- One of Austria’s most durable tourist attractions, Salzburg is both a city and a province of the modern Federal Republic. The first human habitation of the region dates from Paleolithic times. Mammoth salt deposits around Hallein brought people to extract it as early as the sixth century BCE. Celtic settlers were especially active in this work around 450 BCE in the area in and near Hallein. Copper was mined in the Salzburg region during the Bronze Age. Roman troops displaced the Celts in Salzburg in 15 BCE. Roman Juvavum, as it was known, included both the modern city of Salzburg, which was an administrative center, and an extended territory around it. The Roman road through the Tauern Pass was one of the empire’s most important north–south links. As the Germanic tribal migrations began crossing the region at the end of the fourth century CE, the sessile population diminished. Nevertheless, when the Romans withdrew in 488, they left a substantial number of Celto–Romanic peoples behind, particularly around what would become the city of Salzburg. The Bavarians appeared in the region during the sixth century and put down roots. Slavic peoples moved into some valleys as well.The Christianizing of the region took place under Bavarian auspices. Duke Theodo sent a Rhenish clergyman, Bishop Ruprecht (ca. 650–716?), to begin the task in 696. Later canonized, Ruprecht was generously rewarded for his labors in this life, too, with extractive rights to the salt deposits around Reichenhall and other lucrative possessions. It was at this time that the territory and its most important city became known as Salzburg. Strategically located for eastern missions, Salzburg served as the center for the evangelization of both the Slavs and the Magyars in the eighth and ninth centuries. During this period, German kings granted additional land throughout Lower Austria, Carinthia, and Styria to the bishopric. The see thus established proprietary beachheads in those provinces that often frustrated the ambitions of local secular authorities until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Indeed, the bishops of Salzburg became ecclesiastical princes. Closer to their base, they consolidated their hold on such economically valuable areas as the forests of the Pongau, which they cleared and settled. In 1342, Bishop Heinrich referred to Salzburg as “his land.” By the end of the 14th century, the bishopric had acquired most of the territories radiating from Salzburg. The dukes of Bavaria had formally withdrawn their claims to the area as well.The economy of the prince-bishopric of Salzburg reached its high point in the late 15th and 16th centuries. Not only did the salt mines turn a profit; gold and silver came out of the region as well. However, not all of the territory’s peoples prospered. Between 1525 and 1526, a particularly nasty uprising of peasants and miners against their ruler, Cardinal Matthäus Lang (1468–1540), took place. The cleric had to call upon the Habsburg archduke in Vienna, Ferdinand I, for military aid. Such wealth did not last. Five-sixths of Salzburg’s terrain is mountainous, a serious limitation on economic growth in early modern times. Indeed, the 17th-century archbishops who built the Baroque city that lures so many admirers today—Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1559–1617), Marcus Sitticus (1574–1619), and Paris Lodron (1586–1653)—were drawing upon dwindling resources that they supplemented with higher and higher taxes. The Catholic CounterReformation, to which they owed their positions, had significant and unpleasant religious consequences for a sizable segment of Salzburg’s population. By the 1680s, the Protestant community of the land was coming under pressure to leave. In 1731–1732, more than 20,000 peasants of evangelical faith emigrated. Many of them went to the kingdom of Prussia, and a significant number came to the British North American colonies, particularly in the south. A few landed in the Netherlands.The prince-bishopric disappeared as a territorial principality in 1803 with the reconfiguration of Germany during the Napoleonic Wars. It passed in 1816 to the new Austrian Empire of the Habsburgs as part of the territorial settlement reached at the Congress of Vienna. The change brought neither riches nor prestige to the province. It was not until the second half of the 19th century, with the construction of transit railroads and the beginning of tourism, that economic growth returned to Salzburg. This accelerated considerably after World War I under the energetic leadership of the territorial governor, Franz Rehrl (1890–1947), of the Christian Social Party. The newly created Salzburg Festival proved to be an international attraction.The Anschluss with Germany in 1938 had much popular support in Salzburg. The Great Depression had increased the already large numbers of unemployed, who bitterly resented the economic privileges accorded to functionaries of the major political parties. The Allies bombed the region heavily during World War II; in one industrial center, Hallein, around 15,000 people were killed as a result of such attacks. The Americans occupied Salzburg after the war until 1955 and did much to encourage its revival, especially its summer festival. Today, with a reestablished university (1962) and the elevation of the Mozarteum to a music academy (1971), it is among Austria’s most economically dynamic and sophisticated regions.
Historical dictionary of Austria. Paula Sutter Fichtner. 2014.
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