German Unification - Austria’s Decline

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  • Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 01-06-16 22:25

German Unification - Austria’s Decline

Since the Congress of Vienna Austria was overstretched and as Prussia increased her capability Austria lost hers. Austria had many issues which contributed to her decline and which are long term causes for her eventual collapse after WWI. However, in the short term Prussia was able to take advantage of these problems which lead to Prussia's triumph in the Austro-Prussian war.

Outcomes of 1848

Revolutions of 1848 that swept across much of Europe had a big impact on Austria. The Habsburg Empire came closer to dissolution in 1848-9 than at any other period before 1918. Austria did not go away because it compromised on creating a new government structure and brought in a new emperor. Economic conditions improved but nationalism and liberalism did not disappear. The government would again face criticism down the road, especially as Franz Joseph became more of an absolute ruler, using the army, bureaucracy and police to help him govern. Many citizens felt bound to Austria due to fear of Prussia and Russia. This fear would perhaps be the best explanation as to why most citizens continued supporting the regime and did not question the emperor’s authority.

1.       Down fall of Metternich 

·         Prince Metternich, the powerful foreign affairs minister, was forced to resign and flee after students began rioting in Vienna. After Metternich fell, the system he established which made Austria so strong fell apart. Ferdinand I, the Emperor of Austria, was greatly alarmed at the traumatic news. In order to make his position safe, he decided to pacify the revolutionaries. He accepted some of their demands:

o    The special rights and privileges of the nobles were ended and the restrictions of all kinds were removed which were imposed by Metternich on the press, speech, meetings, writings etc.

o    He promised to introduce some necessary and important reforms in the administration of the country. He contemplated a new constitution for the establishment of liberal rule in the country.

·         The new Austrian chancellor (Schwarzenberg) was not as experienced.

2.       New Emperor

·         By the end of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand was persuaded to abdicate in favour of his young nephew, Franz Joseph who was only 18, very inexperienced and autocratic.

3.       Russian Assistance

·         Czar Nicholas I raised an army of 400,000 in response to a request from Franz Joseph, it took 140,000 put down the Hungarian revolt. Without Russian help the Austrian Empire could have fallen so Russia saw Austria as indebted to her. So when Austria did not support Russia in the Crimea the latter felt betrayed and their relations became very strained.

The Crimean War

The Crimean War was fought between Russia and France/Britain from 1853-55 because Russia tried to expand into the Ottoman Empire

1.       Austrian neutrality

·         Austria remained neutral during the Crimean…


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