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Rosalind Davies' Family History
© Rosalind Davies 2001
Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

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Setting the Scene

Information about Austria and the City of Linz

My grandfather , Charles, Zizelsberger, was born on 23rd June 1865 in Linz, Austria. He was baptized Karl Borromaus Zizelsberger and was the third son of Josef Zizelsberger and Fanny Eidenberger and one of seven children.

Linz is the capital of Upper Austria and is on the Danube River and thus a major river port. For the last century it has been an industrial centre with extensive ironworks and steelworks and it is the transportation and commerce hub for the area. The population is about 200,000. It was originally a Roman settlement called Lentia and has many historical structures.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Linz Some older streets in Linz
St. Mary's Cathedral, Linz
19th century
Some of the older streets in Linz
Baroque commemorative column in the main square of Linz
The old 17th century cathedral in Linz
A Brief History of Austria.

Austria is located at the cross roads of Europe and from earliest times has been a thoroughfare, a battleground and an outpost. It was occupied by the Celts and Suebi when the Romans conquered it in 15BC and some centuries later introduced Christianity. After the 5th century AD, the Huns, Ostrogoths, Lombards and Bavarians overran and devastated the provinces. In 788, King Charlemagne of France conquered the area and set up the first Austrian March in present Upper and Lower Austria and encouraged colonisation.

After Charlemagne's death the provinces fell to numerous neighbours; the Moravians, the Magyars and then by 955 AD the Bavarians. In 976, the Bavarian King Otto ll, bestowed it as a separate fief on Leopold of Babenberg, founder of the first Austrian dynasty.

The 11th and 12th centuries saw the height of Austrian feudalism and witnessed the development of towns as the Danube River was converted to a great trade route. When the Babenberg dynasty died out, the German king Rudolf 1 of Hapsburg asserted his royal prerogative to reclaim the duchy and incorporate it into his domains, thus bringing both Austria and the Hapsburgs onto the European stage.

When the Protestant Reformation swept through Germany in the 16th Century, the Hapsburg rulers nurtured the Catholic Reformation with vigour resulting in The Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The monarchy, although repressive of speech and worship, was far from absolute. Taxation and other powers still rested with the provincial estates.

The Austrian Empire was on the rise. In 1772, Poland was partitioned and Austria began its eastward expansion. After The French Revolutionary Wars the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved and in 1804 the king took the title of Francis 1, emperor of Austria and the country began to dominate European politics. Conservatism and repression of nationalistic strivings characterised the age. The revolution of 1848 shook the Hapsburg Empire but was destined to fail because of the conflicting economic goals of the middle and lower classes and because of conflicting nationalistic aspirations. This was the beginning of the military and political weakness of the empire. In 1866, Bismarck, the German premier, found an easy pretext for attacking and crushing Austria. A dual state was founded, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. But Austria, a land of diverse peoples, governed by a German-Magyar minority, increasingly became an anachronism in a nationalistic age.
Austria's disastrous part in the bringing about of World War 1 saw the collapse of the monarchy in 1918. Austrian was declared a republic and became part of Greater Germany. i

Footnote:

i. The Columbia Encyclopaedia

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