*** Austrian boys clothes

Austrian Empire (1526-1918)

Austro-Hugarian Empire
Figure 1.--Here we see two Vienna boys in 1908. They are 7 and 9 years old. I think their names are Eugerl and Ruderl which seems to be cute (diminuative) versions of Eugen and Rudolph. I think the boys are wearing the army uniforms as costumes. What is interesting about this portrait is that it was taken on Easter Sunday (April 19). Boys in most other countries might have Eater portraits taken, but not dressed in army uniforms. This speaks to fashion and social attitudes in Austria-Hungary and probably Germany at the time. The boys' outfits could be cadet uniforms, but I think the boys are too young to be cadets. Austria for centuries had been one of the great powers of Europe. Prussia quickly defeated Austria (1866) after which Austria-Hungaria was formed. Few in the early 20th century fully understood how Ausria-Hungary's military power had declined.

Austria is today a small German-speaking state. This has only been the case since 1918 and the end of World War I. For much of European history Austria-Hungary and earlier the Austrian Empire or the lands goverened by the Hapsburgs were one of the great powers of Europe. The Hapsburgs begun with a small principality in Austrian which they turned into a great empire. This included many small principalities, including the Netherlands and eventually spain, but the heartland was always Austria and the two criticl components of the Austrin empire in addition to Austria was the acquisition of Bohemia and Hungary. Bohemia had been severely weakened by the Husseite Wars. The Czech crown passed first to the Hungarian (Jagiello) monarchy. The Ottomans defeated and killed Hungarian King Ludwig/Louis at the Battle of Mohács, ending the Jagellon line (1526). As a result, the Austrian Hapsburgs inherited Bohemia and the Czech lands. They would rule the Czechs until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the wake of World War I. The Hapsburg lands were nor for centuries formally called the Austrian Empire although that was in fact what they were. The Hapsburgs formally proclaimed the Austrian Empire (1804). After the Napoleonic was, Austria and Prussia vied for control of Germany. Austria-Hungary was a compromise reached after Ausrtria's defeat in the Austro-Prussian War (1866). Prussia's defeat of Austria led to the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867 under Emperor Franz Josef and exclusion from the new German Empire unified by Bismarck. The Hungarians wanted independence. To prevent this and separation, a dual monarchy was created. Hungary was given its own parliament and primeminister. The Empire itself was a patch work creation of a large number of nationalities. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a polygot construction of peoples with different cultureas, religion, ethnicity, and historical experiences. These people had national experiences before they were absorbed by Hapsburg Austria. For much of European history, nationalism was not a major factor. Many people were ruled by foreign dynasties. The French Revolution fundamentally changed attitudes toward foreign rules. The same force that led to German unification under Prussia led to other peoples demanding theie own nation states or at least autonomy within national structures. Some like the Hungarians and later the Czechs were able to gain language rights. Other areas like Bosnia were eentially under military occupation. Vienna itself because of the nature of the Empire was a very cosmopolitan city where people of many nationalities, including Jews, lived together producing an intelectual ferment that produced men like Freud. A period of prosperity followed the Empire's creation. Austria's expansionist tendencies in the Balkans and its annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908 led to the assassination of the Emperor's nephew in Sarajevo in June 1914 by serbian separatists. A month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, the Russians came to the Serbians aid and the slaughter of World War I began in earnest.


The area of the Austrian Empire varied over time. It began with small areas of what now is Austria, under the Hapsburggs expanded to befome a major force in the Hilu Roman Empire--esentially an early manifestation of Germny. Eventually it would include large areas outside of the Holy Roman Empire into central and eastern Europe. The westrern area was the Alpine Austria territory where the Hapsburgs first established themselves. Vaduz on the Swiss order was the western-most point. For an extended period it included much of northern Italy. A major acquistion was Bohemia and Moravia, now the Czech Reublic (16th century). This meant that the norther border was with the German states, eventually the German Empire. The northern border was with Poland, but with the Polish Partitions became Prussia and Russia (18th century). Austrai acquired small areasvof souhrtn Pomans, Silesia and Galacia. As a result of the Ottoman invasion of Hungary they would acquire that kingdom (16th century). It would make the core of the Empire the Danube River which flowed through Vienna and Budapest toward the Black Sea. Romania wjich freed itself from he Ottomans would dominate the Danube's exit into the Black Sea. Hungary extended the empire into Eastern Europe. Hungary, including what is now Slovakia, Translvania, and areas in western Ukraine which the Hapsburgs called Ruthenia. The southern extent was the tumultuous Balkans, recently liberated from the Ottoman Empire. This included Slovenia and Croatia. A later addition was Bosnia which would bring the Empire into conflict with Serbia (1908), leading to World War I.


The history of the Austrian Empire is essentially the history of the Hapsburg dynasty. They largely through carefully calculated marriages transformed themselves from a minor noble family into one of the great dynasties of Europe, becoming the dynasty that would be commonly elected to become the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. This was, however, not a centralized nation state and the emperors while important were did not have the powers of the kings in the monarchies in the nation states like England, France, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Spain. Austria would be one of the great powers for several centuries. The Austrian Empire would play a major role in blocking the expansion of the Protestant Reformation, but did not succeeding in suppressing it (16th century). Austrian armies led by Prince Eugene would play a major part in the European religious wars (17th century). Austria would help block French King Louis XIV's military expansion. They played a major role in the historic battle of Blenheim. The Duke of Marlborough (the first important Churchill of history) and Prince Eugene decisively defeated a French army (1704). Religious division would delay German unification for over three centuries. The Austrian Empire would played a major role in blocking the Ottoman intrusion into Christian Europe, culminating in the siege of Vienna (1683). The Austria would oppose French armies mounted by the Revolution and Napoleon (1789-1815). The future of Europe would be chartered by the Congress of Vienna (1815). This would mark the zenith of Austrian Empire. German unification was become inevitability a contest between the two leading states, Austria and Prussia. The future, however, would be determined by economic forces. The Industrial Revolution began in Britain (mid-18th century) and spread to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. The Austrian monarchy was dominated by a land-owning aristocracy. Prussia in contrast began to industrialize. The Prussians won the conflict in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), largely because of their industrial development. Beginning with the American Civil War and the Austro=Prussian War, wars would become increasingly industrial contests. And the Austrian failure to industrialize would lead to the decline of Austrian power and eventfully its defeat and dissolution in World War I.



We have only a limited archive of photographs from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Our initial assessment is that the garments the worn were essentially the same as in Germany, although Austrian fashios were perhaps somewhat more influenced by France. We cannot make any valid assessment until we acquire more information and images from the Empire. As in Germany, boys in the Austro-Hungarian Empire wore dresses and other skirted garments when young. A good example is unidentified twins (probably Germans in the Chech Lands during 1875. It also shws the growing imprtance of salor styling.

Multi-Ethnic Empire

Austria-Hungary was a multi-ethnic empire, a patch work creation of a large number of nationalities. The Empire was dominated by the Austrians and the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy. Policies varied significantly toward the diffierent ethnic and national groups. Hungary was given its own parliament and primeminister. The Empire itself was a patch work creation of a large number of nationalities. Some like the Hungarians and later the Czechs were able to gain language rights. Other areas like Bosnia were essentially under military occupation. Vienna itself because of the nature of the Empire was a very cosmopolitan city where people of many nationalities, including Jews, lived together producing an intelectual ferment that produced men like Freud. It also was a reason that so few Vienese Jews turned to Zionism. While one of the major European powers, Austra-Hungary was built on a shaky foundation. At a time of rising nationalism, the Austrhungarian-Empire was rent with internal divisions. This eventually culminated in World war I. After the War the various national groups demanded imdependence, a process supported by the United States at the peace confrences because of the support of immigrants for national self-determination. The Italian and German unification movements shifted the balance of power in Europe and inspired the various nation groups within Austria-Hungary, especially the less navored national groups.


The Austro-Hungarian Empire also had religious differences.


The issue of nationalities became the most difficult for the Empire. And one of those issues was the language of instruction in the schools. People tended to want their children taught in their own native languages. Knee pants became increasingly common in the late 19th century. Sailor suits continued to be popular and were commonly worn to school by younger boys.



From the Austro-Hungarian Empire's creation, the central issue of the state was how to deal with the national aspirations of the many national/ethnic groups within the Empire. The different groups were of varying importance and were at different statages of national development. The Hungarians were central and had a higly develooed national concept. Thus they were given a special status within the Empire and were the other part of the dual monarchy. Other groups were not as important or did not have the same national conciousness. The Slovaks and Ruthenians did not have a a hightly developed natioinal ethos. Of all the groups within the Empire, the group most committed to the Empire, other than the Austrians, were the Jews, in part they feared what might teanspire if nation states rose from the different groups making up the Empire. Imperial officials debated endlessly as to how to deal with the nationality problem which became increasingly severe with the arrival of the 20th century. Some Imperial officiald by this time had accepted the inevitability of nationalism. The question was how to deal with it. This was the problem that Archduke Franz Ferdinand in particular wrested with. His assasination ended efforts to deal with the problem. One of the little known efforts was a dynastic one. The idea was to promote Hapburgs royals in different pats of the Empire, men who would learn the local language and culture and attract the loyalty of the local population.


The HBC familiy section is an important section in HBC because it puts children's fashions in a larger context. We see both how boys and girls are dressed at different periods and ages becuse families often had several children. We also at the same time see how adult men and women were dressed. But in the case of Ausria-Hungary we made a mistake. We have archived images as part of modern borders because the cities where the portrais were taken were commonly indicated on 19th century CDVs and cabinet cards. We realise now that we should have also linked them to the Austro-Hungarian page. They help show the multi ethnic character of the Empire. Of course Austrian (German) and Hungarian are just two of the many ethnic/national groups that made up Austria-Hungary. We intend to go back and link the mostly 19h century portraits to the family section page here as HBC develops. Photography was invented in France (1839). We have not yet found examples of family portraits done in early processes like Dags and Anbros. It is not until the adoption of the albumen process, CDVs and cabinet cards, that we begin to see Hungarian family images (1860s). Notably, most od whatb we see are prosperous urban families. This is in sharp contrast to Ameruica where we see many farm families coming into towns and cities to have portraits taken. This was uncommon in Hungary because most of the farmers did not own their own land, but instead were the Slovak, Romanian, and Ruthenian (Ukranian) peasantry that worked on large estates. We have few images of their families. We are less surev aboutb Austria and the Czech Lands.


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Created: 7:30 PM 10/18/2005
Last updated: 5:00 AM 4/15/2023