Gastein Convention

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Gastein Convention
Hotel Straubinger, Bad Gastein
Type Treaty
Signed 20 August 1865
Location Bad Gastein, Duchy of Salzburg, Austrian Empire
Parties 2

The Gastein Convention (German: Gasteiner Konvention), also called the Convention of Badgastein, was a treaty signed at Bad Gastein in Austria on August 20, 1865.[1] It embodied agreements between the two principal powers of the German Confederation, Prussia and Austria, over the governing of the so-called Elbe Duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Saxe-Lauenburg.


Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg (light blue)

The two powers faced the issue of governing the provinces when after the Second War of Schleswig the Treaty of Vienna signed on 30 October 1864 had stipulated Denmark's cession of the Elbe Duchies to victorious Prussia and Austria. The territories formerly were held by the Danish royal House of Glücksburg in personal union—while Schleswig north of the Eider River was a Danish fief, the Duchies of Holstein and Saxe-Lauenburg in the south had been Imperial States and therefore were member states of the German Confederation since 1815.

After the war, Prussia aimed at the annexation of the provinces with her state territory, against the strong resistance of the Austrians, who persisted on the status of a condominium. To ease the tensions, the Prussian minister-president Otto von Bismarck met with the Austrian envoy Gustav von Blome at the spa town of Bad Gastein in the Austrian Alps.


In the negotiations, the administration of the gained territories was split between the two powers: Prussia would rule over Schleswig and Austria over Holstein. Austria would officially renounce Saxe-Lauenburg, which would be ruled by the Prussian king in personal union for a purchase price of 2.5 million Danish rigsdalers.

The eleven articles of the agreement covered:

  • abandoning the shared administration (condominium) of Schleswig and Holstein
  • Prussian control of Schleswig
  • Austrian control of Holstein (which was sandwiched between Schleswig to the north and Prussian Lauenburg to the south)[1]
  • the Prussian crown purchasing Austria's right to Lauenburg
  • Prussian transit rights on military roads through Holstein to Schleswig
  • Prussian rights to construct a canal and a telegraph-line through Holstein to Schleswig
  • setting up a German Confederation Navy
  • designating a headquarters for the proposed navy at Kiel in Holstein under Prussian sovereignty
  • designating Rendsburg as a Fortress of the German Confederation


Though Prussia benefitted from the treaty, Bismarck noticed that it did not answer the German question nor did it ease the Austria–Prussia rivalry. Moreover the treaty ran counter to the legal basis of the German Confederation, which led to the refusal both by the smaller Confederation states and the European powers; it was nevertheless appreciated by Russia in view of her enmity with Austria after the Crimean War.

The Gastein Convention soon collapsed due to Bismarck's efforts to provoke a war with Austria as well as to eliminate Austria from the German Confederation. These efforts led to the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian War, also known as the Seven Weeks' War, in June 1866. Austria had tolerated the rule of Duke Frederick VIII of Schleswig-Holstein. On 1 June 1866 she asked the Federal Convention for a resolution on the status of Holstein, which Prussia regarded as a breach of the mutual agreement. Under this pretext, Prussian troops entered Holstein nine days later.

The Peace of Prague in 1866 confirmed Denmark's cession of Schlewig and Holstein, which were both annexed by Prussia, but promised a plebiscite to decide whether north Schleswig wished to return to Danish rule. This provision was unilaterally set aside by a resolution of Prussia and Austria in 1878. Both duchies were to be admitted to the Zollverein (German Customs Union), headed by Prussia, of which Austria was not a member.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Convention of Gastein Encyclopædia Britannica Online