The Habsburg Empire
The Lands of the Bohemian Crown – initially consisting of the 5 lands: Kingdom of Bohemia, Margraviate of Moravia, Silesia, Upper and Lower Lusatia. Bohemian Diet (Czech: zemský sněm) elected Ferdinand, later Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, as king in 1526.
The Habsburg Monarchy or Habsburg Empire, is an unofficial appellation among historians for the countries and provinces that were ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg between 1521 and 1780 and then by the successor branch of Habsburg-Lorraine until 1918. The Monarchy was a composite state composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Bohemian (Czech) Lands were called "Lands of the St. Wenceslaus' Crown" (Länder der Wenzels-Krone). The Hungarian parts of the Empire were called "Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen" or "Lands of Holy (St.) Stephen's Crown".
Austria-Hungary collapsed under the weight of the various unsolved ethnic problems that came to a head with its defeat in World War I. In the peace settlement that followed, significant territories were ceded to Romania and Italy, new republics of Austria (the German-Austrian territories of the Hereditary lands) and Hungary (the Magyar core of the old kingdom) were created, and the remainder of the monarchy's territory was shared out among the new states of Poland, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia), and Czechoslovakia.
Peace of Prague (1866)
The Peace of Prague was a peace treaty signed between the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire at Prague on August 23, 1866, ending the Austro-Prussian War.
The treaty was lenient toward the Austrian Empire because Otto von Bismarck had persuaded Wilhelm I that maintaining Austria's place in Europe would be better in the future for Prussia than harsh terms, as Bismarck realized that without Austria, Prussia would be weakened in a relatively hostile Europe. At first, Wilhelm I had wanted to push on to Vienna and annex Austria but Bismarck stopped him, even threatening to resign, and, more drastically, to hurl himself out of the fourth story window of Nikolsburg Castle. Indeed, it was this relative cordiality with Austria that caused the clamouring factions of Europe in 1914 that led to the Great War.
Austria only lost Venetia, ceded to Napoleon III of France, who in turn ceded it to Italy. Austria refused to give Venetia directly to Italy because the Austrians had crushed the Italians during the war. The Habsburgs were permanently excluded from German affairs (Kleindeutschland). The Kingdom of Prussia thus established itself as the only major power among the German states. The German Confederation was abolished. The North German Confederation had been formed as a military alliance five days prior to the Peace of Prague, with the north German states joining together; the Southern German states outside of the Confederation were required to pay large indemnities to Prussia.
Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918)
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire in English-language sources, was a constitutional union of the Austrian Empire (the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council, or Cisleithania) and the Kingdom of Hungary (Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen or Transleithania) that existed from 1867 to 1918, when it collapsed as a result of defeat in World War I.
After 1878, Bosnia and Herzegovina was under Austro-Hungarian military and civilian rule until it was fully annexed in 1908, provoking the Bosnian crisis among the other powers. Sandžak/Raška, de jure northern part of the Ottoman Sanjak of Novi Pazar (in modern-day Montenegro and Serbia), was also under de facto joint occupation during that period but the Austro-Hungarian army withdrew as part of their annexation of Bosnia. The annexation of Bosnia also led to Islam being recognized as an official state religion due to Bosnia's Muslim population.
World War I
The Battle of Zborov (1917) was the first significant action of the Czechoslovak Legions, who fought for the independence of Czechoslovakia against the Austro-Hungarian army. However the huge losses in men and material inflicted on the Russians during the offensive contributed greatly to the revolutions of 1917, and it caused an economic crash in the Russian Empire.
The Czechoslovak Legion fought with the Entente; their goal was to win support for the independence of Czechoslovakia. The Legion in Russia was established in September 1914, in December 1917 in France (including volunteers from America) and in April 1918 in Italy. Czechoslovak Legion troops defeated the Austro-Hungarian army at the Ukrainian village of Zborov, in July 1917. After this success, the number of Czechoslovak legionaries increased, as well as Czechoslovak military power. In the Battle of Bakhmach, the Legion defeated the Germans and forced them to make a truce.
In Russia, when the prisoners from the Czech Legion of the Austro-Hungarian army were released in 1917, they re-armed themselves and briefly became a military and diplomatic force during the Russian Civil War.
In 1917, the Eastern front of the Entente Powers completely collapsed. The Austro-Hungarian Empire then withdrew from all defeated countries. By 1918, the economic situation had deteriorated. Leftist and pacifist political movements organized strikes in factories, and uprisings in the army had become commonplace. During the Italian battles, the Czechoslovaks and Southern Slavs declared their independence.
In Russia, they were heavily involved in the Russian Civil War, siding with the Whites against the Bolsheviks, at times controlling most of the Trans-Siberian railway and conquering all the major cities of Siberia. The presence of the Czechoslovak Legion near Yekaterinburg appears to have been one of the motivations for the Bolshevik execution of the Tsar and his family in July 1918. Legionaries arrived less than a week afterwards and captured the city. Because Russia's European ports were not safe, the corps was evacuated by a long detour via the port of Vladivostok. The last transport was the American ship Heffron in September 1920.
In April 1918, the Rome Congress of Oppressed Nationalities met, including Czechoslovak, Italian, Polish, Transylvanian, and Yugoslav representatives who urged the Allies to support national self-determination for the peoples residing within Austria-Hungary.
On 18 October United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing replied that the Allies were now committed to the causes of the Czechs, Slovaks and South Slavs. Therefore, Lansing said, autonomy for the nationalities – the tenth of the Fourteen Points – was no longer enough and Washington could not deal on the basis of the Fourteen Points any more. In fact, a Czechoslovak provisional government had joined the Allies on 14 October. The South Slavs in both halves of the monarchy had already declared in favor of uniting with Serbia in a large South Slav state by way of the 1917 Corfu Declaration signed by members of the Yugoslav Committee, and the Croatians had begun disregarding orders from Budapest earlier in October.
On 24 October, the Italians began a push that rapidly recovered territory lost after the Battle of Caporetto. This culminated in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, which marked the end of the Austro-Hungarian Army as an effective fighting force. The offensive also triggered the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the last week of October, declarations of independence were made in Budapest, Prague, and Zagreb.
On 31 October Hungary ended the personal union officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian state. At the last Italian offensive, the Austro-Hungarian Army took to the field without any food and munition supply, and fought without any political supports for a de facto non-existent empire. On the end of the decisive joint Italian, British and French offensive at Vittorio Veneto, the disintegrated Austria-Hungary signed the Armistice of Villa Giusti on 3 November 1918.
The Lansing note was, in effect, the death certificate of Austria-Hungary. The national councils had already begun acting more or less as provisional governments of independent countries. With defeat in the war imminent after the Italian offensive in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto on 24 October, Czech politicians peacefully took over command in Prague on 28 October (later declared the birthday of Czechoslovakia) and followed up in other major cities in the next few days. On 30 October, the Slovaks followed in Martin. On the 29th of October, the Slavs in both portions of what remained of Austria-Hungary proclaimed the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. They also declared their ultimate intention was to unite with Serbia and Montenegro in a large South Slav state. On the same day, the Czechs and Slovaks formally proclaimed the establishment of Czechoslovakia as an independent state. Karl's last Hungarian prime minister, Mihály Károlyi, terminated the personal union with Austria on 31 October, officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian state. By the end of October, there was nothing left of the Habsburg realm but its majority-German Danubian and Alpine provinces, and Karl's authority was being challenged even there by the German-Austrian state council.
In the autumn of 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed. In the capital cities of Vienna and Budapest, the leftist and liberal movements and politicians (the opposition parties) strengthened and supported the separatism of ethnic minorities. These leftist or left-liberal pro-Entente maverick parties opposed the monarchy as a form of government and considered themselves internationalist rather than patriotic. Eventually, the German defeat and the minor revolutions in Vienna and Budapest gave political power to the left/liberal political parties. As it became apparent that the Allied powers would win World War I, nationalist movements, which had previously been calling for a greater degree of autonomy for various areas, started pressing for full independence. The Emperor had lost much of his power to rule, as his realm disintegrated.
Austria-Hungary was one of the Central Powers in World War I. It was already effectively dissolved by the time the military authorities signed the armistice of Villa Giusti on 3 November 1918. The Kingdom of Hungary and the First Austrian Republic were treated as its successors de jure, whereas the independence of the West Slavs and South Slavs of the Empire as the First Czechoslovak Republic, the Second Polish Republic, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and most of the territorial demands of the Kingdom of Romania were also recognized by the victorious powers in 1920.
Karl's last Austrian prime minister, Heinrich Lammasch, concluded that Karl was in an impossible situation, and persuaded Karl that the best course was to relinquish, at least temporarily, his right to exercise sovereign authority. On 11 November, Karl issued a proclamation in which he recognized Austria's right to determine the form of the state and renounced the right to participate in Austrian affairs of state. He also released the officials in Austria from their oath of loyalty to him. Two days later, he issued a similar proclamation for Hungary. However, he did not abdicate, remaining available in the event the people of either state should recall him. For all intents and purposes, this was the end of Habsburg rule.
Austria-Hungary was partitioned into several successor states, including Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, largely but not entirely along ethnic lines.
Manifesto of Czech Writers
The Manifesto of Czech writers (Czech, Manifest českých spisovatelů) was the first public declaration in favor of the self-determination of the Czech nation during the First World War. It was published in May 1917. The declaration was directed at the Czech deputies at the Imperial Council in Vienna, the Parliament of the Austrian parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The principal author was Jaroslav Kvapil (1868–1950), director of the Czech National Theater in Prague, and the manifesto was signed by over 200 Czech writers, journalists and scientists. It proposed that Czech members of the Imperial Council should either declare their support for the concept of Czech autonomy or else should resign their seats.
The Manifesto was signed by Jindřich Šimon Baar, Otokar Březina, Josef Čapek, Karel Čapek, Karel Matěj Čapek-Chod, Jakub Deml, Viktor Dyk, Vladimír Helfert, Jan Herben, Adolf Heyduk, Alois Jirásek, Jan Kapras, Jan Klecanda, Karel Klostermann, Eliška Krásnohorská, Kamil Krofta, Petr Křička, Jaroslav Kvapil, Jiří Mahen, Josef Svatopluk Machar, Marie Majerová, Helena Malířová, Alois Mrštík, Zdeněk Nejedlý, Arne Novák, Ivan Olbracht, Emanuel Rádl, Karel Václav Rais, Antonín Sova, Antal Stašek, František Xaver Svoboda, Růžena Svobodová, František Xaver Šalda, Anna Marie Tilschová, and others.