February Patent

As a February patent is referred to in Austrian history, the Constitution of the Austrian monarchy ( as the Emperor in his patent ), ie the Empire of Austria, from the year 1861. It was adopted on 26 February 1861, and on 28 February in the Reich Law Gazette. published. In the appendix valid until 1918 orders of the country's non-Hungarian crown lands were announced; for the Hungarian lands was made ​​to the October Diploma 1860. The enactment of these fundamental rules of law fell in the period of neo-absolutism, that was the sole decision of Emperor Franz Joseph I.


The centralist February Constitution was drafted by the then State Minister Anton Schmerling and set on February 26, 1861 through February, the patent is in force, ie adopted by Emperor Franz Joseph for the entire monarchy. You solved the federalist October Diploma of 1860 from mostly.

In the leading layers of the monarchy that time there was disagreement as to whether the general government under central authority or essentially should be a bunch of largely independent Crown Lands. The Magyar politicians were generally given for a possible independent role of the Kingdom of Hungary, as they should do so using the Compromise of 1867. The imperial ministers were, however, increasing efforts to strengthen the central power of the monarchy.

In the February Constitution, the legislation between the emperor and the two houses of the Imperial Council was divided. The House of Representatives of the Imperial Council should be formed by sent by the provincial deputies. This scheme was rejected by Hungary and partly Galicia as too centralized. The Hungarian politicians boycotted wherever possible.

Without being taken full effect, which announced in February Patent constitution was suspended over the Reich Agency on 20 September 1865 by Emperor by the unofficially called Sistierungspatent, ie temporarily overridden. The emperor explained this in his manifesto on the same day: A great part of the empire, so warm and patriotic beat there too the heart, held steadfastly away from the common legislative action. But he could not negotiate rules with Hungarians, who are legally binding in other parts of the empire at the same time; Therefore, the suspension of the rules on the Imperial Council in all parts of the monarchy was necessary.

The constitutional form of government came two years later, after the Compromise with Hungary, again concluded: The Constitution in December of 1867, built for the non-Hungarian ( " Cisleithanian " ) countries of the Habsburg monarchy on February patent on. (Hungary was with these countries now connected only by a real union, domestic politics a separate state. ) Legislative sessions and sessions of the Imperial Council were from 1861 until the end of the Austrian monarchy, in 1918, numbered. By 1873, the Imperial Parliament deputies were continuing to choose annually by the provincial Crown lands and the governed.

Original of the patent

The original of the February Patent was lost long time. It was probably stolen before the Vienna Palace of Justice fire 1927. A private person found the document in a used book store, bought it and donated it, as was reported on March 31, 2014 the State Archives.