- Known throughout much of its history as Austria above the Enns, Upper Austria is the most industrialized of all the Federal Republic’s provinces. It accounts for about 25 percent of modern Austria’s industrial output and exports. It is an agricultural center as well, and its numerous and picturesque lakes make it a favorite summer resort. Like Lower Austria, it is administered in four historic quarters (Germ.: Vierteln), which took shape over several centuries of development and territorial acquisition. The capital is Linz, which is both a manufacturing center and a port on the Danube River.There is evidence for the settlement of Upper Austria from the early Stone Age. An elaborate culture developed around Hallstatt during the Ice Age. During the Roman era in the history of central Europe, the part of Upper Austria that lies south of the Danube was incorporated into the imperial province of Noricum. The modern city of Wels (Lat.: Ovilava) was its capital. Bavarian infiltration began in the latter part of the sixth and beginning of the seventh centuries; Slavs appeared in the east and southeast of the region. As part of the Bavarian duchy of the Agilofinger, Upper Austria was incorporated into the Carolingian Empire under Charlemagne in 788.The 10th and 11th centuries were especially unsettled times in Upper Austria, as control over parts of it shifted among Magyar invaders, local dynasties such as the Lambachs, the Bavarians, and the Otakar dynasty, which would eventually come to control Styria. The Babenbergs, based in Lower Austria, who already controlled a great deal of the surrounding area, acquired title to the territory above the Enns in the second half of the 12th century. The move was part of a general expansion of the dynasty’s influence throughout the Austrian lands; a separate territorial identity for Upper Austria developed only after this time. It was not until the middle of the 13th century that Upper Austria (Lat.: Austria superior) was used to designate noble judicial and communal structures in the terrain roughly between Ybbs and Hausruck.Once the Habsburgs took over the area in the latter third of the century, it became a distinct administrative unit with its own governor. The coat of arms of Upper Austria dates from 1390. By the 15th century, Upper Austria was acquiring greater provincial identity through its local estates. Nevertheless, the precise nature of its legal relationship to Lower Austria was not clarified until well into modern times. In 1861, Austria above the Enns was granted equivalent status to Austria below the Enns within the Habsburg domains. The archbishoprics of Salzburg and Passau also had extensive territorial holdings in Upper Austria, some of which endured until the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. Upper Austria was especially troubled by the events of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. The site of stubborn agrarian unrest at the end of the 16th century, the area was also heavily Protestant. Significant elements of the local nobility sympathized with the Bohemian uprising against Habsburg rule that set off the Thirty Years’ War. The re-catholicization of the area, which began in the 1620s, was especially brutal. The Habsburgs continued to add to the territory; the settlement following the War of the Bavarian Succession brought the Inn Viertel under Habsburg control. The Anschluss with Germany in 1938 finally gave Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), born in Braunau on the Inn, a German birthplace.Following World War II, Upper Austria was divided into two zones of occupation. The area south of the Danube was under American control; the territory north of the river was largely in Soviet hands. Its industrial facilities and its port infrastructure in Linz were quickly rebuilt.
Historical dictionary of Austria. Paula Sutter Fichtner. 2014.
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