Further Austria

Border stone of 1768 with coat of arms of "Vorderösterreich" (VO) at Salhöhe, Switzerland

Further Austria or Anterior Austria (German: Vorderösterreich, die Vorlande) was the collective name for the old possessions of the House of Habsburg in the former Swabian stem duchy of south-western Germany, including territories in the Alsace region west of the Rhine and in Vorarlberg, after the focus of the Habsburgs had moved to the Duchy of Austria subsequent to the 1278 Battle on the Marchfeld. From 1406 until 1490 Further Austria together with the County of Tyrol was included in the definition of "Upper Austria" (Oberösterreich, not to be confused with the modern Austrian state of Upper Austria).



Further Austria comprised the Sundgau with Belfort in southern Alsace and the adjacent Breisgau region east of the Rhine (including Freiburg im Breisgau after 1368) as well as numerous scattered territories throughout Swabia, the largest being the margravate of Burgau between the cities of Augsburg and Ulm. Some territories in Vorarlberg that belonged to the Habsburgs were also considered part of Further Austria. The original homelands of the Habsburgs, the Aargau with Habsburg Castle and much of the other original Habsburg possessions south of the High Rhine and Lake Constance were lost in the 14th century to the expanding Old Swiss Confederacy after the battles of Morgarten (1315) and Sempach (1386) and were never considered part of Further Austria - except for the Fricktal region around Rheinfelden and Laufenburg, which remained a Habsburg property until 1797.

At the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the Sundgau became part of France. After the Ottoman wars many inhabitants of Further Austria were encouraged to emigrate and settle in the newly acquired Transylvania region, people that later were referred as Danube Swabians. In the 18th century, the Habsburgs acquired a few minor new Swabian territories, such as Tettnang in 1780. As of 1790 Further Austria was subdivided into ten districts (Oberämter):

Further Austrian territories, after the loss of the Sundgau in 1648

In the reorganization of the Holy Roman Empire in the course of the French Revolutionary Wars, much of Further Austria, including the Breisgau, was by the 1801 Treaty of Lunéville granted as compensation to Ercole III d'Este, former duke of Modena and Reggio, who however died two years later. His heir as his son-in-law was Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este, the uncle of Emperor Francis II. After the Austrian defeat at the Battle of Austerlitz and the Peace of Pressburg in 1805, Further Austria was entirely dissolved and the formerly Habsburg territories were assigned to the Grand Duchy of Baden, the Kingdom of Württemberg and the Kingdom of Bavaria, as rewards for their alliance with Napoleonic France. The Fricktal had already become part of the Swiss Confederation in 1802.

After the defeat of Napoleon, there was some discussion at the Congress of Vienna of returning part of all of the Vorlande to Austria, but in the end only Vorarlberg returned to Austrian control, as the Austrian foreign minister Metternich did not want to offend the rulers of the South German states and hoped that removing Austria from its advanced position on the Rhine would reduce tensions with France.

Habsburg rulers

Politically, the Further Austrian territories were held by the Habsburg (Arch-)Dukes of Austria from 1278 onwards. Upon the 1379 Treaty of Neuberg, they together with Carinthia, Styria, Carniola and Tyrol fell to the Leopoldian line:

Further divided into Inner Austria proper (Carinthia and Styria) and Upper Austria (Tyrol and Further Austria), ruled by:

  • Frederick IV, younger brother of William, 1406-1439 (regent in Further Austria since 1402)
  • Frederick V, nephew of William, ruler of Inner Austria, 1439-1446 (regent)
  • Sigismund, son of Frederick IV, 1446–1490

In 1490 all Habsburg possessions were re-unified under the rule of Frederick V, Holy Roman Emperor since 1452. Upon the death of Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg in 1564, Further Austria and Tyrol was inherited by his second son:

In 1619 the Habsburg hereditary lands were re-unified under the rule of Emperor Ferdinand II. He gave Further Austria to his younger brother:

  • Leopold V, 1623–1632
  • Ferdinand Charles, son, 1632–1662
  • Sigismund Francis, brother 1662-1665

In 1665 the Habsburg lands were finally re-unified under the rule of Emperor Leopold I.


  • Becker, Irmgard Christa, ed. Vorderösterreich, Nur die Schwanzfeder des Kaiseradlers? Die Habsburger im deutschen Südwesten. Süddeutsche Verlagsgesellschaft. Ulm 1999, ISBN 3-8829-4277-0 (Katalog der Landesausstellung).
  • Döbeli, Christoph. Die Habsburger zwischen Rhein und Donau. 2. Auflage, Erziehungsdepartement des Kantons Aargau, Aarau 1996, ISBN 3-952-06901-9.
  • Maier, Hans and Volker Press, eds. Vorderösterreich in der frühen Neuzeit. Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1989, ISBN 3-7995-7058-6.
  • Metz, Friedrich, ed. Vorderösterreich. Eine geschichtliche Landeskunde. 4. überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Rombach, Freiburg i. Br. 2000, ISBN 3-7930-9237-2.
  • Rommel, Klaus, ed. Das große goldene Medaillon von 1716. (Donativ des Breisgaus,Schwäbisch-Österreich und Vorarlberg zur Geburt Leopolds). Rommel: Lingen 1996, ISBN 3-9807091-0-8.
  • Zekorn, Andreas, Bernhard Rüth, Hans-Joachim Schuster and Edwin Ernst Weber, eds. Vorderösterreich an oberem Neckar und oberer Donau. UVK Verlagsges., Konstanz 2002, ISBN 3-89669-966-0 (hrsg. im Auftrag der Landkreise Rottweil, Sigmaringen, Tuttlingen und Zollernalbkreis).

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