Austro-Hungarian War, 1479-1491

A.) Prehistory of the War

Emperor Ferdinand III., Duke of Austria, Styria, Count of Carinthia, Carniola etc., in the 1460es faced not only the animosity of King Georg Podiebrad of Bohemia (the Hussite King), but also the opposition of the city of Vienna and of the Estates of Styria. The rebels called upon the King of Bohemia for protection. The Emperor was so short of cash that mercenaries he had hired and dispatched against his enemies went unpaid, and plundered the country. King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary took advantage of the situation by first marching against King Georg Podiebrad, and taking possession of Moravia, and then by supporting the rebels in Austria/Styria. Another complicating factor were Ottoman raids into Styria (1480).
In 1472, the Princearchbishop of Salzburg had placed the Salzburg exclaves in Styria and Carinthia under the protection of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus.

B.) The War

In 1479 hostilities between Hungarians and Habsburg Loyalists began. In 1482, Matthias Corvinus formally declared war on the Emperor. Hainburg, Baden (1482), Klosterneuburg (1483), Bruck an der Leitha (1484) fell to the Hungarians. The Battle of Leitzersdorf (May 11th 1484) ended with a Hungarian victory. Korneuburg (1484), Vienna (1485) surrendered after siege, Felsberg, Laa an der Thaya, Retz (1486), Wiener Neustadt (1487).
Lower Austria by now was under Hungarian occupation; Matthias Corvinus took up residence in Vienna; the excessive luxury of his court resulted in a considerable economic burden on the Viennese.
Meanwhile, a force of 3,000 mercenaries under the command of Duke Albrecht of Saxony arrived in Upper Austria and joined the Upper Austrian militia. Without a skirmish being fought, King Matthias and Duke Albrecht agree upon a truce; the mercenaries were disbanded (1487), with Upper Austria being made responsible for their pay. In 1488, peace negotiations were opened, but the truce repeatedly violated by marauding Hungarian troops.
King Matthias Corvinus died in 1490 in Vienna; with King Wladislaw of Bohemia first having to secure the Hungarian throne, the Hungarian forces in Lower Austria lacked leadership. They were expelled by a force commanded by King Maximilian. Maximilian even invaded Hungary, occupying Szekesfehervar (1491). On Nov. 7th 1491, in the Treaty of Bratislava (Pressburg), peace was concluded; Maximilian held on to occupied stretches of Hungary.
An asset in Habsburg policy were their good relations to the papacy; Pope Innocent VIII. in 1490, by freeing the people of Lower Austria of their oath of loyalty to the King of Hungary, took the side of the Habsburgers.

C.) The Legacy

The Austro-Hungarian war and the dynastic rivalries between Bohemia, Hungary and the Habsburgs distracted from the rising Ottoman threat and weakened Hungary.

REFERENCE Walter Kleindel, Österreich, Daten zur Geschichte und Kultur (Austria, Dates on her History and Culture), Wien : Ueberreuter 1978, in German
Friederike Zaisberger, Geschichte Salzburgs, Wien : Oldenbourg 1998, pp.64-66

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on August 21st 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004

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