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Habsburg lands divided
Thirty Years' War
Austria and the Turks
     After Westphalia
     Vienna and Hungary

18th century
Wars against France
1875 - 1918
To be completed

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After Westphalia: 1648-1683

The peace of Westphalia, while weakening Habsburg authority in the wider German empire, has the effect of strengthening the family's control in the hereditary lands from the Tirol to Austria and in Bohemia. The northern parts of Austria, like Bohemia, were strongly Protestant before the Catholic victory at the White Mountain in 1620. Since then, in both regions, Ferdinand II has vigorously suppressed Protestantism.

It is a policy which the terms agreed in Westphalia specifically allow his son Ferdinand III to continue. Habsburg Austria, like Habsburg Spain, becomes a society devoted to the ideals of the Catholic Reformation.


Meanwhile Austrian foreign policy is dominated by two major issues, France and Turkey. By the end of the Thirty Years' War, France is replacing Spain as the strongest power in western Europe; one effect of this is to transfer from the Spanish Habsburgs to their Austrian cousins responsibility for the ancient rivalry between their dynasty and that of France. This leads, in 1689, to Austrian involvement in the war of the Grand Alliance.

In the other direction, to the east, Turkey remains a permanent threat. Of the two, this is the problem which comes to a head first - in the great crisis of 1683.


Vienna and Hungary: 1683-1718

On 31 March 1683 a huge Turkish army marches west from Edirne. On the same day, in Warsaw, the Polish king John III Sobieski signs a treaty committing him to bring a force to the defence of Vienna. There is panic in the Austrian capital as the Turks approach, with a force estimated to be about 250,000 strong. Early in July the emperor and his court abandon Vienna, slipping away to safety higher up the Danube. A few days later the invading army arrives to blockade the city.

Two months pass before John III arrives with his Polish contingent, reinforced by Catholics from Bavaria and by Protestants from Saxony. The Christian army amounts to about 70,000 men.


The attack on the Turkish force takes place on September 12. After eight hours of fighting the Turks are routed and the city relieved. It is a symbolic moment which also proves a turning point, inspiring the Austrians to transform the retreat of the Turks into a lasting withdrawal.

Further campaigns to the east result in the capture of Buda in 1686, followed by the gradual recovery of other parts of Hungary. By 1699 the Turks are willing to sign the peace of Karlowitz, ceding to the Habsburg emperor, Leopold I, the whole region of Hungary which has been under Turkish control since 1547 - apart from the small area of Banat in the extreme southeast, which remains with the Turks until 1718.


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