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See also Duchy of Silesia.
Herzogtum Ober- und Niederschlesien
Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia
Kronland of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Austrian Empire, from 1867 Cisleithanian Kronland of Austria–Hungary
Silesia
1742–1918 Czech Silesia
 
Autonomous Silesian Voivodeship

Coat of arms

Austrian Silesia (shown in red) within Austria-Hungary until 1918
Capital Opava
Language(s) German, Polish, Czech
Government Principality
History
 - Division of Silesia 1742
 - Part of Austrian Empire 1804
 - Crown land of
   Cisleithania
1867
 - Disestablished 1918
Area
 - 1910 5,147 km2 (1,987 sq mi)
Population
 - 1910 est. 756,949 
     Density 147.1 /km2  (380.9 /sq mi)

The Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia (German: Herzogtum Ober- und Niederschlesien) was an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Austrian Empire and a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria–Hungary. It is also known as Austrian Silesia (German: Österreichisch Schlesien; Czech: Rakouské Slezsko; Polish: Śląsk Austriacki), and despite the official name it only included parts of Upper Silesia, while none of Lower Silesia was within its borders. It is largely coterminous with the present-day region of Czech Silesia.

Contents

Geography

Silesia with Kłodzko (outlined in red) after the 1742 Peace of Breslau,
Austrian Silesia in yellow
Austrian Silesia (outlined in yellow), Richard Andree, 1880

Austrian Silesia consisted of two territories, separated by the Moravian land strip of Moravské Ostrava between the Ostravice and Oder rivers.

The area east of the Ostravice around Cieszyn reached from the heights of the Western Carpathians (Silesian Beskids) in the south, where it bordered with Hungary, along the Olza and upper Vistula rivers to the border with Prussian Silesia in the north. In the east the Biała river at Bielsko separated it from the lands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Austrian Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria from 1772.

The territory west of the Oder river around the town of Opava was confined by the Jeseník mountain range of the eastern Sudetes in the south, separating it from Moravia, and the Opava river in the north.

History

As part of the Bohemian kingdom, Silesia was inherited by Archduke Ferdinand I from the House of Habsburg in 1526 after the death of the last Jagiellon king Louis II at the Battle of Mohács. With the accession of Maria Theresa of Austria to the throne in 1740, King Frederick II of Prussia laid claim to the Silesian province and, without waiting for any reply, on 16 December started the First Silesian War, thereby opening the War of the Austrian Succession. His campaign was concluded in 1742 with the Prussian victory at the Battle of Chotusitz leading to the Treaty of Breslau, in which Silesia was divided.

Composition of Austrian Silesia

Under the terms of the treaty, the Kingdom of Prussia received most of the territory including the County of Kladsko, while only a small part of southeastern Silesia remained with the Habsburg Monarchy, consisting of:

forming the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia, a Land of the Bohemian Crown with its capital in Opava. In 1766 the title of a Duke of Teschen was granted to Prince Albert of Saxony, son-in-law of Maria Theresa, while the title of a Duke of Troppau and Jägerndorf remained with the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. The former Neisse territory was held by the Bishops of Wrocław at Castle Jánský vrch (Johannisberg).

When in 1804 Emperor Francis II of Habsburg established the Austrian Empire, his title would include the "Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia". Austrian Silesia was connected by rail with the capital Vienna, when the Northern Railway was extended to Bohumín station in 1847. In the course of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 it became a crown land of Cisleithanian Austria.

In 1918, the Austrian monarchy was abolished and the major part of Austrian Silesia was ceded to the newly-created state of Czechoslovakia by the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, with the exception of Cieszyn Silesia (the former Duchy of Teschen), which after the Polish–Czechoslovak War was split in 1920 along the Olza river with its eastern part falling to the Autonomous Silesian Voivodeship of Poland. Smaller parts of the duchy also became a part of Poland, while the Hlučín Region of the Prussian Province of Silesia fell to Czechoslovakia.

Demographics

According to an Austrian census, Austrian Silesia in 1910 was home to 756,949 people, speaking the following languages:

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Major towns

Towns with more than 5,000 people in 1880:

Cities German name Population
Opava Troppau 20,563
Bielsko Bielitz 13,060
Cieszyn/Těšín Teschen 13,004
Krnov Jägerndorf 11,792
Bruntál Freudenthal 7,595
Frýdek Frydek 7,374 (1890)

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