=== Religious History ===
The Catholic Church prevailed in the Austrian Empire for many years prior to the Protestant Reformation in the early 1500s.
Many important records began to be kept by Church officials concerning land, tax, court and other civil affairs. The Reformation provided much of the impetus for the widespread recording of parish registers even in the predominantly Catholic areas of Austria. Some early Protestant records date from 1523, and early Catholic records from 1560. The strong Catholic orientation of the Habsburgs succeeded in returning the Czech and Hungarian lands to the Catholic fold after a century of Protestant record keeping there. The Thirty-Years’ War 1618-1648 and other conflicts caused extensive damage to records in many areas.
Early in the 1400s reformer John Huss in Bohemia succeeded in creating a climate for change. His movement and the United Brethren who broke from the Hussites in 1467 preceded the general Reformation that engulfed Europe during the years 1520-1560. Lutheranism followed by Calvinism became popular in Bohemia and Moravia, as well as in Slovakia, Hungary and Transylvania. Unitarianism was popular in Transylvania. Anabaptists, Orthodox adherents and Jews were also prevalent. Ottoman rule in Hungary brought Muslim subjugation to all of these denominations in the 1600s. Lutheranism became strong in Slovenia and Salzburg in the 1520s, but was not so widespread in other western areas which remained primarily Roman Catholic.