Austrian History - My Way of Telling History




The Celts and the Romans      


To be able to understand Austria and its role in central Europe we should quickly run through the history of the past 2000 years and just build ourselves a picture.
Let’s go back more than 2000 years in time and take a look at this part of Europe and the provinces of Rhaetia, Noricum, and Pannonia.
The Celts had already settled in the eastern Alps and formed the Celtic state Noricum, near to the region’s main resources and the first mining for iron.
The Romans occupied Noricum in 9 BC and made the Danube River the northern frontier of their empire which remained stable until the end of the 4th century.
Towards the end of the 5th century the pressure of invading Germanic tribes such as the Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Vandals forced the Romans to withdraw and evacuate much of the Christian and Romanised population of the area



Slavs, Avars and Francs


The invasions by Slavs and Avars marked the following centuries, and later the Francs under Charlemagne who managed to become established there during the 8th century.
Irish monks settled in the region during the 7th and 8th centuries and their important monasteries, together with agricultural activities, helped to encourage further settlements.
The abbots and bishops of these monasteries were to have a great deal of religious and political influence and remained powerful for centuries to come.
Nomads from the east, such as the Magyars (Hungarians), swept into the area and within fifty years occupied the so-called Hungarian plain, conquering Moravia and the eastern provinces of the Carolinian Empire.



The Magyars      


In the 10th century the Magyar raids went deep into Frankish territory until Otto I (r.936-973), defeated them and stabilised the eastern border region under the rule of the Dukes of Bavaria. Later Otto I became Holy Roman Emperor.
This new “German” empire became known as the Holy Roman Empire and eventually regained much of the territory lost to the Magyars. During the reign of King Stephen (r.997-1038) the Magyars were to re-establish themselves as a military power and as new “Christian state”, and it was at this time that Hungary became a legitimate member of “Christian” Europe, halting any further German expansion to the east.
Later new duchies such as Carinthia (976), Austria (1156) and Styria (1180) were established and Salzburg and the Tyrol fell under the jurisdiction of the powerful bishops.


King Stephen I of Hungary

Saint Stephen (Szent István) is the most renowned King in Hungarian history
and was the first king of Hungary.

His name was Vajk but he was later given the baptismal name Stephen
and was crowned King of Hungary in the year 1000 AD.

King Stephen was canonized in the year 1083.

Stephen was the last Grand Prince of the Hungarians between 997 and 1000 and the first King of Hungary from 1000 or 1001 until his death in 1038 AD.

Stephen was born as Vajk in Esztergom  most probably in the year 975 AD. He was the only son of Grand Prince Géza and his wife, Sarolt who was descended from the prominent family of the Gyulas.

His parents were baptized but Stephen was the first member of his family to become a devout Christian.

He married Gisela of Bavaria.

Stephen succeeded his father in 997 but was soon forced to fight for the throne against his relative, Koppány.

He was crowned on the 25th December 1000 AD.

He waged a series of wars and achieved the unification of the Carpathian Basin and managed to defend the independence of his kingdom by forcing the invading troops of Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor to withdraw from Hungary in the year 1030 AD.

Stephen established at least one archbishopric, six bishoprics and three Benedictine monasteries, thus the Church in Hungary developed independently of the archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire. He ensured the spread of Christianity among his subjects with severe punishments. His system of local administration was based on "counties" organized around fortresses and administered by royal officials. Hungary, which enjoyed a lasting period of peace during his reign, became a preferred route for pilgrims and merchants traveling between Western Europe and the Holy Land or Constantinople.

He survived all his children, which caused bitter conflicts in the last years of his life. He died on August 15, 1038 and was buried in his new basilica built in Székesfehérvár and dedicated to the Holy Virgin. Pope Gregory VII canonized him together with his son, Saint Emeric of Hungary, and Gerardo Sagredo, in 1083.