Denomination, today, of a small state, the name Austria indicated for about four centuries of European history one of the great powers that competed for political supremacy in the old continent. And yet that great state, if it constituted a unity from the dynastic point of view, did not form a national, cultural, moral unity, which deepened its roots in the distant past and could therefore face the future ever more luxuriantly.
According to top-engineering-schools, there was Austria; better, the Habsburg monarchy: but under the common denominator were hidden the very profound differences of race, language, culture, traditions, for which Bohemians, Hungarians, Croats, Romanians, Italians and Germans continued to belong to themselves, even though remaining subject to a common sovereign. True Austria, in the strict sense, with its German population, lived in the orbit of the general Germanic civilization, although naturally presenting its own characteristics that differentiated it, for example, from Prussian culture, while the Italian populations remained, however, in the orbit of the Italian civilization of the Renaissance and the Counter-Reformation. Yes, over time, common economic interests were established, so that more and more in this regard it was possible to speak of a unity of the “Danubian” regions:
Such a constitution of the state “Austria” under the secular unitary policy of the Habsburgs clarifies the particularities of the history of Austria. The same term indicated two too different entities. And so, if in the early days the history of Austria was that of a small state similar to many other feudal formations; in a second time it doubles: since the small state continues to have its own physiognomy, but at the same time, for being the dynastic center, it gives its name to a vast conglomerate of different peoples until, once the conglomerate is broken, it remains the small state, alone again. No other European state has had a history like this. Hence the difficulties of a discussion that must affect many peoples and countries, without being able to find a true continuous unifying center,
From its origins to 1815. 1. – Immigrations in the Danube regions and their events up to the foundation of the brand of Austria. – Towards the middle of the century. VI various peoples settled in the Sudetenland and Danube region. In the countries of the eastern Alps the Baiuvari of Germanic lineage stopped, in the Bohemian-Moravic basin the Cèchi of Slavic lineage; in the Danube plain the Avars of Ural-Altaic lineage. The latter had, then, a preponderant part in the events of the Danube region, and the state they founded constituted, in this region, the strongest political grouping until the end of the century. VIII, when Charlemagne, after repeated expeditions (791, 796, 803) managed to destroy it. Consequence of this fact was the foundation of the eastern brand (Ostmark), created by Charlemagne with the intention of protecting the Empire against new, possible assaults by the Avars or other peoples from Eastern Europe and Asia.
Actually, we don’t know what its extension was, nor the names of all the rulers of this brand. According to a tradition, the Margrave Radbot would have reconquered Croatia from the empire, invaded in 838 by the Khan of the Bulgarians, Omortag: but the news is handed down to us from vague and obscure sources. What is certain is that the establishment of the eastern brand effectively favored the spread of Christianity, a sure way to consolidate Frankish power. Evangelization was then vigorously continued at the same time by the bishops of Bavaria, but especially by the recently created one of Salzburg, which was the forward sentinel of Germanism and Christianity towards the middle Danube valley. But, to this movement of evangelization, of a purely Germanic stamp, an identical movement was opposed, which came from Byzantium: with quite different results, since the work of the two monks Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius, sent by the Byzantine emperor Michael and welcomed by Prince Rastislav of Moravia, led to the introduction of writing Slavic ecclesiastical, the so-called Glagolitic, and of the Slavic liturgy. Hence, bitter contrasts with the Bavarian bishoprics; hence the origin of the writing Conversio Baioariorum et Carantanorum, which enumerates the merits of the bishopric of Salzburg in favor of Christianity, and is one of the most important sources for the knowledge of national and cultural conditions in the Slavic-Bavarian border countries in the century. IX. The discord between the bishops of Bavaria and the founders of the Slavic church was settled by the synod of Rome (867), to the advantage of the Slavs: since Pope Adrian II granted the new Moravian communities the use of the Slavic language in the church.
Rastislav’s successor, named Svatopluk (who died in 894), succeeded in subduing the Czech tribes of Bohemia ruled by Bořivoj, the first whose name is known. But the great Slavic-Moravian state, which was thus forming, was destroyed on 5 and 6 July 907 in the battle of Presburgo, by a new people, the Hungarians, who then immediately turned against the Germanic and Italian countries. Henry I of Germany had to fight against the Hungarians, who won them in Merseburg (933), and his son Otto I, emperor who, with the great victory of Augusta (9-10 August 955), sent them back definitively. But the gravity of the Hungarian danger had been such that, precisely in those years (952), Otto I had to carry out a complete administrative-military reorganization of the whole region of the Eastern Alps. Joining Friuli with Aquileia and Verona to the duchy of Bavaria, he founded various brands: to the eastern brand, re-established between the Traun and the Traisen, he added the brand of Carantania on the Mur (the center of today’s Styria), the brand of Pettau (in the territory between the Mur and the Drava), the Marca on the Sann (southern tributary of the Drava), and finally the Marca of Carniola and the Marca of Istria: both approximately the same extent as the later provinces of the same name of the Austro- Hungarian. These five brands were then detached from Bavaria under the son and successor of Otto I, Emperor Otto II (973-983), who, being at war with his brother Henry the Quarrelsome, Duke of Bavaria, used this means to weaken the rebel. The eastern brand remained dependent on Bavaria; but it was taken from Margrave Burghart, who appears to have supported the rebel duke. Instead, Leopoldo, of the Babenberg family (v.), Was invested, who is believed to be of Franco-Eastern lineage and derived his name from the city of Bamberg.