austrian monarchy

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In the mid-1800s, the Austrian Empire controlled large parts of northern Italy. The Papal States controlled much of the center, with the pope at its head. The south of the peninsula was held by Naples, with its King Victor Emmanuel II At the same time, anti-imperialism and nationalism were on the rise across Europe.  Italians dreamed anew of a united Italy. Patriots dreamed of a country free of foreign emperors and united by a common language and religion. The monarchs of Naples were particular fans of this idea, especially if it involved them becoming rulers of the whole peninsula.

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November 21, 1916 - Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef I Dies at age 86

Pictured - Franz Josef I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia. His empire would not long survive his death.

Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary expressed his “keen satisfaction” on November 20 upon receiving Woodrow Wilson’s telegram proposing a negotiated peace. Despite a bout of bronchitis, the 86-year-old Habsburg went to work as usual on official files. He had been an active monarch since becoming the Emperor of Austria in 1848, and had spent his life maintaining his European empire and resisting the forces of constitutionalism and nationalism. At his age, however, he could not play as large a role in managing the war effort in 1916, as he would have liked. His doctor persuaded him to go to bed on the afternoon of November 20, but nevertheless the old emperor ordered he be woken early the next day: “Tomorrow morning at half past three. I am behindhand with my work.”

His valet woke him on November 21, and Franz Josef spent his at work on official papers at he wanted. Then, just after 9, he suddenly died. He had ruled the Habsburg Empire for 68 years. Coincidentally, another death of note that November was Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the machine gun, who died in London age seventy-six. 

The new Emperor of Austria-Hungary was Franz Josef’s 29-year-old nephew, Archduke Karl, now Karl I. Commanding a corps in Romania, the young new emperor was as different from his uncle as could be. He was committed to ethnic reconciliation in the empire and willing to offer self-government. Immediately he took up his uncle’s last work, hoping to negotiate a peace with the Entente that could see Austria-Hungary escape the war intact.

Rakousko (Austria in Czech). From the name of the castle Raabs (formerly Ratgoz), called Rakuš or Rakús in Czech. The castle lies near the Czech-Austrian border. 

Not from - as one of our sassy 19th century writers claims - the word rak (crayfish) which walks backwards same as the Austrians and their monarchy. 


Happy Birthday to…!

Jan Ingenhousz (1730)
A Dutch physiologist, biologist and chemist. In his lifetime he was best known for successfully inoculating the members of the Habsburg family in Vienna against smallpox in 1768 and subsequently being the private counsellor and personal physician to the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa.

Francis I (1708)
Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany, though his wife effectively executed the real power of those positions. With his wife, Maria Theresa, he was the founder of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. From 1728 until 1737 he was Duke of Lorraine, but lost this title when Lorraine was seized by France in the War of the Polish Succession.

Archduke Maximilian Francis of Austria (1756)
Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, the last child of the Habsburg ruler Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. His siblings included two Holy Roman Emperors (Joseph II and Leopold II), as well as Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Queen Maria Carolina of Two Sicilies. He was the last Elector of Cologne and an early patron of Ludwig van Beethoven.