[BoP-Lite: Parliamentarism 1917] - Lore

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First things first, this BoP-Lite is not starting any time soon!

There will be Eternal's game before this one, but I have decided to make this thread for the sole reason of presenting the lore. Since my game focuses entirely on a single country, I can describe this country a little before the game starts so that it feels more like a real, less generic country and to present it to you, since - in all honesty - the Austro-Hungarian Empire is not the country most written about. I have done (and still am doing) not-really-shallow research and I am convinced that some of the information presented in the future in this thread are very hard to obtain in English, so even for the non-players, it can present an interesting set of articles about an interesting historical topic.

The articles will hopefully cover most of important topics such as economy, army, navy, society, political culture, legislation, administration, infrastructure, minorities, approach to religious freedom, human rights or foreign relations; or quickly go through some interesting (but not really important) things like marriage, gun laws or famous persons. I am not sure how much of these articles I will write in total, but it surely is better to release it over some time than to dump it all on you once the game starts. They will not be in any particular order, I will maybe rearrange them once all is done. Game rules and mechanics may be later also explained here, but I suppose those will most likely come with a sign-up thread some time later. So this thread stays mostly about the Lore and any possible discussion there can be about the game.

Unless it is stated otherwise, things written about in these articles will be about 1914 pre-war Austria-Hungary. The war brought chaos and some things were completely different. So whenever I write something about the country, I write about state of things in a peace time.

I want to start by an text taken from a book, because it is probably the sweetest thing ever written about Austria-Hungary and may help people get in a Central European mood. A mood setting, really; not uncomparable to rather famous: I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm...

"At the age when one still attaches great importance to everything connected with tailors and barbers and enjoys looking in the mirror, one often imagines a place where one would like to spend one’s life, or at least a place where it would be smart to stay, even though one may not feel any particular inclination to be there. For some time now such an obssesive day-dream has been a kind of super-American city where everyone rushes about, or stands still, with a stop-watch in his hand. Air and earth for an anthill traversed, level upon level, by roads live with traffic. Air trains, ground trains, underground trains, people mailed through tubes special-delivery, and chains of cars race along horizontally, while express elevators pump masses of people vertically from one traffic level to another; at the junctions, people leap from one vehicle to the next, instantly sucked in and snatched away by the rhythm of it, which makes a syncope, a pasue, a little gap of twenty seconds during which a word might be hastily exhanged with someone else. Tension and relaxation; activity and love, are precisely timed and weighed on the basis of exhaustive laboratory studies. In a community coursed through by energies every road leads to a worthwilve goal, provided one doesn’t hesitate or reflect too long. Targets are short-term, but since life is short too, results are maximized, which is all people need to be happy, because the soul is formed by what you accomplish, whereas what you desire without achieving it merely wraps the soul. Happiness depends very little on what we want, but only on achieving whatever it is.

It is by no means certain that this is the way it has to be, but such ideas belong to those travel fantasies reflecting our sense of incessant movement that carries us along. These fantasies are superficial, restless and brief. God knows what will really happen. Presumably, it is up to us to make a new start at any given moment and come up with a plan for us all. If all that high-speed business doesn’t suit us, let’s do something else! But that is not how it really is; we are at the mercy of our condition. We travel in it day and night, doing whatever else we do, shaving, eating, making love, reading books, working at our jobs, as though those four walls around us were standing still; but the uncanny fact is that those walls are moving along without our noticing it, going we don’t know where. Besides, we would like to think of ourselves as having a hand in making our time what it is. It is a very uncertain part to play, and sometimes, looking out the window after a fairly long pause, we find that the landscape has changed. What flies past flies past, it can’t be hleped, but wih all our devotion to our role an uneasy feeling frows on us that we have traveled past our goal or got on a wrong track. Then one day the violend need is there: Get off the train! Jump clear! A homesickness, a longing to be stopped, to cease evolving, to stay put, to return to the point before the thrown switch put us on the wrong track. And in the good old days when the Austrian Empire still existed, one could in such a case get off the train of time, get on an ordinary train of an ordinary railroad, and travel back to one’s home.

There, in Austria-Hungary, that state since vanished that no one understood, in many ways an exemplary state, though unappreciated, there was a tempo too, but not too much tempo. Whenever one thought of that country from someplace abroad, the momery that hovered before one’s eyes was of white, wide, prosperous-looking roads dating from the era of foot marches and mail coaches, roads that crisscrossed the country in every direction like rivers of order, like ribbons of bright military twill, the paper-white arm of the administration holding all the provinces in its embrace. And what provinces they were! Glaciers and sea, Karst limestone and Bohemian fields of grain, nights on the Adriatic chirping with restless cicadas, and Slovakian villages where the smoke rose from chimneys as from up-turned nostrils while the village cowered between two small hills as if the earth had parted its lips to warm its child between many. Of course cars rolled on these roads too, but not too many! The conquest of the air was being prepared here too, but not too intensely. A ship would now and then be sent off to South America or East Asia, but not too often. There was no ambition for world markets or world power. Here, at the very center of Europe, where the world’s old axes crosses, words such as „colony“ and „overseas“ sounded like something quite untried and remote. There was some show of luxury, but by no means as in such overrefined ways as the French. People went in for sports, but not as fanatically as the English. Ruinous sums of money were spent on the army, but only just enough to secure its position as the second-weakest among the great powers.The capital, too, was somewhat smaller than all the other biggest cities of the world, but still considerably bigger than a mere big city. And the country’s administration was conducted in an enlightened, unobtrusive manner, with all sharp edges cautiously smoothed over, by the best bureaucracy in the Europe, which could be faulted only in that it regarded genius, and any brilliant individual initiative not backed by noble birth or official status, as insolent and presumtputous. And in Austria-Hungary, at least, it would only happen that a genius would be regarded as a lout, but never was a mere lout taken – as happens elsewhere – for a genius.

All in all, how many amazing things might be said about this Austria-Hungary. Everything and every person in it, for instance, bore the label of kaiserlich-königlich or kaiserlich und königlich, abbreviated as k.k. or k.u.k., but to be sure which institutions and which persons were to be designated by k.k. and which by the k.u.k required the mastery of a secred science. On paper, it was called the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, but in conversation it was called Austria, a name solemnly abjured officially while stubbornly retained emotionally, just to show that feelings are quite as important as constitutional law and that regulations are one thing but real life is something else entirely. Liberal in its constitution, it was administered clerically. The government was clerical, but everyday life was liberal. All citizens were equal before the law, but not everyone, of course, was a citizen. There was a Parliament, which asserted its freedom so forcefully that it was usually kept shut; there was also an Emergency Powers Act that enabled the government to get along without Parliament, but then, when everyone had happily settled for absolutism, the Crown decreed that it was time to go back to parliamentary rule.

The country was full of such goings-on, among them the sort of nationalist movements that rightly attracted so much attention in Europe and are so thoroughly misunderstood today. They were so violent that they jammed the machinery of government and brought it to a dead stop several times a year, but in the intervals and during the deadlocks, people got along perfectly well and acted as if nothing had happened. And in fact, nothing really had happened."

- taken from a book The Man Without Qualities (Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften) by Robert Musil

Austro-Hungarian Empire emerged in 1867, after the so called Austro-Hungarian Compromise, sometimes called the Ausgleich of 1867. However, while the Danubean Empire acted as a single state, considering the Austro-Hungarian Empire to be a singular state would be a grave mistake.

Throughout entire 50 years of its existence, legal theorists and political scientist were debating what exactly had Franz Joseph and the Hungarians created. Was it a federation, confederation, personal union or any other type of a state? No agreement was ever reached. This mainly stemmed from completely different view of Austro – Hungarian relationship by the Austrians and by the Hungarians.

Hungary has been in personal union with Austria under the Habsburgs from 1526 when the Hungarian independce effectively ended at the battle of Mohács; where Louis II of the house Jagilleo, the king of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, died without leaving a legitimate son. Hungarian nobility elected two kings, John Zápolya and Ferdinand of Austria, the latter of which won the internal struggle in the end and added the kingdom of Hungary into Habsburg realms.

The personal union lasted until around 1805, when the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved and Francis I founded the Austrian Empire, with the Kingdom of Hungary as its integral part. Previous legal and nominate separation came to an end and the Habsburgs started to centralize the Empire. Centralisation efforts lasted until 1848, when a wave of revolutions sweeped Europe. This allowed the liberals, who were gaining power in Hungary from 1830s, to proclaim an independent Hungarian state and create the modern Hungarian statehood. With a help from the Russians, Austrians managed to crush the rebellion and return Hungary into the Austrian Empire, but the spirit of the Hungarians was strong hard to extinguish.

Hungarian separatists were again starting to gain power in the early 1860s and it soon became apparent that some kind of a settlement will have to follow. The Austro-Prussian War of 1866 stopped Austro-Hungarian negotiations at first, but with the crushing defeat that Austria sustained, the Hungarians were suddenly  very strong in the negotiations, since Austria could not afford to fight another war, even against much weaker Hungarian revolutionaries. Thus, the Ausgleich of 1867 came into existence.

The compromise divided the Empire into two parts – Austria or the Austrian lands, officially called "The Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial Council" (Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder), unoficially called Cisleithania; and Hungary, oficially called „Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen“ (Szent István Koronájának Országai / Länder der heiligen ungarischen Stephanskrone), unoficially called Transleithania.

While these two countries were ruled by the same monarch (both the Austrian Imperial Throne and the Hungarian Royal Throne hereditary belonged to the House of Habsburg), they retained nearly all of their autonomy; with some notable exceptions.

Both Austria and Hungary had their own constitutions, with only one common constitutional law – Base State Law 146/1867 in Austria and its counterpart, Hungarian Statutory Article XII/1867; laws dealing with common things in the Monarchy.  On this statute, a frailty of the Austro-Hungarian statehood can be shown. While both the 146/1867 and XII/1867 had very similar wording, the wording was not the same and both countries claimed that it is their wording that is the authentic one.

The most important question, however, was who passed this law and whether it can be abolished by legislative bodies of both countries; and whether its abolishment can be done unilaterally. Positive answer to this question, championed by the Hungarians, would mean that Austria-Hungary was  a confederation made by two states; that both states created willingly, to pursue joint policies. Austrians on the other hand claimed that the state was unitary, and Hungary only received its current status because the Imperial throne wished it so, ie. that the Hungarian statehood is derived from the Austrian one, and thus it cannot separate itself from the Austrian state; which it would have been able to do in a confederation.

While the legislature of both countries was separate, the executive was not. The Monarch had different authorities in both parts of the Monarchy; being more limited in Hungary. Both countries shared three common ministries (Foreign, Finances and Military). These ministries were dealing with issues common for both parts of the Monarchy and laws drafted by them were not passed by individual legislative bodies of both countries, but by a special legislative bodies, called the Delegations. The delegation system was fairly complicated and was definitely hampering any attempt at joint projects or common policies.

In addition, the 146/1867 and XII/1867 set up certain fields that do not have direct common ministry or legislative body, but for each statute of this field passed into effect, a similar statute must be passed into effect in the other part of the Monarchy; both however by standard parliamentary procedures. This mainly concerned trade treaties tying both parts of the Monarchy and creating a customs union of sorts. Financial matters were to be renegotiated every 10 years and usually led to political crisis.

Each country had its own army and there was also the common army, in the end leaving the Monarchy with seven different arm branches –The Common Army (Gemeinsame Armee) –an army shared by both Cisleithania and Transleithania (also sometimes called k.u.k. Heer), the k.u.k. Navy (Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine) – common navy for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, k.k. Landwehr (Kaiserlichekönigliche Landwehr) – armed forces of Cisleithania, k. Honvéd (Magyar királyi honvéd) – armed forces of Transleithania, Austrian militia (Landsturm) and Hungarian militia (Népfelkelés).

Austro-Hungarian Empire also never had its own flag. The red-green one with two coats of arms you can google today is the ensign of the merchant navy, derived from the so-called Compromise flag (same, but without the coat of arms), but this flag was never used. Instead, Hungary used a flag in its national colours (green, red, white) and Austria in hers (red, white). Wherever was the need to use a common flag, most often the flag in the colours of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine (black and yellow) or the Emperor’s standard was used. Austria-Hungary however had common coat of arms.

The insecurity about what the Austro-Hungarian Empire really is and how to approach, and different interpretation from both sides, secured its form for years to come, as it was nearly impossible to reform the country without doing it the revolutionary way. This ensured that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was never – unlike its European counterparts – displaying any strong imperialistic or colonialist intentions. Austria-Hungary was so preoccupated with its own internal problems that its foreign policy throughout its existence was limited to preserving status quo and polite pretending that it is a superpower. It must be said that its only foreign adventure – occupation and annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has proven rather unlucky.

Centuries of being Europe’s shield against Islam and strong catholicism of the ruling house of Habsburgs have created an image of religiously intolerant, almost medieval Austro-Hungarian Empire. This, however, can’t be further from truth, and it can generally be said that the Empire of Austria-Hungary was, in comparison with the rest of continental Europe, very liberal in spiritual questions. This can be atributed to two main factors – first being ethnic and religious diversity of the Empire that made this almost a necessity in order to minimalise internal conflicts between subject nations. The second one was the mindset of Habsburg emperors who were approaching their nations in a very patriarchal view, considering themselves destined to protect their people, and were not answering to the people as other rulers in democratic nations did. This combined meant that they could (and did) intervene in religious issues without any fear of this hampering their political careers.

Josephinian reforms in late 18th century brought certain liberties to those of non-catholic faith (Jews had no longer to wear visible yellow stars on their clothes, live in ghettos or pay larger taxes; Evangelics could have their chapels etc.), but overall spirit of these reforms was turning religious institutions into institutions of the state – the state had absolute control over churches, was appointing officials and administering religious funds that financed all religious institutions. The incorporation of the churches into the state was so thorough that a question of who is actually the owner of the church’s assets was not resolved until the Concordat of 1855.

Joseph’s successor, Leopold II, considered to be a very liberal ruler at his time (before becoming the Emperor, he ruled in Tuscany and – among other things such as abolishing capital punishment, lese-majeste and debtor’s prison – made protestants and Jews equal with Catholics), started reforming Austria’s religious policies. Political environment did not allow him to go as far in Austria as he did in Tuscany - his Imperial Decree from 1791 confirmed Catholicism to be the ruling religion while non-catholics had only the freedom to perform their prayers guaranteed. In Hungary, however, not being bound by anything, non-catholics had full religious autonomy and could found schools and churches and administer their funds. At this point it should be noted that non-Catholic generally means believers of churches acknowledged by the state, ie. Jews and certain branches of Evangelicialism, and not people who simply are not catholics. Leopold also gave the Catholic Church back some of their autonomy, most notably recreating certain monasteries shut down by Josephinian reforms and cancelling state’s supervision of priests’ education.

Leopold II ruled only for two years. His successor, Francis II, is generally regarded as anti-reformation and, indeed, his ruling set Austria back quite a lot, but in regards to religious issues, he can also be regarded as rather liberal and followed the course set by Leopold. In 1797 he issued Jewish system patent (Judensystempatent) that made Jews almost equal to Catholics. They could now own and build factories or exchanges, study at gymnasiums and universities or perform most professions as well as receive noble titles. They were also forced to integrate more into society as they were forced to Germanize their names and for the first time, Jews were subjected to military draft.  This created a long lasting cordial relationship between Austria and its Jewish minority, because Habsburgs saw the Jews as their model citizens – unlike Hungarians, Czechs or Balkan Slavs, Jews were not nationalistic and were loyal to the monarchy.

Metternich’s rule in 1810-1848 was generally apathetic to religious questions and had not changed much. Protestants in Hungary managed to pass act that was cancelling 6-week long catholic education program that was until that time mandatory requirement for converting from Catholicism.

In 1848, Franz Joseph I became an Emperor and in his 1849 constitution proclaimed freedom of religion to everyone and proclaimed civil and political rights to be independent on religion. Liberal revolutions of 1848 also brought anti-Semitism with them and as a kind of compensation for several pogroms, Jews were finally freed of their special tax and a statute limiting the number of Jewish families in the realm was finally annulled. March of 1850 saw complete abolishment of the state’s supervision of the Catholic Church (156/1850 and 157/1850). With the revolutions of 1848 defeated, the 1849 constitution was abolished, but its guarantees of religious freedom stayed in effect. Great changes in the wrong direction were brought by the Concordat of 1855 in which the Emperor received the authority to appoint bishops in return for the Catholic Church having large influence on public education. However, good relations between Franz Joseph and Pius IX did not last long as in this duo, Franz Josef was incomparably more liberal. In 8th of April 1861, revolutionary decree (18/1861) was passed and Evangelicialism was officially made equal to Catholicism. Evanglicialist churches also received generous donations from the state.

For Austrian lands, the pinnacle of religious freedom was achieved when the December Constitution of 1867 (Dezemberverfassung) was put into effect. Among other things, it states that the freedom of faith and conscience is guaranteed to everyone, that every church of religious society recognized by the state has the right to administer itself, educate its followers … ; but, as every society, is subjected to the state law and that supporters of a confession that is not recognized by the state are allowed to privately perform their worships, as long as this does not go against the law or good morals. This also effectively meant full emancipation of the Jewish community in the Austrian lands; in Hungary, however, Judaism still remained a religion not recognized by the state. This and generous donations to Jewish communities by Vienna led anti-Semites to sometimes refer to Franz Josef as the Judenkaiser. It is said that the largest synagogues in the realm were full only during Jewish holidays and on Franz Josef’s birthday.

In 1870, the Concordate of 1855 was unilaterally terminated by Austria-Hungary, claiming that the other party has changed by declaration of the dogma of papal infallibility during the First Vatican Council in 1870; and the Church lost its influence on education. Laws passed in May 1874 brought further secularization to Austria-Hungary and effectively put various churches under supervision and control of the state; in a similar fashion as Josephinian reforms did some 70 years ago. The magnitude of these changes was so large that Pius IX was considering excommunicating the Emperor from the Catholic Church. 1874 also saw Islam recognized as a religious society, as was the Unity of the Brethren, basically the Hussites, who thus returned to Bohemia after nearly 500 years. 1894 also saw Judaism finally recognized in Hungary.

Further incorporation of Islam into the Empire was needed after the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. On 15th of July 1912 Law 159/1912 was passed, commonly referred to as the Islamgesetz which made the Islam (the Hanafi school of the Sunni faith). 25 000 Kronen were donated to the construction of a large Vienna mosque in Alser Strasse (not finished due to the first world war), military saw Imams alongside its field priests and rabbis or provisions according to Islamic rules. Units composed of ethnic Bosniaks even received their own marching tune, the famous Bosniaken kommen. Struck by a rise of orientalism and general interest in everything eastern, Austrian population was generally very welcoming towards people from Bosnia. Tensions between the Muslims and those of other faith did exist however, as the Muslims in Bosnia were generally the upper class and land owners; this being caused by a long existence uder the Ottoman rule.

The official approach and governmental or Imperial opinions on things, however, were one thing, the society another. This was the case especially with the Jews and the anti-Semitism that was very common throughout all Europe. Austro-Hungarian officials were very protective of the Jewish community for the reasons explained before, and the state had much better relations with its Jews than any of its neighbors. Austria-Hungary had the largest percentage of Jews in its officer corps. The support from the throne can be also shown on an example of Vilmos Vázsonyi, Hungarian minister of justice, who refused to take an oath on the Bible, because he was a Jew, and instead demanded to be allowed to take an oath on Jewish text. Charles allowed the alteration of the ritual and Vázsonyi indeed swore on Jewish text and not on the Bible like every Hungarian minister before him.
As in nearly all other European industrial countries, workers became more and more politically involved and became relevant political powers. Conditions of the working class, however, were not exactly ideal.

Unemployment was rapidly changing. While in 1908, there was nearly full employment, just few years later in 1913, unemployment was between 20-30 percent. With the war going on, there is huge number of free jobs, but due to large number of companies going bankrupt, it should be expected that unemployment would have been heavy in post-war peace Austria-Hungary.

Approximately 50 percent of workers were working for less than 12 K a week, which is barely enough to feed (as in: only feed) a family of four. Usually, most workers made 11-17K a week, skilled workers made around 18-25 K a week, women and girls were nearly always making less than 10K a week, day labourers around 8K a week.

For illustration: a lunch was usually for 0.5K, breakfast for 0.2K, a suit for 30-80K. Monthly rent for a room was starting at 20K.

Workers were generally completely exempted from paying income tax, asincome tax was paid only by those with a yearly income of more than 1200 K.

Gender wage gap was very present: women made around 50 percent of what a man would get for working in a similar position.

Women from the working class were usually working, housewifes were nearly non-existent because only one working parent would not be able to provide for the family. In agriculture, women presented 50 percent of the workforce; in small industries and family businees, women presented 30 percent of the workforce and in more than 60 percent in the textile industry.

Working day

Reduced working hours in a day were traditionally the most prominent demand of all worker movements. Working hours were limited by a Trade code from 8th of March 1885 that had set an 11–hour work day. This means pure working hours, not duration of a shift; shift was usually 12-13 hours long. Sunday was a labour-free day. Certain kinds of workers were bound by other provisions; for example miners could work only for 9 hours a day according the a Mining code of 1901, and workers in agriculture had no set maximum of work hours a day. Workers in small industry (aids to craftsmen, trainees and apprentices, workers in family business…) had no legaly-set limit, but in most cases also worked for 11-12 hours a day.

Women could work on the same grounds as men, but had some extra protection from the state: they could no work underground and could not work at night (between 8PM and 5AM). Child (0-12 years old) labour was banned.

Generally, the state did not care about working hours very much (in a sense that it did not dispatch inspectors on its own, but only as a response to a complaints by a worker), but was rather strict in enforcing bans on child labour, night work of minors (12-14 years old), night work of girls and women and ban on work on Sundays and holidays. This applies to large industries and factories, small family businesses were not inspected often and workers in agriculture were not subjected to any of these bans.

Social security
Social security as a concept did not exist in Austria-Hungary (with mining being a notable exception) until 1887. A reform was promissed by Franz Joseph in 1907 but was never passed due to parliamentary quarrels.
Based on 1887 laws, workers were – in case of a sickness or an injury that prevented them from working – paid a rent that amounted to 60 percent of their salary in case of an injury (or less, if their injury allowed to work to some extent, but not at full capacity) or 60 percent of „average salary in a district“ in case of a sickness (the rent was nearly always set far below actual average salary).

Each worker had to pay compulsory insurance.

During unemployment, a worker was supported by his municipality. In 1895, special centers for feeding the unemployed (Naturalverpflegsstationen) were created. In these centers, every unemployed who was looking for work could get food and shelter, provided he could prove he was employed at least for 14 days in last 2 months. The centers should also collect information about free jobs and pass them to the unemployed.

There was no legal right for a leave of absence for a worker and it can be said that any actual vacation or paid leave was unique and usually granted by enlightened employers. For example, common employees of the k.k. Staatsbahnen had 8 free days a year if they were less than 10 years in the company, 10 days when under 20 years of service and 14 days when over 20 years. In one machinery work, any employee with more than 3 years of service could enjoy nice and warm 8 hours holiday once a year.

Vacation was generally enjoyed by qualiffied workers, whereas day labourers and unskilled workers generally had none.

Similarly to Austria, Hungarian modern constitutionalism started in 1848. Constitution had existed prior to 1848, but only as unwritten customary laws, and only in a medieval sense of a word constitution: as a set of rules between the Monarch and his vassals.

During 1830s, liberal nationalism became the driving force of Hungary. Liberal reformers, including Ferenc Déak, Lajos Kossuth, István Széchenyi, Miklós Wesselényi, Ferenc Kölcsey or József Eötvös, wished for a society and a state run by legislation. Statutory laws would apply to everybody – constitution based on rights would be exchanged for a constitution based on laws, where everybody is equal before the law. The state would be ‚nationalised‘ - part of governing rights given to the nation by the Monarch; thus effectively creating the Hungarian state; even within the Habsburg Monarchy.

The main goal of the Liberals, however, remained to be the creation of the Hungarian state and the Hungarian nation. Theoretically, proposed reforms would activise people who were not of noble birth and drag them into national politics. Elsewhere in the world, this change also happened, and caused rise in the power of the burgeoisie; however, in Hungary burgeoisie and nobility were the same.

The most visible problem with the prospect of the Hungarian nation was Hungary itself. In the early nineteenth century, less than forty per cent of the population spoke Hungarian, but Hungarian liberals declared that Hungary is home to the Hungarian nation; effectively including all minorities into the Hungarian nation. National-liberal package had appeal among smaller enthnic groups (the Jews, Armenians), but was resisted by larger minorities (Slovaks, Romanians, Croats). Hungarian language had became the official language of Hungarian counties.

Sympathetic to national ambitions, the nobility was willing to sacrifice its historical privileges (not being subjected to taxation, legal impossibility to lose hereditary lands, etc.) and became supporters for the constitutional reforms. The first written constitution (or legal order), the April Laws of 1848 (or the March constitution), changed a lot within the Hungarian state, more than was originally planned. What was, however, not declared was the principle of legal equality and any mention of minorities. Nor was nobility annuled as a legal status. The biggest problem of the April Laws however was too separatist view on the Dual Monarchy, one vigorously opposed by Austria. According to this constitution, the two lands were even loosely connected than with the 1867 December Constitution issued some 20 years later. Opposition from Vienna led to the Hungarians declaring their own independent state.

After Ferdinand abdicated in December 1848, Franz Joseph ascended the throne and with Russian help swiftly crushed Hungarian rebellion. Franz Joseph, believing in one state, issued the March constitution (also known as the Stadion constitution of 1849) that was in effect both in Austria and Hungary and lasted until 1851 when any signs of constitutionalism were abolished by the Silvester Patents and the country entered and era commonly referred to as Bach‘s absolutism, named after Baron Alexander von Bach, Austrian Minister of Interior who asserted policies of intense centralisation.

In the 1850s, Vienna pioneered a theory of forfeiture of rights, by which any special rights of Hungary were abolished by Hungarian rebellion, and the country had the same status as any other land in the Austrian Empire. Absolutism was ended in 1860 by so-called October Diploma that reverted Hungary basically into pre-1848 state of things. 1861 Schmerling constitution brought further centralisation but was opposed in Hungary and its institutes and principles were de facto never adopted.

However, both sides knew that Schmerling constitution is only temporary and negotiations were held to determine new settlement. Throughout 1860s, more and more autonomy was given to Hungarians, but the final impulse came with the Austro-Prussian war of 1866.  The defeat of Austrian Empire in the Austro-Prussian war was enough of a leverage for the Hungarians to push forward their state demands. In 1867, the Empire transformed into dualist Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (see second article about the Ausgleich).

Franz Joseph, being an Austrian Emperor since 1848, was finally crowned the King of Hungary and thus, after 19 years, ended a situation when significant part of Hungarian politicians did not recognize him as their rightful king.

The nature of Hungarian constitution after 1867 is a puzzled one. Hungarians claim certain customary laws from medieval times (also referred to as „The thousand years old constitution of Hungary) to be part of the constitution, as well as certain statutes from the April Laws. Certain written part of the Hungarian constitution is the Law XII, Hungarian version of the Austrian Basic Law 146/1867 (the law on common things in the Monarchy – the delegationgesetz), various Austro-Hungarian trade treaties, Croatian-Hungarian Settlement of 1868, certain articles from the 1848 Constitution (particularly those administering legislative and executive bodies) and – in a limited sense - the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 that tied the Kingdom of Hungary into a personal union with Austria and other Habsburg domains.

In new Hungarian state, the Parliament had very strong role; much stronger than in Austrian lands. While in Austrian lands the Emperor was able to appoint and fire ministers on his own (and was thus limited only by political viability of such government), in Hungary, the parliament had the power to remove ministers from their offices without king’s consent (at the same time, however, the monarch had the same right; without the parliament’s consent). It is also worth noting that a law needed the monarch’s signature to be passed in both Austria and Hungary, Hungarian parliament was not recognising the monarch’s right not to sign a law passed by the parliament. So while the king formally had the right to veto any law, such right was not used as the risk of political crisis was too high. Hungarians were thus declaring that when the people (represented by the parliament) and the monarch’s opinion had differed, it were the people’s opinion that was more important.

The law on minorities (XLIV:186:cool: was finally passed, but while this statute was very well-written and very liberal for its era, one-sided interpretations and abuses by Hungarian authorities meant that minorities were in as bad position as before. Official language of Hungary (now Lands of Crown of St. Stephen) was Hungary (Cisleithania never had an official language).

Elections were introduced, but unfairly-set census suffrage ensured that nearly nothing had changed and political composition of the Diet of Hungary (Hungarian parliament) stayed almost the same; changing only with changes of political orientation of its traditional members.

Throughtout the entire existence of Austria-Hungary, there were political movements that seeked to renegotiate the Ausgleich and secure more independence for Hungary or allow Hungarians to assert more influence in the whole monarchy. But even the 1867 dual monarchy system was very beneficial to Hungary (compared to Cisleithania, Hungary was underdeveloped and heavily agrarian. This can be illustrated by the navy’s contract for Tegethoff-class dreadnoughts: because of political reasons, one of the ships, SMS Szent István was to be built and crewed entirely by Hungarians (with some notable exceptions such as Czech armament and instruments), but the construction delayed quite a bit and the ship was plagues with flaws and bad manufacturing) and most Hungarians settled with current situation where Hungary exerted disproportionate amount of influence on the dual monarchy.

The Basic Law on the General Rights of Nationals
(Staatsgrundgesetz über die allgemeinen Rechte der Staatsbürger)

Article I
Every citizen of any of The Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial Council is granted Austrian (Cisleithanian) citizenship.

Article II
All citizens are equal before the law.

Article III
Public offices are equally accessible to all citizens. Foreign nationals must posses Cisleithanian citizenship to hold an office.

Article IV
Freedom of movement of persons and property inside the country is not limited in any way. Freedom to move out of the country can only be limited by conscription duty.

Article V
Property is inviolable. Expropriation against the will of the owner can only happen in accordance with the law.

Article VI
Every state citizen can stay and live at any place of the state, acquire real estate and work or do business there. (---)

Article VII
Serfdom and vassalage are abolished for all eternity. (---)

Article VIII
Personal freedom is guaranteed. The Law for the Protection of Personal Freedom issued 27.10.1862 is a component of this Basic state law. Every unlawfully ordered or prolonged arrest constitute the state’s obligation to pay damages to the aggrieved person.

Article IX
Household freedom is guaranteed. (---)

Article X
Secrecy of correspondence is inviolable and confiscation of letters is impermissible; except following lawful arrest or in such cases where the right to enter and search a dwelling has been approved; either during a war or on explicit order of a court

Article XI
The right to petition belongs to every citizen. Collective petition is only admissible for voluntary associations chartered by the state.

Article XII
Cisleithanian nationals have the freedom to assembly and the right to create voluntary associations. Exercise of these rights is administered by special laws.

Article XIII
Everyone has the right to express his opinions within legal boundaries. The press cannot be censored and cannot be limited by the concession system.

Article XIV
Freedom of faith and conscience is guaranteed to everyone. Exersising political and civil rights is not reliant on religion; but exersising religious rights cannot be an obstacle to civil duties. Nobody can be forced to an act of a religious nature or to participate in religious festivals; unless he is under a power of another person that is authorised to do so by the law.

Article XV
Every church or religious society chartered by the state has the right to publicly perform its ceremonies of religious nature (---)

Article XVI
Sympathisers of a religion not chartered by the law are allowed to perform their religious ceremonies in their homes, unless those ceremonies go against the law or against good morals.

Article XVII
Science and its teachings are free. To found educational institution and to teach in them is allowed to every citizen who proves his capacity to do so according to the law. Homeschooling is not subjected to such limitation. Churches or religious societies are responsible for religious education on schools. The state has the right of governance and supervision over all education.

Article XVIII
Everyone is allowed to pick a trade and get an education wherever and however he wishes.

Article XIX
All nationalities are equal and each nationality has the right to keep and care for its national culture and language. Equality of languages common in a state at schools, offices and in public life is acknowledged by the state. In a country with more nationalities, educational institutes are to be organised in a way that allows each nationality to get an education in its own language, without being forced to learn a foreign language.

Article XX
Admissibility of suspending freedoms found in Articles VIII, IX, X, XI, XII and XIII by the government will be decided by a special law.

Vienna, 21st December
Franz Joseph, Freiherr von Beust, Freiherr von John, Graf Tasse, Freiherr von Becke, Ritter von Hye, Ritter von Meyer
Main and the most vital transport lines are railway tracks. Built steadily from 1840s, Austria is no newcomer to the railroad engineering. First railroad tracks were finished as soon as September 1827 and is said to be the oldest continental railroad in Europe (the oldest publicly operated railway is Stockton - Darlington rail in England, opened in 1821). The rail connection connected Austrian industrial city of Linz to a Czech city of Budějovice (Budweiss).

Austrian industry, however, was not able to build steam locomotives, a secret closely guarded by Britain, and thus until 1837 when first sections of Emperor Franz Ferdinand Northern Railway (Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn) were opened, with heavy involvement of Salomon Mayer von Rothschild and his connections, these tracks were served by horsecar trains.

Until 1841, all railway building projects in Austria were purely private endeavor. Directorate for State Railroad was founded and the first project taken was to connect Austria to Germany. At this point, Franz Ferdinand Northern Railway has already connected Vienna to Olomouc (Olmutz), so the Directorate started to build a track from Prague onwards to Saxon Dresden and the other way to Olmutz.

In 1854, after financial crisis that was in Austria from 1848, the state no longer had money to continue with expanding the railroad web. Therefore the state decided to sell the railroad to private investors, and thus 1100 km of railroad tracks were sold to StEG (k. k. privilegierte österreichische Staatseisenbahn-Gesellschaft) company, at the time completely controlled by French investors.

To further expand the railroad, the state passed new Concession act, by which the state could grant certain privileges (mainly freeing from tax, but also issuing monopolies) to private companies in exchange for specific goals being met by these companies (“you will have monopoly in Styria if you connect Mariazell the main line”).

In the 1850s, the jewel of the Austrian railway and a wonder of European engineering was built – railroad over the Semmering pass in Alps. Semmeringbahn (which is btw an UNESCO Heritage), a 41 km long mountainous track bringing railroad tracks from Vienna to Styria, starts at Gloggnitz and leads over the Semmering to Mürzzuschlag and was the first mountain railway in Europe built with a standard gauge track. It is commonly referred to as the world's first true mountain railway, given the very difficult terrain and the considerable altitude difference that was mastered during its construction. The construction features 14 tunnels (among them the 1,431 m vertex tunnel), 16 viaducts (several two-story) and over 100 curved stone bridges as well as 11 small iron bridges. The stations and the buildings for the supervisors were often built directly from the waste material produced in the course of tunnel construction.

From 1854 to 1879, private interests conducted almost all rail construction. What would become Cisleithania gained 7,952 km (4,941 mi) of track, and Hungary built 5,839 km (3,628 mi) of track. During this time, many new areas joined the railway system and the existing rail networks gained connections and interconnections. This period marked the beginning of widespread rail transportation in Austria-Hungary, and also the integration of transportation systems in the area. Railways allowed the empire to integrate its economy far more than previously possible, when transportation depended on rivers.

After 1879, the Austrian and the Hungarian governments slowly began to renationalize their rail networks, largely because of the sluggish pace of development during the worldwide depression of the 1870s. Between 1879 and 1900, more than 25,000 km (16,000 mi) of railways were built in Cisleithania and Hungary. Most of this constituted "filling in" of the existing network, although some areas, primarily in the far east, gained rail connections for the first time. The railway reduced transportation costs throughout the empire, opening new markets for products from other lands of the Dual Monarchy. In 1914, a total of 22,981 km (of which 7,500 km in Hungary) of railway tracks was built in Austria-Hungary (at the same time, German Empire had about 65,000 km of railway tracks).

In the late 19th Century, widespread nationalization of railway occurred and the state-owned Imperial state railways (k.k. Staatsbahnen) achieved near monopoly on the railway transport, with the Southern Railway (Südbahn) being the only private-owned competitor. In Hungary, All railway companies were merged into MÁV (Magyar Államvasutak).

The density of railroad tracks was very different throughout the Monarchy’s provinces – while 1 kilometer of railroad served and area of 8 kilometers in Austria, 10 square kilometers in the Czech lands, it served 28 square kilometers in Galicia and 100 square kilometers in Dalmatia (German empire average is 8,5 kilometers).

As dense as the network may seem, however, Austrian railroads were suffering from several problems – while the network was dense, the strength of the lines was not exactly astonishing and double tracks were more of an exception. Network was built around two centerpoints – Vienna and Budapest and travelling nearly anywhere in the Monarchy effectively meant that you have to visit at least one of these cities.

I will not waste that much time with his bio (ie. I will copy it from wiki) and will get more to what person and emperor Karl was. I will also not get further than to 1917 as it is not relevant for the BoP. I will also skip Karl’s peace-making efforts as they will be described elsewhere.

Karl was born 17 August 1887 in the Castle of Persenbeug in Lower Austria. His parents were Archduke (in Austria-Hungary, Archduke / Archduchess titles were reserved for the Habsburg dynasty and were used similarly to prince / princess elsewhere) Otto Franz of Austria and Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony. At the time, his granduncle Franz Joseph reigned as Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and his uncle Franz Ferdinand became heir presumptive two years later.

As a child, Archduke Karl was reared a devout Roman Catholic. He spent his early years wherever his father's regiment happened to be stationed; later on he lived in Vienna and Reichenau an der Rax. He was privately educated, but, contrary to the custom ruling in the imperial family, he attended a public gymnasium for the sake of demonstrations in scientific subjects. On the conclusion of his studies at the gymnasium, he entered the army, spending the years from 1906 to 1908 as an officer chiefly in Prague, where he studied law and political science concurrently with his military duties.

In 1907, he was declared of age and Prince Zdenko Lobkowitz was appointed his chamberlain. In the next few years he carried out his military duties in various Bohemian garrison towns. Charles's relations with his granduncle were not intimate, and those with his uncle Franz Ferdinand were not cordial, with the differences between their wives increasing the existing tension between them.

In 1911, Charles married Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. They had met as children but did not see one another for almost ten years, as each pursued their education. In 1909, his Dragoon regiment was stationed at Brandýs nad Labem (Brandeis an der Elbe) in Bohemia, from where he visited his aunt at Franzensbad. It was during one of these visits that Charles and Zita became reacquainted. Due to Franz Ferdinand's morganatic marriage in 1900, his children were excluded from the succession. As a result, the Emperor severely pressured Charles to marry. Zita not only shared Charles' devout Catholicism, but also an impeccably royal lineage.

Because of complicated relations between Karl, Franz Ferdinand and Franz Joseph, and due to assumption that Karl will take the throne not later than in 1930s, Karl’s education in the state affairs was neglected. Surprisingly, even after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, Karl remained in the military and was fighting in the war on various positions; and to a great dismay of Conrad von Hötzendorf, he sends his letters from the front directly to the Emperor.

In March 1916, Karl is put into command of an elite XX Army Corps (the Edelweiss Corps consisting of 8 Alpine Jägers regiments) on the Italian front. He is liked by the troops as he is very down-to-earth, even for a mere general. He regularly speaks to the rank and file, eats with them whenever he is at the front and even discusses politics from time to time. This trait is very important for Karl – both his supporters and enemies always describe him as very humble, kind and friendly; caring very little about formalities or class differences.

There is a story (from 1917) told in 1968 by an old army automobile driver: One day in Tyrol, Karl was travelling with Conrad von Hötzendorf by a car. At the time of lunch, they stopped and unpacked the food that staff from his Imperial train prepared. As they were eating, a Bosniak Feldwebel (Sergeant) in full gear was walking towards them on a road. Karl walked to him and started to talk to him, asking him where is he going to. The Feldwebel replied that he is returning from a leave and since the train only goes to Trident, he has to walk back to his unit and he still have 4 hours in front of him. The Emperor noticed that the soldier has a medal, congratulated him for it and invited him for a lunch. After the lunch, Karl offered him one of his many bottles of wine, which the soldier declined, stating that he is a Muslim.

Karl Nowak (link), a journalist usually hostile to Karl, wrote: „Everyone whom the Emperor, radiating cheerfulness and happiness, approached, had an impression that he is familiarly talking to someone equal. Never any monarch had gain the trust of his people so quickly.“

Anyway, back to the front. As was said, Karl is both liked by the soldiers and he has a sweet spot for the army. Lot of his future effort are focused towards improving soldiers‘ conditions. He is a careful commander as he is very hesitant to wasting his men – for this he is often seen as cowardous or indecisive by the high command. Karl has a habit of banning planned attacks if he does not see the point in them. He absolutely rejects a possibility of targeting civilians – he dislikes submarine warfare, bans bombardment of Italian cities and issues a ban on poison gas.

„I am an officer with my heart and soul but I cannot understand how people who see their close ones depart for war can be so excited.“ – August 1914

After the coronation, he personally takes the command of the military and moves the central command from Teschen in Silesia to Baden, a town 20 kilometres south of Vienna. The main point in this is to distance Austrian command from the German one as Karl feels that Austro-Hungarian Empire is falling too much under German influence.

I won‘t go into his actions after March 1917, as it is out of the BoP’s lore, but he will always retain his love for the army and a desire to influence the military.

As to his character – pretty much everyone agrees that Karl is very humble, kind, sympathetic and informal (among other things he cancelled a mandatory tailcoat during audiences and he offers handshakes to everyone, whereas Franz Joseph had this reserved only for the highest aristocrats). He does not care very much for the imperial splendour and is living more like a wealthy townsman than an aristocrat. Karl is a pacifist and dislikes German high command (mainly Hindenburg and Ludendorff) as he sees them as the obstacle to peace and blames them from manipulating Wilhelm II to continue the war. He despises German militarism with passion as he stands by an opinion that the Central Powers cannot win the war.

„The ministry of foreign affairs is completely silenced; it is a pute military dictatorship. German Kaiser completely ignores a real economic situation of the Reich and exhaustion of the people from the war.“ – December 1916

He is very good at making friends from every circle that is not the highest aristocracy. High politicians and officials (such as von Hötzendorf or Foreign Minister Czernin) do not like him very much because they see him as weak and not particularly intelligent.

This is a trait that is often stressed by his enemies and admitted by his supporters – unlike Franz Joseph in his youth, Karl leaves an impression of only an average intelligence. By the high circles, his sympathy with pretty much everyone is also often seen as naivety and predisposition for being manipulated, thus upholding their view that Karl is not fit to rule – he is too … common. They also feel that Karl is too optimistic and cannot judge a person well.

Member of Parliament Josef Redlich states: „Naturally naive, without great drive, too much of a „noble Teutonic knight“, but he has a good heart and good will. He knows very little about the affairs of the state. “

Former prime minister von Körber writes: „The Emperor is thirty years old, looks like a twenty years old and thinks and acts like a ten years old.“

Karl is not exactly helping to fight this impression by often allowing his wife, Empress Zita, to accompany him during audiences – Zita is described as incredibly clever, intelligent, wise and energic woman; thus only enlarging the difference between the two. Zita is often accused of manipulating Karl, which is hardly true, since both spouses are in love with each other - in private, Karl often addresses the Empress as liebes Herzl, liebes Mausi or liebstes Pusserl - and Zita is completely devoted to her husband – which may be illustrated by a fact that in every political dispute they have, Zita backs down in the end. Karl, however, admits that he often consults political issues with her. They both have only the highest respect for each other.

„London is horrible. We are here for three days now and the sky is still grey and it is raining.“– June 1911

The second issue with Karl, that was already mentioned, is his lack of education. This should not be understood as common not being educated as he underwent the same educational program as pretty much every Habsburg Archduke (except that he attended public school). Throughout his childhood he had an army of lecturers and he speaks fluent German, Latin, English (his maid and „main“ teacher were both Irish), French, Italian, Hungarian, Czech and Croat, has basics of Russian, Slovenian and Romanian. But he finished his education at the age of twenty and then pursued the military career. He is by all means educated as long as we talk the regular „citizen“ education and in some areas (law, history, geography) his education easily reaches university levels, but he had not underwent education in the state affairs – ie. he has no experience in actually running the state and thus he only knows the issues that were part of his education. In other words, he is woefully inexperienced.

Similarly to his predecessor Franz Ferdinand, Karl believes that the reformation of the Monarchy is necessary. The most obvious option is transformation to Trialism with a Kingdom for southern Slavs, but Karl closed an easy way to this when he swore an oath on the Hungarian constitution – to create southern Slavic Kingdom, he will need an approval of the Hungarian parliament as Croatia is part of the Transleithania.
Karl is very progressive in social and political questions. This was even explicitly stated by his teacher who said that: “he has such [liberal] political opinions that they are not worthy of a member of a ruling house. ” He is a supporter of an universal suffrage and is not opposed to women suffrage, even though this is not seen as fundamental. His views on social issues are most of all affected by 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. Karl rejects unlimited liberalism and socialism; politically, he is a social catholicist.

As was already said (and since we reached it again here) – Karl is a catholic and this is one of his defining traits – his main concern is well-being of his people (peoples) and he is willing to sacrifice a lot to help them. To illustrate – in February 1917, he issued a decree that gives the horses from the Viennese court to the city (imperial horses, basically), so they can pull wagons with coal and help the distribution. One more quote from Karl (he was receiving a lot of letters asking for help because in Vienna and Austria, there was lack of pretty much everything during the war and Karl was often sending monetary help to those who asked for it; to the point where his personal treasury reached red numbers – about which he was confronted by Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz):

“It is not possible that we should leave the poorest of the poor in poverty. A man must help other as much as his resources allow him to. As an Emperor, I have to give an example. If everyone fulfilled his Christian duties, there would not be that much poverty and hate in the world.” – February 1917

For this, understandably, Karl is often accused by his enemies of being a populist and a demagogue. Later (out of the scope of this BoP lore), Karl founds the first Ministry of Social Affairs in the world.

To recap a few last paragraphs: Karl believes that it is his divine duty to serve the Empire and his people. I live to serve, basically. He does believe in democracy and rejects absolutism, but at the same time he rejects any notion of an Austro-Hungarian republic in which he would not be a part of the state, since it is his fate to serve Austria.

With this I will end this short overview. Whether Karl is going to be a great leader remains to be seen, but he has every disposition to be a ruler that every citizen of Austria-Hungary can be proud of, as he really is the “good” king. Oh, and finally:

“Karl was a great leader, a prince of peace, who wanted to save the world from a year of war; a statesman with ideas to save his people from the complicated problems of his empire; a king who loved his people, a fearless man, a noble soul, distinguished, a saint from whose grave blessings come.” - Herbert Vivian

The organizastion of the military is more or less the same as was created in the 1867 Ausgleich. The last ammendment to the Law on armed forces is from 1912. The Austro-Hungarian military consists of four different branches and the Landsturm:

1) The Common Army (Gemeinsame Armee) – the Common Army, or the k.u.k. Heer, was an army shared by both Cisleithania and Transleithania.
2) k.u.k. Navy (Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine) – common navy for the Austro-Hungarian Empire
3) k.k. Landwehr (Kaiserlichekönigliche Landwehr) – armed forces of Cisleithania
4) k. Honvéd (Magyar királyi honvéd) – armed forces of Transleithania
5) Austrian and Hungarian Landsturm (Landsturm and Népfelkelés) – Cisleithanian and Transleithanian militias

This not-exactly-nimble system of organisation was chosen as an acceptable alternative to Hungarian proposals that pushed for special „Hungarian“ part of the Common army. Instead, a system of the Common Army and two separate „national“ armies was chosen.

The Common Army is an army that is controlled by the Joint Ministry of Defense (k. u. k. Ministry of War) and it is the main part of A-H armed forces. It is the biggest part and is the part of army that is used for offensive actions. The law on armed forces shortly describes it as follows: The Common Army is tasked to defend the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, that is everything under the rule of his Imperial and Royal Majesty, against a foreign enemy and to keep order and security in the interior.

The highest commander of the Common Army is the Emperor and under his iurisdiction falls everything connected with the Common Army with the exception of finances, that have to be sanctioned by parliaments.
Landwehr and Honvéd should be theoretically armed the same as the Common army, but the law stresses her secondary position: the Landwehr  is tasked to support the Common Army in the times of war defend the interior in the times of war, and to keep order and security in the interior in the times of peace. Due to more difficul funding and restrictions from high politicians, however, they field only very weak artillery and heavy weapons. They both fall under their respective ministries (ie. Austrian Ministry of Defense and Hungarian Ministry of Defense) and the Monarch needs an approval of each parliament to use them. The Ministers of Defense of each state also report directly to the Common Ministry of War. Ideally, Landwehr and Honvéd should complement the Common army and be tasked with defending their homeland (ie. Austria for Landwehr and Hungary for Honvéd), but after the war broke out, they were put under Common army command and were used pretty much everywhere. In case of Honvéd, this use of its units was illegal as there was no special law enabling the state to use them outside of the state.

Landwehr and Honvéd (hereafter just Landwehrs) units do have their officers, but in times of war, Landwehrs‘ units fall under the command of the Common Army.

The navy is under controll of the Common Ministry of War.

Landsturms (militia forces) are tasked to support both the Common Army and Landwehrs. It was a reserve force intended to provide replacements for the first line units. However, the Landsturm provided 20 brigades who took to the field with the rest of the army.

Citizens drafted to the Common Army are serving two years of active service in the army, then eight years in reserves (three and seven for the Cavalry) and then two years in reserves of their respective land army (either Landwehr or Honvéd).

Austro-Hungarian infantry is pretty standard in pretty much everything. Soldiers are armed with 5-shot Mannlicher M.1895 rifles with straight pull, clothed in typically blue-gray uniforms and from mid 1916, they are being issued steel helmets instead of their traditional caps.

Soldiers and NCOs are issued with weapons and clothing, whereas officers need to buy them with their own money.

An infantry regiment at full numbers had 4600 soldiers and officers. A regiment consisted of the regimental command, sapper platoon, four infantry battalions with four companies each (a company had 5 officers and 250 soldiers and NCOs). A company was made by four platoons (each platoon had 1 officer, 36 soldiers and 2 HMGs). From late 1916, each infantry regiment had also a special aquad of Shock Patrols (Sturmpatrouillen) consisting of 1 NCO and 8 soldiers. These shock squads were squads trained by the Germans and received the same training as German Stormtroopers on the western front. Compared to regular infantrymen, they were carrying more ammunition, shortened rifles, their uniforms were reinforced by leather patches, they carried more grenades and could carry a handgun (that was otherwise restricted to officers). They also often carried dedicated melee weapons for close combat in enemy positions – morning stars, large knifes or even flails.

Austria-Hungary did have some specialised mountain units and given the overall terrain in the monarchy and on its borders, a lot of training was done in the mountains (especially with units from Austria proper) and therefore even the regular the troops had experience in mountain warfare. The Common army also possessed the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger units drafted from mountainous Tyrol that proved very adept at fighting in mountains. From 1915, specialised units for fighting at the high mountains peaks were created – they were called Hochgebirg or Bergführer companies.

Infantry regiments were divided to German ones (Cisleithanian) and Hungarian ones.


Similar to other armies of the era, Austro-Hungarian army has retained its cavalry units. Cavalry is considered to be the most prestigeous branch of the army, but its combat value is quickly fading. Austria-Hungary fields three types of cavalry brigades: Dragoons (Germans and Czechs), Hussars (Hungarians) and Uhlans (Poles); however these units differ basically only in their uniforms.

Cavalry uses sabers, revolvers and rifles (Mannlicher carbines) and is still used more as a cavalry of the past than the ww2 cavalry expected to fight dismounted. Cavalry regiments have heavy weapons attached, but their firepower is somehow lacking - in 1914, Cavalry units received heavy machine guns and telegraph signal units, but each cavalry regiment has only 3 cannons.

Early phases of the Great War decimated Austro-Hungarian cavalry, among other things because they wore and still wear bright red trousers, making them very visible on the battlefield. With progressing war, almost all cavalry units were dehorsed and the shortage of horses often forces Austro-Hungarian command to strip cavalry units of their horses that are instead assigned to replenish losses sustained by logistic units. Cavalry now either fights dismounted as a regular infantry or acts in reconaissance roles; due to attrition from the Great War, their combat value is very small.

A Cavalry regiment had six squadrons with 900 horses in total. Two cavalry regiments formed a cavalry brigade and two cavalry brigades formed a cavalry division (although cavalry divison was not very common unit).

Since it can be mentioned here – Austro-Hungarian does not field any tanks and has only a handful (like 10 or so) armoured cars.


Artillery was the best and the most effective part of the A-H army. Austrian artillerists were very well trained and their esprit d’corps was high. However, due to government preference of cavalry and underestimating the importance of artillery support, A-H artillery entered the war numerically very weak. Infantry divisions had 46 guns of which 16 were obsolete types (Russian divisions had 50 guns and French divisions had 72). The Monarchy was trying to improve the situation  - until 1917, A-H managed to nearly triple its number of guns – but due to losses and captures by the Russians, the artillery was never as strong as it should have been. A-H artillery uses mainly guns manufactured in Škoda Works in Pilsen.

Artillery is horse drawn, except for heavy artillery (30,5cm mortars, 15cm mortars, 38cm howitzers) that is motorised. Some batteries of 15cm howitzers are also motorised.

Air Force

Austro-Hungarian air force (k.u.k. Luftfahrtruppen) was neglected for quite a long time and therefore is definitely the weakest part of the army. Equipped mainly by aircrafts supplied by Germany or aircraft built on German licenses – all in woefully small numbers -, it struggles to find its main objective. Most common task for the Air force is reconaissance, artillery coordination and light attacks on supply columns, but by far the most succesfull part of the aviation are flying boats on the adriatic that scout the sea for Italian military vessels and perform attacks of opportunity against Allied shipping.


Despite lacking both long tradition and overseas colonies, Austria-Hungary maintains a relatively sizeable war fleet. The fleet was built primarily to protect the Adriatic sea as Austria-Hungary was not in need of protecting any naval trade routes nor had an expected enemy against whom the navy would play a crucial role.

The navy primarily relies on four modern Tegetthoff-class Dreadnaughts (SMS Tegetthoff, SMS Szent István, SMS Prinz Eugen, SMS Viribus Unitis) and three Radetzky-class semi-dreadnaughts (SMS Radetzky, SMS Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand, SMS Zríniy). Apart from these, the navy also had 6 obsolete battleships, 2 armored cruisers, 3 protected cruisers, 4 light cruisers and 25 destroyers. Austria-Hungary is also operating 24 submarines.

Due to its relatively small size, the navy enjoys a high level of quality. The sailors are very well trained and the navy works pretty flawlessly, which is something not often seen in the Austro-Hungarian armed forces.
Apart from one major fleet sortie on the declaration of war between Austria and Italy on the 23rd May 1915 the Austrian heavy ships spent the entire war as a fleet-in-being within the Adriatic Sea, holding down a large portion of the Italian and French battle fleets as well as units of the Royal Navy. Most of the action in the Adriatic that took place involved the well-handled destroyers, submarines and to a lesser extent light cruisers of the Austrian Navy.

The initially small Austrian submarine force was unable to play a role outside the Adriatic, and by early 1915 the Germans were sending U-boats into the Mediterranean, in part to attack the Allied fleet off the Dardanelles. As Italy had declared war on Austro-Hungary but not Germany, the German boats operated under the Austrian ensign and were temporarily commissioned into the Austrian Navy. Once Germany and Italy had gone to war in August 1916, German U-boats operated under their own flag. Although the Austrian submarine fleet did not grow to large numbers it had an impressive record.

The use of the military in non-combat roles

The army regulations allow military units to do certain tasks that are not connected to combat. As with every governmental organisation, the army cannot do anything that it is not explicitly allowed to do. Non-combat authority of the military include:

Natural disaster assistance – One of the most common non-combat uses of the military. It includes protection of the civilian population and their assets from natural disasters – most commonly either fighting fires or floods or breaking dangerous river ice in spring with explosives. It stands to reason that tasks were most commonly assigned to units of engineers. This kind of an assistance has to be requested by a governor of a province, although theoretically, the units may act on their own initiative. Military units on a natural disaster assistance is only allowed to help the civilians to save their lives, health and property, but they do not distribute material aid (blankets, food, etc.).

Regular security assistance (Garnisonwachdienst) – The military guards and protects important military buildings (typically gunpowder stores, their own barracks…), but can also be asked by civil officials to protect important building or places (courthouses, town halls, prisons, civil treasuries, important statues and landmarks…). In this case, the official needed a permission from the Ministry of Defense. They may also be tasked with guard duty – this means that military patrols were walking through assigned district and were trying to prevent criminal activities from happening. It was very similar to today’s policemen strolling through a city, except these guys were soldiers. They could not leave their district and units of regular security assistance were not allowed to act against demonstrations or big gatherings; this act was left to Military assistences.

Military assistance – a civilian official (usually a mayor of a city) can request a military assistance to secure order in a city if such need arises – this usually means riot control. In such case, the unit tasked with a military assistance fall under the command of such official but the unit commander retains command of strictly millitary matters (A mayor orders a unit to put down a demonstration, an officer decides how to do it). In case of a severe disturbance of peace and when immediate threat to lives or property is present, the military may interfere even without a request of an official. According to the law, even non-military groups (such as Sharpshooters clubs) may be tasked with performing military assistance, although this never happened.

Due to political danger of a military assistance gone wrong, the military is always trying to find the most experienced and senior soldier for the job. Soldiers are allowed to use their weapons only as a last resort (although the regulations also mention ‚defending the military honor‘) and commanders usually wait with fire until the soldiers were physically attacked by the mob. The usual conduct was firstly trying to dissolve the riot or the demonstration by an order and if this failed, then advancing towards the mob with fixed bayonets. In danger, it is preferred to use aimed rifle salvo fire to any other means of coercing the mob (warning shots, a single aimed shot) because with salvos there is the least danger of losing control over the situation.

Strike assistance (Aushilfe / Dienstleistung) – a military may be ordered to send its soldiers to a factory or other business (primarily bakeries and windmills or watermills) that experiences a lack of workers due to strikes. This is however, unpopular both with the military and the workers. During strike assistances, soldiers do not wear their uniforms and only wear workwear with an armband marking their military allegiance.


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