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Austro-Bohemian MonarchyTimeline: The Once and Never Kings
OTL equivalent: Austria (minus Salzburg), Czech Republic, Silesia, Slovenia
Location of the Austro-Bohemian Monarchy in green.
|Official languages||German, Czech|
|Regional Languages||Slovene, Silesian, Venetian|
The Austro-Bohemian Monarchy, Austria-Bohemia, Austria, Habsburg Monarchy, is a large dual monarchy situated on the eastern periphery of the Holy Roman Empire. It is bordered by many Imperial states, including Prussia, Bavaria, Electoral Saxony, and Milan. It also borders the non-Imperial states of Venice to the south, and Poland and Hungary, both to the east. Austria also administers the detached Sundgau (also known as Further Austria) at the western Imperial border, which surrounds the Francian Decapole city of Mulhouse.
Founded as a small Bavarian March based around Vienna, Austria was originally ruled by the Babenburg dynasty. The Babenburg Margraves were promoted to Dukes in 1156, expanding to include Upper Austria and Styria.
The Babenburgs would become extinct on the death of the last of their rulers, Fredrick II, in 1246. His death would kick off a succession crisis wiphich would result in the ascension of the Bohemian Premyslid King Ottokar. When Ottokar attempted to challenge the Habsburg King of the Romans Rudolph, he was killed in battle in 1278. After Ottokars death, his Austrian territories were seized. They subsequently became the center of Habsburg rule.
The Habsburgs accumulated various other territories, including Tyrol and Carinola. In 1359, Duke Rudolph IV had forged documents created, declaring Austria an "Archduchy", a title to carry similar rights to those of the Prince-Electors. His death however, and the subsequent division of the Austrian lands between his heirs, would mean the title would go unrecognized. It was only when the Habsburgs finally regained the Imperial throne, with Albert V in 1453, would the title be implemented.
Austria would come to be a direct, and often, challenger to the Luxembourg dynasty, seeking to undermine their position within Germany, and to secure their own. Though they were on the opposite side of the Empire from the Luxembourgs ancestral land (the County, later Duchy, of Luxembourg) they directly bordered their longtime principal territories of Hungary and Bohemia. Bohemia especially, with its electoral vote, was desired for the ambitious Habsburgs. When the Luxembourgs gifted Brandenburg to the Hohenzollern family, albeit with restrictions, Austria was quick to make a secret arrangement with both Brandenburg and Poland for an anti-Luxembourg alliance.
Austria would begin the War of Bohemian Succession upon the 1561 death of Luxembourg Emperor John. Despite Poland not being able to fully commit, the Luxembourg realm was still reeling from the Schmalkaldic War, as well as the Hussite rebellions of the last century. Austria was able to secure the Bohemian crown, and Brandenburg was given full independence.
Originally settled by Czech tribes, Bohemia was part of Greater Moravia, under which it became Christian. It was conquered and vassalized by Charlemagne, and remained a piece of East Francia after the division of the Frankish Empire. Promoted to a kingdom and an elector, Bohemia was long the only Imperial state who's rulers could be allowed to be crowned "King".
The 440 year reign of the Premyslid dynasty ended in 1310 with the marriage of John of Luxembourg to the last Premyslid heir, Elizabeth. The marriage helped further propel the Luxembourg family into higher Imperial politics. The purchase of Brandenburg, another elector, from Bavaria only aided this.
Bohemia would also prove a hotbed for rebellion. Luxembourg would be forced to fight the Hussite wars to hold onto the territory. The conflicts would put a heavy strain on the Luxembourg-Bohemian economy, and there was great relief when the Hussite armies were finally defeated in 1438. But when the Reformation began, the Bohemian populace eagerly embraced it. One of the pivotal war zones during the Schmalkaldic War, the right of the populace to practice Lutheranism was secured. So much trouble Bohemia was becoming, that there was little discord in Luxembourgs growing possessions in the Low Countries when it was lost to Austria.
Austria, however, still refused to accept the Protestant faiths. But in accordance with the Peace of Augsburg, the Archdukes grudgingly tolerated it. But Archduke Ferdinand II held ambitions of returning it to Catholicism, forcefully if need be. Had it not been for the Breton Duke Robert attempting to do the same in Aquitaine in 1618, Ferdinand might've begun the Forty Years War.
Forty Years War and later
Austria took a leading role in the Holy Roman arena of the Forty Years War, quickly securing Prague in order to prevent a Protestant uprising there. It would be unable to send help to Denmark when it joined the Catholic side, before it was overrun by Svealands King Gustav. Though unlike Luxembourg it was more genuine inability rather than spite.
Prague would be laid to siege three times during the war, but famously never fell to the Protestant armies. Austria itself was pillaged several times during the middle and latter years of the war. But the Austrian armies also laid waste to the smaller Protestant states around it, such as Erfurt and Anhalt. But as the 1650s began coming to a close, the Catholic armies recognized their precarious positions, and after their pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Dresden in 1658, called for peace.
The Austrian were finally forced to allow the freedom of worship for both Calvinism and Lutheranism, but their rule of Bohemia remained intact, despite Luxembourgs push to have it reverted to them.
With their status seemingly secure, Austria began looking to establish themselves as a colonial power. They seized New Vienna (otl Puerto Rico) from Portugal after a brief war, and peacefully settled the New Moravian Islands in 1734.
It would be forced to turn their full focus back to Europe in 1749 when Prussia began pushing a demand for Silesia. When Austria refused to give up Silesia, Prussia declared war. The Austro-Prussian War was Austria's largest military engagement since the Forty Years War. After six years of stalemate, and with Poland (and its Wettin King) beginning to look at taking advantage of the weakened state of both, a truce was called.
When Poland did invade, it was the first time Austria, Prussia, Luxembourg, and the Hansa allied together. The Imperial coalition swiftly overran Electoral Saxony, followed by the Polish cities of Kraków, Poznan, and Gdansk. As an Austro-Prussian army closed on Warsaw, Poland sued for peace. The post-war Imperial reforms barred the rulers of any member state from accepting a foreign office if offered. This had effects more far reaching than realized at first. The reform has since been amended, allowing for inheritance, and now only applies to elected titles (like how the Polish monarch is decided). Austria and Prussia saw a rise in approval in the smaller Imperial states, leading to the approval of raising Austria from an Archduchy to a full Kingdom. The move put but it and Bohemia on equal footing in regards to law (Archduke was still a lower rank than King, and "King of Bohemia" came before "Archduke of Austria" in the Habsburg's rulers titles).
Austria joined the Napoleonic Wars soon after Napoleone's Italy annexed Venice. Their declaration of war was countered by Hungary allying with Napoleone, having been promised at least Moravia in the event of victory. Napoleone's own armies were able to secure successes, seizing Tyrol and Carinola, but Hungary was devastated after a Czech army defeated it at the Battle of Brno. Hungary was forced to drop out of the war some time later, freeing Austrian forces in time for what would become the final push into Italy. Austrian troops personally liberated the city of Venice, and occupied the region until the Doge's government could be restored.
Bohemia saw a surge of Czech nationalism in the early twentieth century, pushed by a number of prominent writers. When protests in cities like Prague and Brno turned violent, Austria called for representatives from Bohemia. After negotiations of considerable length, the Compromise of 1959 was agreed to and signed. The agreement affirmed Bohemias status as a de jure separate state, with a separate delegation to the Imperial Diet, and their own parliament in Prague. Despite this, Austria and Bohemia remain undoubtedly united, and this is shown by the fact that their delegations often vote alike.
The Austro-Bohemian Monarchy is a Dual Monarchy. This means that it is technically, as per the Compromise of 1959, two states in personal union. The Compromise has been watered down since, de facto if not de jure, and Prague has surrendered some powers back to the united parliament in Vienna.
Austria officially uses a bicameral legislature, though it should be considered a tricameral. The lower house, the House of Commons, is divided between the House of Representatives, where Crownlands are given representation due to their population size, and the House of the Crownlands, where each Crownland receives four representatives, regardless of population size. The upper house, uses a single chamber where the various nobility of Austria-Bohemia meet and approve legislation sent from the lower houses.
New Vienna, New Moravia, and St. Michaels Land all have their own legislatures in their capitals. They take care of local matters such as taxation via locally elected representatives.