Monday, November 21, 2016

Franz Joseph dead at 86

the woman in white is HRH Princess Thyra of Denmark, the wife of the Duke of Cumberland.

November 21, 1916

Emperor Franz Josef of Austria died tonight at 9:00 p.m., at Schloss Schönbrunn, according to a Reuters dispatch sent from Vienna by way of Amsterdam.  He was 86 years old.

Earlier today, dispatches from Vienna, passed by the Austrian censor, acknowledged the "seriousness of the aged monarch's illness."  His heart was said to be normal.  A dispatch received tonight in Berlin described Franz Josef's condition as "becoming worse," and he had a fever.

Franz Josef was born  at Schloss Schönbrunn on August 18, 1930, the eldest on of Archduke Franz Karl, younger son of Emperor Franz II and his wife, Princess Sophie of Bavaria.  Emperor Franz  died in 1835, and was succeeded by his elder son, Archduke Ferdinand, who suffered from numerous medical illnesses, including neurological problems, epilepsy and hydrocephalus, and  was seen as feeble-minded.  This was not completely true, as he maintained a diary every day.  Ferdinand was married to Princess Maria Anna of Sardinia, but it is unlikely that the marriage was consummated.  

all images: Marlene A. Eilers Koenig collection.
Archduke Franz Karl was also seen as ineffectual, and his wife, Archduchess Sophie groomed their eldest son as the future Emperor.    The 1848 Revolution led to Ferdinand abdicating in favor of his nephew, Archduke Franz Joseph.   Archduke Franz Karl was persuaded to renounce his rights in favor of his eldest son.

In 1854,  Franz Josef married his first cousin, Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria, whose mother, Ludovika, was a sister of Archduchess Sophie.   The Emperor suffered numerous tragedies in his life.  His brother, Maximilian, named as Emperor of Mexico, was executed in 1867.  Twenty two years later, his only son, Crown Prince Rudolf committed suicide at Mayerlin, and in 1898,  Empress Elisabeth was assassinated by anarchist.  

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise (1867) led to the creation of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and more autonomy for Hungary.  The new empire was followed by 45 years of peace, until June 28, 1914, when Franz Josef's nephew and heir to the Dual Monarchy, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated while on an official visit to Sarajevo.  By September 1,  Europe was in the throes of a full fledged great war.

Emperor Franz Josef is succeeded by his great-nephew,  Archduke Karl, the son of the late Archduke Otto Franz of Austria (younger brother of Archduke Franz Ferdinand) and Princess Maria Josefa of Saxony.   He is 29 years old and married to Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma.

The late Emperor is survived by his two youngest daughters,  Archduchess Gisela, who is married to Prince Leopold of Bavaria and Archduchess Marie Valerie, the wife of Archduke Franz Salvator, Prince of Tuscany, as well as numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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