Austrian Lands
before 1519
30 Years War

Habsburg Lands : Reformation and Counterreformation, 1519-1618

A.) The Habsburg Dynasty

In 1516 Spain, in 1526 the Bohemian Lands and what was left of Hungary were acquired. Emperor Charles V. could claim that in his Empire, the sun never set (it included the Spanish colonies in America and the Philippines).
This complex set of territories, many of which were separated by stretches of non-Habsburgian territories, were held together by the Habsburg Dynasty. There were several major centres of administration : VIENNA (for the Austrian Lands and the remnabt of Hungary), PRAGUE (for the Bohemian Lands), BRUSSELS (for the Netherlands) and MADRID (for the Spanish Empire). These administrations pursued their own policies, the court in Brussels, on the occasion of the marriage of Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian of Habsburg, demanding that their son (Charles V.) be educated in Brussels; his sons were to be educated in Madrid (Philip II. of Spain) and in Vienna (FERDINAND) respectively. Rivalries between these administrations as well as the problem to efficiently organize such a complex of territories lead to the split of the Habsburg domains in 1556; Philipp II., the founder of the Spanish line, received Spain, the Netherlands and Milano. Ferdinand received the Austrian, Bohemian lands, Austrian Hungary and the Imperial crown.

B.) The Austrian Line, 1556-1648

Within a period of 50 years, the Habsburgs have expanded extraordinarily. However, politics was not that easy. Marriage contracts with Poland-Lithuania did not result in a dynastic union, because the Poles insisted that a Polish king resided in Poland. So did the Spaniards and the Burgundians. This resulted in the split of the Habsburg dynasty in a Spanish and an Austrian line, and was one of the causes for the Dutch revolt.
Another problem was finances. The Austrian Habsburgs, despite all there titles, were permanently in the red. The FUGGER family from Augsburg rose as the Imperial bankers.
The Habsburgs were devout catholics, resolved to combat REFORMATION. However, reformation widely spread within their own territories. In 1555, the PEACE OF AUGSBURG signed among the Empire's territorial princes codified the rule "cuius regio, eius religio" - it is the prince whose belief everybody in the territory had to follow. Now the Habsburgs could pursue the policy of COUNTERREFORMATION in their territories, such as Austria itself. The INQUISITION was a major instrument; Heretics had either to convert or faced being burned at the stake.

Roman Kings (Emperors), Archdukes of Austria and Habsburg Sidelines, 1438-1806
Links lead to biographies from aeiou
note : in case a king/emperor was also archduke, his name is capitalized. Identification might cause troubles, for Emperor Charles V. was Archduke Charles I.
Years Roman Kings Years Archdukes Years Dukes Sideline
Ferdinand II.
Charles II.
Ferdinand II.
Maximilian III.
Archduke of Tyrol
Archduke of Styria
Archduke of Styria
Archduke of Tyrol

Reformation, Reformationszeitalter 1522-1620 (period of reformation, 1522-1620); Gegenrefotmation (counter-reformation); the Jesuits; Protestantism, from aeiou
Austria, from Library of Congress, Country Studies; click "The Protestant Reformation in the Habsburg Lands"
Biographies of Melchior Klesl, from Catholic Encyclopedia; from aeiou
Ferdinandinische Hausordnung 1554, from aeiou
Geschichte der Universit*auml;t Wien, chronological table by Bettina Wallner
Brief History, from Evangelische Kirche in Oesterreich (Lutheran Church in Austria
The Peasant War in Thuringia, Alsace and Austria, by Friedrich Engels
DOCUMENTS Portraits of Charles V., Ferdinand I., Maximilian II., Rudolf II.,, Archduke Matthias, Ferdinand, Archduke of Tyrol, Maximilian III., Archduke, Grandmaster of the Teutonic Knights, Albrecht II., Archduke of Styria, from Dominicus Custos, Atrium heroicum Caesarum, regum, [...] imaginibus [...] illustr[atum]., Augsburg 1600-1602, posted by MATEO, Univ. Mannheim
Map of Central Europe / Austrian Lands c. 1555, from Freeman's Historical Geography (1903), posted by Perry Castaneda Library, Univ. of Texas, Map Coll.
Officiers et soldats de la garde de l'empereur Rodolphe II, par Jacob de Gheyn II, d'apres Hendrik Goltzius, posted by wittert

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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