English Reading Practice
Austria is a country in Europe. It borders Hungary,
the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia.
Today, Austria is a democracy with a Parliament, but until 1918, it was
a monarchy. This means that it was ruled by a king. In 1804, the family
that ruled Austria, the Habsburgs turned their monarchy into an empire,
which meant that they ruled over more than one country.
The last emperor of the Austrian empire was Franz Josef. He ruled until
1918. While he is very well-known for being the emperor, it is his
wife, Elisabeth, who was most loved and respected by the people of the
empire. It was also Elisabeth who was responsible for making the empire
even more important by creating a partnership with Hungary.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary
Elisabeth, also called Sisi by her family, was born in a region of
Germany called Bavaria in 1837. She had three siblings (sisters and
brothers) including an older sister, Helene.
It was decided that Helene
would marry the future king of Austria, Franz Josef. However, at the
same time that Franz Josef met Helene, he also met Elisabeth. He fell
instantly in love with beautiful Elisabeth and asked to marry her
instead. The two married in 1854.
Elisabeth was a very quiet and intelligent person who loved
having the freedom to do whatever she wanted. When Elisabeth arrived at
the palace (the house of the king) after her marriage, she found that
she was very unhappy. The
palace had many rules and she was not allowed to do what she wanted to.
This was hard for Elisabeth and she was often very sick as a result.
At the time that Elisabeth became Empress of Austria, the Austrian
Empire ruled over many other nations and countries. One of these
countries was Hungary. The Hungarians did not like being ruled over and
wanted to be a sovereign nation. "Sovereign" means to rule itself.
Elisabeth traveled to Hungary shortly after she became Empress and fell
in love with the country and the people. Perhaps this is because she
identified with their wish to have the freedom to rule
She became their advocate in Austria. This means that she
spoke positively about them and fought for them to get power of their
own. Because of this, Elisabeth was very loved in Hungary.
Largely thanks to Elisabeth's influence on Franz Josef and her love of
Hungary, in 1867, the Emperor negotiated (agreed on) a deal
Hungary. This agreement was called the Austro-Hungarian Compromise. A
"compromise" is an arrangement or situation in which two people or
countries agree to do something. The Austro-Hungarian Compromise
created the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In the Austro-Hungarian Empire, there were two centers of government:
Vienna, the capital of Austria, and Buda, the capital of Hungary.
Hungary was finally in control over its own government and people. In
return for this control, Hungary named Franz Josef and Elisabeth, king
and queen of Hungary.
Empress Elisabeth was famous for her beauty. But she was
equally famous for
her free spirit, love of travel, and passion for Hungary. Today, over
100 years after her death, she remains one of the most beloved figures
(people) in Austria and Hungary.
And now, practice:
Austria – Exercises
1. What does "siblings" mean?
c) brothers and sisters
d) daughters and sons
2. What does "sovereign" mean?
b) to rule another country
c) to make laws for another country
d) to be part of an empire
3. What does "negotiated" mean?
a) talked about
b) agreed on
a) disagreed on
1. It was also Elisabeth who was responsible for making _________
empire even more important by creating _________ partnership with
2. Elisabeth, also called Sisi by her family, _________ in a region of
Germany called Bavaria in 1837
b) is born
c) was born
3. Elisabeth traveled _________ Hungary shortly after she became
Empress and fell in love with the country and the people.
1. Why was Elisabeth unhappy when she arrived at the palace?
2. How was Elisabeth involved in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise?
3. What was Elisabeth famous for?