Central Europe from 1450-present

Present-day Switzerland, Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary

Appeal of Protestantism

  • Czechs in Bohemia first partially embraced Lutheranism but then reconverted to Catholicism

  • Poland-Lithuania (joint government) first initially had some converts to Lutheranism & Calvinism, but later reverted to Catholicism after counter reformation

  • Hungarians hated Germans so they didn't embrace Protestantism

    • After Ottoman invasion of Hungary, part of Hungary became Lutheran

    •  In late 1600s when Ottomans retreated & Habsburgs retook power, Catholicism became dominant again


Creation of Calvinism

  • John Calvin converted to Protestantism, created his own denomination of Protestantism in Geneva

    • Believed God had chosen a group of people for salvation (an idea known as predestination)

      • That group was known as "the elect"​

    • Believed that people should work hard as it portrays that they were among "the elect"

    • Believed all sovereignty is in god, no importance for human beings

    • Executed all heretics to Calvinism


Absolutism in Austria

  • In Eastern Europe, serfdom was common & brutal

    • Lords had all rights to their serfs: Could sell them & split families, jail them, etc.

    • Growth of agriculture led to more exploitation of serfs

  • Ferdinand II of Habsburgs sought to expand his rule

    • Since Habsburgs lost authority in Central Europe after 30 Years' War, they looked to Eastern Europe​

    • Consolidated hold on Bohemia easily because Habsburgs defeated Bohemia in 30 Years' War

      • Established Catholic rule there​

    • Removed Ottomans from Hungary in 1718

      • Hungarians agreed to accept Habsburg rule in exchange for retaining privileges of Hungarian aristocrats​

    • Established German as official language, Catholic as official religion

    • Vienna was capital, Schonbrunn Palace was residence of emperor

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Seven Years' War (1756-1763)

Frederick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great), son of Frederick William I, expanded into Austria 

Queen Maria Theresa of Austria hated this as it violated the treaty made by the War of Austrian Succession

Maria Theresa allied with France & Russia against Prussia & Britain, known as 7 Years' War (1756-1763). Britain & Prussia won

Enlightened Absolutism in Austrian Habsburgs

  • After losing 7 Years' War, Maria Theresa imposed reforms to strengthen her state

    • Limited religious influence, decreased religious holidays & pope's influence

    • Taxed nobles, made central bureaucracy, reduced power of lords

    • Improved agricultural production

  • After her death, her son, Joseph II, took over

    • Abolished serfdom in 1781, allowed peasants to pay landlords in cash instead of labor

  • After Joseph II's death, his brother, Leopold II, took over

    • Repealed Joseph II's radical edicts, made peasants pay landlords in labor again


Aftermath of French Revolution & Congress of Vienna

  • Congress of Vienna was a series of meetings of the Quadruple alliance against Napoleon (Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia)

    • First met in 1814

    • Prince Klemens von Metternich of Austria led the meeting

    • Sought to restore European balance of power after Napoleon

  • Congress of Vienna signed first Treaty of Paris

    • France was restored to its 1792 borders, which were much larger than its pre-revolution borders​

    • Sought to maintain balance of power by giving each nation a specific amount of territory

  • After Napoleon escaped from Elba, second Treaty of Paris was signed

    • France had to pay 700 million francs for the war

  • Metternich believed in the idea of conservatism

    • Didn't want radical changes as it leads to useless revolutions

    • Hated the idea of nationalism because Austria was multiethnic

  • Austria, Prussia, Russia formed Holy Alliance (1815) to repress revolutionary movements

    • Sought to bring constitutional monarchies in Italy, Spain, etc.​

    • Metternich hated this & restored Spanish autocracy in 1823

    • Also organized Germany into loose confederation of 38 states with ambassadors to a Confederation Diet

      • Issued Karlsbad Decrees​ (1819), suppressing liberal organizations & press in Germany

    • Also suppressed reform in Russia as a group of liberals failed to march for reform in 1825


Revolutions of 1848 in Austrian Habsburg Empire

After liberal revolution in France, liberal ideas spread throughout Europe

Minorities in Austrian Habsburg empire wanted independence

Hungarians in Austrian empire started the revolution

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Conservative army, led by Sophia, crushed liberal rebellions. Sophia's son, Francis Joseph, became emperor in Dec 1848. Nicholas I of Russia helped retake Hungary

Due to disagreement among revolutionaries, Austrian conservatives

could distract them from possibility of liberal reform. Conservatives rallied under princess Sophia, emperor Ferdinand I's sister-in-law

Liberal revolutions weren't united & were in disagreement: Disagreed on ideas like universal male suffrage, socialist workshops, etc. Also, other minorities (Croats, Serbs, etc.) resented Hungarian rule

Creation of Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867)

In 1848, Magyars revolted against Austrian rule, declared independent Hungarian nation

Russian & Austrian armies crushed the revolt, brought the Hungarian nation back into Austria

Austrian army was weak after Austro-Prussian War (1866). Agreed to divide Austria into 2 in 1867

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Ethnic rivalries weakened Austria as no party had majority rule. Hungary was weakened because only wealthy males could vote

Austria & Hungary had their own legislatures but had the same monarch

Official Start of World War 1

Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was visiting Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina province

Gavrilo Princip, member of Serbian independence terrorist group, shot Ferdinand

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after Serbia refused to allow Austria-Hungary to investigate the crime

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Germany refused to respect Belgian neutrality, so Britain declared war on Germany

Germany declared war on Russia & its ally, France. Wanted to attack France through Belgium

Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary to protect the Slavs. Later declared war on Germany as it allied with Austria-Hungary

End of WW1

British imposed a naval blockade on Germany, preventing food from reaching there. There were many German protests for more food

France also had a protest among soldiers, but Germans didn't hear it due to censorship

Germany decided to give one last attack westward to France

Bulgaria, Ottomans, Austria-Hungary, and Germany surrendered to the Allies (1918)

France easily defended, Germany ran out of resources

Revolution in Austria-Hungary

  • Austria-Hungary broke apart into Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, & Romania

    • A Serbian monarchy (under Austro-Hungarian control) became Yugoslavia

Initial German Aggression in Central Europe

  • Nazi Germany's main goal was aggression: They wanted to create a union of all German-speaking places

    • Nazis first sought to conquer German-speaking Austria

      • Austria allowed Nazis to control part of it

    • Nazis later looked to Sudetenland, a region in Western Czechoslovakia with ethnic Germans

      • Britain & France didn't want war, so they agreed to let Hitler take it (1939)


After WW2, communist parties took over Czechoslovakia & Hungary, while Austria remained neutral in the Cold War conflict

Developments in the East Bloc (USSR & its Allies)

  • Stalin sought to promote the spread of communism, sometimes by force

  • Stalin initiated COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), an organization giving aid to East Bloc nations

    • Allowed Eastern European nations to recover their economies

    • Similar to Marshall Plan of the US

  • Created Warsaw Pact (1955), a treaty organization of all communist nations of Eastern Europe

    • Included USSR as well as 7 other communist nations in Eastern Europe

      • These nations included Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria

  • Communist nations in East Bloc were formed when minority communist parties consolidated power & created one-party dictatorships


Life in the East Bloc

  • Stalin was very cruel in his governance

    • Put down all uprisings & revolts

    • Imprisoned political dissidents

    • Gave no civil liberties

    • Censored all anti-Soviet & Western press, literature, art, etc.

  • Stalin used force to establish & maintain communist dictatorships in East Bloc nations

    • Sometimes arrested disloyal communist leaders​

  • East Bloc nations used five-year plans to boost their economies

    • Promoted heavy industry (iron, steel) over consumer goods

    • Promoted collectivization of agriculture

    • Stalin only allowed Poland to have private agricultural plots as Poland often rebelled, compromising USSR's stability

    • Neglected consumer goods as they promote individualism (bad for communist state)

  • Working conditions were very bad in East Bloc

    • People lacked household necessities as the state only promoted heavy industry

    • People worked long hours for little pay


De-Stalinization & Khrushchev's Reforms

  • After Stalin died in 1953, there were debates as to who should succeed him

    • Everyone wanted to reduce the cruelty of Stalin's rule

    • Conservatives wanted a gradual transition to a less cruel regime

    • Nikita Khrushchev wanted a radical transition to a less cruel regime

  • Khrushchev took power in 1955 & began program of de-Stalinization (removal of Stalin's cruelties)

    • Promoted agriculture & consumer goods more than heavy industry

    • Allowed more people to buy consumer goods (cars, TVs, radios, etc.)

    • Relaxed workplace rules, allowing people to live more freely

    • This all led to a higher standard of living

    • Many authors wrote about life during de-Stalinization as censorship was eased

  • Khrushchev sought to ease relations with the West (known as detente)

    • Gave independence to Austria (which was neutral in Cold War) after 10 years of Allied control (1955)

    • Provided economic aid to Africa & Asia

  • Other East Bloc nations responded differently to Khrushchev's de-Stalinization

    • In Hungary, Imre Nagy became new PM & promoted a democratic government (1956)

      • USSR crushed this & restored communism there

  • Many hated Khrushchev's lenient policies, so Leonid Brezhnev mounted a coup & took over in 1964

    • Began re-Stalinization, launched massive arms buildings, suppressed all dissidents, etc.​


Protests in East Bloc & Brezhnev Doctrine (1968)

  • East Bloc economies always lagged behind the West

    • In 1960s, some East Bloc nations initiated reforms to slightly privatize the economy

    • Hungary initiated some reforms, allowing their economies to be a bit successful

    • Nations diverted resources to consumer goods instead of heavy industry, allowing more people to have TVs

  • Some authors in communist nations published works criticizing the communist regime

    • This was allowed as nations relaxed censorship

    • Still, states suppressed these works, so authors created a secret network of books passed among dissidents

  • Leonid Brezhnev created Brezhnev Doctrine (1968), allowing him to intervene if any nation abolishes communism

    • Many communist nations protested against the communist regime

    • In Czechoslovakia, the Communist party outvoted the Stalinist leader in favor of liberal communist leader Alexander Dubcek

      • Dubcek initiated liberal reforms, relaxing censorship and ​slightly privatizing industry

      • Brezhnev ordered USSR army to crush the liberal regime in Prague (Prague Spring, 1968)

      • After this, Brezhnev created Brezhnev Doctrine (1968), stating that he can intervene if any East Bloc nation threatens communism


Crisis in East Bloc & Repeal of Detente

  • Energy crisis of 1970s hurt East Bloc economies, causing dissent in East Bloc

    • East Bloc nations required lots of cheap energy as industrial factories needed energy to function

    • West Bloc nations developed into post-industrial & advanced tech societies that evaded the energy crisis

    • East Bloc nations couldn't adopt post-industrial tech economy without compromising communist principles, so East Bloc nations struggled during the energy crisis

  • In Czechoslovakia, people revolted against communist regime

    • In Czechoslovakia​, Vaclav Havel criticized the Czech communist regime for not giving the civil liberties outlined in the Helsinki Accord

Collapse of Communism in East Bloc

  • East Bloc nations never fully recovered from economic crisis of 1970s, so anti-communist movements were inevitable

  • Hungary also abolished communism after revolts

    • In 1956, Hungarian communist leader allowed privatized economies after an uprising​

    • In 1988, as there were more uprisings due to bad economy, Hungarian Communist party put a reform-minded man as the leader so the Communist party could maintain power

    • Many hated this  leader, so the Hungarian Communist party agreed to hold free elections in 1989

      • Communists thought they could easily win the majority of seats here, but that wasn't true later on

    • To strengthen the support for Hungarian Communist party, they opened the border w/ East Germany & Austria

      • Many East Germans crossed to West Germany via Hungary & Austria

  • In Czechoslovakia, protests forced Communist party to resign, put Vaclav Havel as president in 1990 (Velvet Revolution)

    • Split into Czech Republic & Slovakia (Velvet Divorce) (1993)


Postwar Life in the Former East Bloc

  • Most East Bloc nations privatized their economies for economic growth

  • Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary were the most successful economies

    • They created new civic institutions, legal systems, media outlets all in favor of business

    • Had new entrepreneurial classes

    • Romania & Bulgaria lagged behind as they were much poorer initially

  • Economic growth had similar consequences to Russia

    • Capital cities got larger, provincial centers & industrial centers declined

    • Elderly & workers got poorer

    • Young people, former communists, and investors got wealthier

  • Many people liked the new economic system, but others liked communism better

    • They liked that communism guarantees everyone a job and didn't like competitive nature of capitalism