Renaissance and Reformation Austria
Joseph F. Patrouch
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 August 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0158


It is a challenge to define “Austria” in the 14th through the 17th centuries. On the one hand, the term refers to a geographic and political unit based on seigneurial holdings centered on the Danube Valley near cities such as Vienna and Linz. This Austria included the provinces of Upper and Lower Austria proper as well as territories such as Carinthia, Styria, Carniola (roughly what is now Slovenia), and Tirol and some scattered holdings in the upper Danube and Rhine valleys as far west as Alsace. On the other hand, “Austria” came to be tied to the family that ruled these and many other territories in the early modern and modern periods. This is the “House of Austria” or Hapsburg dynasty. For discussion of the latter aspect of Austrian identity, see the Oxford Bibliographies Online article “Hapsburgs.” This bibliography concentrates on the period from the demographic crisis of the mid-14th century and the economic, social, and cultural restructuring that resulted from it until the period immediately following the successful defense of the city of Vienna in 1683 against a besieging Ottoman army. After that event, the ruling dynasty could turn its increasingly unified Austrian lands into an important base for operations toward the east. One theme of much of the work mentioned in this article is the regional nature of authority in the relatively diverse territories that made up “Austria” in this period.

General Overviews

Austrian historians have specialized in source-based narrative study of the period and areas of concern here. The German-language handbooks, Lhotsky 1963, Pauser, et al. 2004, and the much older Uhlirz and Uhlirz 1927–1944, reflect this positivistic approach and should be used as introductions to the intricacies of the topic. H-Net provides access to archived postings as well as links to Austria-related institutions, syllabi, and other resources. Reisenleitner 2000 adds a more social and cultural history approach to the political and economic ones that characterize the other works.

  • H-Net.Habsburg.

    Reportedly the oldest historical online discussion group, Habsburg concentrates on the histories of the countries tied to the central European branch of the family beginning in the early 16th century. List members receive almost daily updates concerning recent books, conferences, calls for papers, and more. At times heated discussions can also develop about issues related to the histories of the area.

  • Lhotsky, Alfons. Quellenkunde zur mittelalterlichen Geschichte Österreichs. Graz, Austria: Böhlau, 1963.

    The primary-source study of the history of medieval Austria has been one of the specialties of Viennese historians since the end of the 19th century. This still- useful introduction to the topic gives a glimpse into the world illuminated by such an approach.

  • Pauser, Josef, Martin Scheutz, and Thomas Winkelbauer, eds. Quellenkunde der Habsburgermonarchie (16–18. Jahrhundert): Ein exemplarisches Handbuch. Vienna: Oldenbourg, 2004.

    Published by the Institute for Austrian Historical Research, this handbook, in over 1,100 pages, gives a detailed list of dozens of types of historical sources together with bibliographies and introductory essays. It is essential reading for research on the three centuries in question. This work includes nontraditional sources, such as pictures and material culture. It concentrates on the territory of contemporary Austria.

  • Reisenleitner, Markus. Frühe Neuzeit, Reformation und Gegenreformation. Innsbruck: Studien Verlag, 2000.

    A volume in a series of handbooks dealing with the structural histories of Austria. Clear preference for social historical themes. After a survey covering the early 16th through the early 17th centuries, the author provides an overview of a number of recent research problems, including those tied to social discipline and confessionalization as well as popular culture, and concludes with an extensive bibliography.

  • Uhlirz, Karl, and Mathilde Uhlirz. Handbuch der Geschichte Österreichs und seiner Nachbarländer Böhmen und Ungarn. Graz, Austria: Lauschner and Lubensky, 1927–1944.

    A useful handbook for the older literature on Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary by the famous father-daughter pair. An edition covering the period to 1526 was published in 1963, Handbuch der Geschichte Österreich-Ungarns (Graz, Austria: Böhlau). Karl Uhlirz was a specialist on medieval Austrian and Holy Roman imperial history and published source collections dealing with that topic and the history of Vienna.

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