The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary Franz Joseph I.

Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary Franz Joseph I.

The Austrian Empire granted the Kingdom of Hungary, which had been part of the Habsburg-controlled empire since 1526, internal political and administrative independence via the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, thus establishing the dualist state of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy united in personal union under Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary Franz Joseph I. This union, also known as the Dual Monarchy or Austria-Hungary, lasted until the declaration of the Hungarian People’s Republic shortly after the end of the First World War on November 16, 1918.

Austria-Hungary was the second-largest country in Europe in geographical terms behind the Russian Empire and one of the continent’s great military and economic powers. Hungary underwent rapid economic growth and social development during the country’s 51-year union with Austria, a period known in Hungarian as the “Happy Times of Peace” [Boldog békeidők] until the beginning of the Great War. The foundation of the Dual Monarchy reestablished Hungarian sovereignty over the Kingdom of Hungary for the first time since the Battle of Mohács 341 years previously.

Formation

The weakening of the Austrian Empire as a result of its defeat in the Austro-Prussian War for German hegemony fought in the summer of 1866 prompted Emperor Franz Joseph to turn to the Hungarians for support in governing the languishing Habsburg realm less than 20 years after overseeing their defeat in the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. This resulted in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which established the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy that officially came into being with the coronation of Franz Joseph as king of Hungary on June 8 of that year. (Franz Joseph, though legal successor to the throne of the Kingdom of Hungary when he became Emperor of Austria on December 2, 1848, was not crowned king of the former realm due to the 1848 revolution and subsequent two-decade period of absolutist rule.)

Hungarian statesman Ferenc Deák is regarded as the architect of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, though he did not play a significant role in politics following the establishment of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Political Structure

Civil ensign of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Civil ensign of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Austria and Hungary commanded equal political authority within the Dual Monarchy in personal union under the emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. Franz Joseph I served as the crowned head of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in this capacity for all but the final two years of the dualist state’s existence. Most Hungarians eventually became loyal subjects to Franz Joseph, once the target of their odium as a result of his role in suppressing the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. Hungarians were particularly fond of empress-queen consort Elisabeth (“Sisi”), who died at the hand of an anarchist assassin while on a trip to Geneva, Switzerland in 1898. Two of the four main bridges spanning the Danube River in Budapest were named after the imperial and royal couple.

Both Austria and Hungary had independent legislative bodies: Austria’s parliament, known as the Imperial Council (Reichstrat), was located in Vienna, while Hungary’s parliament, known as the National Assembly (Országgyűlés), was located in Pest (Budapest following the unification of Buda and Pest in 1873).

Hungary’s National Assembly was composed of a 413-member lower house called the House of Representatives [Képviselőház] and an approximately 360-member upper house called the House of Lords [Főrendiház]. The members of the House of Representatives were elected, while most of the members of the House of Lords were appointed based on noble rank and ecclesiastical office. The House of Representatives produced and adopted legislation, which the House of Lords maintained the right to veto. 

Austria and Hungary both had independent governments and government ministries as well. The two states also maintained common foreign, war and finance ministries in Vienna (in addition to separate foreign, war and finance ministries).

The Habsburg emperor-king preserved the authority to approve draft legislation before its submission to either the Austrian Imperial Council or the Hungarian National Assembly and to appoint the prime ministers and cabinet ministers of both the governments of Austria and Hungary.

Austria and Hungary maintained a common Ministerial Council composed of the prime ministers of the two states, the ministers heading the three common ministries and the emperor-king.

The common Austro-Hungarian ministries, Ministerial Council and all other joint bodies within the monarchy were classified under the designation Kaiserlich und Königlich (“Imperial and Royal”), abbreviated K.u.K.

With the Austro-Hungarian Compromise and the foundation of the Dual Monarchy in 1867, Deák and other Hungarian political leaders were essentially able to achieve all of the political objectives of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution embodied in the Twelve Points and the April Laws.

Geographical Structure

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy: Cisleithania (brown); and Transleithania (green). Bosnia and Herzegovina (yellow) was officially incorporated into the monarchy in 1908.

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy: Cisleithania (brown); and Transleithania (green). Bosnia and Herzegovina (yellow) was officially incorporated into the monarchy in 1908.

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 divided the Austrian Empire into two geographical-administrative components separated at the Leitha River: Cisleithania to the west and north of the river with its capital in Vienna and Transleithania in the east and south of the river with its capital in Buda (Budapest).

Cisleithania was composed of 15 crown lands (kronland): seven crown lands that constitute modern-day Austria; the three crown lands of Bohemia, Silesia and Moravia that constitute modern-day Czech Republic; the crown land of Galicia that constitutes modern-day southern Poland and part of western Ukraine; the free port city of Trieste and the southern half of the crown land of Tyrol in modern-day Italy (the latter as the autonomous province of South Tyrol); the crown land of Carniola that constitutes modern-day Slovenia; the crown land of Dalmatia that constitutes much of the Adriatic coast of modern-day Croatia; and the crown land of Bukovina that constitutes a small portion of modern-day northern Romania (Suceava County) and southwestern Ukraine (Chernivtsi Oblast).

Flag of the Dual Monarchy-era Kingdom of Hungary.

Flag of the Dual Monarchy-era Kingdom of Hungary.

Transleithania, which was also known as the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen, included the Kingdom of Hungary, which was composed of modern-day Hungary, Slovakia, part of western Ukraine, the region of Transylvania in western Romania and eastern Austria; the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia composed of much of modern-day Croatia; and the free port city of Fiume, modern-day Rijeka, Croatia. The Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and the city of Fiume were officially incorporated into Transleithania via the 1868 Croatian-Hungarian Compromise, which based on the Austro-Hungarian compromise of the previous year, granted Croatia-Slavonia internal autonomy under the legislative authority of the Croatian parliament, or Sabor, based in Zagreb.

Inhabitants of the Vienna-based Cisleithanian and the Budapest-based Transleithanian portions of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy did not have common citizenship.

According to 1910 census data, Vienna and Budapest were the only two cities in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy with populations of over one-million inhabitants. A further seven cities in the Dual Monarchy had populations of over one-hundred thousand inhabitants: Prague,Trieste, Lemberg (Lviv), Kraków, Graz and Brünn (Brno) in Cisleithania and Szeged in the Kingdom of Hungary/Transleithania.

Nationalities in the Dual Monarchy Kingdom of Hungary

National-linguistic map of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

National-linguistic map of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (click to enlarge).

According to the 1910 census, 54.5 percent of the 18.2 million inhabitants of the Kingdom of Hungary were Hungarians, 16 percent Romanian, 10.7 percent Slovak, 10.4 percent German, 2.5 percent Serbian, 2.3 percent Ruthenian (Ukrainian), 1.1 percent Croatian and the rest of other nationality. Jews constituted about five percent of the entire population of the Kingdom of Hungary, and around the year 1900 composed one-quarter of the population of Budapest and the city of Arad in the Great Hungarian Plain and around 30-40 percent of the population of the cities of Munkács, Ungvár and Máramarossziget in the Eastern Carpathians.

The Nationalities Law of 1868 granted the national minorities of the Kingdom of Hungary broad linguistic and cultural autonomy in districts in which such minorities composed over 20 percent of the population. However, Hungarian political and administrative authorities often curtailed or neglected to enforce the rights guaranteed in this law, causing much dissatisfaction among the non-Hungarian nationalities of the kingdom. In 1867, the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Hungary adopted a law guaranteeing equal civil and political rights to the country’s Jewish inhabitants (source in Hungarian). 

Nationalities from the Kingdom of Hungary (left to right): Romanians; Hungarians; Slovaks; and Germans.

Nationalities from the Kingdom of Hungary (left to right): Romanians; Hungarians; Slovaks; and Germans.

Non-Hungarian nationalities living in Dual Monarchy-era Hungary were the subject of both natural and coordinated assimiltory pressure known as Magyarization that raised the proportion of native Hungarian speakers in the country from 46 percent of the population in 1880 to nearly 55 percent of the population in 1910. Magyarization took place primarily in Budapest and other areas of Hungary where the assimilatory processes of urbanization and industrialization were the most prominent.

From 1880-1910, about 1.5 million people emigrated from the Crown Lands of Saint Stephen to the United States, compared to a total population of 15.5 million in 1880 and 20.8 million in 1910. An estimated two-thirds of these emigrants were of non-Hungarian nationality, primarily Slovaks.

By the end of the First World War, a significant portion of the non-Hungarian nationalities living in the Kingdom of Hungary favored secession to newly founded or expanded Romanian and Slavic nation-states to be composed partially from territory of the kingdom.

Politics in the Dual Monarchy Kingdom of Hungary

Two-time Dual Monarchy-era Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Hungary István Tisza.

Two-time Dual Monarchy-era Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Hungary István Tisza.

Political forces in Hungary gravitated around two main poles during the period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy: one that supported the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, specifically personal union with Austria under the Habsburg emperor-king; and one that supported the objectives of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, specifically an independent Hungary in the form of a republic or a monarchy under a Hungarian king. Parties supporting the ideals of Ferenc Deák and the Austro-Hungarian Compromise constituted the majority in the National Assembly throughout the Dual Monarchy era with the exception of the years 1905-1910, providing the Kingdom of Hungary with all of its prime ministers during the period until the appointment of opposition leader Count Mihály Károlyi to serve as head of government following the Aster Revolution on October 31, 1918, just two weeks before the proclamation of the Hungarian People’s Republic.

Parties supporting the ideals of Lajos Kossuth, who lived in politically active exile in Turin, Italy until 1894, constituted the opposition in the National Assembly throughout the period with the exception of the abbreviated 1905-1906 and full 1906-1910 parliamentary cycles. Emperor-King Franz Joseph I was unwilling to appoint prime ministers from these parties even after they won House of Representatives elections held in 1905 and 1906, triggering what is known in Hungarian as the 1905-1906 Domestic Political Crisis ( Az 1905–1906-os belpolitikai válság).

The National Anti-Semitic Party [Országos Antiszemita Párt] was formed in 1883 in response to the Tiszaeszlár Blood Libel Affair in eastern Hungary. The opposition party won 17 of 413 seats in the House of Representatives in 1884 national elections and 11 of 413 seats in 1887 national elections before disbanding in 1892.

The Hungarian Social Democratic Party formed in 1890 to represent the interests of Hungary’s growing industrial working-class and reduce the prerogatives of the Dual Monarchy’s ruling élite. The Hungarian Social Democratic Party, which did not participate at an organizational level in elections during the Dual Monarchy era, focused specifically on broadening voting rights, which were limited during this period to about one-quarter of the adult male population that satisfied property and tax or intellectual requirements stipulated in Hungary’s 1874 Voting Law.

Kálmán Tisza and his son István Tisza were among the most influential and longest-serving of the frequently changing prime ministers of Hungary during the Dual Monarchy era (Kálmán from 1875-1890 and István from 1903-1905 and 1913-1917), while Sándor Wekerle served as prime minister on three occasions during the period (1892-1895, 1906-1910 and August 1917-October 1918). 

Economy in the Dual Monarchy Kingdom of Hungary

Twenty-krone Austro-Hungarian banknote.

Twenty-krone Austro-Hungarian banknote.

Hungary underwent a period of intensive industrialization, urbanization and general economic development during its personal union with Austria in the Dual Monarchy.

Austria and Hungary were joined in customs union and used the same currency—the Austro-Hungarian gulden/forint until 1892 and the Austro-Hungarian krone/korona thereafter. The two constituent states of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy maintained a common central bank based in Vienna called the Austro-Hungarian Bank (the absence of an independent Hungarian central bank represented the only main demand of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution that remained unfulfilled during the Dual Monarchy era).

Austria and Hungary maintained both a common Imperial and Royal finance ministry, which was responsible only for financing the Habsburg royal household and the operations of the other two common ministries (the foreign and war ministries), as well as independent finance ministries operating according to independent state budgets.

The Ganz machine factory in Budapest.

The Ganz machine factory in Budapest.

The economy of Hungary was based almost entirely on agricultural production at the time of the foundation of the Dual Monarchy: in 1867, a full 75 percent of the country’s population was engaged in agricultural production, which accounted for 60 percent of gross national income. However, following five decades of rapid industrialization, particularly in Budapest, just over 60 percent of the country’s population was engaged in agricultural production, which accounted for around 45 percent of gross national income. During this same period, the proportion of Hungary’s population working in heavy industry rose from one-tenth of the total population to one-fifth of the total population, accounting for one-third of gross national income.

The milling industry grew at a particularly fast pace in Hungary during the Dual Monarchy era, becoming the largest in the world by the 1890s, while the country’s machine industry also developed rapidly during this period with the establishment of the Ganz, Láng and Manfréd Weiss factories in Budapest.

The Adriatic Sea port of Fiume.

The Adriatic Sea port of Fiume.

The value of exports from Hungary grew from 30 percent of the country’s gross national income to 45 percent of gross national income during the five decades in which the country was part of the Dual Monarchy. The proportion of agricultural exports fell from two-thirds of all Hungary’s exports to one-half of all exports during this period. Hungary sent between 75-80 percent of all its exports to Cisleithania near the end of the Dual Monarchy era, while Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Great Britain and the United States also represented major countries of export for Hungarian goods and commodities (source in Hungarian). 

Andrássy-government Minister of Public Work and Transportation Imre Mikó established the Hungarian Royal Railways, the predecessor of Hungarian State Railways MÁV, in 1868. Hungarian Royal Railways built more than 4,000 kilometers of railway in Hungary in the seven years following the foundation of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, nearly tripling the total length of railway in the country. The total length of railway in Hungary rose from 2,160 kilometers to 21,800 kilometers during the Dual Monarchy period.

Andrássy Avenue in Budapest in 1896.

Andrássy Avenue in Budapest in 1896.

Hungary possessed an international shipping port following the construction of the railway connecting the country with the Adriatic port of Fiume in 1871. Subsequent governments spent large sums of money to develop the port, which became the 11th largest in all of Europe by the beginning of the Frist World War.

Dual Monarchy-era Hungarian governments also devoted immense budgetary resources to the development Budapest in order to transform the city into a proper European capital comparable to Vienna. Many of the landmarks in the city were built in the decades following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise: Andrássy Avenue, the Budapest Royal Opera House, Heroes’ Square, the first line of the Budapest Metro (the second underground railway in the world after the London Underground), St. Stephen’s Basilica, the eastern and western railway stations and the Hungarian Parliament Building, among others. The population of Budapest grew from 355,000 in 1880 to 880,000 in 1910. 

Military of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

Austro-Hungarian Common Army troops.

Austro-Hungarian Common Army troops.

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy maintained a Common Army (Gemeinsame Armee) as well as a common Imperial and Royal Navy. The Habsburg emperor-king, i.e. Franz Joseph I, served as the commander of the Common Army, which operated under the financial, organizational and strategic control of the common Imperial and Royal War Ministry in Vienna. A separate commander-in-chief held charge over the Imperial and Royal Navy, which operated under the authority of the Imperial and Royal War Ministry’s Naval Section.

Cisleithania provided about 60 percent of the personnel for the Common Army and Imperial and Royal Navy and paid about two-thirds of their operating costs, while Transleithania provided 40 percent of the personnel for the common forces and paid the about one-third of the cost of maintaining them.

Units of the Common Army were stationed throughout the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, while units of the Imperial and Royal Navy were stationed in the Adriatic Sea ports of Trieste in modern-day Italy, Pola and Fiume in modern-day Croatia (known as Pula and Rijeka, respectively, in Croatian) and Cattaro in modern-day Macedonia (known as Kotor in Macedonian).

German served as the primary language of command in the Common Army alongside secondary regimental languages based on the composition of various nationalities in a given unit. German was the primary language of command of the Imperial and Royal Navy as well, though because most of the sailors were recruited from the Adriatic region, Italian and Croatian were also used extensively within the navy.

Both the Cisleithanian and Transleithanian components of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy likewise maintained independent armies known as the Imperial-Royal Landwehr in Cisleithania and the Hungarian Royal Honvédség (Home Defense) [Magyar Királyi Honvédség] in Transleithania. The Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia established in Transleithania pursuant to the Hungarian-Croatian Compromise of 1868 maintained an autonomous force within the Hungarian Royal Honvédség called the Royal Croatian Home Guard.

In 1882, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy formed a military coalition called the Triple Alliance to serve as a bulwark against Russian expansionism in the Balkans and eastern Europe and the advance of French interests in both Europe and colonial Africa. This alliance was built upon the principle of mutual defense in the event of attack from another European great power.

In 1907, the United Kingdom, France and Russia formed the Triple Entente in order to serve as a counterweight to the Triple Alliance.

The military of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy engaged in foreign operations in only two instances during the dualist state’s five-decade history: in Bosnia and Herzegovina beginning in 1878 and in the First World War beginning in 1914.

Occupation and Annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Austro-Hungarian forces take Sarajevo in 1878.

Austro-Hungarian forces take Sarajevo in 1878.

Military forces of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy occupied the Bosnia Vilayet ( province) of the Ottoman Empire in 1878 pursuant to the Treaty of Berlin concluded between the great powers of Europe and the Sublime Porte following Russia’s victory in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. The Austro-Hungarian military encountered armed resistance from irregular forces composed of both Bosnian Muslims who did not want to lose their privileged status within an Ottoman-controlled state, and Bosnian Serbs, who wanted to become part of the incipient Kingdom of Serbia. Austro-Hungarian forces sustained an estimated 3,300 fatal casualties in the course of several battles and skirmishes fought against the Muslim and Serbian rebels from the beginning of the occupation in August 1878 until the suppression of resistance in October of that year (source in English).   

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy governed Bosnia Vilayet, which officially remained a province of the Ottoman Empire, as a distinctive administrative unit known as Bosnia and Herzegovina (the name of the southern region of Bosnia) under the direction of the monarchy’s common finance minister.     

Hungarian Béni Kállay, an academic expert on issues related to the European principalities and provinces of the Ottoman Empire, served in the latter capacity from 1882 until his death in 1903. Under Kállay’s direction, the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance devoted considerable budgetary resources to the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s railway and public-road networks, school system and industrial and mining industries. Kállay vigorously promoted the notion of distinct Bosnian nationality and language within the occupied province in order to counter rising South Slav nationalism among its population, which was about two-fifths Eastern Orthodox (Serbian), one-third Muslim and one-fifth Roman Catholic (Croatian).    

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy recruited four infantry regiments in Bosnia and Herzegovina to serve in the dualist state’s Common Army.

Sarajevans read notification of Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina posted at Moritz Schiller's delicatessen. Gavrilo Princip would assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand from this location six years later.

Citizens read notification of Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina posted at Moritz Schiller’s delicatessen in Sarajevo in 1908. Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand at this location six years later.

Emperor-King Franz Joseph I ordered the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in October 1908, fearing that the Ottoman Empire would reclaim its right to occupation and administration of Bosnia Vilayet following the restoration of the constitutional monarchy in the empire as a result of the Young Turk Revolution in the spring of that year. The Russian Empire and Kingdom of Serbia strenuously opposed the the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, though the support of Germany for the measure compelled these countries to acquiesce to the incorporation of the former province of the Ottoman Empire directly into the Dual Monarchy via an amendment to the Treaty of Berlin in 1909.  

The Serbs and Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina were also strongly opposed to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s annexation of the province, prompting them to increasingly support revolutionary political organizations such as Young Bosnia that advocated secession from the Dual Monarchy and union with the Kingdom of Serbia or a multi-national South Slav state.   

On June 28, 1914, Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip, a radical supporter of the Young Bosnia movement, assassinated the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital city of Sarajevo as part of a group of six assassins that had received weapons and training from Serbian military organizations in the Kingdom of Serbia.

The First World War

Duchess Sophie and Archduke Franz Ferdinand enter a motor vehicle in Sarajevo shortly before their assassination.

Duchess Sophie and Archduke Franz Ferdinand enter a motor vehicle in Sarajevo shortly before their assassination.

Austro-Hungarian police immediately apprehended Princip and his four Bosnian Serb accomplices following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his consort (while the sole Bosnian Muslim assassin escaped). Subsequent interrogation of the conspirators suggested that military officers from the Kingdom of Serbia had provided them with weapons and training in Belgrade for the assassination of the heir to the throne of the Dual Monarchy via the Black Hand and Narodna Odbrana (The People’s Defense) Serbian-irredentist organizations.

The Ministerial Council of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy convened on several occasions beginning on July 7, 1914 in order to decide what action the Dual Monarchy should take against the Kingdom of Serbia as a result of the role its military had ostensibly played in the plot to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand: the three Imperial and Royal common ministers (Foreign Minister Leopold Berchtold, Minister of War Alexander von Krobatin and Finance Minister Leon Biliński) as well as the prime minister of Cisleithania (Karl von Stürgkh) all favored presenting the Kingdom of Serbia with an ultimatum containing conditions that no sovereign state could possibly accept, thus providing the Dual Monarchy with a concrete pretext for declaring war on the neighboring kingdom; only Prime Minister István Tisza of the Kingdom of Hungary/Transleithania supported issuing a less severe ultimatum that might actually serve as a means of avoiding armed conflict with the Kingdom of Serbia, which the Hungarian prime minister legitimately feared could produce a much larger war involving all of Europe’s great powers (source in English).

The 83-year-old Emperor-King Franz Joseph did not attend most of the meetings of the Ministerial Council during the so-called July Crisis, passing most of this period at the imperial villa in Bad Ischl. However, Franz Joseph did eventually offer support for the pro-war faction within the council after Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire indicated that he was also in favor of “settling accounts with Serbia” (source in English).

On July 19, the Ministerial Council approved the final wording of the ultimatum, one which was intended to serve as grounds for war with Serbia, after Prime Minister Tisza agreed to the text out of concern that failure to take military action might prompt pro-war Germany to renounce its mutual-defense obligations toward the Dual Monarchy. Following his acceptance of the ultimatum, Prime Minister Tisza supported prosecution of the war to the fullest, fighting on the Italian Front as a commander of the 2nd Royal Hungarian Honvéd Hussar Regiment for more than a year in following his resignation as prime minister in June 1917.

On July 23, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy presented the Kingdom of Serbia with an ultimatum including the following conditions: dissolve all organizations in the country promoting Serbian nationalism, notably The People’s Defense; permit a representative from the Dual Monarchy to supervise the dissolution of these organizations; dismiss a stipulated list of Serbian military and administrative officials from their positions; place two specific military officers under arrest for complicity in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand; permit law-enforcement officials from the Dual Monarchy to participate in the prosecution of others in the Kingdom of Serbia who played a role in the assassination; and cease funneling weapons to Serbian nationalists and irredentist organizations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Lübeck newspaper announced Austro-Hungarian and German mobilization in August 1914.

Lübeck newspaper proclaims Austro-Hungarian and German mobilization in August 1914.

The Dual Monarchy declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914 after the kingdom failed to accept the ultimatum within the stipulated deadline. This declaration of war prompted Russia to mobilize its military for possible action to defend its traditional Serbian ally, which in turn impelled Germany to declare war on Russia on August 1. The latter declaration of war engaged mutual-defense clauses among the members of the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance, with the exception of Italy, which remained neutral: by August 12, the United Kingdom, France and Russia had entered a formal state of war with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Austro-Hungarian military forces crossed the Drina River into Kingdom of Serbia from Bosnia-Herzegovina on the same date, signalling the start of the Great War that would last until the fall of 1918.

Troops recruited in the Kingdom of Hungary fought as part of either the Common Army or the Hungarian Royal Honvédség on the following four fronts during the First World War as part of the Central Powers alliance composed of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria: 

The Balkan Front

Austro-Hungarian troops pass across the Sava River during the invasion of the Kingdom of Serbia in August 1914.

Austro-Hungarian troops pass across the Sava River during the invasion of the Kingdom of Serbia in August 1914.

Locations: Kingdom of Serbia, Kingdom of Montenegro and Principality of Albania.

Declarations of war: Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on Kingdom of Serbia on July 28, 1914 and Kingdom of Montenegro on Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on August 5, 1914.

Beginning of armed conflict: Austo-Hungarian Monarchy attack of Kingdom of Serbia on August 12, 1914 and of Kingdom of Montenegro on January 5, 1916.

Objectives of attacks: to eliminate the ability of the Kingdom of Serbia to support the irredentist movements of Serbs living in Bosnia and Herzegovina; to neutralize the pro-Serbian Kingdom of Montenegro.

Duration of armed conflict: August 12, 1914-December 4, 1915 (1 year and 4 months) in the Kingdom of Serbia; January 5, 1916-January 17, 1916 (two weeks) in the Kingdom of Montenegro.

Result of armed conflict: Austro-Hungarian military victory in cooperation with Germany and Bulgaria over the Kingdom of Serbia; Central Powers occupation of the Kingdom of Serbia until the end of the war following the withdrawal of King Peter I, his government and the remnants of the Serbian Army through the Principality of Albania to the Greek island of Corfu; Austro-Hungarian military victory over the Kingdom of Macedonia; Central Powers occupation of the Kingdom of Macedonia until the end of the war following the flight of King Nicholas I and his government to France.

The Eastern Front 

Austro-Hungarian and Russian troops engage in hand-to-hand combat at the Uzsok Pass in Galicia during winter 1914-1915.

Austro-Hungarian and Russian troops engage in hand-to-hand combat at the Uzsok Pass in Galicia during winter 1914-1915.

Locations: the Cisleithanian crown land of Galicia and the western section of the Russian Empire.

Declarations of war: Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on the Russian Empire on August 6, 1914.

Beginning of armed conflict: Russian Empire attacks the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in the crown land of Galicia on August 23, 1914.

Objectives of attack: to prevent imminent Austro-Hungarian invasion of western Russia; possible annexation of the Ruthenian (Ukrainian)-inhabited region of eastern Galicia from the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy into the Russian Empire.

Duration of armed conflict: August 23, 1914 until July 19, 1917 (2 years and 11 months).

Result of armed conflict: military stalemate; end of war between Soviet Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy following the Bolshevik government’s conclusion of a separate peace with the Central Powers via the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918; Central Powers occupation of western section of the Russian Soviet Republic (modern-day Lithuania, western Poland, Belarus and Ukraine) until the end of the war.

The Italian Front

Austro-Hungarian troops in battle along the Italian Front.

Austro-Hungarian troops in battle along the Italian Front.

Locations: the Cisleithanian crown lands of Tyrol and the Austrian Littoral as well as the northeastern section of the Kingdom of Italy.

Declarations of war: the Kingdom of Italy on the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on May 23, 1915.

Beginning of armed conflict: Kingdom of Italy attacks the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy along the Isonzo (Soča) River in the Austrian Littoral on June 23, 1915.

Objectives of attack: to annex the city of Trieste, the crown land of the Austrian Littoral and the Italian-inhabited region of the crown land of Tyrol from the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy into the Kingdom of Italy.

Duration of armed conflict: June 23, 1915-November 3, 1918 (3 years and 4 months).

Result of armed conflict: victory of the Kingdom of Italy over the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy; surrender of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy via the Armistice of Villa Giusti on November 3, 1918 signalling the end of the Dual Monarchy’s participation in the First World War.  

The Romanian Front 

Troops from the Kingdom of Romania cross the Carpathian Mountains in 1916.

Troops from the Kingdom of Romania cross the Carpathian Mountains in 1916.

Locations: the historic region of Transylvania in the Kingdom of Hungary; the Kingdom of Romania.

Declarations of war: the Kingdom of Romania on the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on August 27, 1916.

Beginning of armed conflict: the Kingdom of Romania attacks the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at several locations in eastern and southern Transylvania on August 27, 1916. Battles fought in Transylvania between Austro-Hungarian and German forces and invading armies from the Kingdom of Romania in August and September 1916 represented the only military engagements that took place on the soil of the Kingdom of Hungary during the First World War.

Objectives of attack: to annex Transylvania from the Kingdom of Hungary to the Kingdom of Romania.

Duration of armed conflict: August 27, 1916-December 9, 1917 (1 year and 3 months)

Result of armed conflict: victory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in cooperation with the German Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria over the Kingdom of Romania; surrender of the Kingdom of Romania via the Treaty of Bucharest on May 7, 1918; Central Powers occupation of the regions of Wallachia and Dobruja in the Kingdom of Romania until the end of the war; the Kingdom of Romania furthermore cedes the passes in the Eastern and Southern Carpathian Mountains to the Kingdom of Hungary.

The Adriatic Campaign

Austro-Hungarian battleship under attack during the Battle of the Strait of Otranto in the Adriatic Sea in May 1917.

Austro-Hungarian battleship under attack during the Battle of the Strait of Otranto in the Adriatic Sea in May 1917.

The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy conducted operations in the Adriatic Sea throughout the First World War, bombarding coastal areas in the Entente or pro-Entente countries of Italy, Macedonia and Albania, unsuccessfully attempting to break the British, French and Italian naval blockade of the Adriatic known as the Otranto Barrage and launching successful U-boat attacks against Entente military and merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea. During the final nine months of the war, the Austro-Hungarian Navy operated under the command of Hungarian Vice-Admiral Miklós Horthy, who served as the Kingdom of Hungary’s head of state from 1920-1944.

Fatal Military Casualties from the Kingdom of Hungary 

Over a half-million soldiers recruited for Common Army and Honvédség from Kingdom of Hungary were killed during the First World War.

End of the Dual Monarchy

Franz Joseph died on November 21, 1916, bequeathing the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to his great nephew Charles. The new monarch, who ruled as Emperor Charles I of Austria and King Charles IV of Hungary, wanted to withdraw Austria-Hungary from the First World War as soon as possible, initiating unsuccessful separate-peace negotiations with France in 1917 through his brother-in-law, Belgian Army officer Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma.

King Charles IV of Hungary.

King Charles IV of Hungary.

In the Kingdom of Hungary, Prime Minister István Tisza resigned on June 15, 1917 as a result of his opposition to the new emperor-king’s proposed domestic reforms, particularly the introduction of universal suffrage (which Tisza believed would make Hungary politically vulnerable to populist demagoguery of various types). Subsequent Prime Minister Sándor Werkele attempted to prevent the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy—and thereby preserve the territorial integrity of the historical Kingdom of Hungary—through support for the King Charles-proposed expansion of voting and nationality rights throughout the monarchy and adoption on October 20, 1918 of a resolution “On the Independence of the Lands of the Hungarian Holy Crown” calling for the introduction of a mere personal union between Hungary and Austria under the Habsburg emperor-king (source in Hungarian). 

However, proposals aimed at the implementation of domestic reform and the termination of common Austro-Hungarian financial, foreign and military affairs were not enough to avert the looming collapse: on October 29, the Croatian Sabor elected to secede from the Kingdom of Hungary and join the transitory State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs; on October 30, the Slovak National Council also voted at an assembly in Turócszentmárton (Turčiansky Svätý Martin) to secede from the kingdom and join the incipient state of Czechoslovakia; at this same time, the Italian Royal Army threw the Austro-Hungarian military into full and final retreat from its defensive positions along the Piave River at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto.

Military and civilian supporters of the Aster Revolution in Budapest in October 1918.

Military and civilian supporters of the Aster Revolution in Budapest in October 1918.

On October 31, 1918, King Charles IV appointed pro-reform opposition leader Count Mihaly Károlyi to serve as prime minister of Hungary following the outbreak in Budapest of the Aster Revolution aimed at overthrowing the Dual Monarchy-era political order that had guided the country into the catastrophe of the First World War. Unknown assailants assassinated István Tisza, who despite his early reluctance to initiate military conflict against Serbia had come to symbolize Hungary’s involvement in the war, at the former prime minister’s villa in Budapest on the same day, the only assassination of a major political figure in modern Hungarian history.

On November 3, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Kingdom of Italy signed the Armistice of Villa Guisti ending fighting on the Italian Front, the last active military campaign of the First World War in which the Dual Monarchy was involved.

On November 11, 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor-King Charles released the following statement:

I acknowledge the decision taken by German Austria to form a separate State. The people has by its deputies taken charge of the Government. I relinquish every participation in the administration of the State. Likewise I have released the members of the Austrian Government from their offices.

On November 12, the Imperial Council of Cisleithania proclaimed the foundation of the Republic of German-Austria in the German-inhabited regions of Austria and Bohemia.

On November 13, 1918, King Charles IV presented the following signed declaration to representatives from Hungary at the Habsburg palace located in the village of Eckartsau, about 30 kilometers east of Vienna:

From this time on, I withdraw from all participation in the affairs of state and acknowledge in advance the decision that Hungary makes with regard to its future form of state.

On November 16, the Hungarian National Council [Magyar Nemzeti Tanács], which served as Hungary’s legislative body following the collapse of the ancien régime during the Aster Revolution, declared Hungary to be a People’s Republic (a term that had not yet come to designate Marxist-communist states), thus signalling the end of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

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