The Kingdoms of Austria & Bohemia, Austria-Bohemia, Austria, is a medium sized constitutional monarchy in Central Europe. It is the largest state in the Holy Roman Empire and borders numerous other HRE members such as Brandenburg, Sorbia, Electoral Saxony, Bavaria, the Swiss Confederation and the Grey League. To the South lies the non-HRE state of Venice and to the East lies Poland-Lithuania and Hungary, as well the scattered territories of Liechtenstein. Austria's only access to the sea is through the Carniolan port of Rijeka. Austria-Bohemia also governs a small Taino Island group: the King Rudolph Islands.
The capital is Vienna and the population is around 16.8 million.
The official languages are German and Czech. Various minority languages are spoken but not officially recognised.
The official currencies are the Austrian Mark (AUM) and the Bohemian Crown (BHC). Moves to slowly phase out the Bohemian Crown were blocked by the Prague Diet so it is intended that the AUM and BHC will eventually become, to all intents and purposes, the same currency with the same exchange rate and standardised coins and notes, but with separate mints and designs.
Austria began as a Bavarian march on captured Magyar territory. Although being raised to an independent Duchy in 1156 and slowly growing in size Austria was largely marginal to the politics of the Holy Roman Empire until taken by the Swabian Emperor Rudolph I of Hapsburg 1278 and given to his sons, displacing a brief Bohemian rule.
The territory of Austria grew slowly but steadily through the 14th century but a three-way division in 1379 between brothers stymied further growth until it was reunited in 1513. It was quick to take advantage of Luxembourg's decline in the mid 1500s to secure both the crown of Bohemia and eventually the Imperial throne as other challengers floundered in their attempts to deal with the Protestant Schmalkaldic League. Largely ignoring the ever growing numbers of Lutherans in Austria itself the Hapsburgs launched their armies into action, fortifying the line of Catholic control through Germany as well as ensuring the shrunken borders of the HRE were not squeezed further by Aragon or the Francian states. The election of the ultra-pious Charles VI as Emperor saw attitudes change. Whereas before Austria had merely sought to limit the influence of the Schmalkalic Empire and Kalmar Union over Germany now Charles was advocating the full destruction of Protestant thought. While those Lutherans in Austria itself soon found themselves under heavy duress those in Bohemia were soon in open revolt.
Bohemia has had a longer and more distinguished history than 'upstart' Austria. Settled by Czech tribes from the 6th century onwards it was originally part of the Moravian Empire, under which it was Christianised. Vassalised by Charlemagne and his successors Bohemia passed to the Premyslid dynasty. They extended Bohemia's writ southwards at first, briefly ruling Austria then Western Poland and a large section of Hungary in the late 13th century. The last Premyslid, Elisabeth married John I of Luxembourg meaning Bohemia passed into the Luxembourg dynasty. The Luxembourgs soon made Prague their main seat and ruled a large and diverse dynastic territory from there.
When however a proto-reformation movement exploded after the execution of Jan Hus, the it tore the kingdom apart. Militarily innovative, the Hussites kept the Imperial armies (even confounding those of Joan of Arc, the heroine of the Bar War) from recapturing Prague from 1415 to 1440. It was only when the Hussites fell into civil war that the Imperial forces could re-establish control and come an accommodation. Bohemia would henceforth be a beacon of liberal attitudes. Rule from both Buda/Prague under the Luxembourgs and Vienna under the Hapsburgs was light. Indeed when Henry VIII of Luxembourg converted to Lutheranism and reaffirmed Bohemia's rights Prague erupted in wide celebration while in Flanders it was greeted with mild indifference. It was only when Charles IV removed all Protestants from power and revoked their rights that the kingdom once again descended into full scale revolt.
The Fifty Years War and Aftermath
The 1618 revolt was bloodily dispatched by Austrian and Bavarian troops but the Schmalkaldic Empire honoured the cries for assistance from their co-religionists. At first Austria gave Prague and Bohemia up but by 1621 had retaken the kingdom. An alliance with Luxembourg (which would theoretically have split a Luxembourg Bohemian core away from an Austrian Moravia in the event of outright victory) seemed to put the Protestants on the back foot. However, Aragon, ever mindful of opportunity to seize Italy, declared war on Austria, sent huge sums of money to Denmark, Svealand and France, and invaded Arles. The Bohemian phase gave way to the Italian phase which in turn gave way to the French phase as the fighting spread dragging in more combatants. Meanwhile half of Germany was ravaged, a process only acerbated by Charles' and his successor's policies of forceably evicting Lutherans from their lands. By the latter stages of the war severe famine and disease were endemic from the Pyrenees to the Baltic, from the Anglian Channel to the Hungarian border. Yet still the huge mercenary armies continued to fight desperately over the ruined cities of Germany and Bohemia, bankrupting their states in the process.
By 1667, and by a huge effort, the main Svealandic army was at the walls of Vienna. Under siege and with no relief army to count on the Emperor and Austria was finally brought to the negotiating table. The Treaty of Copenhagen was a mixed bag for Austria. While the previously Schmalkaldic territories rejoined the HRE (with the exception of Denmark's holdings) it lost Bohemia to Luxembourg. However, while Luxembourg was embroiled in a potential succession crisis in 1680 Prague Catholics revolted, seized the city and proclaimed Bohemia a vassal of Austria. Austria and Luxembourg would fight the War of Bohemian Succession but the perilous finances of both states and the potential for Kalmar intervention kept the war short. Austria secured Luxembourg's renunciation of the Bohemian throne but importantly Denmark still held a claim (through Catherine of Oldenburg).
Also by the Treaty of Copenhagen Austria had to grudgingly accept the freedom of worship for Lutherans throughout the Empire. Those Lutherans driven out of Austria in the preceding decades returned in their thousands to reclaim their confiscated land. Austria was a majority Lutheran state by 1680 and with the re-annexation of Bohemia Emperor Rudolph III was forced by revolt and civil disobedience to agree not only to freedom of worship for Lutherans (and other minority sects) but absolute equality before the law. Rudolph's son Charles, even dared to break with the Vatican, after it refused to annul his marriage to Maria of Aragon, setting up a separate Church of Austria.
This satisfied the Lutheran population but left his successors frequently battling against Catholic neighbours, and family members still loyal to Rome. The Austrian Civil War dragged, off and on from 1717 to 1735. Victorious at home he was less successful abroad.
Although a short war against Denmark in 1737-39 finally removed any residual foreign claims to Bohemia the Emperor Rupert became overconfident and he stumbled into the 2nd Hungarian War without concern over Austria's finances. By 1742 he was forced to sign away Eastern Moravia to Hungary. With the treasury in tatters he was forced to cede power away to various families like the Liechtensteins and importantly, to the Vienna Diet, opening the way toward a constitutional monarchy.
Into the Modern Age
Although only rarely controlling the Imperial throne after its 17th century heyday Austria has regularly dictated the direction of the Empire much to the chagrin of its great rival Luxembourg. It has had wars against Luxembourg over their conflicting zones of control; the 1st Luxembourg-Austrian War over Bohemia, the Nassau Succession War, the Six Year War (or War of Regensburg Succession), and finally the 2nd Luxembourg-Austrian War over. Each time fighting has mainly been conducted on Palatinate, Saxon or Bavarian land and has done little to endear either nation to the mass of smaller German states that lie between them.
Austria took a leading role in the Empire during the Iberian revolution and it was frequently engaged by Hungary which had allied to Hispania. Once Del Olmo's grand army had been destroyed by hard won Kalmar and Polish victories Austria took to clearing Northern Italy and Aragon of revolutionary forces.
The 19th century saw 2 wars against the Kalmar Union. The first (1842-1850) was fought over Pomerania which had secured rights from the Frankfurt Diet that Denmark refused to honour. Working almost alone Austria pushed through Brandenburg toward the North German coast but poor logistics meant defeat at the hands of the fast moving and well-drilled Kalmar forces. While Kalmar marched on Prague and Leipzig Austria sued for peace. The second (1895-1896) revolved around an incident on the Brandenburg border. Several times during 1894 Brandenburg had challenged Austrian troops straying close or over its borders. In 1895 red-faced Austrian generals pushed the Diet into declaring war alongside Luxembourg and a broad Imperial coalition. As the Imperial force moved northwards Kalmar again guaranteed Brandenburg, meeting Austrian and Eastern Imperial troops outside Potsdam, and Luxembourg and Western Imperial troops at Bremen. Though competently fought both battles left Kalmar in the stronger position. Realising they had picked the wrong fight the Imperial Diet sued for peace in 1896 with Kalmar over the heads of Luxembourg and Austria. This would the last general war fought in Western Europe.
Austria was elevated to a Kingdom in 1893 after much bartering in the Imperial Diet. However Luxembourg and others have repeatedly blocked raising Austria to an electorate, worried that another Electoral vote would disturb the balance.
King Rudolph Islands
Austria-Bohemia is governed by a bicameral Diet in Vienna. The elected members from the kingdom of Bohemia also have the right to meet separately in Prague, which they normal do 1-2 weeks a year. They can use this time to propose legislation that they can then submit to the Viennese Diet. Constitutionally however the two kingdoms are united and laws are exactly the same in both kingdoms. Elections are held every 5 years.
The current head of state is King Leopold VII. His Chancellor is Franz Klestil.