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AEIOU, or A.E.I.O.U., was a symbolic device utilised by the Habsburg emperors. Emperor Frederick III (1415-93), who had a fondness for mythical formulae, habitually signed buildings and objects with the acronym. Frederick III did not explain its meaning at the time, though shortly before his death, he claimed it stood for (German) "Alles Erdreich ist Oesterreich untertan" (MKL 1890)

or "All the world is subject to Austria." However other interpretations have been put forth. Most interpretations proceed on the assumption that it was meant as a political slogan, from the Latin phrases:

  • Austria est imperio optime unita (Austria is the empire best united).
  • Austria erit in orbe ultima (Austria will be the last (surviving) in the world) {MKL 1890}.
  • Austriae est imperare orbi universo (It is Austria's destiny to rule the whole world) {MKL 1890}.

These versions refer not to Austria of today, but the huge Habsburg empire.

In 1951, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy suggested the interpretation: Austria Europae Imago, Onus, Unio: Austria is Europe's spitting image, burden and unification.

AEIOU may also have represented a transliteration into Latin or German of the TetragrammatonYahweh, the ineffable name of God—alluding to the House of Habsburg's divine right to rule over the Habsburg Hereditary Lands (present-day Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Spain), the Holy Roman Empire (Germany), and perhaps the entire world.

The Habsburgs had a predilection for symbols and slogans. For instance, Frederick III also created the logo of a hand holding a sword on top of an open book above the motto "This Rules, That Defends," along with several others. His son, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (one of the principal architects of the Habsburg myth) used the phrase "Hold the Measure and Look to the End."

Further reading

  • Andrew Wheatcroft's The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire (1995), ISBN 0140236341.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "A.E.I.O.U." or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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