Map of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy by Johnston, circa 1868
Austro-Hungarian Monarchy by Alexander Keith Johnston, published in the National Atlas of General Geography, c.1868.
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was established by the Compromise of 1867 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. It created a dual-monarchy, with Franz Joseph as the Emperor-King. The Austrian portion of the Empire was referred to as Cisleithania and the Hungarian portion was Transleithania. Each side governed itself with its own parliament and prime minister. All of the Empire's realms were either governed by Vienna or Budapest, though Galicia and Croatia did have a certain level of autonomy under the governments of Austria and Hungary, respectively. The only aspects of government that were common to the entire empire were the monarchy, foreign relations, and defense. A ministerial council, comprised of the ministers of finance, defense, and foreign relations, as well as both prime ministers, a few archdukes, and the Emperor-king, controlled the operation of the common government. Sixty delegates from each government were elected to address proposals made by the Council. Overlap caused friction between the governments and self-promotion often caused political turmoil, resulting in a divided and inefficiently run empire.
As the second largest empire in Europe it included many ethnic groups. The multiethnic nature of the realm caused further divisions as minorities advocated for the right to use their own languages and customs. These groups argued that in areas where they formed a majority of the population local schools and governments should operate using their mother tongue. In Cisleithania, the Basic State Act of 1867 ensured the right of all ethnicities to their languages and culture, proclaiming all customary languages to be equal to German. However, the act did not specify which languages could be considered customary. The German speaking elite had a difficult time acknowledging Slavic languages as equal to their own and insisted that German be customary throughout the Empire. However, several languages did receive recognition in Austria as local governments voted to adopt their cultural tongue instead of using German. In 1868, Hungary passed a law granting citizens individual rights to their languages in schools and government offices, but restrictions made such shifts very difficult. Czech speakers in Bohemia fiercely argued for the equal status of their language with German, which was finally granted in 1880. Further complicating the situation was the occasional interference of Austria and Hungary in each other’s spheres of influence. This promoted the role of the government as a unifying force. Language was one of the most contentious political issues that the Empire faced and ethnic tensions would play a major role in the dissolution of the dual-monarchy.
Despite the political unrest and short existence of Austria-Hungary, the empire experienced rapid economic growth. The customs union, which had to be renegotiated every ten years, was beneficial to both sides of the Empire. It promoted trade, which in turn boosted infrastructure improvements. This allowed the economy to become more integrated throughout the empire. Industrialization dramatically increased and soon the empire was the fourth largest in machine production. The west initially developed much faster than the east, but booms in the agricultural and food industries in Transleithania led to more evenly dispersed growth. Rapid expansion of the locomotive industry further supported economic growth as the transportation of goods became cheaper and more towns gained rail connections. Communication systems also expanded further connecting the empire's settlements. The first telegraph lines were laid in 1847 and the first telephone exchange opened in 1881.
While these developments worked to unify the empire, growing national sentiment among several ethnic groups became an increasing concern. The Ottoman Empire, which had long dominated the Balkan Peninsula, was declining. As its power weakened, other imperial powers began to turn their attention to the area as new countries began to form. Russia in particular wished to gain more influence in the Balkans, which put more pressure on neighboring Austria-Hungary. In 1878, Serbia and Romania became independent after the Russo-Turkish War, along with Bulgaria. The other European powers feared a strong Russian presence in the Balkans and took action at the Congress of Berlin (1878) to diminish Russia's gains. Bulgaria was denied full independence and partitioned and Bosnia and Herzegovina were occupied by Austria-Hungary. In an effort to increase Balkan stability the powers of Europe entered into several complex alliances. In 1908, the Austro-Hungarian Empire officially annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tensions mounted as nationalists became more active. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian thrones, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, sparked the start of World War I and beginning of the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Alexander Keith Johnston (1804-1871) joined his brother William to form W. & A.K. Johnston Edinburgh, in 1826. Due to his interest in geography map making became the firm's chief concern. The brothers had been apprenticed to James Kirkwood & Sons, prior to starting their firm. Their first important work was the National Atlas of General Geography, which was first published in 1843. Their next successes were the Physical Atlas (1848) and Dictionary of Geography (1850). For the second editions of the National Atlas (1855) and the Physical Atlas (1856) they were printed as lithographs though the coloring was still done by hand. However, around 1865 the firm adopted color lithography as its printing method. The company name was changed to W. & A.K. Johnston, Limited, in 1897.
- Naomi Bean