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AUSTRIA, GERMAN AND CENTRAL EUROPE

HISTORY

In the period 1450- 1830, Austria, Germany, and Central Europe were divided into many independent
and dependent states and cities shifting political allegiances.

Renaissance culture had its first real flowering outside Italy at the enlightened humanist court of
Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1458-90). Close contacts with Italy had been feature of Hungarian culture
since the fourteenth century and Matthias reforming reign, which raised Hungary to the status of
greatest power in Central Europe, saw in flux of Italian artists. Thereafter, power shifted to the
Jagellonian Kings of Bohemia who, for a brief period, controlled an empire which included Hungary and
Poland, and Renaissance influences spread to Prague and Cracow. Hungarys Renaissance was brought to
a close by Turkish invasions (1526) and the subsequent division of the country: Jagellonian period in
Poland ended in 1572.

The dominions of Spain, Burgundy, and the Netherlands were added to those of the old Holy Roman
Empire under Charles V (Charles I if Spain) in 1520. The first religious wars following the Reformation
were brought to an end by the Peace of Augsburg, under which each ruler was allowed to determine the
religion of his territory. Broadly, Southern Germany, Austria (after Protestant beginnings) and the
Rhineland remained Catholic, while Northern Germany adopted Lutheranism. The Habsburg territories
were divided between Spain, on the one hand, and the old empire, centered on Austria and Bohemia, on
the other. Political and religious fragmentation meant that the importation of Renaissance forms was
sporadic and localized in the sixteenth century, but a lead was given by the free cities of Nuremberg and
Augsburg, and by the proselytizing Jesuits in Austria and Southern Germany. The struggles with the Turks
were a constant preoccupation.

The Thirty Years War (1610-48) between Catholic and Protestant princes brought a halt to building, and
recovery was slow, even after the Peace of Westphalia. The influence of the Austrian empire in Germany
declined in the second half of the seventeenth century, and the principalities built up their sovereignty.
Prussia began to gain power in the North; Frederick I became King of Prussia in 1701.

Austro-Prussian rivalry came to a head in the eighteenth century with the War of the Spanish Succession
(1740-48) and the Seven Years War (1756-63). Frederick II (the Great) (1740-86) raised to Prussia to a
position of pre-eminence among the German states; he embellished his capital of Berlin with palaces
and public buildings. In Austria Joseph Is reign (1705-11), marked by creative architectural patronage,
was followed by the reforming period of Maria Theresa (1722-80), while her son Joseph II (1780-90)
attempted to impose the ideas of the Enlightenment.

Napoleons campaigns brought the Holy Roman Empire