English: Map of Austria-Hungary

English: Map of Austria-Hungary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When in 1867 the Emperor and the leaders of Hungary reached the settlement that resolved their differences – the Ausgleich, or the Compromise – three governments emerged in Franz Joseph’s lands.   One, generally called Austria-Hungary, was the government  of the whole, but only dealt with the Empire-Kingdom’s relations with other powers and with its defence (and with Bosnia-Herzegovina after 1878).    Another was responsible for the affairs of the Kingdom of Hungary, while the third was responsible for the domestic affairs of the lands that were not part of the Kingdom of Hungary.   They had no natural unity and extended in a great arc from Bukovina, bordering Russia, in the east, through Polish Galicia and Czech Bohemia to the old Hereditary Lands, the westernmost of which, the Vorarlberg, faced Switzerland.   There was also the Adriatic coastland of Dalmatia, detached from the rest.

These lands were collectively known as die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder (the Kingdoms and Territories represented in the Imperial Council).   The urge to abbreviate this mouthful must have been overwhelming.   Historians tend to favour, as some contemporaries did, CIS-LEITHANIA, or Cis-Leithnia (ZISLEITHANIEN), a name which comes from the little river which then separated Lower Austria and Hungary for a few miles near Vienna.  It was innocuous as far as the peoples of the Empire were concerned, whereas the name favoured in ordinary usage among the Germans – Austria – reminded people of the strong position of Germans within the non-Hungarian half of the Empire.   The English historian E.A.Freeman suggested that as Neustria had once meant not-Austrasia so Nungary could mean not-Hungary.   Whether he was right about Neustria or not, there was no discernible rush to adopt his suggestion.   In 1915 the government officially adopted Austria, German morale outweighing Czech offence.

There was a certain – if not exactly accurate – symmetry:  Austria-Hungary was international power;  Austria and Hungary the two domestic states.

This entry was posted in Austria, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Austria/Cisleithania

  1. Pingback: Cis-Leithnia | davidseurope

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