IB History Home
Term 1
Term 2
Term 3
Term 4
Term 5



From Belle Ιpoque to Great Depression

Europe before 1914: An Interactive Map

Austria – Hungary



By 1890 the Habsburg Empire (Austria – Hungary) contained more than 40 million. There were eleven different nationalities. In 1867 when the Emperor Franz Joseph was asked by Hungary for independence, he made an apparent compromise were a boarder between the two countries was made. However there was a dual monarchy in place were Franz Joseph was emperor of Austria and king of Hungary.


Were there any inevitable problems to be faced by having a dual monarchy?


By 1910, the Austro – Hungarian empire had several nationalities, there were 12 million Germans who took up twenty three percent of the population, they were the dominant race as German was the language of the state, court and the army.

There were ten million Magyars who took up twenty percent of the population.

There were six and a half million Czechs who took up twelve percent of the population.

There were five million Poles who took up ten percent of the population.

There were four million Ruthenians who took up nine percent of the population.

There were three and a quarter million Romanians who took up 6 and a half percent of the population.

There were two and a half million Croats who took up five percent of the population.

There were two million Slovaks who took up four percent of the population.

There were one and a half million Serbs who took up three percent of the population.

There were one point two five million Slovenes who took up two and a half percent of the population.

There were three quarters of a million Italians who took up one and a half percent of the population.

There were two and a quarter million Jews who took up five percent of the population.

There were five hundred thousand Muslims who took up one percent of the population.


The Multi - national Problem?


The many different nationalities in the Habsburg Empire has lead people to believe that this problem made the fall of the Empire inevitable. The First World War was believed to only speed up this process. Problems with South Slav nationalism were believed to be a contributing factor to the start of the war. Not all people believed this though; Alan Sked believed ‘The truth is that there was no international pressure between 1876 and 1914 for the break – up of the Monarchy.’ However, even he believed that major events in the Empire after 1890 were related to the large amounts of nationalities in Austria – Hungary.


The Main Social and Economic Problems?


Hungary was still mainly agricultural. Great landowners owned much of the land and many of the farming techniques used were ineffective. However, Austria was industrialising. In Bohemia, one third of the population worked in industry, however it must not be over emphasised. Only twenty percent of Austrians lived in towns with a population of more that five thousand in 1890. However the proletariat still suffered from low wages and , long working ours and poor houses. Illiteracy rates were high in Hungary and child mortality rates were sum of the highest in Europe.


How was Austria – Hungary Governed?


The Emperor could dissolve parliament and rule by decree. There were three joint ministers who controlled foreign policy and a single imperial army. Austria and Hungary had their own parliaments to control internal affairs. Before 1896 most people could not vote. In both countries there was an upper house and an elected lower house.


Was the Habsburg Empire on the Point of Collapse in 1914?


In 1908 Franz Joseph celebrated sixty years on the throne to a three hour procession to more than twelve thousand people. This did not seem to be an empire that was on the verge of collapse.

In 1914 the South Slavs, Croats, Serbs and Slovenes were divided. In 1914 when an small group called the Black Hand which was mainly represented by the Bosnian Serbs assassinated the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. This contributed to the start of the First World War and the fall of the Austro – Hungarian Empire. As Austria – Hungary waged war upon Serbia; the international treaties lead to the start of the war.