Vienna (German: Wien) is the capital and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna borders Lower Austria and Styria to the west, Slovakia to the northeast, Hungary to the east, and Slovenia to the far south. It is 415 km2 and has more than 1,600,000 inhabitants, making it the smallest state in size and the largest in population.
Vienna was founded around 500BC by the Celts as Vindobona. During the first Century AD the Romans founded a military camp for the Legio X Gemina on the present site of Vienna. In 212 the settlement was raised to the rank of a municipium. Located on the outskirts of the empire, Vindobona fell victim the Great Migrations of Barbarian tribes which began in the 2nd Century AD. Vindobona was torched in the beginning of the 5th Century but small settlement continued, and the city was conquered by the Lombards. After the Lombards invaded Italy, Vienna passed to the Avars. Vienna was conquered by the Slavs under Samo, but after his death in c. 660 the Avars returned. The Franks under Charlemagne conquered the region at the end of the 8th Century and established a margraviate. But Magyar raids prevented Vienna from becoming a proper city and the margraviate was overrun by the Magyars in 909.
Vienna in the early Middle AgesEdit
The first mention of Vienna in the Middle Ages occurred in 881 in the Salzburg Annals where a battle against the Magyars occurred. Vienna itself remained insignificant until after the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 in which the Magyars were defeated. The margraviate of Austria was reestablished soon after, and Vienna became an important trading city near the eastern border of Hungary. Vienna became the capital of Austria in 1155 during the reign of Henry II Jasomirgott, who in the following year saw Austria raised to a duchy by the Privelegium Minus. Vienna received the rights of a city in 1221 which allowed Vienna to develop into a trade centre and one of the most important cities of the Holy Roman Empire, but it was considered an embarrassment that it did not have its own bishop (Vienna was in the diocese of the Bishopric of Passau which was influential and very well connected to the Papacy. It is known that Duke Frederick II entered into negotiations on the matter, and it is suspected that Ottokar Premysl did as well.
Early Habsburg ViennaEdit
In 1278 King Rudolph I of Habsburg took over Austria after defeating Ottokar. There was strong opposition to the Habsburgs and several uprisings against his successors, and it was many years before the Habsburgs established their power. The Luxembourg emperors made Prague in Bohemia their capital, and Vienna paled in comparison. The early Habsburgs attempted to enlarge and rebuild it to keep up. Duke Albert II had the gothic choir of the Cathedral of St. Stephan built. Rudolph IV's economic policies brought great prosperity to Vienna. He founded the University of Vienna in 1365, and he built the gothic nave in the Cathedral. Vienna declined during the succession disputes in the House of Habsburg during the 14th and 15th Centuries.
Duke Albert V expelled the Jews from Vienna in 1421/2. In 1469 Vienna finally became the seat of a bishopric based in the Cathedral of St. Stephan. Under Frederick III the city supported his enemies, first Albert VI then Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. In 1522 the leading members of the opposition were killed by Ferdinand I, and from then on the city was in direct control of the emperors. The citizenry of the city however had by and large converted to Protestantism. The Jesuits were brought into the city in 1551 and became highly influential in the court, but the city was re-Catholicised.
The Turks besieged Vienna in 1529 unsuccessfully. The city, defended by dilapidated medieval walls, barely survived the onslaught until the Turks were forced to retreat by an epidemic and an early winter. Vienna's defenses were modernised in 1548, and was protected by eleven bastions and a moat. These defenses were crucial to the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the first large battle in the Great Turkish War. The city held out for two months until relieved by Polish soldiers under King Jan Sobieski. Following the battle, over the next 16 years the Turks lost Hungary and Transylvania to the Habsburgs.
Later Imperial ViennaEdit
During the 18th Century, Vienna was rebuilt in Baroque style. Vienna's population grew after two severe epidemics in 1679 and 1713. Factories were constructed, first in Leopoldstadt, and hygiene problems began to develop. Sewers were built, the streets were swept, and all graveyards in the city were closed. Also during this time the modern postage system began to develop. Emperor Joseph II reorganised and modernised the city administration in 1783.
During the Napoleonic Wars, Vienna was twice occupied by the French in 1805 and 1809. The first occupation occurred without battle. The second occurred with heavy fire, and shortly afterwards Napoleon I Bonaparte suffered his first major defeat at the nearby Battle of Aspern. After Napoleon was finally defeated, the Congress of Vienna was held in 1814/5 in which the political map of Europe was completely redrawn. The Congress proved very expensive as the participants indulged in many social events, which led to much mockery.
The first half of the 19th Century was characterised by rampart industrialisation. Vienna was first connected to the railway system in 1837. In 1850 the city was expanded into a zone which had been left vacant for the Turkish Wars. The old fortifications were completely destroyed in 1858 and the Ringstrasse was built in its place. The prosperity peaked in the 1873 World Exhibition, right before the stock market crashed. The population continued to rise however, reaching a peak in 1910 with 2,031,000 citizens. The city was expanded again in 1890.
Vienna during World War I, the First Republic and Nazi GermanyEdit
Vienna was spared fighting in World War I, however the economic blockade by the Entente lead to a shortage of food and clothing. After the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the First Republic was declared on 12 November 1918. In order to break the dominance Lower Austria had on the rest of the new democratic republic, Vienna was created its own state in 1921. The new era of "Red Vienna" was considered an international model. But the loss of the empire left the Imperial Vienna unable to cope with the smaller republic and it entered into a very sharp decline. The population becamed polarised between Leftist and Rightist parties. After the collapse of the largest bank in Austria, riots after a poor court ruling, and the dissolution of parliament in 1933 led to the Austrian Civil War.
In 1934 Austrofascism was declared. Vienna was incorporated into Nazi Germany with the Anschluss in 1938. On 9 November 1938 the synagogues of Jews were destroyed. During the bombardments of Vienna by the Soviets in 1944 and 1945, much destruction was inflicted on the city. But most historical buildings survived the bombings or were rebuilt after the war.
Vienna after the WarEdit
After World War II, the city was divided into occupation zones of France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the America. The occupation ceased in 1955. After the war, Vienna saw an enormous economic boom seen elsewhere in Western Europe. Vienna has continued to prosper since.
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