Linz

   The capital city of Upper Austria, Linz has been settled since the Old Stone Age. Continuous habitation of the area dates from the New Stone Age; the Romans erected a castle there in the second half of the first century BCE. The city lies at a strategic point on the east–west and north–south axes of the Danube River, which runs between southeastern and northeastern Europe. Nevertheless, even in its years of Roman occupation, it never acquired imperial municipal status. Its name, however, is of Roman–Celtic origin, Lentia in Latin from the Celtic root älentos, meaning bent.
   As elsewhere in the Austrian lands, Bavarians came to the region of Linz by the seventh century; the settlement served as a customs station during the Carolingian era. The Babenbergs acquired it in 1205–1206, after which Linz took on an increasingly important regional character. When it passed to the Habsburgs in the latter decades of the 13th century, it became a territorial administrative seat. At least one of the Habsburg dukes, Albrecht VI (1418–1463), a brother and bitter rival of Emperor Frederick III, resided in Linz between 1485 and 1486. Frederick himself made the city a territorial capital.
   Linz, along with Upper Austria as a whole, was an important center of Austrian Protestantism during the Reformation. The recatholicization of the population was especially brutal. From the 17th and 18th to the early 19th centuries, the city was the scene of much destructive warfare. Napoleon alone occupied it three times (1800–1801, 1805–1806, 1809).
   Though its economy suffered considerably under such upheavals, Linz began preparing the way in the 17th century for its leading role in the industrialization of modern Austria. The first factory of the Habsburg monarchy, a wool-making establishment, opened in the city in 1672. Its purpose was to encourage sheep husbandry for raw wool to be processed locally as well as to provide employment for the numerous beggars who haunted the roadways and towns of the area. The first railroad on the continent in the 19th century was drawn by horses on a track that ran from Linz to Ceské Budějovice (Germ.: Budweis) after 1832 and carried salt from local mines eastward. There was some passenger traffic as well. The second half of the 19th century saw the expansion not only of the textile industry, but also of the manufacturing of heavy machinery such as locomotives, and commercial food processing. The city incorporated several outlying areas into its boundaries as well.
   With a substantial industrial working class, Linz was a center of Austrian Social Democracy and the opposition to Austro-Fascism and Nazism. The February Uprising against the right-wing Dollfuss government and its supporters in the Heimwehr began there. Following the Anschluss, the Nazi government of Austria developed the industrial sector of the city’s economy even more. Allied bombing during World War II, especially in 1944 and 1945, destroyed much of this infrastructure. However, after 1945 the city’s industry was substantially rebuilt, especially its textile and steel mills, to make it the center of a complex array of industries, as well as an important Danube port. Air pollution, once a hallmark of the city, has been substantially reduced, and Linz is now the home of some of Austria’s most important public and private companies. Its location has also made it a desirable place for foreign enterprises to locate, an increasingly important consideration for Austria as a member of the European Union.
   See also Transportation.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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