hungarian church

December 29, 1916 - Coronation of Karl I, the Last Hapsburg Emperor

Pictured - Gott erhalte Karl den Kaiser.

On December 29, 1916, Karl I was crowned as the Dual Monarch in Budapest, according to traditional Hungarian rules. Inheriting the throne upon the death of Franz Josef, Karl was the last object of this elaborate ceremony. The atmosphere must have been almost surreal - the final gathering of the ancient, vast, and diverse Hapsburg realm. A Hungarian count left a lengthy description of the event:

“`The King moved up to the altar. Then he came back before once more returning there, this time wearing St. Stephen’s robe. Now the crown was placed upon his head. At that moment a shaft of light shone through the window above the altar, a pale wintry ray but sunlight nevertheless, transforming the scene into a magical shining picture. Facing me, seated under the high windows, were all the chief dignitaries of the Hungarian Catholic Church; and the combination of the sunlight from outside and the electric glow of the chandeliers banished all shadows, metamorphosing the multiplicity of ritual hieratic garments, the all-white brocades of the clergy’s pluviales, the gold-embroidered mitres, the infulaes, into one translucent, crystalline, unreal, angelic mist. It was an unforgettable sight, but it lasted for one brief moment only … but it was at this moment that the crown was placed on the young King’s head…

Already, on the very same evening as the coronation, the pageantry and colour of the morning seemed no more real than a half-forgotten dream …’. ”