Baron Alexander von Bach
|Portrait of Alexander von Bach (c. 1849) by Josef Kriehuber.|
|Interior Minister of the Austrian Empire|
28 July 1849 – 22 August 1859
|Monarch||Francis Joseph I|
|Prime Minister||Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg (1849–1852)
Count Karl Ferdinand von Buol (1852–1859)
|Preceded by||Franz Stadion, Count von Warthausen|
|Succeeded by||Count Agenor Gołuchowski|
4 January 1813|
|Died||12 November 1893
Baron Alexander von Bach (German: Alexander Freiherr von Bach; 4 January 1813, Loosdorf, Austria - 12 November 1893, Schöngrabern, Austria) was an Austrian politician. His most notable achievement was instituting a system of centralized control at the beginning of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
Born in Loosdorf, Lower Austria, he came from a legal background, with his father holding a judicial office. At the age of 24 he was made a doctor of laws, and then entered the Imperial service, where he remained for nine years. Seen as an up-and-coming, young radical, Adolph Schwarzenberg noted that 'his motto must have been "to improvise is to change, to be perfect is to change often"'. In this way, he was a well-known liberal lawyer, and was first called a "minister of barricades", before he served as Minister of Justice in 1848 and 1849, and then moving on to Minister of the Interior from 1849 to 1859.
Minister of the Interior (1849-1859)
Although he favored a departure from the absolute system of Metternich, Bach was not prepared to go so far as the Revolutionaries of 1848 wished. In his views, he has been called a man who was 'quite wonderfully unprincipled' and so could change his position often. This allowed him to be driven into conservative ranks by popular opposition: he gradually adhered to conservative views, endorsing the centralizing constitutional program of Prince Schwarzenberg in March 1849, thus further inflaming Hungarian sentiments. However, the impact of his reforms on Hungary has been the contest of many historical debates. Some viewed the Revolution as far more productive in recreating the Hungarian "national identity", whereas some contemporaries of later Hungarian revolutions saw the systems created by Bach as the foremost driver in Hungarian nationalism.
After the death of Schwarzenberg in 1852, he largely dictated policy in Austria and Hungary. Bach centralized administrative authority for the Austrian Empire, but he also endorsed reactionary policies that reduced freedom of the press and abandoned public trials. He represented later the Absolutist (or Klerikalabsolutist) direction, which culminated in the concordat of August 1855 that gave the Roman Catholic Church control over education and family life.
The pillars of the so-called Bach system (Bachsches System) were, in the words of Adolf Fischhof, four "armies": a standing army of soldiers, a sitting army of office holders, a kneeling army of priests and a fawning army of sneaks. Prisons were full of political prisoners; for example during his administration, Czech nationalist journalist and writer Karel Havlíček Borovský was forcibly expatriated (1851–1855) to Brixen—exile undermined his health, dying soon afterwards. This affair earned Bach a very bad reputation amongst Czechs and subsequently led to the strengthening of the Czech national movement.
However his relaxed ideological views (past that of preserving the monarchy) led to a great rise in the 1850s of economic freedom. Under him the internal customs duties were abolished, and peasants were emancipated from their feudal obligations.
Bach was created Baron (Freiherr) in 1854. He was also the guardian of Science Academy (Akademie der Wissenschaften) in 1849–59.
His fall in 1859 was highly caused by the failure in the Italian war against the Kingdom of Sardinia and Napoleon III. His reforms of the military had led to industrialization being foregone to the army, with barracks taking place of factories and infrastructural expansion, weakening. After leaving his position, Bach served as Ambassador to the Holy See in 1859-1867 before dying in seclusion in 1893.
- Regarding personal names: Freiherr was a title, translated as Baron, not a first or middle name. Before 1919 preceding the first name, former titles are with people alive after 1919 dependent parts of the surname, thus preceding the main surname and not to be translated. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
- "Bach, Alexander, Baron". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
- Schwarzenberg. A. Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg. New York: Columbia University Press, 1946. p. 28.
- Crankshaw, E. The Fall of the House of Habsburg. London: Longmans, 1963. p. 138.
- Rothenburg, G. The Army of Francis Joseph. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1976. p 33.
- Taylor, A. J. P. The Habsburg Monarchy: 1809-1918. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1948. p. 63.
- ‘Magyar Revolution Believed to be Near’. The New York Times. (8 October 1905).
- Taylor, A. J. P. op. cit. p. 89.
- Macho, Eva, Alexander Freiherr von Bach. Stationen einer umstrittenen Karriere (Frankfurt am Main u.a., Peter Lang, 2009) (Beiträge zur Neueren Geschichte Österreichs, 24).
- Ottův slovník naučný (Czech)
Franz Stadion, Count von Warthausen
|Interior Minister of the Austrian Empire
1849 - 1859
Count Agenor Gołuchowski