<Slovak History, Slovakia - Part of Habsburg Empire, Maria Theresa
Facts about Slovakia

Central Europe


Parliamentary republic




49,035 sq km

CET / GMT+1.00


History of Slovakia

Habsburg Empire (16th-18th Century)

The Habsburg Dynasty began their reign in our territory in 1526. In the 15th and the 16th century a new philosophical orientation called humanism flourished in the Habsburg Empire. As a result, municipal schools, grammar schools, colleges, and academies were established. For example, in 1635 a Jesuit University opened in Trinova. Another university was founded in Kosice in 1660. Since the Catholic Habsburgs forced the Protestant residents and the nobility to convert to Catholicism, many anti-Habsburg uprisings arose as a reaction against recatholicization in the 16th and the 17th century. At the beginning of the 18thcentury, the Habsburgs finally defeated the Turks and centralized the power of the Dynasty.

In 1713 Emperor Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Sanction, the document that guaranteed the indivisibility of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his daughter’s right to succeed him. Matej Bel (1684-1749), one of the greatest Slovak scholars of the 18th century, lived during this era. Born in Ocova, Bel was nicknamed the Great Ornament of Hungary for his work as polymath, historian, philosopher, and the member of the British Royal Society. His most famous work entitled Notitia Hungariae Novae Historico Geographiaca served as a guide to historical and geographical features in the Hungarian territory. Another famous Slovak scholar, a cartographer Samuel Mikoviny supplied Bel’s project with a set of comprehensive maps.

Civil Reforms of Maria Theresa and Joseph II

The centralization of the Habsburg power reached its peak during the reign of Maria Theresa (1740-1780) and her son Joseph II (1780-1790). Both rulers reformed the school and judicial system as well as the economy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Empress Maria Theresa patronized manufactures in Slovakia (they were established in Holic, Sastin, Bernolakovo) and introduced new crops such as potatoes, corn, and tobacco. In the judicial system, she abolished the use of torture and the witch courts. Next, Maria Theresa instituted a peasant-friendly urbarium (or urbar)-a set of administrative rules and customs affecting relations between lord and peasant. In 1763 she opened the Mining Academy in Banska Stiavnica, the very first University in this field in Hungary. Joseph II succeeded his mother and continued with the civil reforms. In 1781 he issued the Edict of Tolerance, which proclaimed religious freedom to Protestants and later Jews. In 1785 Joseph II abolished serfdom (state of subjugation to a land owner) and reinforced the compulsory education.

Battle of Austerlitz (1805)

At the end of the 18th, a French Emperor Napoleon I and the Napoleonic Wars had influenced much of the history of Europe. In the victorious Battle of Austerlitz (also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors) in Moravia in December 1805, Napoleon defeated the Austro-Russian army and signed the Treaty of Pressburg with the Habsburgs in today’s Bratislava. The Habsburgs were finally defeated in the  Napoleonic War of 1809.During the same war the French bombardment reduced the Devin Castle to ruins.

Slovakia as a part of Kingdom of Hungary History of Slovakia Slovak National Aspirations

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