In historiography, the terms 'Austria' or 'Austrians' are frequently used as shorthand for the Habsburg monarchy since the 18th century. From 1438 to 1806, the rulers of the House of Habsburg almost continuously reigned as Holy Roman Emperors. However, the realms of the Holy Roman Empire were mostly self-governing and are thus not considered to have been part of the Habsburg monarchy.
The history of the Habsburg monarchy can be traced back to the election of Rudolf I as king of Germany in 1273 and his acquisition of the Duchy of Austria for the Habsburg in 1282. In 1482, Maximilian I acquired the Netherlands through marriage. Both realms passed to his grandson and successor, Charles V, who also inherited the Spanish throne and its colonial possessions, and thus came to rule the Habsburg empire at its greatest territorial extent. The abdication of Charles V in 1556 led to a division within the dynasty between his son Philip II of Spain and his brother Ferdinand I, who had served as his lieutenant and the elected king of Hungary and Bohemia. The Spanish branch (which held all of Iberia, the Netherlands, Burgundy, and lands in Italy) became extinct in 1700. The Austrian branch (which ruled the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary, Bohemia and various other lands) was itself split into different branches in 1564 but reunited 101 years later.
In historiography, the Habsburg monarchy (of the Austrian branch) is often called "Austria" by metonymy. Around 1700, the Latin term monarchia austriaca came into use as a term of convenience. Within the empire alone, the vast possessions included the original hereditary lands, the Erblande, from before 1526; the lands of the Bohemian crown; the formerly Spanish Netherlands from 1714 until 1794; and some fiefs in Imperial Italy. Outside the empire, they encompassed all the lands of the crown of Hungary as well as conquests made at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was in Prague.
Charles V divided the House in 1556 by ceding Austria along with the Imperial crown to Ferdinand (as decided at the Imperial election, 1531), and the Spanish empire to his son Philip. The Spanish branch (which also held the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Portugal between 1580 and 1640, and the Mezzogiorno of Italy) became extinct in 1700. The Austrian branch (which also ruled the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary and Bohemia) was itself divided between different branches of the family from 1564 until 1665, but thereafter it remained a single personal union.
Habsburg monarchy (German Habsburgermonarchie): this is an unofficial umbrella term, very frequently used, but was not an official name.
Austrian monarchy (Latin: monarchia austriaca) came into use around 1700 as a term of convenience for the Habsburg territories.
"Danubian monarchy" (German: Donaumonarchie) was an unofficial name often used contemporaneously.
"Dual monarchy" (German: Doppel-Monarchie) referred to the combination of the Duchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary, two states under one crowned ruler.
Austrian Empire (German: Kaisertum Österreich): This was the official name of the new Habsburg empire created in 1804, after the end of the Holy Roman Empire. The English word empire refers to a territory ruled by an emperor, and not to a "widespreading domain".
Austria-Hungary (German: Österreich-Ungarn), 1867–1918: This name was commonly used in international relations, although the official name was Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (German: Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie).
Crownlands or crown lands (Kronländer) (1849–1918): This is the name of all the individual parts of the Austrian Empire (1849–1867), and then of Austria-Hungary from 1867 on. The Kingdom of Hungary (more exactly the Lands of the Hungarian Crown) was not considered a "crownland" anymore after the establishment of Austria-Hungary in 1867, so that the "crownlands" became identical with what was called the Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial Council (Die im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder).
The Hungarian parts of the Empire were called "Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen" or "Lands of Holy (St.) Stephen's Crown" (Länder der Heiligen Stephans Krone). The Bohemian (Czech) Lands were called "Lands of the St. Wenceslaus' Crown" (Länder der Wenzels-Krone).
Names of some smaller territories:
Present-day Austria is a semi-federal republic of nine states (Bundesländer): Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Tyrol, Styria, Salzburg, Carinthia, Vorarlberg, Burgenland and the capital city, Vienna.
Vienna, Austria's capital, became a state on 1 January 1922, having been the imperial residence and capital of the Austrian Empire (Reichshaupt und Residenzstadt Wien) for centuries.
Austria, historically, was split into "Austria above the Enns" and "Austria below the Enns" (the Enns river is the state-border between Upper- and Lower Austria). Upper Austria was enlarged after the Treaty of Teschen (1779) following the "War of the Bavarian Succession" by the so-called Innviertel ("Inn Quarter"), formerly part of Bavaria.
Hereditary Lands (Erblande or Erbländer; mostly used Österreichische Erblande) or German Hereditary Lands (in the Austrian monarchy) or Austrian Hereditary Lands (Middle Ages – 1849/1918): In a narrower sense these were the "original" Habsburg territories, principally Austria (Oesterreich), Styria (Steiermark), Carinthia (Kaernten), Carniola (Krain), Tyrol (Tirol) and Vorarlberg. In a wider sense the Lands of the Bohemian Crown were also included (from 1526; definitively from 1620/27) in the Hereditary Lands. The term was replaced by the term "Crownlands" (see above) in the 1849 March Constitution, but it was also used afterwards. The Erblande also included many small territories that were principalities, duchies or counties in other parts of the Holy Roman Empire.
The territories ruled of the Austrian monarchy changed over the centuries, but the core always consisted of four blocs:
The Hereditary Lands, which covered most of the modern states of Austria and Slovenia, as well as territories in northeastern Italy and (before 1797) southwestern Germany. To these were added in 1779 the Inn Quarter of Bavaria and in 1803 the Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen. The Napoleonic Wars caused disruptions where many parts of the Hereditary lands were lost, but all these, along with the former Archbishopric of Salzburg, which had previously been temporarily annexed between 1805 and 1809, were recovered at the peace in 1815, with the exception of the Vorlande. The Hereditary provinces included:
Vorarlberg (actually a collection of provinces, only united in the 19th century)
The Vorlande, a group of territories in Breisgau and elsewhere in southwestern Germany lost in 1801 (although the Alsatian territories (Sundgau) which had formed a part of it had been lost as early as 1648)
The Kingdom of Hungary – two-thirds of the former territory that was administered by the medieval Kingdom of Hungary was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and the Princes of vassal Ottoman Transylvania, while the Habsburg administration was restricted to the western and northern territories of the former kingdom, which remained to be officially referred as the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1699, at the end of the Ottoman-Habsburg wars, one part of the territories that were administered by the former medieval Kingdom of Hungary came under Habsburg administration, with some other areas being picked up in 1718 (some of the territories that were part of medieval kingdom, notably those in the south of the Sava and Danube rivers, remained under Ottoman administration).
The boundaries of some of these territories varied over the period indicated, and others were ruled by a subordinate (secundogeniture) Habsburg line. The Habsburgs also held the title of Holy Roman Emperor between 1438 and 1740, and again from 1745 to 1806.
Within the early modern Habsburg monarchy, each entity was governed according to its own particular customs. Until the mid 17th century, not all of the provinces were even necessarily ruled by the same person—junior members of the family often ruled portions of the Hereditary Lands as private apanages. Serious attempts at centralization began under Maria Theresa and especially her son Joseph II in the mid to late 18th century, but many of these were abandoned following large scale resistance to Joseph's more radical reform attempts, although a more cautious policy of centralization continued during the revolutionary period and the Metternichianperiod that followed.
Another attempt at centralization began in 1849 following the suppression of the various revolutions of 1848. For the first time, ministers tried to transform the monarchy into a centralized bureaucratic state ruled from Vienna. The Kingdom of Hungary was placed under martial law, being divided into a series of military districts, the centralized neo-absolutism tried to as well to nullify Hungary's constitution and Diet. Following the Habsburg defeats in the Wars of 1859 and 1866, these policies were step by step abandoned.
After experimentation in the early 1860s, the famous Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 was arrived at, by which the so-called dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was set up. In this system, the Kingdom of Hungary ("Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of St. Stephen.") was an equal sovereign with only a personal union and a joint foreign and military policy connecting it to the other Habsburg lands. Although the non-Hungarian Habsburg lands were referred to as "Austria", received their own central parliament (the Reichsrat, or Imperial Council) and ministries, as their official name – the "Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council". When Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed (after a long period of occupation and administration), it was not incorporated into either half of the monarchy. Instead, it was governed by the joint Ministry of Finance.