von Rauscher (1797-1875), cardinal archbishop of Vienna, who had earned his red hat by the share he had taken in arranging the concordat of 1855, and now attempted to use his great personal influence with the emperor (his former pupil) to defeat the bill.
The ministry had the enthusiastic support of the German population in the towns. They were also supported by the teaching profession, which desired emancipation from ecclesiastical control, and hoped that German schools and German railways were to complete the work which Joseph II. had begun. But the hostility of the Church was dangerous. The pope, in an allocution of 22nd June 1868, declared that these “damnable and abominable laws” which were “contrary to the concordat, to the laws of the Church and to the principles of Christianity,” were “absolutely and for ever null and void.” The natural result was that when they were carried into effect the bishops in many cases refused to obey. They claimed that the laws were inconsistent with the concordat, that the concordat still was in force, and that the laws were consequently invalid. The argument was forcible, but the courts decided against them. Rudigier, bishop of Linz, was summoned to a criminal court for disturbing the public peace; he refused to appear, for by the concordat bishops were not subject to temporal jurisdiction; and when he was condemned to imprisonment the emperor at once telegraphed his full pardon. In the rural districts the clergy had much influence; they were supported by the peasants, and the diets of Tirol and Vorarlberg, where there was a clerical majority, refused to carry out the school law.
On the proclamation of papal infallibility in 1870, the government took the opportunity of declaring that the concordat had lapsed, on the ground that there was a fundamental change in the character of the papacy. Nearly all the Austrian prelates had been opposed to the new doctrine; many of them remained to the end of the council and voted against it, and they only declared their submission with great reluctance. The Old Catholic movement, however, never made much progress in Austria. Laws regulating the position of the Church were carried in 1874. (For the concordat see Laveleye, La Prusse et l'Autriche, Paris, 1870.)
During 1868 the constitution then was open to attack on two Nationalism in Galicia and Bohemia. sides, for the nationalist movement was gaining ground in Bohemia and Galicia. In Galicia the extreme party, headed by Smolka, had always desired to imitate the Czechs and not attend at Vienna; they were outvoted, but all parties agreed on a declaration in which the final demands of the Poles were drawn up; they asked that the powers of the Galician diet should be much increased, and that the members from Galicia should cease to attend the Reichsrath on the discussion of those matters with which the Galician diet should be qualified to deal. If these demands were not granted they would leave the Reichsrath. In Bohemia the Czechs were very active; while the Poles were parading their hostility to Russia in such a manner as to cause the emperor to avoid visiting Galicia, some of the Czech leaders attended a Slav demonstration at Moscow, and in 1868 they drew up and presented to the diet at Prague a “declaration” which has since been regarded as the official statement of their claims. They asked for the full restoration of the Bohemian kingdom; they contended that no foreign assembly was qualified to impose taxes in Bohemia; that the diet was not qualified to elect representatives to go to Vienna, and that a separate settlement must be made with Bohemia similar to that with Hungary. This declaration was signed by eighty-one members, including many of the feudal nobles and bishops. The German majority declared that they had forfeited their seats, and ordered new elections. The agitation spread over the country, serious riots took place, and with a view to keeping order the government decreed exceptional laws. Similar events happened in Moravia, and in Dalmatia the revolt broke out among the Bocchesi.
Before the combination of Clericals and Federalists the Parliamentary breakdown of 1870. ministry broke down; they were divided among themselves; Counts Taaffe and Alfred Potocki, the minister of agriculture, wished to conciliate the Slav races—a policy recommended by Beust, probably with the sympathy of the emperor; the others determined to cripple the opposition by taking away the elections for the Reichsrath from the diets. Taaffe and his friends resigned in January 1870, but the majority did not long survive. In March, after long delay, the new Galician demands were definitely rejected; the whole of the Polish club, followed by the Tirolese and Slovenes, left the House, which consequently consisted of 110 members—the Germans and German representatives from Bohemia and Moravia. It was clearly impossible to govern with such a parliament. Not four years had gone by, and the new constitution seemed to have failed like the old one. The only thing to do was to attempt a reconciliation with the Slavs. The ministry resigned, and Potocki and Taaffe formed a government with this object. Potocki, now minister-president, then entered on negotiations, hoping to persuade the Czechs to accept the constitution. Rieger and Thun were summoned to Vienna; he himself went to Prague, but after two days he had to give up the attempt in despair. Feudals and Czechs all supported the declaration of 1868, and would accept no compromise, and he returned to Vienna after what was the greatest disappointment of his life. Government, however, had to be carried on; the war between Germany and France broke out in July, and Austria might be drawn into it; the emperor could not at such a crisis alienate either the Germans or the Slavs. The Reichsrath and all the diets were dissolved. This time in Bohemia the Czechs, supported by the Feudals and the Clericals, gained a large majority; they took their seats in the diet only to declare that they did not regard it as the legal representative of the Bohemian kingdom, but merely an informal assembly, and refused to elect delegates for the Reichsrath. The Germans in their turn now left the diet, and the Czechs voted an address to the crown, drawn up by Count Thun, demanding the restoration of the Bohemian kingdom. When the Reichsrath met there were present only 130 out of 203 members, for the whole Bohemian contingent was absent; the government then, under a law of 1868, ordered that as the Bohemian diet had sent no delegates, they were to be chosen directly from the people. Twenty-four Constitutionalists and thirty Declaranten were chosen; the latter, of course, did not go to Vienna, but the additional twenty-four made a working majority by which the government was carried on for the rest of the year.
But Potocki's influence was gone, and as soon as the European The ministry of Hohenwart. crisis was over, in February 1871, the emperor appointed a ministry chosen not from the Liberals but from the Federalists and Clericals, led by Count Hohenwart and A. E. F. Schäffle, a professor at the university of Vienna, chiefly known for his writings on political economy. They attempted to solve the problem by granting to the Federalists all their demands. So long as parliament was sitting they were kept in check; as soon as it had voted supplies and the Delegations had separated, they ordered new elections in all those diets where there was a Liberal majority. By the help of the Clericals they won enough seats to put the Liberals in a minority in the Reichsrath, and it would be possible to revise the constitution if the Czechs consented to come. They would only attend, however, on their own terms, which were a complete recognition by the government of the claims made in the Declaration. This was agreed to; and on the 12th of September at the opening of the diet, the governor read a royal message recognizing the separate existence of the Bohemian kingdom, and promising that the emperor should be crowned as king at Prague. It was received with delight throughout Bohemia, and the Czechs drew a draft constitution of fundamental rights. On this the Germans, now that they were in a minority, left the diet, and began preparations for resistance. In Upper Austria, Moravia and Carinthia, where they were outvoted by the Clericals, they seceded, and the whole work of 1867 was on the point of being overthrown. Were the movement not stopped the constitution would be superseded, and the union with Hungary endangered. Beust and Andrássy warned the emperor of the danger, and the crown prince of Saxony was summoned
- The documents are printed in Baron de Worms, op. cit.
- It is printed in the Europäischer Geschichtskalender (1868).