French Wars, Napoleon

Austria, 1815-1848 : Domestic Policy

Emperors Franz I. (-1835) and his successor Ferdinand I. (1835-1848) reliedoin their chancellor KLEMENS VON METTERNICH. Austria's chancellor Metternich was the leading figure at the VIENNA CONGRESS; Austria had succeeded in maintaining the bulk of its possessions, having lost its share in the 3rd Polish partition to Russia and the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) to the Netherlands, but having gained Lombardy (Milan), Venice and Dalmatia.
This territorial complex was known as Austria, although technically it consisted of the Austrian Empire (the Habsburg territories within the Empire, since 1806), the Kingdom of Hungary, Galicia (Austria's share in the 1st Polish partition, Bukovina, Dalmatia and Lombardo-Venetia (= Milan and Venice). The state included an ethnic mixture of Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ruthenians, Vlachs, Serbs, Croats and Italians, and a religious mixture of Catholics (the vast majority), Lutherans (Transylvania Saxons), Greek Orthonox christians (Vlachs, Serbs) and Jews.
Vienna was the seat of a central administration, which was both German and aristocratic in character. The administration was extremely cautious when it came to reforms, aware that any extension of the franchise might endanger the structure of the state.
Metternich supported the HOLY ALLIANCE. In 1819 at his suggestion the Carlsbad Congress passed the CARLSBAD DECREES which called for the establishment of a SECRET POLICE (spying on the citizens in search for suspicious elements, such as democrats or nationalists) and for a PRESS CENSORSHIP. Repeatedly, Metternich dispatched Austrian troops to suppress revolts in Piemont.
In 1847 the Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften (Imperial Academy of Sciences) with seat in Vienna was founded, later renamed the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Although the period even in European history beyond Austria's borders is referred to as the 'Era Metternich', he did not have that much an influence on the shaping of Austrian policy. Quite a number of his proposals were rejected by Emperors Franz I. (-1835) and his son and successor Ferdinand I. (1835-1848).

List of Emperors of Austria, 1815-1848
Links lead to Biographies from Encyclopaedia Britannica
Franz I.
Ferdinand I.

Chronology Franz I., from Coins of Austria
Chronology of Ferdinand I., from Coins of Austria
Metternich and the Biedermaier Era, from The History of Austria by Richard Jaklitsch
Chronicle of Scholarly Societies, founded 1800-1849, from Scholarly Societies Project
DOCUMENTS Klemens von Metternich, Political Confession of Faith, 1820, from Modern History Sourcebook

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

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