Revolutions in the Austrian Empire, 1848–1849
The 1848–49 revolutions in the Habsburg Austrian Empire originated in the reign of Emperor Joseph II (1780–90). Joseph attempted to create a unified regional state similar to other contemporary European monarchies by instituting reforms aimed at centralizing the empire’s government in Vienna. Among Joseph’s initiatives was his attempt to make German the common administrative language. His reforms provoked a reaction among the empire’s non-German populations, whose aristocrats and intellectuals turned to emphasizing local rights, traditions, and cultures. Upon Joseph’s death, most of his reforms were revoked. To mollify rising fears concerning Germanization, the Habsburgs then established a chair of Slavic languages at the University of Vienna (1791), giving semiofficial sanction to the cultural validity of the empire’s non-German subjects.