The Austrian Empire was founded on a remnant of the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon I of France had attacked and then crushed the Holy Roman Empire in 1804. The new Empire was founded by the Habsburg monarch, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, who became Francis I of Austria, as a state comprising his personal lands, within and outside of the former Holy Roman Empire.
When Francis II assumed the title of the first Emperor of
Austria, the empire stretched from lower Poland in the North to the
Balkans and Northern Italy in the South, and from Russia in the East to
Bavaria and Switzerland in the West.
The multi-national population of the Empire included Germans, Czechs, Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, Italians, Ukrainians, Croats, Slovaks, Serbs, Slovenes and numerous smaller nationalities. The Empire, in this form, lasted from 1804 to 1867.
The Empire of Austria-Hungary, which lasted from 1867 to 1918, was a monarchical union with the Kingdom of Hungary. The union was the result of the Compromise of 1867, under which the Austrian House of Habsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former empire between them.
This union was expressed on official documents as K.U.K. or Kaiserlich und Königlich, meaning Imperial and Royal. This indicated that the Habsburg monarch, Emperor Franz Josef I at the time, reigned simultaneously as the Emperor of Austria and as the King of Hungary.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved by the Treaty of Versailles, after the end of World War I, and all of its possessions were broken up into independent countries.
scan at the top of the page is the Imperial coat of arms. The scan at
upper right is an early 20th Century postcard, showing the flag of the
Emperor Franz Josef I - from a 1908 Postal Card
celebrating the 60th Anniversary of his reign
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