History of Tyrol - Historic Encyclopedia Entries



Meyer 1902-1909



Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1902-1909, Article : Tirol (excerpts)
         Tyrol, already in prehistoric times, has been inhabited by various people differing in culture and language, who in combination are called Rhaetians, among whom Etruscans and Illyrian Veneti formed the major part. As the last layer in pre-Christian times the Gallians were added. In the first century B.C. the Romans for the first time penetrated into this region. The area around Tridentum (Trent) belonged to the province Gallia Cisalpina, the Pustertal to Noricum. The road Claudia Augusta, constructed under Augustus, established the connection of Po and Danube, and opened Tirol to traffic with the mainland; along it a number of castles, customs offices and temples were erected. In the 2nd century the incursions of Germanic tribes began, especially of the Alemanni. Already in the 4th century Christianity found inroads, for which the diocesis of Trent, and later that in Seben was established; the latter in the 11th century was relocated to Brixen [Bressanone]. After the fall of the Occidental Empire Tyrol came under the rule of the Ostrogoths, after the destruction of whom in 552 the northern part of the country was occupied by the Bojoars (Bavarians), the southern part by the Lombards. Then in the 8th century Tyrol became Frankish province, was divided in Gaus, the names of which have lasted on, such as Vintschgau (Finsgowe), Tal Passeyer (Passir), Zillertal (Cillarestal), Pustertal (Pustrissa), Inntal, Norital (the interior of Tyrol around the Brenner) with the County of Bozen [Bolzano], and administered by counts. After the extinction of the Carolingian line northern and central Tyrol came to the Bavarian Duchy, the southern (Trent) to the March of Verona. Emperor Konrad II. in 1027 granted the Counties of Trent, Vintschgau and Bozen to the Bishop of Trent; the Bishop of Brixen was given the Norital and later (1091) also the Pustertal. The bishops in return infiefed secular nobles with these territories, among whom the line of the Counts of Tyrol, named after the castle by that name near Meran, rose to special power. When these, after the extinction of the Bavarian Andechs family in 1248 also acquired the counties in Unterinntal and in Pustertal, almost all of the "Land in the Mountain Range" was in the possession of the Counts of Tyrol. The sons-in-law of the sonless Count Albert von Tirol (died 1253), Meinhard von Tirol and Gebhard von Hirschberg, inherited, and as Gebhard died without heirs, the son of the former, Meinhard II., since 1286 Duke of Carinthia, united Carinthia and Tyrol in his hand. The son of Meinhard II., Heinrich, Duke of Carinthia and Count of Tyrol, left behind an inheriting daughter, Margarete Maultasch, who first was married to Johann, a brother of Karl V. [!; should be IV.], and then with Margrave Ludwig von Brandenburg, the elder son of Emperor Ludwig. After the death of her son Meinhard in 1363 she ceded the land to the Dukes of Austria. In the Treaty of Brünn the Emperor confirmed this territorial change; the Bavarian Dukes recognized it in 1369 in the Schärding Agreement. When the brothers Albrecht III. and Leopold III. in 1379 divided their inheritance, Tyrol fell to Duke Leopold, who fell in 1386 at Sempach. At the partition of 1406 his youngest son, Duke Friedrich IV. "with the empty purse" (1405-1439) took over the country and its Swabian dependencies, in a state of confusion, which only became worse by the conflict Friedrich IV. entered into with the Council of Konstanz [Constance] and with Emperor Siegmund in 1415. While Friedrich erred around in the mountains, his brother Ernst of Styria tried to take control of the country. But in 1416 a reconciliation of the brothers came about, and Duke Friedrich regained the County of Tyrol; with the aid of the peasants, he considerably strengthened the power of the Count vis-a-vis the nobility and the bishops. By him the cities and the peasants were granted equal political rights to those of the two genteel estates (Diet of Meran, 1433). Under Friedrich's son Siegmund, "the one rich in coin", who because of his lavish generosity always was in need of money, mining flourished in Tyrol, all the more as the silver mines in Schwaz produced rich ores. Despite the lengthy conflict with the Bishop of Brixen, Nicholas of Cusa, and with the noble family of the Gradners, the country flourished under this prince, who created numerous magnificent secular and ecclesiastic edifices and new roads. As Siegmund was without children, in 1490 he handed over the county to his nephew, King Maximilian I., who in 1504 enlarged it by the Zillertal, Kufstein, Kitzbühel, Rattenberg, the Carinthian Pustertal between Ober-Drauburg and Lienz, further toward Italy by the Imperial Vicariates Ala, Avia, Mori, Brentonico, the border territory of Covolo (Kosel) and Podestagno (Peutelstein), further by Riva and Rovereto, and gave it the title "County elevated to Principality". On the other hand, his costly wars and undertakings repeatedly required him to mortgage estates as well as the profitable mines. Ferdinand I. counteracted the Reformation, which since 1522 had found inroads into the country, and in 1525 suppressed the Peasants' Revolt, which had been started by Michael Gaismayr in Brixen, but he had to permit free preaching of the word of God. Only in the second half of the 16th century, by the cooperation of the Catholic nobility and of the government in Innsbruck it was achieved that the Protestants left Tyrol. After the death of Ferdinand I. (1564), his second son, Archduke Ferdinand, the husband of the beautiful Philippine Welser from Augsburg, took over government; as Ferdinand did not leave behind sons with the right to inherit, after his death (1594) the land again fell to the Imperial family, until Rudolf II. in 1602 appointed his brother Maximilian regent. After his death (1618) Archduke Leopold from the Styrian line succeeded, the husband of Claudia de Medici, who, with the aid of the famous chancellor Wilhelm Biener, administrated the country after the death of her husband (1632-1646). Claudia was succeeded by her two sons, first Karl Ferdinand, then Siegmund Franz, who died in 1665. With him the separate house of Tyrolean regents went extinct, and Tyrol again was ruled from Vienna. The lavish court of the last princes, the after-effect of the Thirty Years War, the decline of the mining industry, the plague and depopulation in the second half of the 17th century were very apparent and caused a noticable decline in the entire country. In the War of Spanish Succession Max Emanuel of Bavaria in 1703 undertook an expedition into Tyrol, which initially was successful, but because of the courage of the militia turned out to be both pernicious to the Bavarians and to the French, who had invaded under Vendome from Italy to Trent. The further wars of the 18th century, except for the War of Austrian Succession under Maria Theresia, in the first years of which the northern border was pressed, affected Tyrol only inasmuch as it had to bring monetary sacrifices for the support of the war. All the more the domestic reforms of the Empress and of her son interfered in the political conditions of the country. Under the rule of Emperor Franz I. for Tyrol a heroic age began, by the glorious fight against the French and Bavarians. In the Treaty of Pressburg 1805 Tyrol fell to Bavaria; on February 11th 1806 the county was handed over. The interference of the new government in many matters, which the Viennese counselors hitherto had left untouched, the drastic devaluation of the currency caused by the banknotes flooding the country, the introduction of new taxes and the conscription, the dissolution of the Tyrolean diet, even the abolition of the name "Tyrol", but namely the reduction of holidays and monasteries, all this caused a mood in the country hostile to the Bavarians, and prepared the foundation favorable to the rebellion. The popular war under the heroes Andreas Hofer (see there), Speckbacher and others ignited in April 1809; after its unfortunate end in the Viennese peace of October 1809 Tyrol was torn into three parts : Welschtirol [i.e. non-German speaking Tyrol] with Bozen fell to the Kingdom of Italy, the Oberpustertal to Illyria, the remainder stayed with Bavaria. Only in 1814 the entire county again was tied to Austria, which integrated the Salzburg Enclaves, the Zillertal, the Brixental and Windisch-Matrei, in Tyrol. Now the country enjoyed several decades of calmness.
The events of 1848 also here awoke the people to an active political life, but the changes took place without any deeper storms. But the efforts of Welschtirol for a secession from the motherland and merger with Italy began. The patent of April 8th 1861, which in principle declared the equal status of Protestants and Catholics, provided the cause for large-scale demonstrations in the county. But the address of the diet (only frequented by the German Tyroleans) and signed by 129,000, which had been passed at the proposal of the Prince-Bishop of Brixen and which requested not to permit Protestants the exercise of public religious service, the formation of parishes, the acquisition of land in Tyrol, was without success. Peacefully and ceremonially in 1863 the 500th anniversary of the union of Tyrol with Austria was celebrated in the entire county. The sistation of the constitution after Schmerling's fall in 1865 did not provoke any oppositional demonstration in Tyrol, because the government made considerable concessions to Tyrol in regard to the Protestant Patent. Therefor in the Tyrolean diet there was little sympathy for the restoration of constitutional conditions in 1867, but still it was decided to send a delegation to the Reichsrat. The liberal Austrian laws on church and school in Tyrol were disliked and met opposition in the diet. All attempts of the cabinet loyal to the constitution to create a Liberal majority in the diet were in vain. Also after the Welschtyroleans rejoined the diet (1875) the majority remained Ultramontane and, as did the bishops, again and again protested against the interconfessional school and for union in faith. Only when the Italians in 1889, who long had abstained from attending the diet, united with the German Liberals, the Clericals found themselves in the minority, but only temporarily, as the cabinet Taaffe rejected the demands of the Welschtyroleans for a partition of the county and for special administrative status of the Trentino, so that the latter again decided to stay away from the diet and left the field to the Clericals, of whom the government in 1892 gained the approval for the implementation of the elementary school law only in return for a number of concessions.

source in German, posted by Zeno







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First posted on March 14th 2009

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