Austrian Circle

Last updated
Austrian Circle
Österreichischer Reichskreis
Locator Austrian Circle.svg
The Austrian Circle as at the beginning of the 16th century within the Holy Roman Empire
Today part of Flag of Austria.svg Austria
Flag of Croatia.svg Croatia
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czech Republic
Flag of France.svg France
Flag of Germany.svg Germany
Flag of Italy.svg Italy
Flag of Slovenia.svg Slovenia
Flag of Switzerland.svg Switzerland

The Austrian Circle (German : Österreichischer Reichskreis) was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire. It was one of the four Imperial Circles created by decree after the 1512 Diet at Cologne, twelve years after the original six Circles were established in the course of the Imperial Reform. It roughly corresponds to present-day Austria (except for Salzburg and Burgenland), Slovenia, and the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Venezia Giulia regions of Northern Italy, but also comprised the Further Austrian territories in the former Swabian stem duchy.


The Austrian Circle was largely coterminous with the "Hereditary Lands" (Erblande) of the House of Habsburg, dominated by the Archduchy of Austria. Beside the Habsburg lands, it included the Prince-Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen, which, however, were largely ruled within the Habsburg lands of Tyrol.

The Circle's territory was again enlarged with the acquisition of the Bavarian Innviertel according to the 1779 Treaty of Teschen, as well as the Electorate of Salzburg and the Berchtesgaden Provostry by the German mediatisation in 1803. Nevertheless, the Austrian Circle was dissolved when Emperor Francis II resigned on 6 August 1806.


The circle was made up of the following states:

NameType of entityComments
Den tyske ordens skjold.svg An der Etsch Bailiwick Established about 1260, an administrative grouping of lands held by the Teutonic Knights in Tyrol
Austria coat of arms simple.svg Austria Archduchy March of Austria established in 976 by Emperor Otto II, raised to duchy by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1156, to Habsburg in 1278, self-bestowed "Archduchy" since 1358
Den tyske ordens skjold.svg Austria BailiwickAn administrative grouping of lands held by the Teutonic Order in Austria
Brixen-Bistum.PNG Brixen Prince-Bishopric Established in 1027 by Emperor Conrad II, Prince-Bishopric since 1179
Carinthia Arms.svg Carinthia Duchy Established in 976 by Emperor Otto II, held by the Archdukes of Austria since 1457, part of Inner Austria 1564–1619
Carniola Arms.svg Carniola Duchy March of Carniola established in 1040 by Emperor Henry III, raised to duchy in 1364, held by the Archdukes of Austria since 1457, part of Inner Austria 1564–1619
Wappen Gotteshausbund.svg Chur Prince-BishopricEstablished in the 4th century, prince-bishopric since 1170, territory held by the League of God's House since 1367
Grafschaft Gorz.svg Gorizia County Separated from the Patriarchate of Aquileia about 1127, held by the Archdukes of Austria from 1500, part of Inner Austria 1564-1619, merged into Gorizia and Gradisca in 1747
Grb Istarske zupanije.svg Istria March Established in 1040 by Emperor Henry III, major part to Venice in 1291, remaining territory around Pazin (Mitterburg) to Gorizia, held by the Archdukes of Austria since 1374
Blason Ducs de Styrie.svg Styria Duchy March of Styria established about 970 by Emperor Otto I, raised to a duchy in 1180, held by the Dukes of Austria since 1192, part of Inner Austria 1564-1619
Tarasp wappen.svg Tarasp LordshipHeld by the Archdukes of Austria since 1464
Trient.JPG Trent Prince-BishopricEstablished in 1027 by Emperor Conrad II
Blason Trieste ancien.svg Trieste CityHeld by the Archdukes of Austria since 1382
Tyrol Arms.svg Tyrol CountyEstablished about 1140, held by the Archdukes of Austria since 1363, raised to "Princely County" in 1504, to Further Austria 1564-1665

Related Research Articles

House of Habsburg Austrian dynastic family

The House of Habsburg, also officially called the House of Austria, was one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs from 1440 until their extinction in the male line in 1740 and, after the death of Francis I, from 1765 until its dissolution in 1806.

Duchy of Carinthia

The Duchy of Carinthia was a duchy located in southern Austria and parts of northern Slovenia. It was separated from the Duchy of Bavaria in 976, and was the first newly created Imperial State after the original German stem duchies.

Treaty of Lunéville

The Treaty of Lunéville was signed in the Treaty House of Lunéville on 9 February 1801. The signatory parties were the French Republic and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. The latter was negotiating both on his own behalf as ruler of the hereditary domains of the Habsburg Monarchy and on behalf of other rulers who controlled territories in the Holy Roman Empire. The signatories were Joseph Bonaparte and Count Ludwig von Cobenzl, the Austrian foreign minister.

Imperial circle Administrative groupings of the Holy Roman Empire

During the Early Modern period the Holy Roman Empire was divided into Imperial Circles, administrative groupings whose primary purposes were the organization of common defensive structure and the collection of imperial taxes. They were also used as a means of organization within the Imperial Diet and the Imperial Chamber Court. Each circle had a Circle Diet, although not every member of the Circle Diet would hold membership of the Imperial Diet as well.

Prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg

The Prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg was an ecclesiastical principality and state of the Holy Roman Empire. It comprised the secular territory ruled by the archbishops of Salzburg, as distinguished from the much larger Catholic diocese founded in 739 by Saint Boniface in the German stem duchy of Bavaria. The capital of the archbishopric was Salzburg, the former Roman city of Iuvavum.

Austrian Empire Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Southern Netherlands Historical region in Belgium

The Southern Netherlands, also called the Catholic Netherlands, was the part of the Low Countries largely controlled by Spain (1556–1714), later Austria (1714–1794), and occupied then annexed by France (1794–1815). The region also included a number of smaller states that were never ruled by Spain or Austria: the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, the Imperial Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy, the County of Bouillon, the County of Horne and the Princely Abbey of Thorn. The Southern Netherlands were part of the Holy Roman Empire until the whole area was annexed by Revolutionary France.

Emperor of Austria

The Emperor of Austria was the ruler of the Austrian Empire and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A hereditary imperial title and office proclaimed in 1804 by Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, and continually held by him and his heirs until Charles I relinquished power in 1918.

Habsburg Monarchy Former monarchy in Europe from 1282 to 1918

Habsburg Monarchy, Danubian Monarchy, Austrian Monarchy or Habsburg Empire is an umbrella term coined by historians to denote the numerous lands and kingdoms of the Habsburg dynasty, especially for those of the Austrian line. Although from 1438 to 1806, a member of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the Holy Roman Empire itself, over which the emperor exercised only very limited authority, was not considered to be part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Inner Austria

Inner Austria was a term used from the late 14th to the early 17th century for the Habsburg hereditary lands south of the Semmering Pass, referring to the Imperial duchies of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola and the lands of the Austrian Littoral. The residence of the Inner Austrian archdukes and stadtholders was at the Burg castle complex in Graz.

Duchy of Bavaria Former duchy in Germany

The Duchy of Bavaria was a frontier region in the southeastern part of the Merovingian kingdom from the sixth through the eighth century. It was settled by Bavarian tribes and ruled by dukes (duces) under Frankish overlordship. A new duchy was created from this area during the decline of the Carolingian Empire in the late ninth century. It became one of the stem duchies of the East Frankish realm which evolved as the Kingdom of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

Swabian Circle

The Circle of Swabia or Swabian Circle was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1500 on the territory of the former German stem-duchy of Swabia. However, it did not include the Habsburg home territories of Swabian Austria, the member states of the Swiss Confederacy nor the lands of the Alsace region west of the Rhine, which belonged to the Upper Rhenish Circle. The Swabian League of 1488, a predecessor organization, disbanded in the course of the Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years War later in the 16th century.

Treaty of Teschen 1779 peace treaty ending the War of the Bavarian Succession

The Treaty of Teschen was signed on 13 May 1779 in Teschen, Austrian Silesia, between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia, which officially ended the War of the Bavarian Succession.

Archduchy of Austria Fief of the Holy Roman Empire

The Archduchy of Austria was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire and the nucleus of the Habsburg Monarchy. With its capital at Vienna, the archduchy was centered at the Empire's southeastern periphery.

Duchy of Austria A medieval principality of the Holy Roman Empire, established in 1156 by the Privilegium Minus

The Duchy of Austria was a medieval principality of the Holy Roman Empire, established in 1156 by the Privilegium Minus, when the Margraviate of Austria (Ostarrîchi) was detached from Bavaria and elevated to a duchy in its own right. After the ruling dukes of the House of Babenberg became extinct in male line, there was as much as three decades of rivalry on inheritance and rulership, until the German king Rudolf I took over the dominion as the first monarch of the Habsburg dynasty in 1276. Thereafter, Austria became the patrimony and ancestral homeland of the dynasty and the nucleus of the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1453, the archducal title of the Austrian rulers, invented by Duke Rudolf IV in the forged Privilegium Maius of 1359, was officially acknowledged by the Habsburg emperor Frederick III.

County of Gorizia

The County of Gorizia, from 1365 Princely County of Gorizia, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. Originally mediate Vogts of the Patriarchs of Aquileia, the Counts of Gorizia (Meinhardiner) ruled over several fiefs in the area of Lienz and in the Friuli region of northeastern Italy with their residence at Gorizia (Görz).

Electorate of Bavaria

The Electorate of Bavaria was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire from 1623 to 1806, when it was succeeded by the Kingdom of Bavaria.

German Question Mid-19th century debate about the unification of Germany

"The German Question" was a debate in the 19th century, especially during the Revolutions of 1848, over the best way to achieve a unification of all or most lands inhabited by Germans. From 1815 to 1866, about 37 independent German-speaking states existed within the German Confederation. The Großdeutsche Lösung favored unifying all German-speaking peoples under one state, and was promoted by the Austrian Empire and its supporters. The Kleindeutsche Lösung sought only to unify the northern German states and did not include any part of Austria ; this proposal was favored by the Kingdom of Prussia.

Territories of the Holy Roman Empire outside the Imperial Circles

When the Imperial Circles — comprising a regional grouping of territories of the Holy Roman Empire — were created as part of the Imperial Reform at the 1500 Diet of Augsburg, many Imperial territories remained unencircled.

The two main labels that have been used to describe Mozart's nationality are "Austrian" and "German". However, in Mozart's own time, these terms were used differently from the way they are used today, because the modern nation states of Austria and Germany did not yet exist. Any decision to label Mozart as "Austrian" or "German" involves political boundaries, history, language, culture, and Mozart's own views. Editors of modern encyclopedias and other reference sources differ in how they assign a nationality to Mozart in light of conflicting criteria.