Thursday, December 2, 2010

news of a royal engagement

December 2, 1910

The Marquise de Fontenoy reports today on the news from Vienna of the engagement of Prince Ferdindand Montenouvo, only son and heir "of the wealthy prince of the same name who is grand master of the Court of Austria," to Archduchess Maria Alice, youngest daughter of Archduke Friedrich and Archduchess Isabella of Austria.
This marriage "will be a remarkable one" as the bridegroom is a mere noble, and is not a member of a mediatized house or "formerly petty sovereign houses."   The Prince does, however, have a "strain of the imperial Habsburg blood in his veins."
Two of Archduke Friedrich's daughters, Maria Christina and Maria Henrietta, are already married to mediatized prince. The elder sister is the wife of Prince Emanuel of Salm-Salm, and the younger is married to Prince Gottfried of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfurst.   A third daughter, Maria Isbaella,  is married to Prince Elias of Bourbon-Parma, son and heir to the last Duke of Parma.
Archduchess Elisabeth, the only daughter of the "ill-fated" Crown Prince Rudolf, is also married to a mediatized prince -Otto of Windisch-Graetz.
But the only example of "matrimonial alliances of Austrian archduchesses with members of the lower nobility -- "that is to say not mediatized '' -- is Archduchess Renata, daughter of Archduke Karl Stephan, who has estates in Poland.  She is married to Prince Jerome Radziwill.   This marriage will certainly "furnish a precedent" for Maria Alice's marriage to Prince Ferdinand.
The prince's grandfather, the late Prince Wilhelm Montenuovo, the first to bear the title, was the son of of the former Empress Marie Louise of France, and Count Adam von Neipperg, who was her Chamberlain.  Marie Louise,  an Austrian archduchess by birth, was Emperor Napoleon's second wife.
Wilhelm was born "during the lifetime of Napoleon," and, thus, was illegitimate.  The von Neipperg family, "who, belonging to one of the proudest of the mediatized houses of Europe,"  objected to Count Adam's son by Marie Louise "bearing their ancient and illustrious name."
Marie Louise's father, Emperor Franz, bestowed on his grandson the title of Count Montenuovo, the Italian word for Neipperg, and also gave him "extensive and valuable estates in Austria, Italy and Hungary."
Wilhelm married Hungarian countess Juliane Batthyany, and was raised to the rank of Prince by Emperor Franz Joseph.  Wilhelm's son, Prince Alfred, who now serves as the grand master of the court of Vienna, was "promoted to serene highness."  Prince Alfred is married to Countess Franziska Kinsky.
The Prince is "perhaps the most powerful and influential personage at court of Vienna, and in society," apart from the Emperor and his heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. 
In arranging this marriage between Alice and Prince Ferdinand, Archduchess Isabella  has "secured a firm ally" in future son-in-law's father.   Archduke Friedrich and Archduchess Isabella are "on unfriendly terms" with Archduke Franz Ferdinand, largely due to his morganatic marriage to Countess Sophie von Chotek, who was Isabella's lady-in-waiting. 
Archduchess Isabella had hoped that the archduke would wed one of her daughters, and she is now openly hostile to the couple.  Isabella makes "no attempt to conceal her disappointment and her anger" against Franz Ferdinand's wife, who is now styled as the Duchess of Hohenberg.
The Archduchess also knows that when Franz Ferdinand succeeds to the throne,  the situation is "bound to become still more acute" as the new emperor will likely "increase rank, precedence and power of his morganatic consort."
The "opposition of the great houses of the aristocracy who constitute the Austrian court," and Prince Alfred, as grand master, "will be an important factor in the contest," between Isabella and her former lady-in-waiting. 
Archduchess Marie Alice will celebrate her 18th birthday in January.   Prince Ferdinand is 22 years old.


Paul Harten said...

Do we know why the marriage didn't take place ? Both went on to marry someone else. If people thought this 'parti' was not suitable what did they think of her marrying a Baron Waldbott ?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

No idea ... just did a search and found no other citations.