Bach, Alexander

Bach, Alexander, 1813–93, Austrian politician. A well-known lawyer and liberal, he took part in the revolution of 1848 in Vienna, but after its suppression he joined the forces of reaction. He became minister of justice (1848) and of the interior (1849–59), and after the death (1852) of Prince Schwarzenberg was the chief figure in the ministry. He was created baron in 1854. Bach instituted the Bach system of bureaucratic control of the Hapsburg lands. Centralization and Germanization were its chief aims; stringent control by secret police was the method of enforcing them. This program was accompanied, however, by measures promoting economic prosperity, notably the abolition of internal tariff barriers, and by agricultural reforms implementing the emancipation of the serfs. Through the Concordat of 1855 the Roman Catholic Church gained wide powers. The Bach system met with opposition, especially in Hungary, and after the Austrian defeat in the Italian War of 1859 its author was dismissed and new systems introduced.

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