empire in religion as in politics, marked the failure of his plan of union (see Charles V.; Germany; Maurice of Saxony); and meanwhile he had been able to accomplish nothing to rescue Hungary from the Turkish yoke. It was left for his brother Ferdinand, a ruler of consummate wisdom (1556-1564) "to establish the modern Habsburg-Austrian empire with its exclusive territorial interests, its administrative experiments, its intricacies of religion and of race."
Before his death Ferdinand divided the inheritance of the The policy of Ferdinand and Maximillian II. German Habsburgs between his three sons. Austria proper was left to his eldest son Maximilian, Tirol to the archduke Ferdinand; and Styria with Carinthia and Carniola to the archduke Charles. Under the emperor Maximilian II. (1564-1576), who was also king of Bohemia and Hungary, a liberal policy preserved peace, but he was unable to free his government from its humiliating position of a tributary to the Turk, and he could do nothing to found religious liberty within his dominions on a permanent basis. The whole of Austria and nearly the whole of Styria were mainly Lutheran; in Bohemia, Silesia and Moravia, various forms of Christian belief struggled for mastery; and Catholicism was almost confined to the mountains of Tirol. The reign of Rudolph II. The accession of Rudolph II. (1576-1612), a fanatical Spanish Catholic, changed the situation entirely. Under him the Jesuits were encouraged to press on the counter-Reformation. In the early part of his reign there was hardly any government at all. In Bohemia a state of semi-independence existed, while Hungary preferred The family compact, 1606. the Turk to the emperor.
In both kingdoms Rudolph had failed to assert his sovereign power except in fitful attempts to extirpate heresy. With anarchy prevalent within the Austrian dominions some action became necessary. Accordingly in 1606 the archdukes made a compact agreeing to acknowledge the archduke Matthias as head of the family. This arrangement proved far from successful. Matthias, who was emperor from 1612 to 1619, proved unable to restore order, and when he died Bohemia was practically independent. His successor Ferdinand II. (1619-1637) was strong of will; and resolved to win back Germany to the Catholic faith. As archduke of Styria he had crushed out Protestantism The Thirty Years' War. in that duchy, and having been elected king of Bohemia in 1618 was resolved to establish there the rule of the Jesuits. His attempt to do so led to the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War (see Bohemia; Thirty Years' War). Till 1630 the fortunes of Austria brightened under the active rule of Ferdinand, who was assisted by Maximilian of Bavaria and the Catholic League, and by Wallenstein. The Palatinate was conquered, the Danish king was overthrown, and it seemed that Austria would establish its predominance over the whole of Germany, and that the Baltic would become an Austrian lake.