habsburg emperor


Empress Sissi and Emperor Franz Joseph at Bad Kissingen, 1898.

Empress Sissi forbad people to take photos to her after she turned 30, so there aren’t much photos of Sissi in maturer age. Happily, there are a few of her later years that let us to see how she looked. Despite she is covering her face with a fan and she is taking an umbrella her face can be seen, unlike other photos of her in the same situation.

The original photo and below a painting based on it.

Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary Dies

Empress Zita (1892-1989), Crown Prince Otto (1912-2011), and Emperor Charles (1887-1922), pictured at Emperor Franz Joseph’s funeral.  An earlier photo of Otto and Charles is used as this blog’s avatar.

November 21 1916, Vienna–The Emperor Franz Joseph had acceded to the throne of Austria at the age of 18 during the last period of great upheaval in Europe–the revolutions of 1848.  He had brought the Empire largely intact through the events of 1848 and 1849, wars with Italy and Prussia, and the Augsleich which created the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

After nearly 68 years on the throne, he commanded a great personal loyalty among most of his subjects, and still largely had absolute authority in all matters, especially in Austria.  On the evening of November 21, he died after a brief bout of pneumonia at the age of 86.  His death was a blow to Austro-Hungarian morale after a year of disasters.  It hit the troops on the Isonzo especially hard; this was Franz Joseph’s fourth war against Italy (and its predecessor, the Kingdom of Sardinia).  Even though Austria had lost territories in the previous wars, they had largely been successful against the Italians on the battlefield.

The new Emperor was Franz Joseph’s grandnephew, the Archduke Charles, who had become heir after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand that sparked the war.  He thought of himself as a reformer, and wanted to solve many of the social and national issues that were untouchable while Franz Joseph was on the throne.  Paramount, of course, was the war, which Austria-Hungary needed to survive intact if Charles was to keep his throne.  Charles, perhaps influenced by his Italian wife, Zita of Bourbon-Parma, was in full agreement with Foreign Minister Burián’s plans for a negotiated peace, and within days had asked him to continue with all haste.

Earlier Today:  HMHS Britannic, Sister to Titanic, Sinks in Aegean
Today in 1915: British Recon Flight Shot Down Near Ctesiphon After Spotting Turkish Reinforcements 
Today in 1914: Turks Beat Back Russians in the Caucasus

Sources include: John R. Schindler, Isonzo; Mark Thompson, The White War; József Galántai, Hungary in the First World War.

Armor of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor

Ferdinand II, a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor (1619–1637), King of Bohemia (1617–1619, 1620–1637), and King of Hungary (1618–1625). His rule coincided with the Thirty Years’ War.

Via Wikipedia

On the evening of 21 November 1916, Emperor Franz Joseph died in Schönbrunn Palace at the aged of 86. He ruled for nearly 68 years, the third-longest in the recorded history of Europe. His reign had witnessed a lot of significant events in history among this is the First World War.

The picture above is dated 22nd November 1916 and shows Emperor Franz Joseph one day after his death.

Happy birthday to my King, Charles, by the grace of God, Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, and by the same grace King of Castile, León, Aragon, the Two Sicilies and the Indies (etc.), born in Ghent on this day in 1500.

‘Both the East and the West Indies being met in the crown of Spain, it is come to pass, that, as one saith in a brave kind of expression, the sun never sets in the Spanish dominions, but ever shines upon one part or other of them, which, to say truly, is a beam of glory

—  Sir Francis Bacon

‘Reflect that the sun never sets in the immense inheritance of Charles V’
—  Napoléon I

Pictured: Allegory on Emperor Charles as Ruler of Vast Realms by Peter Paul Rubens (oil/canvas c. 1604, Salzburger Residenz)

Emperor Charles Crowned as King Charles IV of Hungary

Charles IV of Hungary takes his coronation oath to defend the lands of the Crown of St. Stephen.

December 30 1916, BudapestFranz Joseph had been greatly beloved throughout his empire after a 68-year reign.  His successor, his 29-year-old grandnephew Charles, lacked the devotion that Franz Joseph had attracted, and was eager to quickly legitimize his reign.  Hungarian PM Tisza was more than eager to oblige, and arranged for his coronation as King of Hungary on December 30, just more than a month after his accession to the throne.  This was only the second coronation in Hungary since the Augsleich raised Hungary to be on equal status with Austria within the empire, and Tisza assured Charles that a swift coronation would be viewed favorably in Hungary, signalling Charles’ interest in defending Hungary’s interests within the empire.

Tisza also had less lofty political interests in mind when arranging a swift coronation.  Part of the coronation included an oath to defend the integrity of the lands of the Crown of St. Stephen; this ensured that Charles could then take no action to reduce the size of Hungary without breaking this oath.  The death of Franz Joseph had brought hope to many that the Dualist Austro-Hungarian system could be reformed.  South Slavic peoples hoped that the Kingdom of Croatia (which was within the Kingdom of Hungary) could be expanded to include Dalmatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, then in Austria.  Earlier in the war, this seemed possible, as Austria could be compensated by parts of Russian Poland; however, the promise of an independent Poland made in November foreclosed this idea, and the coronation oath prevented Croatia from being split off from Hungary to become a separate part of the Empire.  

The oath also frustrated Czech ambitions; although most of the Czech people lived in Austria, many were clamoring for unification with the Slovak people in Hungary.  Finally, it also prevented any peace deal made by Charles from giving away any Hungarian land.  While this was relatively unlikely, as Hungary only bordered defeated Serbia and Romania, it still further tied Charles’ hands as he attempted to bring his country out of the war.

Part of the wardrobe worn by Crown Prince Otto at the coronation; these were on display in the United States in a 2015-2016 exhibition of Habsburg artifacts that toured Minneapolis, Houston, and Atlanta.

Today in 1915: First Zeppelin Raid on Salonika
Today in 1914: Russians To Evacuate Persia

Sources include: Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel.

Emperor Ferdinand III, 1608-1657

The sarcophagus is fashioned in the Renaissance style, but adorned with early Baroque decoration. On the coffin lid one sees the symbols of power: the Habsburg Eagle, the Austrian coat of arms, the chain of the order of the Golden Fleece.

During the renovation work on the sarcophagus in 1852, the wooden coffin with the mortal remains of the emperor was opened. The Spanish court clothing, although yellowed, was still preserved, the shoes were ornamented with stitches. A beret covered the emperor’s head, around the neck Ferdinand wore a still well-preserved sign of the order of Toison on a brown ribbon.

— Gigi Beutler


Philip II, King of Spain, was born at Valladolid on the 21st of May 1527. He was the son of the emperor Charles V and of his wife Isabella of Portugal. Philip received his education in Spain. His tutor, Juan Martinez Pedernales (Bishop of Cartagena), who latinized his name to Siliceo, and who was also his confessor, does not appear to have done his duty very thoroughly. The prince, though he had a good command of Latin, never equaled his father as a linguist. Don Juan de Zúñiga (grand-commander of Castile), who provided a more systematic education, imparting piety and seriousness to his pupil as well as an extensive knowledge of history and an appreciation of scholarship, the arts, and politics. From his earliest years Philip showed himself more addicted to the desk than the saddle and to the pen than to the sword. The emperor, who spent his life moving from one part of his wide dominions to another and in the camps of his armies, watched his heir’s education from afar. The trend of his letters was to impress on the boy a profound sense of the high destinies to which he was born, the necessity for keeping his nobles apart from all share in the conduct of the internal government of his kingdom, and the wisdom of distrusting counsellors, who would be sure to wish to influence him for their own ends. Philip grew up grave, self-possessed and distrustful and was rigidly abstemious in eating and drinking.


Crown Prince Rudolf, the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria, was born on 21 August 1858. In 1889, he died in a alleged suicide pact with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera at the Mayerling hunting lodge. His death had a devastating effect on the already compromised marriage of the Imperial couple and interrupted the security inherent in the immediate line of Habsburg dynastic succession. As Rudolf had no sons, his cousin Archduke Franz Ferdinand eventually became the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand lead to Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia, starting World War I.

Portrait of Emperor Rudolf II
Martino Rota (Italian; ca. 1520–1583)
ca. late 1570s–before 1585
Oil on canvas
Palais Dorotheum, Vienna

General reactions when people read about the Habsburg dynasty

Charles V (I in Spain)

People who are dazzled by his achievements on the battlefield:

Heretic people:

Philip II

Spanish ladies:

Turkish, portuguese, heretic and communist people: 

Philip III

Yes, normally, nobody gets excited reading about him.

Philip IV

People who thinks that all he did in life was to go to the brothel:

People who knows that he was interested in government issues too (and go to the brothel):

Charles II

The first time you see his portrait:

The second time you see his portrait:

The rest of times you see his portrait: