On June 8, 1867, Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph I was crowned as King of Hungary in Matthias Church in Budapest, following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise (Ausgleich in German; Kiegyezés in Hungarian). Before the compromise of 1867, the Austrian Empire was an absolute monarchy, which included Hungary, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Northern Italy. On March 30, 1867, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie in German; Osztrák-Magyar Monarchia in Hungarian) was established. Hungary became a self-governing monarchy, with its own parliament and Franz Josef I as its king. From this time, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary were equal partners.
In addition to the two monarchies, the empire included one autonomous region, the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia under the Hungarian crown which negotiated the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement (Nagodba) in 1868. Austria-Hungary was geographically the second-largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire, at 239,977 square miles (621,538 km²) and the third-most populous (after Russia and the German Empire). The realm’s full, official name was The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of St. Stephen (Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder und die Länder der Heiligen Ungarischen Stephanskrone in German; A Birodalmi Tanácsban képviselt királyságok és országok és a Magyar Szent Korona országai in Hungarian).
Franz Josef I, also Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was born Franz Josef Karl on August 18, 1830, in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, the eldest son of Archduke Franz Karl (the younger son of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II), and his wife Princess Sophie of Bavaria In December 1848, Emperor Ferdinand abdicated the throne at Olomouc, as part of Minister-president Felix zu Schwarzenberg’s plan to end the Revolutions of 1848 in Hungary. This allowed Ferdinand’s nephew Franz Josef to accede to the throne. He was Emperor of Austria from December 2, 1848, until his death on November 21, 1916, He was also King of Hungary and monarch of other states in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From May 1, 1850, to August 24, 1866, he was also President of the German Confederation. He was the longest-reigning Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, as well as the third-longest-reigning monarch of any country in European history, after Louis XIV of France and Johann II of Liechtenstein.
Largely considered to be a reactionary, Franz Joseph spent his early reign resisting constitutionalism in his domains. The Austrian Empire was forced to cede its influence over Tuscany and most of its claim to Lombardy–Venetia to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, following the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. Although Franz Joseph ceded no territory to the Kingdom of Prussia after the Austrian defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the Peace of Prague on August 23, 1866, settled the German question in favor of Prussia, which prevented the Unification of Germany from occurring under the House of Habsburg.
Franz Josef was troubled by nationalism during his entire reign. In the Middle Ages, the Duchy of Austria had been a quasi-independent state within the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the House of Habsburg, while the Kingdom of Hungary was a sovereign state outside the empire. In 1526, Hungary was defeated and partially conquered by the Ottoman Empire. King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia had no legitimate heir and died young in the Battle of Mohács. Louis II’s brother-in-law, Ferdinand I of Habsburg was elected King of Hungary by a rump Parliament in Pozsony in December 1526. The Ottomans were subsequently driven out of Hungary by international Western Christian forces led by Prince Eugene of Savoy between 1686 and 1699. From 1526 to 1804, Hungary was ruled by the Habsburg kings, but remained nominally and legally separate from the other lands of the Habsburg Monarchy.
In 1804, Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, who was also ruler of the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy, founded the Empire of Austria in which all his lands were included. In doing so he created a formal overarching structure for the Habsburg Monarchy, which had functioned as a composite monarchy for about 300 years. Until the 1848 revolution, the workings of the overarching structure and the status of Hungary stayed much the same as they had been before 1804. The Kingdom of Hungary had always been considered a separate realm, the country’s status was affirmed by Article X, which was added to Hungary’s constitution in 1790 during the phase of the composite monarchy; it described the state as a Regnum Independens. Hungary’s affairs continued to be administered by its own institutions (King and Diet) as they had been previously. Thus, under the new arrangements, no imperial institutions were involved in its internal government.
From the perspective of the Court since 1723, regnum Hungariae had been a hereditary province of the dynasty’s three main branches on both lines. From the perspective of the ország (the country), Hungary was regnum independens, a separate Land as Article X of 1790 stipulated. In 1804, Emperor Franz assumed the title of Emperor of Austria for all the Erblande of the dynasty and for the other Lands, including Hungary. Hungary formally became part of the Empire of Austria. The Holy Roman Empire was abolished in 1806. The Hungarian legal system and judicial system remained separated and independent from the unified legal and judicial systems of the other Habsburg-ruled areas.
The administration and the structures of central government of Kingdom of Hungary remained separated from the Austrian administration and Austrian government until the 1848 revolution. Hungary, was governed, to a greater degree by the Council of Lieutenancy of Hungary (the Gubernium) in Pressburg (Pozsony) and, to a lesser extent, by the Hungarian Royal Court Chancellery in Vienna, independent of the Imperial Chancellery of Austria
While in most Western European countries (like France and England) the king’s reign began immediately upon the death of his predecessor, in Hungary the coronation was absolutely indispensable as if it were not properly executed, the Kingdom stayed “orphaned”. Even during the long personal union between Kingdom of Hungary and other Habsburg-ruled areas, the Habsburg monarchs had to be crowned as King of Hungary in order to promulgate laws there or exercise his royal prerogatives in the territory of Kingdom of Hungary. Since the Golden Bull of 1222, all Hungarian monarchs had to take a coronation oath during the coronation procedure, where the new monarchs had to agree to uphold the constitutional arrangement of the country, to preserve the liberties of his subjects and the territorial integrity of the realm.
From 1526 to 1851, the Kingdom of Hungary maintained its own customs borders, which separated Hungary from the united customs system of other Habsburg-ruled territories.
In the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Magyars came close to regaining independence and were defeated by the Austrian Empire only by the military intervention of the Russian Empire. After the restoration of Habsburg power, Hungary was placed under martial law. Prime Minister Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg and his government, operating from November 1848, pursued a radically new imperial policy. It wanted to develop a uniform empire in the spirit of the imperial constitution issued by Franz Josef I in Olmütz on March 4, 1849, and as a result, Hungary’s constitution and territorial integrity were abolished.
The centralist March Constitution of Austria introduced the neo-absolutism in Habsburg-ruled territories, and it provided absolute power for the monarch. The Austrian constitution was accepted by the Imperial Diet of Austria, in which Hungary had no representation and traditionally had no legislative power in the territory of Kingdom of Hungary; still, it also tried to abolish the Diet of Hungary, which existed as the legislative power in Hungary since the late 12th century. The new Austrian constitution also went against the historical constitution of Hungary and tried to nullify it. A military dictatorship was created in Hungary. Every aspect of Hungarian life was put under close scrutiny and governmental control.
German became the official language of public administration. An edict issued on October 9, 1849, placed education under state control, the curriculum was prescribed and controlled by the state, the teaching of national history was restricted and history was taught from a Habsburg viewpoint. Even the bastion of Hungarian culture, the Academy, was kept under control: the institution was staffed with foreigners, mostly Germans, and the institution was practically defunct until the end of 1858. Hungarians responded with passive resistance. Anti-Habsburg and anti-German sentiments were strong. In the following years, the empire instituted several reforms but failed to resolve problems.
After the Hungarian revolution of 1848–49, the independent customs system of Hungary was abolished, and Hungary became part of the unified imperial customs system on October 1, 1851.
In 1866, Austria was completely defeated in the Austro-Prussian War. Its position as the leading state of Germany ended, and the remaining German minor states were soon absorbed into the German Empire, created by Prussia. Austria also lost much of its remaining claims and influence in Italy, which had been its chief foreign policy interest. After a period of Greater German ambitions, when Austria tried to establish itself as the leading German power, Austria again needed to redefine itself to maintain unity in the face of nationalism.
As a consequence of the Second Italian War of Independence and the Austro-Prussian War, the Habsburg Empire was on the verge of collapse in 1866, as the wars caused monumental state debt and a financial crisis. The Habsburgs were forced to reconcile with Hungary to save their empire and dynasty. The Habsburgs and part of the Hungarian political elite arranged the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, but the overwhelming majority of the populace wanted full independence.
In March 1866, Count Gyula Andrássy de Csíkszentkirály et Krasznahorka .was elected as president of the sub-committee appointed by the parliamentary commission to draw up the Austro-Hungarian Compromise. He originated the idea of the “Delegations” of powers. It was said at that time that he was the only member of the commission who could persuade the court of the justice of the national claims. After the Battle of Königgrätz, he was formally consulted by Emperor Franz Josef for the first time. He recommended the re-establishment of the constitution and the appointment of a responsible foreign and defense ministry.
Hungarian statesman Ferenc Deák is considered the intellectual force behind the Compromise. Deák initially wanted independence for Hungary and supported the 1848 Revolution, but he broke with hardline nationalists and advocated a modified union under the Habsburgs. Deák believed that while Hungary had the right to full internal independence, questions of defense and foreign affairs were “common” to both Austria and Hungary, under the Pragmatic Sanction of 1723. He also felt that Hungary benefited from continued union with wealthier, more industrialized Austria and that the Compromise would end the continual pressures on Austria to choose between the Magyars and the Slavs of the Kingdom of Hungary. Imperial Chancellor Beust quickly negotiated the Compromise with the Hungarian leaders. Beust was particularly eager to renew the conflict with Prussia and thought a quick settlement with Hungary would make that possible.
On February 17, 1867, the king appointed Count Andrássy as the first prime minister of the Hungarian half of the newly formed Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The obvious first choice had been Ferenc Deák, one of the architects of the Compromise, but he stepped down in favor of Andrássy. Deák described him as “the providential statesman given to Hungary by the grace of God.” Franz Josef and Deák signed the Compromise, and it was ratified by the restored Diet of Hungary on May 29, 1867.
In return for being made the first Hungarian prime minister, Andrássy saw that Franz Josef and his consort Elisabeth of Bavaria were officially crowned King and Queen of Hungary on June 8, 1867, in Matthias Church in Budapest — site of the last two Hungarian coronations in 1867 and 1916. The Konsecrator for the ceremony was János Simor, Archbishop of Esztergom, primate of Hungary.
As a coronation gift, Hungary presented the royal couple with a country residence in Gödöllő, twenty miles east of Budapest. In the next year, Elisabeth lived primarily in Gödöllő and Budapest, leaving her neglected and resentful Austrian subjects to trade rumors that if the infant she was expecting (her fourth child) were a son, she would name him Stephen, after the patron saint and first king of Hungary. The issue was avoided when she gave birth to a daughter, Marie Valerie (1868–1924). Dubbed the “Hungarian child”, she was born in Budapest ten months after her parents’ coronation and baptized there in April 1868.
The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 was negotiated and legitimized by only a very small part of Hungarian society (suffrage was very limited: less than 8 percent of the population had voting rights), and was seen by a very large part of the population as a betrayal of the Hungarian cause and the heritage of the 1848-1849 War of Independence. The Compromise was very unpopular and the government resorted to force to suppress civil dissent. The Compromise caused deep and lasting schisms in Hungarian society.
The settlement with Hungary consisted then of three parts: the political settlement, which was to be permanent and would remain part of the fundamental constitution of the monarchy; the periodical financial settlement, determining the partition of the common expenses as arranged by the Quota-Deputations and ratified by the parliaments; and the Customs Union and the agreement on currency, a voluntary, reversible arrangement between the two governments and parliaments.
Despite Austria and Hungary sharing a common currency, they were fiscally sovereign and independent entities. Since the beginnings of the personal union (from 1527), the government of the Kingdom of Hungary could preserve its separated and independent budget. After the revolution of 1848–1849, the Hungarian budget was amalgamated with the Austrian, and it was only after the Compromise of 1867 that Hungary obtained a separate budget. From 1527 (the creation of the monarchic personal union) to 1851, the Kingdom of Hungary maintained its own customs controls, which separated her from the other parts of the Habsburg-ruled territories. After 1867, the Austrian and Hungarian customs union agreement had to be renegotiated and stipulated every ten years. The agreements were renewed and signed by Vienna and Budapest at the end of every decade because both countries hoped to derive mutual economic benefit from the customs union. The Austrian Empire and Kingdom of Hungary contracted their foreign commercial treaties independently of each other.
Austria-Hungary was a great power but it contained a large number of ethnic groups that sought their own nation. The Dual Monarchy was effectively ruled by a coalition of the two most powerful and numerous ethnic groups, the Germans and the Hungarians. Stresses regarding nationalism were building up, and the severe shock of a poorly handled war caused the system to collapse.
Vienna served as the Monarchy’s primary capital. The Cisleithanian (Austrian) part contained about 57 percent of the total population and the larger share of its economic resources, compared to the Hungarian part.
Following a decision of Franz Joseph I in 1868, the realm bore the official name Austro-Hungarian Monarchy/Realm (Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie/Reich; Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia/Birodalom) in its international relations. It was often contracted to the Dual Monarchy in English, or simply referred to as Austria. From 1867 onwards, the abbreviations heading the names of official institutions in Austria-Hungary reflected their responsibility: K. u. k. (kaiserlich und königlich or Imperial and Royal) was the label for institutions common to both parts of the Monarchy, e.g. the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine (War Fleet) and, during the war, the k.u.k. Armee (Army). There were three k.u.k. or joint ministries:
- The Imperial and Royal Ministry of the Exterior and the Imperial House
- The Imperial and Royal War Ministry
- The Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance
The last was responsible only for financing the Imperial and Royal household, the diplomatic service, the common army and the common war fleet. All other state functions were to be handled separately by each of the two states.
From 1867 onwards, common expenditures were allocated 70% to Austria and 30% to Hungary. This split had to be negotiated every decade. By 1907, the Hungarian share had risen to 36.4%. The negotiations in 1917 ended with the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy.
The common army changed its label from k.k. to k.u.k. only in 1889 at the request of the Hungarian government. K. k. (kaiserlich-königlich) or Imperial-Royal was the term for institutions of Cisleithania (Austria); “royal” in this label referred to the Crown of Bohemia. K. u. (königlich-ungarisch) or M. k. (Magyar királyi, “Royal Hungarian”) referred to Transleithania, the lands of the Hungarian crown. In the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia, its autonomous institutions hold k. (kraljevski, “Royal”) as according to the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement the only official language in Croatia and Slavonia was Croatian and those institutions were “only” Croatian.
Austria-Hungary was a multinational state and one of the world’s great powers at the time. The Empire built up the fourth-largest machine building industry of the world, after the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Austria-Hungary also became the world’s third largest manufacturer and exporter of electric home appliances, electric industrial appliances and power generation apparatus for power plants, after the United States and the German Empire.
Following the conclusion of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Franz Josef’s domains were ruled peacefully for the next 45 years, although he personally suffered the tragedies of the execution of his brother Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867, the suicide of his only son and heir, Crown Prince Rudolf, in 1889, and the assassination of his wife, Empress Elisabeth, in 1898.
After the Austro-Prussian War, Austria-Hungary turned its attention to the Balkans, which was a hotspot of international tension because of conflicting interests with the Russian Empire. The Bosnian Crisis was a result of Franz Joseph’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, which had been occupied by his troops since the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Sandžak/Raška, de jure northern part of the Ottoman Sanjak of Novi Pazar (in modern-day Montenegro and Serbia), was also under de facto joint occupation during that period but the Austro-Hungarian army withdrew as part of their annexation of Bosnia. The annexation of Bosnia also led to Islam being recognized as an official state religion due to Bosnia’s Muslim population.
On June 28, 1914, the assassination of Franz Josef’s nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo resulted in Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against the Kingdom of Serbia, which was Russia’s ally. That activated a system of alliances which resulted in World War I. Austria-Hungary was one of the Central Powers in the war. It was already effectively dissolved by the time the military authorities signed the armistice of Villa Giusti on November 3, 1918. The Kingdom of Hungary and the First Austrian Republic were treated as its successors de jure, whereas the independence of the West Slavs and South Slavs of the Empire as the First Czechoslovak Republic, the Second Polish Republic and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, respectively, and most of the territorial demands of the Kingdom of Romania were also recognized by the victorious powers in 1920.
Franz Josef died in the Schönbrunn Palace on the evening of 21 November 1916, at the age of eighty-six after ruling his domains for almost 68 years. His death was a result of developing pneumonia of the right lung several days after catching a cold while walking in Schönbrunn Park with the King of Bavaria. He was succeeded by his grandnephew Charles I, who reigned until the collapse of the Empire following its defeat in 1918. He is buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna, where flowers are still left by monarchists.
Franz Josef’s name in German was Franz Joseph I and I. Ferenc József in Hungarian. His official grand title after the Austro=Hungarian Compromise of 1867 was: “Francis Joseph the First, by the Grace of God Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, King of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria and Illyria; King of Jerusalem etc., Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow, Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and of Bukovina; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Oświęcim, Zator and Ćeszyn, Friuli, Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and Zara (Zadar); Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent (Trento) and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg, etc.; Lord of Trieste, of Cattaro (Kotor), and over the Windic march; Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia.”
Following the compromise, a new series of definitive postage stamps introduced in 1867 were valid for postage in both Austria and its possessions and the Kingdom of Hungary and its possessions. In 1871, the independent postal administration of the Kingdom of Hungary began to issue its own postage stamps. From that time, the Austrian Empire postage stamp issues were no longer valid within Hungary. The Austro-Hungarian Empire stamps of 1867 to 1883 form the core of many specialized classical Austria stamp collections. Most of these stamps are relatively inexpensive (in used condition), they are attractive, and they offer an incredible array of collecting possibilities. One can begin with getting one of each of the stamps issued during this period, then the simple collection can be expanded to collecting shades, varieties, watermarks, perforation types, covers, proofs, and the postmarks of the thousands of post offices that existed throughout the Dual Monarchy during this time period.
The common design features the right-facing portrait of Emperor Franz Josef I. The only inscription on these Austrian Empire stamps is that of the denomination, which is located at the bottom of the stamp. There are three types of the 5-kreuzer stamp:
- Type I: In arabesques in the lower left corner, the small ornament at left of the curve nearest the figure 5 is short and has three points at the bottom.
- Type II: The ornament is prolonged within the curve and has two points at the bottom. The corresponding ornament at top of the lower left corner does not touch the curve (1872).
- Type III: Similar to type II but the top ornament is joined to the curve (1881).
Two different printing methods were used for the 1867-1874 issues. The first produced stamps on which the hair and whiskers were coarse and thick, from the second they were fine and clear. Using these guidelines, I believe I have a copy of Scott #29, the 5-kreuzer rose type II typographed coarse print, perforated 9½. However, I am far from an expert on these stamps.
Beginning in July 1864, the paper used to print Austrian stamps was watermarked BRIEF-MARKEN in double-lined capitals across the middle of the two horizontal panes of each press-sheet. The letters are very large, and presuming proper alignment, the portions of the letters appear on between eighteen or twenty horizontal positions of each pane of stamps. Of course, the location of the paper watermark can be variable, up, down, left, or right, depending on how the paper was aligned on the printing plate. Though it is understood that the panes of stamps were “watermarked”, in reality, eighty or more of the horizontal positions on each of the panes (80% or more) will be “unwatermarked”. Stamps showing portions of the watermark letters are scarce, and they are in high demand! They are valued at considerably more than the same stamps that do not show any watermark.