Freemasonry was introduced into Austria in 1742 by the establishment at Vienna of the Lodge of the Three Cannons. But it was broken up by the government in the following year, and thirty of its members were imprisoned for having met in contempt of the authorities. Maria Theresa was an enemy of the Institution, and prohibited it in 1764. Lodges, however, continued to meet secretly in Vienna and Prague. In 1780, Joseph II ascended the throne, and under his liberal administration Freemasonry, if not actually encouraged, was at least tolerated, and many new Lodges were established in Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Transylvania, under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Germany, in Berlin. Delegates from these Lodges met at Vienna in 1784, and organized the Grand Lodge of Austria, electing the Count of Dietrichstein, Grand Master. The attempt of the Grand Lodge at Berlin to make this a Provincial Grand Lodge was successful for only a short time, and in 1785 the Grand Lodge of Austria again proclaimed its independence.
During the reign of Joseph II, Austrian Freemasonry was prosperous. Notwithstanding the efforts of its enemies, the monarch could never be persuaded to prohibit it. But in 1785 he was induced to issue instructions by which the number of the Lodges was reduced, so that not more than three were permitted to exist in each city ; and he ordered that a list of the members and a note of the times of meeting of each Lodge should be annually delivered to the magistrates.
Joseph died in 1790, and Leopold II expressed himself as not unfriendly to the Fraternity, but his successor in 1792, Francis II, yielded to the machinations of the anti-Freemasons, and dissolved the Lodges. In 1801 he issued a decree which forbade the employment of anyone in the public service who was attached to any secret society. Freemasonry has continued in operation in Austria, as it is in most non-Masonic countries. The World War developed the activities of the Grand Lodge of Vienna which received recognition abroad, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky so voting on October 20, 1926.
the source: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry