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Austria (disambiguation)

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Austria and Austrians may refer to any of the following:

Rise of the ModernsEdit

  • Austria, a faction in both Rise of the Moderns and Time of War: Rise of the Moderns 2; or

Time of War: 1800Edit

  • Austria and Hungary; or

Time of War: Rise of Kings 2:Edit

  • Austria
  • Hungary

HistoryEdit

The state of Austria grew by leaps and bounds over the accumulation of three hundred years of war and peace. It began as a medieval kingdom with close ties to the Holy Roman Empire. As a long parade of rulers left their individual marks on the history of Austria, the kingdom grew to a small empire. Its domains included the Netherlands, several north Italian states, Hungary, Bohemia, and a dose of smaller German principalities--at one time Spain was under Austrian rule (via a Habsburg monarch). The wars of the German Reformation, however, left Austria a land-locked nation. While Spain was off conquering the New World and amassing a fortune through the trade in precious minerals from her new colonial empire, Austria was forced to seek out domains in central and eastern Europe, namely Italy and the Balkans.

The Habsburg dynasty did not produce many leaders of exceptional quality, military or political for that matter. There was no Austrian Marlborough or French Louis XIV. The Austrian Maria Theresa stands out from the crowd, though. She was an able leader of the empire (perhaps the ablest) and a strong woman. She introduced many programs and administrative reforms during her reign, which managed to stave off Austria's decline for a while, but by the mid-19th century, the rise of indigenous nationalist movements and the emergence of Austria's rival Prussia would eventually lead Austria into a disastrous war in the early 20th century which would result in the dissolution of its remaining empire and the fall of the Habsburgs themselves.

Birth of an EmpireEdit

By the 16th century, it was clear that Germany, due to its central location in Europe, became extremely active in international trade. Local alliances between various polities saw the rise of the Hanseatic League and Switzerland independent from the Empire in 1499. Intellectual growth in Germany followed economic empowerment, with the founding of several universities as well as the invention of movable type by Gutenberg in 1450. However, these developments would soon enough destroy what little unity remained with dissension with Church practices which resulted in the so-called "Reformation" spearheaded by Martin Luther. The Reformation, however, divided the German peoples into old-school Catholics and those who disagreed with them, who were called "Protestants", with violent repercussions for Europe and the rest of the world well to the present day.

The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) played a role in Austrian lands and culture. All the various wars of succession drew Austria in, and with the end of the Thirty Years' War, the Austrian-dominated Holy Roman Empire was a mere shadow of what it originally used to be, but its Habsburg masters would with only a few interruptions continue to retain hegemony over Catholic Central Europe until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.

One of the reasons why Austria managed to survive so long as a major power in Europe was due to the skills of its diplomats who, incompetent kings notwithstanding, knew how to bend along with the wind. During the 1500s France was perceived as the enemy of Austria and the Bourbons the natural rivals to the Habsburgs. During Maria Theresa's reign, the mid-1700s, Austria allied itself with France against the ambitions of Prussia and England (who had been a traditional ally of Austria). By the dawn of the French Revolution, however, Austria switched sides again, allying itself with Prussia and England against the French Republic. During the Wars of Napoleon, it was Austria, England, and Prussia against France. By the 1860s, Prussia again became the enemy of Austria with Bismarck in power.</p>

Barbarians at the GatesEdit

In the early 1500s most of Austria's population was Roman Catholic. However, Protestantism in its many forms, caught on fast in the domains of the empire. It was the emperor Charles V (of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire) who condemned Martin Luther at Worms and had him banished from Germany. Many of the monarchs of the sixteenth century Austria fought Protestantism (namely in the form of Lutheranism) with laws or guns, whichever proved more convenient. The population, however, continued to accept Protestantism and by the time of Maria Theresa, the times for wars over religion were all but over. The Habsburg family as a whole was nominally Catholic. The Spanish line of the Habsburgs was an especially devoted Catholic line. The Counter-Reformation that followed in reaction to the Reformation was largely unsuccessful in reconverting the German peasantry of the empire back to Catholicism.

As most European armies evolved during the time span of 1500 to 1800, so did the Austrian armies. Most armies were made up of a majority of mercenary troops with local levies enjoined with them. The armies of the early sixteenth century were small, but expensive and cumbersome. The early artillery of the day was unreliable, heavy, and inaccurate. Muskets had yet to evolve any accuracy or efficiency on the levels of the Wars of Napoleon. Cavalry was armored from head to toe in heavy plates and armor. Pike men were used until the turn of the eighteenth century (even then, we see pike units in the War for American Independence).

War was a slow, expensive process until the beginning of the eighteenth century when such leaders as Marlborough, the Marshal de Saxe, and Frederick the Great breathed new life into it. Mercenaries disappeared (although certain units could be contracted out, as were the Hessian units to England during the War for American Independence), armies became national forces, armor began to disappear; muskets became a standard infantry weapon. Cavalry became lighter and more mobile. Artillery became more powerful and accurate. For the most part, the Austrian army was maintained at appropriate levels with decent equipment and standard tactics. The army's size proved too small during Maria Theresa's reign, but by the time of the French Revolution, the army had been increased and reformed.

So for three hundred years, Austria evolved, constantly adding and subtracting domains and territories of names innumerable. It had been involved in every major war and had survived relatively well off. It had seen its share of mediocre rulers and not-so-bad kings. The people embraced the Enlightenment and Austria eventually abolished serfdom and freed the peasants from the old feudalistic system. It had centralized the government and made decent progress in internal reforms. Austria became and Austria remained a powerful and influential state in Continental politics and history for over a hundred years after the end of the eighteenth century.

Pride before the Fall

Austria faced its fair share of wars and the evils therein. No less than a dozen separate wars had been launched against the Ottoman Turks by the close of the eighteenth century.  Austria was actively involved in the partitioning of Poland, effectively eliminating Poland as an independent state by 1793. Austria fought several wars in northern Italy, mostly against the French incursions there. It was Austria who repeatedly challenged Frederick the Great of Prussia and his elite armies. It was Austria who faced off against the French Republic in the late 1790s and was dealt a considerable blow by the young Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy. The Austrian empire had definitely seen enough of war by the end of the Age of Napoleon (1800-1815). Unfortunately, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries proved to be equally plagued with warfare and Austria's unlucky involvements in them.

In 1914, the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand triggered a series of political intrigues between Austria and Russia. The series of alliances pulled the world into a war, which eventually lead Austria, along with her allies Germany and Turkey into a long-drawn out war of attrition fought majorly against Russia and Italy. Although Russia was knocked out of the war by 1917, the Italians however held firm. The allied powers imposed the humiliation Treaty of Versailles upon Germany, forcing the Kaiser to abdicate.

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