Franz Josef - Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary


Portraits of the Emperor
(Click for full image)
Christian Hansen
Technischen Universitat Wien
(Vienna, Austria)

General Information
Family name: Hapsburg (Austrian: Habsburg)

Ascent: Franz Josef was crowned Emperor of Austria in 1848 at age 18. By the summer of 1914 he would be in the 66th year of his reign. He was also crowned King of Hungary in 1867 in an attempt to calm the situation with the problematic Magyars (Hungarians). This worked and the Dual Monarchy would last until his death in 1916.

Politics: The aging monarch had seen the Habsburg Empire lose its holdings in both Italy and Germany until it had become mainly an eastern European power. Franz Josef was sensitive to these losses and was determined not to allow further decay of the empire by losing Austro-Hungarian holdings in the Balkans to Serbia. It has been said that he was "the last monarch of the old school".

Despite these political beliefs he was immensely popular among all the various national groups that comprised his kingdom. This can be attributed to the above average standard of living that his subjects enjoyed. By 1914 he rarely left his palaces but it was not out of fear of assassination.

Personal: Emperor and King, still his life was not without its trials and sorrows. Early on as Emperor he lost major wars to France (1848) and Prussia (1866). His brother, Maximilian, was executed in Mexico. His son, Crown Prince Rudolph, committed suicide in 1889 followed by his wife's assassination by an anarchist in Geneva (1897). He had numerous difficulties with his nephew and heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who would be assassinated by Serbian nationalists on 28-Jun-1914 at a place called Sarajevo.

See also:
Jul-1914: The July Crisis

"Terrible! The Almighty cannot be provoked! A Higher Power has restored that order which unfortunately I was unable to maintain."
The Emperor upon hearing of the Archduke's assassination

"Now we can no longer hold back. It will be a terrible war."
The Emperors response to the German "blank check"

"Also Doch! (It has come after all!)"
The Emperor on Serbian mobilization