In 1701 the War of the Spanish Succession broke out over the legacy of the last Spanish Habsburg, Charles II. According to petsinclude.com, the French superiority was broken by the victories of Prince Eugen and the Duke of Marlborough. But when after the death of Joseph I the imperial dignity with the hereditary lands to his brother Charles VI , the aspirant to the Spanish throne, Great Britain prevented the concentration of the entire power of the Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs in one hand with the Peace of Utrecht of 1713. Charles VI had to leave Spain to the Bourbons in the Peace of Rastatt in 1714 and be content with the Spanish neighboring countries except Sicily. He soon gave Sardinia to Piedmont-Savoy in exchange for Sicily, but lost Sicily and Naples to the Spanish Bourbons in 1735 as a result of his policy in the War of the Polish Succession. An unfortunate Turkish war in 1739 led to the loss of the conquests of 1718 (with the exception of the Temescher Banat).
After the death of her father, Maria Theresa took over the government due to the Pragmatic Sanction (1740–80), but had to defend the Habsburg hereditary lands against the claims of many opponents (Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony-Poland, France, Spain) in the War of the Austrian Succession.
In the two Silesian Wars, she lost most of Silesia to King Frederick II, the Great, of Prussia; During the Peace of Aachen, in 1748, she was forced to leave the Italian duchies of Parma and Piacenza, acquired in 1735, to the Spanish Bourbons.
Foreign policy, headed by W. A. Count Kaunitz, in alliance with France and Russia, was aimed at regaining Silesia, which Frederick the Great claimed in the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). In contrast, Austria expanded its territory to the east when it received Galicia during the first partition of Poland in 1772 and in 1775 caused Turkey to cede Bukovina. Maria Theresa’s husband, Franz Stephan von Lothringen, elected Emperor Franz I, became the progenitor of the House of Habsburg-Lothringen. After his death (1765) Maria Theresa took her son Joseph (II.) as co-regent; his plan to exchange the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria caused the largely bloodless War of the Bavarian Succession, but only brought Austria into the Bavarian Innviertel (1779; Austria now covered 610,000 km2). – The domestic politics of the energetic ruler, initiated by Friedrich Wilhelm Graf Haugwitz (* 1702, † 1765), resulted in a. the fundamental reorganization of the state administration, but the centralistic reform only extended to the Austrian and Bohemian hereditary lands. Against Joseph II who assumed sole rule in 1780 after the death of his mother, and his radical reforms arose particularly in Hungary and in the Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium), in defense of the old special rights; the “Brabant Revolution” (1789/90) took place in the Netherlands. Shortly before his death, Joseph had to reverse most of his reforms. At least the abolition of serfdom and his ecclesiastical political system (Josephinism) remained in effect. Foreign policy was also unhappy: The re-established Bavarian-Dutch exchange plan was met by King Frederick II, the Great, of Prussia with the German Princes’ League, which was stabilizing the empire; a Turkish war (1788–91) was almost unsuccessful. Joseph’s brother, Emperor Leopold II, restored calm in Hungary and the Austrian Netherlands, made peace with Turkey and came to an understanding with Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia in the Reichenbach Convention (1790).
Leopold’s son, Emperor Franz II, had to take up the fight against revolutionary France. As a result of the French Revolutionary Wars, Austria lost the Austrian Netherlands and Lombardy in the Peace of Campoformio (1797), for which it received the territory of the Republic of Venice (Veneto, the margraviate of Istria, Dalmatia). Austria also had to bear heavy burdens in the coalition wars that followed. By the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (1803) it won the Tyrolean monasteries Trient and Brixen.
Austria as part of the German Empire
Under pressure from National Socialist Germany, Schuschnigg gave up the referendum he had planned for March 13, 1938, on the preservation of Austrian independence, and resigned on March 11, 1938. After the German troops marched in on March 12, Seyss-Inquart, appointed by Federal President Miklas on March 11 as Federal Chancellor, was “annexed” to the German Reich on March 13 (A. Hitler’s speech on March 15 on the Vienna Heldenplatz). Under the conditions of a dictatorship, 99.7% of the population on April 10, 1938 approved the annexation; numerous supporters of the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime, socialists and racially unpopular people had already been brought to the Dachau concentration camp or its Austrian branch in Mauthausen (which had been an independent camp since March 1939); the German government included Austria in the general persecution of the Jews. With the Ostmarkgesetz of April 14, 1939, Austria was reorganized (Reichsgaue instead of federal states; 1943–45 collectively called Alpine and Donaureichsgaue; German history). From 1939–45 Austrian soldiers took part in the fighting of World War II. Resistance groups formed (socialists, Christian socialists, supporters of the monarchy) who made contact with one another and also sought contact with German resistance organizations.