As you read books or visit museums and palaces in Vienna, you’ll see many references to Habsburg monarchs and Habsburg rule. But it can all get a little confusing.
For example, was there ever such a thing as a Habsburg Empire? What was the Austrian Empire? Is Austria-Hungary the same thing? Who were the Spanish Habsburgs?
Most importantly, did portrait painters exaggerate the size of Emperor Franz Joseph’s moustache? (No, they didn’t).
Some explanation is called for.
For centuries, Vienna was the administrative centre of an ever-changing collection of lands ruled by the Habsburg family dynasty.
At times, these Vienna-centred Habsburg lands stretched from today’s Italy to Poland and as far east as Romania. (Not to mention periods of Habsburg power and influence in such places as Mexico and the Netherlands.)
Today, Vienna is the capital of Austria, a country with no monarchy that covers an area smaller than most US states.
The quick and easy articles below help you understand the history of the Habsburgs and Austria. And – usefully – they explain the various terms bandied around in those guidebooks and at tourist sites.
So you need never be confused by an Archduke again…
- The Habsburg Monarchy – where did the Habsburgs rule and why is Vienna so important?
- The Holy Roman Empire – discover why this “other empire” is important to understanding Habsburg history
- The Austrian Empire – how the Habsburg lands became an empire in their own right under Franz II/I in 1804
- Austria-Hungary – learn how and why the Austrian Empire morphed into Austria-Hungary in 1867
- Austria – it may sound a strange question, but what does the term “Austria” refer to? It’s not always as simple as it seems
- Other Habsburg terms – so far so good, but where do the Spanish Habsburgs come into this? What about the Hapsburgs (with a P)? These and other side questions answered
- Empresses and Archdukes – where do these Habsburg titles come from and who got them? And discover why lucky Emperor Franz had two numerals after his name
- k. u. k. and k. k. – finally, you see these royal abbreviations everywhere (even today), but what do they actually mean?