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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Styria

A duchy and Austrian crownland

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Styria (GER. STEIERMARK), a duchy and Austrian crownland, divided by the River Mur into Upper and Lower Styria. The province is rich in minerals, as iron ore, brown coal, etc. Its area is 8980 sq. miles, and in 1910 it had 1,441,604 inhabitants. Of the population 68 per cent are Germans, and 32 per cent Slovenes. The Slovenes who are a branch of the Slavonic race, live chiefly in the southern and southeastern portions of the province, in Lower Styria. Ninety-eight per cent of the population is Catholic; one per cent Protestant; the rest are Jews or belong to the Orthodox Greek Church. The capital of the province is Graz (152,000 inhabitants); it is the residence of the governor and the seat of the administration of the province. In the Roman era Styria was a part of Noricum. During the great migrations various German tribes traversed the region, and about A.D. 600 the Slays took possession of it. Styria came under the supremacy of Charlemagne as a part of Karantania (Carinthia). Large numbers of Germans, especially Bavarians, came into the country, settled in colonies in it, and made it Christian. The work of conversion was carried on mainly from Salzburg; Bishop Virgilius of Salzburg (745-84), an Irishman, was largely instrumental in converting the country to Christianity, and gained for himself the name of "Apostle of Karantania". The Patriarchs of Aquileia also shared in the work. In 811 Charlemagne made the Drave River the boundary of the Dioceses of Salzburg and Aquileia. In the tenth century a part of Styria was separated from Carinthia under the name of the Carinthian Mark; it was also named the Windie March. The margaves ruling the mark took from the name of the fortified castle of Steier the title of Margraves of Steiermark, and the country received in German the name of Steiermark. During the reign of Margrave Ottokar II (1164-92) Styria was raised to a duchy by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1180. With the death of Ottokar the first line of rulers of Styria became extinct; the region fell to the Babenberg family who then ruled in Austria. In a short time this family became extinct also, and Styria then passed under the control of Hungary (1254-60), and of King Ottokar of Bohemia; finally in 1276 it came into the possession of the Habsburgs, whose property it still remains. During the years 1379-1439 and 1564-1619 it was ruled by princes of its own from a branch of the Habsburgs. At the time of the Turkish invasions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the land suffered severely. The Turks made incursions into Styria nearly twenty times; churches, monasteries, cities, and villages were destroyed and plundered, while the population was either killed or carried away into slavery.

The Reformation made its way into the country about 1530. During 1564-90 the country was ruled by Duke Karl, whose wife was the Duchess Maria of Bavaria, a courageous champion of Catholicism. He introduced the Counter-Reformation into the country on the basis of the Religious Peace of Augsburg of 1555. In 1573 he summoned the Jesuits and in 1586 he founded the University of Graz. In 1598 his son and successor, Ferdinand, suppressed all Protestant schools and expelled the foreign teachers and preachers. The common people again accepted with but slight opposition the Catholic faith. The Protestant doctrines were maintained only in a few isolated mountain valleys, as in the valley of the Inn and the valley of the Mur. The nobility were not forced to return to the Church; each could have Protestant services in his own house. After Ferdinand had become Emperor of Germany (1619) and had defeated his Protestant opponents in the battle of the White Mountain near Prague (1620), he forbade in 1625 all Protestant church services. In 1628 he commanded the nobility also to return to the Catholic faith. A large number of noble families, consequently, emigrated from the country; but most of them either returned, or their descendants did so, becoming Catholics and recovering their possessions. In the second half of the seventeenth century the Protestant spirit broke out again, especially in the distant valleys in the mountains, owing to events in the Duchy of Salzburg. The agitators from the Protestant districts of Germany were expelled, and the peasants who would not give up Protestantism were condemned to compulsory emigration to Transylvania. It should be remembered that the harsh laws issued by the Catholic rulers of Styria and Austria were the application of the axiom then current in European national law: cujus regio ejus religio, and that the Protestant princes suppressed and persecuted Catholicism and its adherents much more severely in their territories. The Edict of Toleration issued by the Emperor Joseph II in 1781 put an end to the religious contest of more than two hundred years. The Protestants then received the right to found parish communities and to exercise their religion there undisturbed. On account of the constitutions gained by the German people in 1848 all the provinces of the Austrian Empire received complete liberty of religion and of conscience, parity of religions, and the right to the public exercise of religion. As regards the present relation between Church and State, the Church and the schools, conditions are the same as in the other sections of Austria.

Ecclesiastically the province is divided into two prince-bishoprics, Seckau and Lavant. Ever since the time of their foundation both have been suffragans of the Archdiocese of Salzburg. The Prince-Bishopric of Sekau was established in 1218; since 1786 the see of the prince-bishop has been Graz. The Prince-Bishopric of Lavant was founded as a bishopric in 1228, and raised to a prince-bishopric in 1446; since 1847 Marburg on the Drave has been the see of the prince-bishop. There are in the entire Duchy of Styria 96 deaneries and 551 parishes, altogether 1163 parochial districts, each district containing on an average 1151 Catholics. Styria contains many old and celebrated houses of the orders, as: the collegiate foundation of the Reformed Augustinian Canons of Vorau (founded 1163); the Benedictine abbeys at Admont (1074); at St. Lambrecht (1066); at Seckau (founded as a house of the Augustinian Canons in 1140, suppressed in 1782, from 1883 a monastery, since 1887 abbey of the Beuronese Benedictines); the Cistercian abbey at Rein (1120); the Franciscan monastery at Graz (since 1515; founded in 1230 as a monastery of the Minorites), at Maria-Lankowitz (1456), at Maria-Nazareth (1632); the Minorite monasteries at Graz (1526), and of St. Peter and Paul at Pettau (1239); the Capuchin monasteries at Cilli (1611), Leibnitz (1634), Hartberg (1654), and Schwanberg (1706); the collegiate foundations of the Redemptorists at Mautern (dating from 1826; founded in 1670 as a Franciscan monastery), and at Leoben (1844); the Trappist Abbey of Maria-Erlösung at Reichenberg (1881; abbey since 1891), etc. There are also many houses of female orders and congregations. The Catholic societies and confraternities are large and numerous.

HERMANN SACHER


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