austrian monarchy

Long Live A Composer?

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.

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alright so here’s part one of my very poorly subtitled version of

SUICIDAL IDEATION: THE MUSICAL

more commonly known as

ELISABETH: DAS MUSICAL

part two is here.

the most successful german-language musical of all time. it’s about the austrian monarchy and all of the overtly and subtly horrifying things that went on in and around it, and it’s a character study of empress elisabeth, an absolute pop culture icon in austrian media whose life was and sometimes still is romanticised to a ridiculous degree. so many books, movies, operettas about her, all celebrating her lifestyle as idyllic and her as beautiful and kind.

she wrote a lot of poetry, and a lot of it is about escaping her own life in death, which is something that’s more rarely explored in sisi media. the hook of the musical is that death has been personified as a handsome young man and he and elisabeth and franz josef get into - something that looks like a generic bad boy/girl/nice boy love triangle, unless you keep in mind that he’s death, and him telling elisabeth that he can tell she’s smiling at him even when she’s in her husband’s arms means something else entirely.

the whole thing’s narrated by luigi lucheni, the italian anarchist that killed elisabeth. he was in genf to assassinate a different political figure, but when he didn’t show up, he, seemingly on a whim, went for her instead. he later hung himself in his cell. it is speculated that he may have regretted acting rashly and killing someone who was part of the monarchy, yes, awful in many ways, undoubtedly, but also fairly liberal for her time, pro-democracy and everything. he just didn’t do anyone a whole lot of good, that lucheni.

he stabbed her with a sharpened file. infamously, elisabeth seemed to simply shrug this off, getting back up and walking away with her head held high. up until she collapsed again and died of blood loss, that is.

austrian audiences are guaranteed to be familiar with all of that historical background, so i wanted to spare you the confusion. they’re less likely to know who heinrich heine is, though. he was elisabeth’s favourite poet, a kindred spirit of sorts, and he, too, wrote about the romanticised notion of finding freedom in death. 

Mikhail Bakunin (30th may 1814-July 1st 1876)

Mikhail Bakunin was one of the founders of anarchism as we see it today. His Ideas of social anarchism soon saw him as one of the most famous Philosophers of the 19th century . 

Mikhail Bakunin was born into a modestly wealthy family in the Tver region of Russia. His family owned 500 slaves. Despite this mikhails father was heavily involved in the Liberal social circles of Russia known as the decembrists.        At the age of 14 Mikhail travelled to st Petersburg to study at a strict millitary school but was expelled in 1834 for poor grades. He was assigned to the polish barracks as a junior officer and was disgusted at the treatment of the polish people by the Imperial army. Mikhail left the army at the age of 21 and travelled to moscow to study philosophy. 

When he studied at university he began to mix in democratic circles and was a supporter of the growing liberal movement. He travelled all around the world after leaving unviersity from Berlin to Dresden. Until eventually ending up in Paris where he met Karl Marx. Marx influenced his ideas and made Mikhail into an anti imperialist and a marxist. He was expelled from france after giving a speech on polish indpendence.

Mikhail became increasingly radical and when the european revolutions of 1848 sparked into life, Mikhail seized the oppurtunity to make a name for himself. He led the insurrection in dresden and spread political articles on anarchism. When the rebellion was put down Bakunin was arrested and sentenced to death. However the Austrian monarchy also wanted him after they found his articles denouncing the european monarchies as despots. However russia ordered for his extradition and he was exiled to Siberia. 

In 1861 Bakunin was smuggled out of Siberia on an American ship called the SS Vickery. They managed to sneak out of Siberia under the nose of the imperial navy and make his way to Europe. Joining the international workers association (IWA) where he was reunited with Karl Marx. 

 Karl Marx and Bakunin turned from good friends to bitter enemies         Bakunin argued that the state needed to be destroyed and the world should be divided into federations of free workers. Marx argued that the state should be overthrown but not destroyed. Bakunin also disagreed with the authoritarian structure of marxism, arguing that men should be free to rule themselves.    The supporters of Bakunins ideology became known as Anarchists and him and his followrs were expelled from the association in 1872 after being voted out by a marxist majority. 

Bakunin continued stirring shit throughout europe and was involved in the overthrow of the paris government. He wrote works and manifestos including god and state which was the basis of modern anarchy. He died in in 1876. 

“By striving to do the impossible, man has always achieved what is possible”

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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.