Lower Austria (German: Niederösterreich) is one of the nine states of Austria. Lower Austria borders the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia to the northeast, Burgenland to the southeast, Styria to the south, and Lower Austria to the west. Lower Austria also entirely surrounds the state of Vienna. The capital of Lower Austria is St. Pölten. It is 19,174 km2 and has more than 1.5 million inhabitants, making it the largest state in size and population (except Vienna).
Lower Austria formed the core lands of the original Margraviate of Austria, which was created in 833 to defend Germany against the Avars and Hungarians. Austria was often overrun by Magyar raiders until they were soundly defeated in 955 at the Battle of Lechfeld. The Babenbergs were made the Margraves of Austria in 976 for their support against the Bavarian rebellion a year earlier. The Babenbergs slowly expanded Austria to the east at the expense of Hungary, and they established Vienna as their capital. In 1156 the Margraves were elevated to Dukes, and in 1192 they inherited the Duchy of Styria to the south.
The Babenberg dynasty became extinct in 1248 sparking a succession controversy between the House of Zähringen and the King of Bohemia, Ottokar II. Ottokar eventually won out in 1251 and began the colonisation and development of the country. In 1278 Ottokar was defeated by the Habsburg Rudolph I, who established his family firmly in Austria and Styria. Lower Austria began to emerge as a territory separate of Upper Austria, even being created a separate Duchy for various members of the House of Habsburg in 1379 and 1439, but it was still considered a part of the Archduchy of Austria until 1918.
Dating from the 15th Century, Lower Austria was sparked by constant unrest and instability, initially fueled by succession disputes between vying factions of the Habsburgs but later involved estates from Bohemia and Hungary, and religious unrest sparked by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Order was only restored as late by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I in the 17th Century, although the result was significantly decreased autonomy of the cities and religious intolerance to Protestants. The 17th Century also saw the increased threat and damage of the Ottoman Turks.
With the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 in World War I, Lower Austria formed the largest, richest, and most populous of all states in the new republic of Austria. To break its dominance federally, in 1922 Vienna was separated and created its own state. Czechoslovakia annexed several border regions by the Treaty of St. Germain, and Lower Austria entered into a depression. World War II brought massive destruction to Lower Austria, and in its aftermath the Soviets were ruthless in their suppression of Nazism. The Soviets hindered the recovery effort, and it was not until 1955 that Lower Austria began to redevelop. In 1986 the government finally established Lower Austria its' own capital at the newly built St. Pölten.
|States of Austria|
|Burgenland | Carinthia | Lower Austria | Salzburg | Styria | Tyrol | Upper Austria | Vienna | Vorarlberg|
|Bohemia | Bukovina | Carinthia | Carniola | Dalmatia | Galicia and Lodomeria | Littoral|
Lower Austria | Moravia | Salzburg | Silesia | Styria | Tyrol | Upper Austria | Vorarlberg
|Croatia-Slavonia | Hungary | Rijeka|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|on the Adige | Austria (bailiwick) | Breisgau | Brixen | Carinthia | Carniola | Chur | Friuli|
Further Austria | Gorizia | Lower Austria | Styria | Tarasp | Trent | Tyrol | Upper Austria
|Austria (archduchy) | Gradisca | Gurk | Hardegg | Lavant | Losenstein | Rogendorf|
Schaunberg | Seckau | Wolkenstein-Rodenegg