House of Habsburg

Schönbrunn Palace and its Gardens in Vienna, Austria -
own picture taken in 2011

File:Familienwappen Habsburg-Stroehl.jpg

The House of Habsburg has ruled for many centuries over Europe.
It was a glorious family. They made alliances and let their power rise.

The House of Habsburg provided a lot of kings, emperors and archdukes.
These were a few of their titles:

Holy Roman Emperor
Emperor of Mexico
King of Germany
King of Spain
King of Sicily
King of Naples
King of Castile
King of Hungary
King of Bohemia
King of Croatia
King of Portugal
King of Dalmatia
King of Galicia and Lodomeria
Archduke of Austria

I started to interest me in the House of Habsburg due to the movies of 
Sissi. Elisabeth of Bavaria was married Franz Jozeph of Austria. 

On the page(s) of the House of Habsburg, I hope to make a short 
Family Tree. It is a difficult work because the names of the 
Rulers of the House of Habsburg are different in German and in 

Also the numbers after their names ex. Albert V is sometimes 
mentioned as Albert II. I hope to give you a good summary.
If you have tips about that subject please let me know!

Talking about the House of Habsburg, it is a journey not only in time 
but also around Europe and beyond.

Even in my hometown, Sint-Niklaas (Belgium), there are traces from the 
people of  the House of Habsburg. 
Maximilian I gave us the patent to keep the weekly market at Thursday.

I hope to take you with me on a journey in time and around Europe. 
If you have comments or suggestions, please let me hear from you!

TRIVIA: Where does the name Habsburg come from?

The name Habsburg is derived from a fortress in Switzerland which was 
called the Habsburg and was located in the municipality of Habsburg :-).   
It was the originating seat of the House of Habsburg. 

Map of the Habsburg territories - Source picture: Wikipedia 



Born: 1218
Died: 1291

He married

1/ Gertrude of Hohenburg

2/ Isabella of Burgundy

Rudolf I was known as a wise, modest, decent person. He was famed not only
for his political skills but for his sense of humour as well.

In 1273 he was elected King of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1276 he became sovereign ruler of Austria. There he gave the order to
build the Church of St. Stephen, which is now a cathedral. He also founded the
University of Vienna, 2nd. university of the German Speaking World.


(in German Albrecht I)

File:Albrecht Erste Habsburg.jpg

Born:  1255
Died:  1308

The oldest son of Rudolf I of Germany and Gertrude of Hohenburg was
a Duke from Austria and Styria. He also became King of Germany. 

In 1274 he married Elizabeth of Carinthia, daughter of
Count Meihard II of Tyrol. 

Albrecht sometimes was mentioned as 'hard as a diamond' and

his heart as 'a red-hot iron'. He was highly intelligent, energetic and


Rudolf III, King of Bohemia in 1306
Frederick the Fair, elected King of the Romans in 1314
Leopold I, Duke of Austria
Albert II, Duke of Austria 
Henry the friendly
Otto, Duke of Austria


File:Friedrich der Schöne.jpg

Frederick of Habsburg was born in 1289 in Vienna.
Father: Albert I of Germany
Mother: Elizabeth of Carinthia (also Gorizia - Tyrol) 

He married Isabella (Elisabeth) of Aragon

They had one daughter who survived childhood. She was called Anna. 
She married Henry XV of Bavaria. 

Frederick of Habsburg Died in 1330


Born: 1290 Vienna (Austria)
Died: 1326 Strassburg (Germany)
Father: Albert I of Germany
Mother: Elizabeth of Carinthia

He was the brother of Frederick the Fair. 


Albert II also was known as the Wise or the Lame.

Born: 1298
Died: 1358
Father: Albert I of Germany
Mother: Elizabeth of Carinthia
Married: Johanna of Pfirt.

He was the brother of Frederick the Fair


Born: 1301
Died: 1339
Father: Albert I of Germany
Mother: Elizabeth of Carinthia

1/ Elizabeth of Lower Bavaria
2/ Anna of Bohemia, daughter of John the blind 

He was the brother of Frederick the Fair

To know more about him, check this link.


Born: 1339 in Vienna
Died: 1365 in Milan (Italy)
Father: Albert II, Duke of Austria
Mother: Joanna of Pfirt

Married: Catherine of Luxembourg

His nickname was 'the Founder'.
He came head of the family on the age of 19!

Austria - Vienna

Rudolf made many efforts to make Vienna the dynasty's main city.
In 1359 he laid the foundation stones for the great Gothic expansion 
of the St. Stephan's Cathedral

In 1365 he even founded the University of Vienna, although this was 
ended after his death. 


Born: 1349
Died: 1395
Father: Albert II, Duke of Austria
Mother: Joanna of Pfirt
Married: Elizabeth of Bohemia & Beatrice of Nuremberg 


Born: 1351
Died: 1386
Father: Albert II, Duke of Austria
Mother: Joanna of Pfirt
Married: Viridis Visconti


Born: 1370
Died: 1406
Father: Leopold III of Austria
Mother: Viridis Visconti 


Born: 1371
Died: 1411
Father: Leopold III of Austria
Mother: Viridis Visconti 
Married: Catherine of Burgundy (daughter of Philip the Bold)


Born: 1377
Died: 1424
Father: Leopold III of Austria
Mother: Viridis Visconti
Married: Margaret of Pomerania & Cymburgis of Masovia

His children were:

- Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor;
- Margaret of Austria, who married Frederick II, Elector of Saxony;
- Albert VI, Archduke of Austria;
- Alexander of Austria;
- Rudolf of Austria;
- Catherine of Austria;
- Leopold of Austria;
- Anna of Austria;
- Ernest of Austria. 


Born: 1377
Died: 1404
Father: Albert III of Austria
Mother: Beatrice of Nuremberg
Married: Joanna Sophia of Bavaria


File:Albrecht II. von Habsburg.jpg

Born: 1397
Died:  1439
Father: Albert IV, Duke of Austria
Mother: Joanna Sophia of Bavaria

He married Elisabeth of Luxembourg
also called Elisabeth of Bohemia


Born: 1409
Died: 1442

Albert proved to be an able ruler, achieving a tight alliance with
Emperor Sigismund and then regaining the imperial crown for
his own family!

In 1422 Sigismund married his daughter to Albrecht and named
him as his heir.

When Sigismund died in 1437 Albrecht became easy the King of
Hungary (1438). 

In March 1438 he was elected as German King. 

He had a sharp mind, particularly for military matters, he was
enterprising, brave and doughty too.


Born: 1415
Died: 1493

He married

Eleanor of Portugal

Eleanor was the daughter of King Edward of Portugal. She
also was the sister of King Alonso V of Portugal and thus an
aunt of King João (John) II of Portugal.

File:Hans Burgkmair d. Ä. 006.jpg

Born: 1434
Died: 1467

You can find this portrait in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien 
(Historical Art Museum Vienna).

More about Holy Roman Emperor Frederick 

Frederick was an introverted personality. During his own life he
was criticized. People found him penny-pinching and stupid.

According to his subjects he liked to tend his own garden instead 
of governing. 

Frederick wrote in his diary:
"Happy is he who forgets what cannot be changed"

During Frederick's rule there where periods of chaos due to
inter alia many intra-family conflicts and disloyal advisers.

Frederick and his son Maximilian didn't see each other often. 
The father considered the son a reckless adventurer and didn't
gave him a lot of funds. He hoped that this would moderate
Maximilian's ambitions. 

However Maximilian played an important role on the political field 
in Western Europe. 


Born: 1459
Died: 1519

Maximilian I married 

Mary, Duchess of Burgundy

File:Mary of burgundy pocher.jpg

Born: 1457
Died: 1482


Like his father he was a robust man, but Maximilian had more 

According to Machiavelli, Maximilian could not handle money. 

In fact Maximilian dreamt about reforming the Empire, he 
conquered Italy and he raced to Bruges (Belgium) to marry 
Charles the Bold's daughter Mary in 1477 

Unfortunately Mary died very young (see chapter Belgium).
Maximilian married at the age of 18, became a father at 19 
and a widower at the age of 23.  


Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, was the only child of 
Charles The Bold and his wife, Isabella of Bourbon. 
She became the heir presumptive. Many princes asked her 
hand. But she 'chose' Maximilian I of Austria.

Through this commitment, the House of Habsburg became the 
ruler of the Low Countries. 
The marriage took place in Ghent (Belgium). 

Mary died when she was 25 years old. She felt from her horse.
She is buried in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges (Belgium).


In 1488 Maximilian was held hostage for several weeks. 
Leaders of the Revolt took him captive in a pharmacy on the main 
square in Bruges.  

Maximilian feared for his life. While Maximilian was afraid,
the rebel leaders treated him with respect. 
They even accepted him as the ruler. 

Finally Maximilian and the rebellious cities of Ypres, Ghent and 
Bruges made peace, though it was not the end of unrest in 
Burgundian Lands.

The Burgundian lands (inter alia the Low Countries) would 
bring the Habsburgs in conflicts with France for the next two 
and a half centuries. 

I saved a place for members of the House of Habsburg on the
page 'History of Belgium and the Low Countries' on top of my
blog or on this link .


Maximilian wanted to be the greatest Emperor since 
Barbarossa.  He became Holy Roman Emperor in 1493

2nd. Marriage

Maximilian wanted to ally with Ludovico Sforza the 
Duke of Milan. He married his niece Bianca Maria Sforza
on March 16th. 1494 at Halle in Tyrol. 

Bianca Maria Sforza

File:Bernhard Strigel 009.jpg

Born: 1472
Died: 1510


In the 2nd. marriage there was no love or affection. 
Bianca was a selfish woman and Maximilian treated her poorly. 
He even forced Bianca to downsize her household! 
She had to let go many servants, ladies in waiting, ... 
She was even forced to pawn her 

Bianca never filled the place of Mary of Burgundy
in her husband's affections. 

Meanwhile Maximilian fought in campaigns in Italy against the ...

Dynastic Marriages

Both Frederick and Maximilian had remarkable successes to 
secure marital alliances and they reunited the patrimony.



Philip I 'The Handsome' was born in Bruges as a son of Maximilian I 
and Mary of Burgundy. He grew up in Mechelen.

File:Juan de Flandes 004.jpg

Born: 1478
Died: 1506

On October 20th. 1496 he married
Joanna of Castile 'Joanna the mad'

in Lier (Belgium). 

File:Meister der Magdalenenlegende 002.jpg

Born: 1479
Died: 1555


Johanna was born in Toledo as a daughter of Isabella of Castile 
and Ferdinand II of Aragon.

She was extremely attractive. Besides that, she could reign over 
the Kingdoms Castile and Aragon.

The marriage was a part of the family alliances between the 
Habsburg and the Trastámara 
to strengthen the power against Louis XI of France.

In 1502 Philip and Joanna travelled to Spain to claim their 
rights of the throne of Castile. 

Unfortunately Philip's life with Joanna was extremely unhappy
due to his political insecurity. He attempted to usurp her legal
birth rights of power. This led to rumours of her insanity. These
rumours were strengthened due to the reports of depressive or
her neurotic acts. 

In 1504 Philip was summoned to Spain, where he was
recognized as King.

En route to Spain, in 1506, Philip and Joanna were caught in
a storm. Their ship stranded near the Dorset coast. The couple
stayed as guests of Henry VII of England but they were in fact
hostages during their stay. 

Philip was forced to sign a Treaty with Henry VII. After that
the couple were allowed to leave England.

On April 28th. 1506, Philip and his wife arrived in Spain where
Philip finally was proclaimed as King of Castile. 

Philip I 'The Handsome' died suddenly at Burgos of Typhoid
fever on September 25th. 1506. However, there were rumours that 
he was poisoned by his father-in-law... Philip I was buried in the 
Royal Chapel of Granada. 

Philip and Joanna would have 6 children, their 4 daughters would
married ... a King.


File:Bernard van Orley - Portrait of Margareta van Oostenrijk - WGA16689.jpg

Born: 1480
Died: 1530

She was a sister of Philip I 'The Handsome'.

She was first engaged with the French Crown Prince, Charles.
However he chose for political reason to cancel the engagement 
and to marry Anne of Brittany. 
Margaret of Austria would never forget this humiliation.

She married:

in 1497
John Prince of Asturias (died 6 months after this marriage)

in 1530

Philibert II, Duke of Savoy (died 3 years after this marriage)

At the age of 21 she became widow for the 2nd. time. 

Margaret refused Maximilian's attempt to marry her to 
Henry VII of England. Her father, Maximilian I, 
presented Margaret as governess of the Habsburg 
Netherlands. There she had a successful career. 

Margaret broke new ground for women rulers!
Her palace was in Mechelen (Belgium). 
Her reign brought a relativity of peace. 

Margaret also served as major patroness of the arts, 
she even took care of the education of several of her brother's 
children (including Charles V) .

Maximilian called his daughter 
"the wisest woman in the world".

CHARLES  V (Spanish Line)

and his empire where the sun never sets ....

His motto: "Plus oultre" or in English "further beyond" 


Charles was raised in the Netherlands under the eye 
of his aunt Margaret. 

At the age of 16 he came to the throne of Spain but
Charles V had never set foot in the country before.
The Spanish nobility called him the foreigner.  

From 1522 till 1529 Charles stayed in Spain to learn
Castilian and became more Spanish. Thanks to these
efforts Charles became more popular in his Spanish

He always remained cosmopolitan, at his court he had
people from Burgundy, Spain and Italy in his high
court councils.  

Charles had very capable regents: his aunt Margaret
and then his sister Maria of Hungary. They had to
manage the difficult situations.

The emperor caused many difficult situations when he
wanted to reorganize the administration of the territory. 

Unfortunately this reorganization didn't much to 
strengthen Charles' power. 

He also was stubborn on religious politics. Charles said:
"What is tolerated in Germany must never be suffered in
the Netherlands."

In 1522 he introduced the Inquisition and he gave the order
to burn nonconformist books. 

In 1550 he instituted death penalty for heresy.

At the end of his life he abdicated from the throne, he retired
in a monastery in Extremadura. He divided this empire into
the Austrian branch and the Spanish branch. 

He died on September 21st. 1558 from malaria 

File:Jakob Seisenegger 001.jpg

Born: 1500
Died: 1558

He married Isabella of Portugal

Born: 1503
Died: 1539

Isabella was the second child and the eldest daughter of 
King Manuel I of Portugal and his second wife
Infanta Maria of Castile and Aragon. 

On March 10th. 1526 she married Charles V, 
Holy Roman Emperor. The wedding took place in Seville. 

Although this was a political union, the marriage proved to 
be a love-match. 

Isabella was a competent consort. She served as regent of Spain
during her husband's absences. Isabelle was known for her
intelligence and her beauty.

Isabella died in 1539, during her 6th pregnancy. At the time of
her death, the emperor was away. This affected him deeply. He
never remarried and he always was dressed in black for the rest
of his life. 

Despite his love for Isabella, Charles V had several mistresses.


Also known as Mary of Hungary

File:Mary (1505–1558), Queen of Hungary.jpg

Born: 1505 in Brussels (Belgium), between 10 and 11 a.m.
Died: 1558 in Cigales (Spain)
Father: Philip the Handsome
Mother: Joanna of Castile

Mary was not considered to be attractive. 
However she married: Louis II of Hungary
in 1515 (at the age of 10!). Due to their age, it was decided that
the newly wed could not live together for a few more years.

Mary moved to Innsbruck where she was educated until 1521 then
she became Queen of Hungary.

Mary and Louis fell in love when they were reunited in Buda. 
Her coronation as Queen of Bohemia took place on June 1st. 1522.

 Louis and Mary spent their free time with riding and hunting.
On August 29th. 1526 the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I invaded Hungary.
Louis and his army of 20,000 men had to fight. The battle was over in
2 hours. 

File:Lajos II.jpg

Louis tried to flee from the battlefield but he slipped from his
frightened horse and drowned. Mary would mourn him for him
during her entire life.

In 1528 Mary's aunt, Margaret suggested that she should marry
King James V of Scotland. Mary rejected this. She had loved her
husband and did not wish another marriage again.

In 1530 Charles V tried to convince her to marry 
Frederick of Bavaria. Mary rejected him as well.

On January 3rd. 1531 Charles V requested Mary
to govern the Netherlands. He wrote to his sister:

"I am only one and I can't be everywhere; and I must be where I
ought to be and where I can, and often enough only where I can be 
and not where I would like to be; for one can't do more than one 
can do."

But Mary never enjoyed her role as governor. She only did this
a few months. Mary told her brother Ferdinand about her
experience as governor:

"It was like having a rope around my neck."

Finally Charles allowed his sister to resign. She formally 
announced her decision on September 24th. 1555 and dismissed
her household on October 1st. of that year. Mary first retired in 
Turnhout where she remained in the Netherlands for one more 

Finally Mary decided to move to Castile. 
On September 15th. 1556 she departed from Ghent to Castile 

She died in Cigales on October 18th. 1558.

In her testament Mary left all her possessions to Charles. 
But Charles died in September, so Philip inherited his aunt's

Mary was a keen collector of art and owned several important 
pieces of Early Netherlandish painting. 


Margaret and Mary were two famous governors of 
The Netherlands but their style was complete different.

Margaret ruled on a very feminine way. She was flexible,
adaptable, humorous and charming. Margaret 
accomplished her goals by using a smile, a joke or a
word of praise.

Mary on the other hand was known as an authoritarian 
person. She used cynical and biting comments. She also
was unable to forgive and forget.

Habsburg family was split

In 1521 the Habsburg family split into the Austrian line and the Spanish
Line. On this page, the Austrian Line will be mentioned. 

(Austrian Line)

File:Hans Bocksberger der Aeltere 001.jpg

Born: 1503
Died: 1564
Father: Philip the Handsome
Mother: Joanna 'the mad' of Castile

He married Anna of Bohemia and Hungary

File:Hans Maler - Queen Anne of Hungary and Bohemia - WGA13895.jpg

Born: 1503
Died: 1547

Ferdinand grew up in Spain and didn't learn any German
during his youth.

Later Ferdinand was entrusted with the government of the 
Austrian hereditary lands. Ferdinand supported his brother however
he also strengthen his own power by adopting the German language
and culture.

In 1515 Ferdinand married Anna Jagiellonica, the daughter of
King Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary, she was thus the
sister of Louis II of Hungary. 

Due to the death of his brother-in-law and this marriage 
Ferdinand inherited both Kingdoms 
(Bohemia and Hungary) (1526).

This reinforced the hate between the Hungarian noble families
and members of the House of Habsburg.

In 1527 the Croatian nobles elected Ferdinand as their King, in 
return he had to respect their historical rights and he also had to
protect him against the Ottoman invasion.

Ferdinand and Anna had 15 children (two of them died very young).

Ferdinand was a patron of arts, he gave the order to many
architects to make Vienna and Prague more beautiful. He also
liked music and hunting. 


File:Nicolas Neufchâtel 002.jpg

Born: 1527
Died: 1576

Maximilian II was the son of Ferdinand, Holy Roman Emperor
and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary.

Maximilian once said: " I'm neither a Catholic nor a Protestant, 
I'm a Christian." 

As a ruler, he hoped to promote in his kingdom the religious 
harmony that was in his own mind, but so often in
history, the person who tries to lead a situation down the middle
is attacked by those at the extremes. 

Maximilian II was thus heavily criticized by both conservative 
Catholics and the most extreme Lutherans.  

He married:

Maria of Spain

Born: 1528
Died: 1603

You can read more in my Today in History post of June 21st.
on this link  . 


File:Joseph Heintz d. Ä. 002.jpg

Born: 1552
Died: 1612

Rudolf was the son of Maximilian II and Maria of Spain.
Rudolf was very intelligent and an extremely cultured individual
as well. He liked to be curious and was broadly educated than
anyone else of the dynasty. 

Although he had a very strange character. Rudolf II was shy but
he felt proud to be one of the Habsburgs.

Rudolf had a strong will and he made some stupid decisions, like
renewing the war with the Turks in 1593.

Later the darker side of Rudolf came to dominate. He would have
had schizophrenia. Defeats, even the smallest, led to a depression, 
which shut himself off from court. He even feared that he was going 
to be poisoned or bewitched. 

In 1600 it came to a huge conflict. This started in Germany, where
a new generation of princes became more powerful. One of the main
disputes was to gain Catholic lands by the Protestant princes. 

The Elector Palatine, was the leader and he refused to contribute
money for the fight against the Turks. He and 9 Protestant princes
and 17 imperial cities formed the Evangelical Union. 

In response 20 princes led by Bavaria created the Catholic league. 
And the emperor? He didn't do much to avoid these coalitions.

In Austria there were a lot of problems too. Rural people had many
grievances. They had to pay more taxes for the war against the Turks.

From 1604-1606 there was a revolt led by István Bocskai, an Hungarian
lord, who was allied with the Habsburgs but then he made a league with
the Turks. So a part of the Hungarian estates rose up against the 
Habsburgs. These rebels formed an army partly out of armed peasants.
It received the name hajduks. This caused a split among the Hungarian 

In 1606 Matthias, his brother Maximilian and their cousin Ferdinand of
Styria carried out a plan to declare Matthias the head of the family.

Rudolf was furious, he considered this as a treasonous break and the
family split soon.

Rudolf died in 1612, after which Matthias was elected to the imperial


Born: 1557

Died: 1619

Matthias was the son of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and
Maria of Spain. He was thus a brother of Rudolf II

On December 4th. 1611 Matthias married Anna of Tyrol. He was
already older than 50! They would have no children.

When Matthias was chosen as the head of the family, his reign
became just as weak as Rudolf II. 

In 1612 the archbishop of Trier said about the emperor:
"He'll make no great leaps".

First of all, Matthias moved the capital back to Vienna from Prague.
Later he caused a huge religious conflict in the Empire. He disallowed
the construction of Protestant churches, censored Protestant publications
and forbid Protestants the right of assembly. In 1613 the Reichstag in
Regensburg broke down due to escalating religious tensions.

The inability to produce an heir led to the predictable twist among
Matthias 's relatives, to claim the throne.

There were some candidates:
Friedrich V, the Elector Palatine and a Calvinist
Felipe III of Spain (via his mother a grandson of Maximilian II)

These two really were opposites, this led to the support of Matthias's
cousin Ferdinand of Styria.  


File:Kaiser Ferdinand II. 1614.jpg

Born: 1578
Died: 1637

He married:

Maria Anna of Bavaria

Born: 1574
Died:  1616

and Eleonor Gonzaga

Born: 1598
Died:  1655

Ferdinand II was the son of Charles II, Archduke of Austria and
Maria Anna of Bavaria.

Ferdinand II was described as timid but resolute. This fact became clear on
the field of religion. He launched the strict Catholic rules at his court.
These rules were followed by many Austrian Habsburgs. 
Ferdinand even spent several hours a day in masses and prayer. 
Jesuits had a big impact on his education and they continued to have a 
great influence at Ferdinand 's court. The emperor thought that his duty was
a God-given mission.

In the 1620's Ferdinand ordered to burn books, expelled Protestants from his
territories, appointed clerics to his ruling circle and enlisted the Jesuits to
convert high nobles in Austria, Bohemia and Hungary back to Catholicism. 

Wherever he could Ferdinand ordered to build churches to promote cults of
Catholic saints and the Virgin Mary. The church gained almost a monopoly
on education. This isolated the Habsburgs domains from wider European
intellectual trends. 

Thirty Years' War

These series of Wars took place between 1618 and 1648. It was one of the
longest, most destructive conflicts in European History.


Ferdinand II died in 1637, he left the Empire to his son Ferdinand III.
This empire was still in a chaotic war. Ferdinand II was buried in his
Mausoleum in Graz. His heart was interred in the Heart crypt of the
Augustinian Church in Vienna.


Born: 1608
Died: 1657

Ferdinand III was the son of Ferdinand II and his first wife
Maria Anna of Bavaria.

Ferdinand III was described as an interesting man but not
an interesting ruler. The most important ideas came indeed from several
of his ministers like Maximilian Trauttmansdorff and Johann Weikhard 

Ferdinand III was more intelligent and complex than his father, he was
more curious and besides being a fairly competent military commander 
he was a gifted composer. 

The Royal Court in Vienna remained the most prestigious of all the
German-speaking lands, it was a magnet for many nobles, who came
throughout central Europe.

But the cohesion and the authority of the imperial institutions were
gone. The Habsburg dream of restoring Catholicism also was damned. 
Hundreds of people had died and a lot of Prague was destroyed.....

He married:

Maria Anna of Spain

Born: 1606
Died:  1646

Maria Anna of Spain was the sister of Felipe IV. She gave birth to
a daughter, Mariana, who became later the second wife of Felipe IV...
At that time Mariana only was 15 years old!

These close connections were intended to maintain the solidarity
between the Spanish and the Austrian branches of the
House of Habsburg.

Maria Leopoldine of Austria

Born: 1632
Died:  1649

Eleonore Gonzaga

Born: 1630
Died: 1686

Weakened by many years of military campaigning, Ferdinand III died in
April 1657. He became only 50 years old and he had spent nearly his entire
life at war. 


File:Leopold I of Habsburg.jpg

Born 1640 
Died: 1705

Travel Vienna Graben Austria
Pestsäule Vienna Graben Austria 

Leopold Ignaz Joseph Balthasar Felician was born on June 9th.1640
in Vienna. He received a good education by excellent teachers.

Leopold liked learning. He spoke several languages fluently:
Latin, Italian, German, French and Spanish. German and Italian 
would be the most favourite at his court.

He also learned the classics: history literature, natural science and
astronomy and Leopold was interested in music, in fact he had 
inherited his father's musical talents. 

Originally Leopold was the second eldest son, so he was prepared to
the church. However fate had other plans for him. In 1654 smallpox 
took his elder brother Ferdinand away and made from Leopold an
heir apparent. But Leopold always would be influenced by the Jesuits
through his life. He attended multiple masses per day and visited
monasteries regularly. He also did some pilgrimages, although these
took him so much time away from his governing ....

People described Leopold as short, thin man with a sickly constitution.
Leopold was cold and reserved in public and socially awkward, but with 
close associates he could be open. He also was a man of industry and 
education. A Venetian diplomat commented that Leopold:
"was afraid of stumbling, he walked slowly".

In 1692 Tsar Peter the Great of Russia visited Vienna and Leopold.
He commented: "I only met Jesuits at the Court in Vienna".

Leopold reigned for 47 years as an absolute monarch, this  reign was 
longer than any other member of the House of Habsburg of 
the early modern period.

Leopold did very little to centralize the separate Austrian governments
in Graz and Innsbruck. He didn't take care of the finances and funds
were poorly managed. Sometimes he even appointed an unqualified
or corrupt men to administer his domains.  So, it was no secret that
Leopold's reign had a lot of troubles.

Endless wars

Second Northern War (1655-1660)

King Charles X of Sweden tried to become King of Poland with the
help of his allies inter alia: György II Rákóczi, Prince of Transylvania.

Leopold's predecessor, Ferdinand III already had mad an ally with
King John II Casimir Vasa of Poland in 1656. In 1657 Leopold expanded
this alliance with Austrian troops (but they were paid by Poland). 

Due to this troops the Transylvanian army was defeated. This war ended
with the Treaty of Oliwa in 1660. 

Ottoman Empire

Three years later the Ottoman Empire interfered in the affairs of 
Transylvania. By the peace of Vasvár (1664) the Emperor made a 
20 years' truce with the Sultan. 

Wars with King Louis XIV of France

Louis and Leopold detested each other although they never met and
although they were cousins through their mothers.

In the previous 150 years the Habsburgs were considered as the 
balance of European powers but that role was taken by King
Louis XIV of France ...

In the 1670's Louis XIV renewed his attacks on the Netherlands
and it became impossible for Leopold to stay neutral. After France
invaded Lorraine, which was a part of the Empire, Leopold could not
doing something immediately due to the rebellion in Hungary. Later he
overcame his religious reservations and he allied with the Protestant
Dutch and several German princes as well. 

Leopold also allied with William III of the Netherlands, who was
after 1688 King of England. Their mutual interest to counter
King Louis XIV of France led to Williams support for Leopold's 
claim for the Spanish succession.

In 1686 the League of Ausburg was formed. This was an alliance
between inter alia:
several German princes;
the United Province of The Netherlands;

Leopold also had some strong military commanders like
Charles of Lorraine. and Prince Eugene of Savoy.

After this alliance the Peace Treaty of Ryswick 
(in Dutch: Rijswijk) was made.  This peace was short 
already 3 years later the Treaty was broken and Europe
was involved in another war ...

War of the Spanish Succession

King Charles of Spain was a member of the House of Habsburg
by descent, he also was related by marriage to the Austrian branch,
but he had these ties with King Louis XIV of France too ...

King Charles  (sometimes called Carlos) was weak and childless.
This attracted many European powers to arrange for a division
of his extensive kingdom. Leopold refused to take a part in this
speculations, BUT

In November 1700 Charles died and left his crown to
Philippe de France, Duke of Anjou, who was a grandson of 
King Louis XIV.

Emperor Leopold wanted to claim the Spanish monarchy for
his second son Charles! He was supported by King William III
of The Netherlands and many others (see before).

Battle of Blenheim was one of the most important battles of the
War of the Spanish Succession. You can read more about the
Battle on this link .

Internal problems

Hungary and Transylvania remained a source of instability and
Leopold struggled with the different religions in his realm. 

Protestantism remained widespread in Hungary, although the
high nobility was mostly Catholic. This situation became intolerable
when Protestant pastors even were sent to the galleys , accused of
disloyalty to the crown!

Two notable rebellions took place during Leopold's reign. The
first was solved by the Treaty of Vasvár (see before). Many 
Hungarian nobles regarded this treaty as unacceptable. They
found it a capitulation to the Ottomans. Nobles from several
families in both Hungary and Croatia launched in 1670 an
amateurish revolt, it included plans like kidnapping emperor
Leopold and offering the Hungarian Crown to King
Louis XIV of France .... 

Leopold's loyalist easily suppressed the plot and the noble 
conspirators were executed. He also centralized some aspects
of the Hungarian administration. 

At the end of the 1670's Leopold had to deal with a rebellion
led by the Transylvanian magnate Imre Thököly. This was
known in the history as the revolt of the kurucok "bandits'. 

Leopold made some concessions but this wasn't enough for
Thököly, he had to fled. Leopold became less obstinate. 
He promised respect for Protestants' rights to worship. 

The Treaty of Vasvár was not the end of the wars with
the Ottomans. 

In 1683 the famous siege of Vienna took place. A Turkish
army of over 100.000 men stood before the gates of the city. 
Leopold fled to the city of Passau (now Germany) with 
his court. 

Military Governor, Ernst Starhemberg had to defend Vienna 
during this difficult period. Finally in October a coalition army 
took control over the city and won from the Ottoman army.

Von Starhemberg - Source picture: wikipedia

Love & Marriage

Leopold I married 3 times:

Margaret Theresa of Spain

Born: 1651
Died: 1673

Claudia Felicitas of Austria

File:Claudia Felicitas of Tirol1.jpg

Born: 1653
Died: 1676

Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg

File:Eleonore of Pfalz Neuburg.jpg

Born: 1655
Died:  1720


File:Joseph I Holy Roman Emperor 002.jpg

Born: 1678
Died: 1711


Joseph's 6 years on the throne were characterized by the 
continuing war with the Bourbons. 

Joseph was a devout Catholic but he wasn't educated by 
the Jesuits (unlike his father and his
brother), so Joseph became more tolerant to religious

He played the flute and the violin. 

Joseph saw a need for changing how the monarchy was
ruled. He had a young court of reformers. He helped shore
up the monarchy's finances by founding the Vienna City
Bank in 1706.

In 1708 Joseph sent Eugène to the Low Countries, there
he achieved a victory with the conquest of the Spanish

Joseph also dealt with the revolt in Hungary and Transylvania.
In 1707 Ferenc Rákóckzi declared the House of Habsburg
deposed as rulers of Hungary and Transylvania.

The rebel army was defeated at Trencín (now in Slovakia).
Rákóckzi fled into exile. 

Thanks to Joseph's marriage with a German Princess the
German princes were closing ranks in the wars against the
Turks and those against Louis XIV of France. 

At home Joseph started some valuable reforms in the
administration of the dynastic state. He enlisted a number
of excellent minds among his top advisors. He increased the
financial contributions from the estates for the benefit of the
crown's income. 

He married: 

Wilhelmina Amalia of Brunswick - Lüneburg

File:Wilhelmine Amalie de Brunswick-Lunebourg (1673-1742).jpg

Born: 1673
Died:  1742

Love & Marriage

Joseph insist on marrying a German princess. He was a fairly
handsome man and a womanizer. 


Joseph contracted smallpox during an epidemic in Vienna. He
died  in April 1711 (32 years old). Even he sat 6 years on the 
throne, he could take credit for strengthening the dynasty militarily
and financially. 


File:Johann Gottfried Auerbach 004.jpg

Born: 1685
Died: 1740

Emperor Charles VI had a lot succession troubles. First he wanted
to reign over the land of the Spanish Habsburgs and then he only
had a female heir. 

Charles was dutiful, well-travelled and not dumb but he hadn't
any political feelings. He tended a distrust for those who were
smarter or more capable than himself. In court audiences he acted 
as a gawky schoolboy. 

A big part of his life was his quest for the Spanish succession. This
started in 1704. It lasted till 1713. Then the Peace of Utrecht was 
made. But Charles refused to recognize Philippe as King of Spain.

With the Peace of Utrecht the Austrian line of the Habsburgs got 
the Spanish Netherlands, large parts of Italy (including Naples and
Milan) and Sardinia. 

The Italian lands caused serious defence problems because the 
Austrian Habsburgs didn't had sea power. And Belgium was a
poisoned gift. It was a balance between France and the Netherlands.

In 1711 Charles made peace with most of the Hungarian nobles
at Szatmár. Hungary retained much administrative autonomy
and tax immunity for the nobles plus respect for religious privileges.
This kept the Hungarian magnates on the dynasty's side. 

Charles encouraged economic development and maritime trade.
He gave his approval to the foundation of a new trading company
in Ostende (Belgium) to break into overseas trade with India and China.

Charles also named Trieste and Rijeka as free ports to encourage
trade. He ordered the building of roads to link Vienna to the
Adriatic. One of these was called the Carolina. 

In 1717 Philippe of Spain broke the peace of Utrecht he attacked
Charles Italian possessions in 1717. Britain, the Netherlands
and France helped the emperor to stop this aggression. 

In 1720 Charles traded Sardinia for Sicily and he finally
acknowledged Philippe's right to rule Spain.

He also made an alliance with Russia.

In 1726 he founded a small navy with two warships. 

He granted concessions to boost a number of small industries.
Factories for glass, textiles, porcelain, tobacco and iron were
settled. Cool production raised.... 

There also were two wars with the Turks the first ended in a 
victory but the second was a debacle. 

He married:

Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick - Wolfenbüttel


Born: 1691
Died: 1750

Their sons all died young, which made their oldest daughter,
Maria Theresa as heir. He issued a sanction to affirm the 
principle of primogeniture but this sanction didn't return into
the past (so Joseph's daughter couldn't reign 
before Maria Theresa). 

Charles died in 1740 after eating a bunch of mushrooms. 
Some people claimed that his last words were


File:Martin van Meytens 006.jpg

Born: 1708
Died: 1765

He married: 


She claimed herself as the first mother of her realms.
"I belong to my people"

File:Kaiserin Maria Theresia (HRR).jpg

Born: 1717
Died: 1780

Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was born on
May 13th. 1717. In German she was called Maria Theresia.

Maria Theresa was a serious child who enjoyed singing and
archery. The Imperial family staged opera productions.

She was educated by Jesuits, however her spelling and
punctuation were unconventional.  Maria Theresa was
educated in drawing, painting, music and dancing and
of course lessons in etiquette. 

First she was engaged to Leopold Clement of Lorraine,
who was supposed to visit Vienna in 1723, but he had
died of smallpox before he could meet the Archduchess.

So, Leopold Clement's brother, Francis Stephen was
invited to Vienna. 

In 1725 her father betrothed Maria Theresa to
Charles of Spain. This wedding didn't took place
because this would have destroyed the European 
balance Power and Maria Theresa was relieved.
Finally she could marry Francis Stephen. The couple
were married on February 12th. 1736.

Although Maria Theresa loved her husband very much,
she was jealous. His infidelity was the greatest problem
of their marriage. The best known mistress of Francis
was Maria Wilhelmina, Princess of Auersperg. 

In 1738 Charles VI sent the young couple to make their
formal entry into Tuscany. There a triumphal arch was
erected at the Porta Galla. Their stay in Florence was

On October 20th. 1740 Charles VI died. He left Austria
as an impoverished state. It was bankrupted by the
Turkish War and the War of the Polish Succession. For
Maria Theresa this was a very difficult situation. She also
didn't know enough about matters of state. Later she
would say:

"I found myself without money, without credit, without
army, without experience and knowledge of my own, and
finally also without any counsel because each one of them
at first wanted to wait and see how things would develop."

Maria Theresa maid from Francis Stephen a co-ruler of the
Austrian and Bohemian lands. Despite her love for him and
his position, Maria Theresa never allowed her husband to 
decide matters of state. 

After her accession a number of European sovereigns broke
their promises, but contrary to all expectations, support for
the young Queen came from Hungary. Her coronation as
Queen of Hungary took place on June 25th. 1741. 

On October 1741 Charles Albert, Elector of Bavaria 
captured Prague and declared himself King of Bohemia. The
same day he was elected emperor, Austrian troops captured

In June 1742 the Treaty of Breslau ended the hostilities 
between Austria and Prussia. 

In May 1745 the French overran the Austrian Netherlands.

In August 1756 the Seven Year's War started.

War of the Austrian Succession.


Maria Theresa gave birth to sixteen children. Thirteen
of them survived infancy.

Maria Elisabeth

Born: 1737
Died: 1740 

Maria Anna

Born: 1738 - Hofburg Palace - Vienna
Died: 1789 - Klagenfurt - Austria

Maria Carolina

Born: 1740
Died: 1741

Joseph II

He was named after Saint Joseph after Maria Theresa
had prayed for a male heir during her pregnancy. 

He became emperor.

Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen

Born: 1742
Died: 1798

She was the favourite child of Maria Theresa. In fact
Maria Christina was born on the 25th. birthday of her
mother. She kept Maria Theresa's confidence.

Married: Prince Albert of Saxony, Duke of Teschen

Maria Elisabeth

Born: 1743
Died: 1808 in Linz

She was an abbess in the Convent for Noble Ladies in Innsbrück.  

Charles Joseph

Born: 1745
Died: 1761

Maria Amalia

Born: 1746
Died: 1804 in Prague

Married: Ferdinand, Duke of Parma

Leopold II

He became emperor.

Maria Carolina

Born: 1748
Died: 1748

Maria Johanna Gabriella

Born: 1750
Died: 1762

Maria Josepha

Born: 1751
Died: 1767

Maria Carolina, Queen of Napels and Sicily

Born: 1752
Died: 1814

Married: Ferdinand IV of Napels

Ferdinand, Duke of Modena

Born: 1754
Died: 1806

Married: Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este

Queen Marie-Antoinette of France.

In 1770 Maria Theresa's youngest daughter married
Louis, Dauphin of France by proxi in Vienna.

Maria Theresa kept up a correspondence with 
Marie Antoinette, in which she often reproached her
for laziness and frivolity. 

Queen Marie-Antoinette has been executed in 1793 
during the French Revolution. 

File:Marie-Antoinette par Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun - 1783.jpg

Maria Theresienplatz Wien Vienna Austria travel
Maria Theresienplatz Wien Vienna Austria taken in September 2011

Maximilian Francis - Archbishop - Elector of Cologne 

Born: 1756 at the Hofburg, Imperial Palace (Vienna)
Died: 1801 Hetzendorf Palace (Vienna)

Maria Theresa was then 39 years. 

Maria Theresa & her children

Shortly after giving birth to the younger children, Maria Theresa
was confronted with the task of marrying off the elder ones.

She led the marriage negotiations along with the campaign of
wars and her duties of state. Maria Theresa treated her children
with affection but used them as pawns in the dynastic games and 
she sacrificed their happiness for the benefit of the state. 

Maria Theresa wrote to all her children at least once a week. 


Like all members of the House of Habsburg, Maria Theresa
was a devout Roman Catholic. She controlled the selection
of archbishops, bishops and abbots very well. 

Her relationship with the Jesuits was difficult. They educated
her and served as her confessors and they supervised the
religious education of her eldest son.

In the early years of Maria Theresa's reign they were powerful,
however ministers were convinced that the order posed a danger
to the monarchy. The ministers could convince the Empress and
without any hesitations she issued a decree which removed the
Jesuits from all the institutions of the monarchy. 

Maria Theresa regarded both Jews and Protestants as dangerous
to the state and she tried to suppress them. She imposed very
extreme taxes on her Jewish subjects. She also transferred 
Protestants from Austria to Transylvania. 

Joseph regarded his mother's religious policies as
"unjust, impious, impossible, harmful and ridiculous."


Maria Theresa employed Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz, 
who modernized the empire by creating a standing army .
Haugwitz instituted taxation of the nobility, who had never 
pay taxes before.

The empress doubled the state revenue between 1754 and
1764. These financial reforms greatly improved the economy.

In 1760 Maria Theresa created the council of State. She wasn't
an autocrat who acted has her own minister.

Codex Theresianus (made between 1762 and 1766). This
defined civil rights. In 1776 Austria outlawed witch burnings
and torture (it was later reintroduced).  

Maria Theresa reformed education 1775. All children from
6 till 12 years had to attend school. 

On August 18th. 1765 Emperor Francis died, while he and
the court were in Innsbruck, celebrating the wedding of his
second son Leopold. Maria Theresa was devastated. 

The relationship between Maria Theresa and her eldest son
Joseph was complicated. 

On November 24th. 1780 the empress fell ill, of a chill. 
By November 28th. she asked for the last rites and the next
day she died surrounded by her remaining children.

With her the House of Habsburg died out and it was 
replaced by the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. 

Joseph succeeded her. She was buried in the Imperial Crypt
in Vienna, next to her husband.


"I'm a royalist by trade."

Born: 1741

Joseph II was born on March 13th. 1741 as eldest son of
Empress Maria Theresa and her husband Francis I.

He married in October 1760

Isabella of Parma

File:Jean-Marc Nattier 005.jpg

Born: 1741 - Died: 1763

as a defensive pact between France and Austria. Josephe loved
his bride. He found her stimulating and charming. Isabella also
found a best friend and confidant in her husband's sister 
Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen.

Isabella was fearful of pregnancy and early death.
Her own pregnancy was difficult and she suffered symptoms of
pain, illness and melancholy. She had two miscarriages and in 
1763 (when she was 6 months pregnant) Isabella fell ill with
smallpox. She went into premature labour. She gave birth of 
a second child, Archduchess Maria Christina, but this child
died shortly after her birth. Isabella died the next week. 

Joseph was devastated. He remained a devoted father to
Maria Theresa.

In 1765 he married

Maria Josepha of Bavaria

File:Maria Josepha von Bayern.jpg

Born: 1739 - Died: 1769

She was the daughter of Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor
and Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria. This marriage
became extremely unhappy. Maria Josepha grew ill and died
from smallpox. Joseph never visited her during her illness and
he even didn't attend her funeral. Joseph never remarried.

In 1770 Maria Theresa fell ill. She died. The loss of Joseph's
daughter was deeply traumatic for him.


Although he was already a co-ruler, Joseph wasn't free to
make his own decision until his mother's death in 1770. He
immediately started issuing edicts. He intended to make his
people happy but in accordance with his own criteria.

Joseph wanted a complete reform of the legal system.
He abolished brutal punishments and the death penalty.
He ended censorship of the press and theater.

In 1781-1782 he wanted the full legal freedom of serfs. 
This led to the peasant revolt of Horea.

Joseph issued a decree for taxation. In the cities the guilds
rights were ended. 

He also created scholarships for talented poor students and
he allowed the establishment of schools for Jews and other
religious minorities. In 1784 he ordered that German was
the state language instead of Latin. This was a big step 
afterwards in a multilingual empire.

Joseph also attempted to centralize medical care in Vienna
through the construction of a single, large hospital. 

Joseph tried to make the Catholic Church in his empire the
tool of the state, independent from Rome. In 1782 
Pope Pius VI paid him a visit. Joseph received the Pope
politely but he refused to be influenced. 

His foreign policy was marked by troubles and war.

He wanted to acquire Bavaria (in exchange for the the
Austrian Netherlands)

He also became involved in an expensive war with the

These reforms and wars resulted in unrest in all parts
of his dominions. 

In 1789 the French revolution broke out. 
Many plans to help his sister and her husband failed...

Joseph died on February 20th. 1790. He was buried in the
Imperial Crypt in Vienna.


Leopold was born on  May 5th. 1747 in Vienna as the third son.
First he was educated for the priesthood.

In 1753 he was engaged to Maria Beatrice d'Este, heiress of
the Duchy of Modena but she married his brother 
Archduke Ferdinand.

On August 5th. 1764 he married 

Maria Luisa of Spain

File:Joseph Grassi 001.jpg

Born: 1745 - Died:  1792

She was a daughter of King Charles III of Spain and
Maria Amalia of Saxony. They would have 16 children.

Grand Duke of Tuscany

In 1765 (when his father died), Leopold became 
Grand Duke of Tuscany. He hadn't much authority. 
He had to rule under the supervision of counsellors who
were appointed by his mother. 

As had no army to maintain, his whole revenues were left free
for the improvement of his estate, but Leopold never was popular
with his Italian subjects. However his intelligent administration
brought the grand duchy to material prosperity.

He abolished the death penalty and torture also was

Leopold developed and supported many social and economic
reforms. Smallpox inoculation was made available and
an institution for the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents
was founded. Leopold also introduced radical reforms for the
inhumane treatment of the mentally ill.

Leopold and his brother Joseph were attached to one another
and they met each other frequently. 

Joseph asked his brother in 1789 to come to Vienna to become
a co-regent. Leopold avoided the request. He was still in 
Florence when Joseph II died in Vienna on February 20th. 1790.
He did not leave his Italian capital until March 3rd. 1790.

Holy Roman Emperor

He recognized the Estates of the different dominions, he
pacified the Hungarians and the Bohemians and he
divided the insurgents in the Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium).

He continued that no papal bull could be published in his 
dominions without his consent. 

In France the situation became worse for his sister
Queen Marie Antoinette and his brother-in-law 
King Louis XVI of France. Leopold gave good advice
and promises of help if she and her husband could escape
from Paris. 

He had other troubles too. In the east he was threatened by
Catherine II of Russia and the policy of Prussia. 

In 1791 Louis XVI of France and Marie-Antoinette tried to
escape from France but they were taken captive in Varennes. 

In 1791 Leopold also made a peace treatment with the Turks.

Leopold suddenly died in Vienna in March 1792. Some claimed
that he was poisoned or secretly murdered...


Francis (in German: Franz) was born on February 12th. 1768

in Florence, but he grew up at the Viennese court. Emperor
Joseph II took care of Francis's development.

In Vienna he was isolated but Francis admired his uncle.
Later he was sent to join an army regiment in Hungary. 

In 1790 (after the death of Joseph II) Francis's father became
Emperor. Francis could act as Leopold's deputy in Vienna, 
while the incoming Emperor traversed the Empire.

In the winter of 1791 Leopold became ill. It worsened and on
March 1st. 1792 Leopold died at the age of 44. Francis who
just passed his 24th B-day was Emperor.

Francis hated the French Revolution. So, when the Queen
asked him to declare war to France, he accepted.
France declared war on Austria on April 20th. 1792. The
Queen was now seen as an enemy in her own country.

In fact Francis was indifferent to the fate of his aunt.
She and his father weren't close and he had met her once,
when he was little, so he wasn't really interested in her.

But his hate against the revolution led Austria into the
French Revolutionary Wars and later to the 
Napoleonic wars. These weakened Austria. 

To seal the armistice Francis had to marry his daughter
Marie-Louise to Napoleon.

Francis recalled his ambassador in Paris to become his
new foreign minister. It would became a famous man:
Klemens von Metternich. Metternich was a skilled
diplomat. He rejected the ideas of revolution and equality.
Those would undermine the existing social order and the
monarchy's exercise of power. 

Francis was suspicious and he set up an extensive 
network of police spies. Even his family did not escape
from his attention. But he trusted Metternich due to 
their deep shared conservatism. He wrote to the emperor:

"Your Majesty is the central point, the only true surviving
representative of an old order of things built upon an
eternal unchangeable law. In this irreplaceable role, all eyes
are directed at your highest Majesty."

Metternich limited free speech right, kept personal control 
of the secret police and created a number of central governing
ministries. He also stitched a web of diplomacy.

In 1809 Francis wanted to stay out of war. Metternich saw this

period as a time of preparing for a ... combat. 

Austria reentered the war against France in 1813, the country
was suddenly the leader of the whole coalition ( Russia; Prussia;
Sweden; Britain; Spain and Portugal).

Prince Karl Schwarzenberg was the senior commander of the

In 1813, Francis and his counterparts, Tsar Aleksander I of Russia 
and King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia watched together the
Battle of Leipzig in a camp outside Leipzig. There Napoleon was
defeated. After that battle, the allied forces marched on Paris and
they took it in during March 1814. Napoleon abdicated in
april 1814. Later Austria would host the Congress of Vienna. 

Between all the balls, intrigues and frivolity Metternich managed
to get most of what he wanted. This was the best thing for the 
monarchy in the long term.

The whole project was designed to maintain a balance of power. 
The House of Habsburg gave up their old lands in Belgium but 
they gained most of Venice's former territory as well as other
parts of Italy. 

In 1816 the Austrian National Bank was established, which 
helped to stabilize finances. 

After 1825 Francis and Nicholas I formed a closer relationship,
because they both shared a hate of popular revolt. 

The last 20 years of Francis's rule were peaceful. This period
was sometimes called in art the Austrian Biedermeier.

In 1832 the first railway on Habsburg territory was opened
between Linz and Ceské Budejovice and one between
Vienna and Olomouc (1836).

The banking sector also expanded. This was led by the
Rothschilds and a few other houses. 

Francis took an active interest in many economic developments.
This economic grow had influences to the society. One of them
was an increase of the population. 

Vienna became a patchwork of people:
Hungarians, Poles, Serbs, Croats, Wallachians, Moldavians, Greeks
and Turks.

Working conditions in the industries were very bad with a 
14-hours working day. In 1839 this was restricted for children
to 12 hours a day!

Francis had concerns about his succession. He knew that his
disabled oldest son, Ferdinand, wasn't capable for ruling but
he didn't do anything. He wanted to follow the law ...

So in 1830 Ferdinand was crowned King of Hungary. Francis
wrote to his son:

"Rearrange nothing of the state edifice, rule and do not change;
hold firm and steadfast to the principles by constant adherence to
which I not only led the monarchy through the storms of hard
times, but also assured the lofty position that it occupies in the

 He married 4 times and he had 13 children. 

Elisabeth of Württemberg

Born: 1767
Died: 1790

Duchess Elisabeth of Württemberg died by childbirth.
Read more about her in my "Today in History / On This Day"
on this link .

Maria Theresa of Naples

File:Maria Teresa di Borbone-Napoli.jpg

Born: 1772
Died:  1807

She was the cousin of Francis, this close connection
could explain Ferdinand's problems. 

Maria Ludovika of Austria - Este

File:Maria Ludovica Beatrice Modena Austria 1787 1816.jpg

Born: 1808
Died:  1816

Carolina Augusta of Bavaria

File:Charlotte Auguste Bayern 1792 1873.png

Born: 1792 in Manheim (Germany)
Died: 1873 in Vienna (Austria)

To read more about her check my Today in History/On This Day
on this link .

Death of Francis I

On March 2nd. 1835, 43 years and a day after his father's death
Francis died in Vienna of a sudden fever. He became 67 years old.

His funeral was magnificent, with his Viennese subject paying 
him his last respect in the chapel of the Hofburg Palace for
three days. 


He was born on April 19th. 1793 as the eldest son of 

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa of Naples. 

Ferdinand suffered from epilepsy, neurological problems and
speech impediment.

He was educated by Baron Josef Kalasanz von Erberg and his
wife Josephine.

Thus Ferdinand was unfit, he was not an idiot. He learned 
five languages, played the piano well and he developed an interest
in botany. However the family kept him out of public view for many

The Tsarina of Russia met Ferdinand in Teplice and wrote about him:
Good Lord, I had heard a lot about him, of his little, ugly, feeble form
and his big head with no expression other than stupidity but the
reality surpasses all description."

He received the nickname :" Ferdy the fool", in his family.

So when Ferdinand became the emperor, he wasn't the ruler.
The power was in the hands of his uncle Archduke Ludwig,
Metternich and Count Franz Anton von Kolowrat.

In 1847, 2 significant matters happened.

- Foundation of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
- First telegraph connection between Vienna and Prague.

But since the 1840's the Habsburg regime lost authority
at home and abroad. Harvest failures started in 1845, these
led to higher food prices and widespread hunger. This was
combined with a strong growth of population and a lack of
jobs and there were the complaints about the high taxes. 

In 1847 there was a bank run because of the fears for a state

Another growing thing were the feelings of nationalism. In
Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia, nobles wanted to have the
right to rule themselves.

The revolution in Paris in February 1848 was the original spark
for similar uprisings across Europe. 

In March 1848 revolutionaries were marching on the palace, he
asked Metternich what was going on. Metternich answered:
they were making a revolution. Ferdinand was supposed to have
said: "But are they allowed to do that?"

The demands were similar in most of the revolts of that time:
trial by jury, freedom for political prisoners, freedom of speech
and the end of censorship, abolition of serfdom and tax exemptions
for nobility and the creation of legislative assemblies that would
represent national group's interests. 

In May there were fiercer riots in Vienna and the royal family
fled to Innsbruck. 

Ferdinand's role in these events was mostly that of a spectator. 

In November 1848 a new cabinet took power in Vienna. This was
led by Felix Schwarzenberg. 

Felix zu Schwarzenberg could convince him to abdicate in
favour of his nephew Franz Joseph. 

Ferdinand wrote in his diary

"The affair ended with the new Emperor kneeling before
his old Emperor and Lord ..."

Ferdinand spent the rest of his life in Prague Castle. 
He was given the Czech nickname:: Ferdinand V, the Good.

He died on June 29th. 1875.


Francis was married but he remained childless. 

Schönbrunn Palace picture taken in 2011


Franz Joseph was born in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna as the
oldest son of Archduke Franz Karl and his wife Princess Sophie of

The young Archduke was brought up by his mother as a future
emperor. Metternich also supervised his education.

Franz Joseph never learned to love art and music, he liked the
pleasures of military regimentation and simple domesticity.

At the age of 13 he started a career as colonel in the
Austrian army. 


France Joseph had 3 younger brothers:

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian (future emperor of Mexico);
Archduke Karl Ludwig
Archduke Ludwig Viktor

and 1 sister:

Maria Anna who died at the age of four.

In 1848 he became emperor after his uncle abdicated. 

On February 18th. 1853 the Emperor survived an assassination
attempt by the Hungarian nationalist János Libényi. Libényi 
was put on a trial and condemned to death. He was executed. 

Love & Marriage

Emperor Franz Joseph had a lot of potential brides:

1/ Princess Elisabeth of Modena
2/ Princess Anna of Prussia
3/ Princess Sidonia of Saxony.

In his private life, his mother had crucial influence. 
She wanted to strengthen the relationship between the Houses
of Habsburg and Wittelsbach.

She hoped a match between Franz Joseph and Helene "Nené", 
eldest daughter of her sister Ludovika.

But Franz Joseph became besotted with Nené's younger sister
Elisabeth 'Sisi'. Sisi was a girl of fifteen.

He married Elisabeth of Bavaria (Sisi)

File:Erzsebet kiralyne photo 1867.jpg

Born: 1837 in Munich (Germany)
Died: 1898 in Geneva (Switzerland)

The couple were married on April 24th. 1854 in the
St. Augustine's Church in Vienna.

Sisi was an intelligent, unstable woman who never answered the
deep love that Franz Joseph offered her. 

Franz Joseph wrote to her as "my dear, only angel."

Sisi hated the life at the Viennese court, especially the early years
of their marriage when Archduchess Sophie had control. 

Sisi started traveling and she probably became anorexic.

In 1898 Sisi was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist in Geneva.
Franz Josef commented bitterly:
"I am spared nothing in this world."


Archduchess Sophie

Born: 1855
Died: 1857

Archduchess Gisela

Born: 1856
Died: 1932

Married: Prince Leopold of Bavaria

Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria

Born: 1858
Died: 1889

Married: Princess Stéphanie of Belgium

He died in Mayerling apparently through suicide with his mistress
Baroness Maria Vetsera.

Archduchess Marie-Valerie

Born: 1868
Died: 1924

Married:Archduke Franz Salvator

Franz Joseph and Katharina Schratt

In 1885 Franz Joseph met Katharina Schratt, she was a leading 
actress in Vienna. Their relationship lasted the rest of his life
and this was tolerated by Sisi. 

Franz Joseph ordered a Villa in Bad Ischl for her and a small
palace in Vienna.

Drama @ Mayerling

Rudolf, the only son of Franz Joseph and Sisi inherited much of
his mother's character. He was highly intelligent but emotionally
not stable.

Franz Joseph tried to educate Rudolf as a conservative military
man, but this wasn't Rudolf's character. Sisi intervened and 
her son received a more progressive education.

Rudolf sympathized with liberal ideas. Franz Joseph excluded him
from most leadership roles. He was married to a Belgian Princess
called Stephanie.

However in 1889 he shot the 17-year-old Mary Vetsera (one of his
mistresses) death and then himself. The Royal Family tried to
cover this scandal. 

With Rudolf's death, Archduke Franz Ferdinand became
the new heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.

Franz Joseph never liked him due to his morganatic marriage with
Sophie Chotek. 

When Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were assassinated in 1914
Emperor Franz Joseph would have a greater confidence in his new
heir presumptive. He would have said:

"for me, it is a relief from a great worry."



For me Franz Joseph is a fascinating figure, he had a great sense of
duty and he slept on an old iron bed in the Hofburg. He also never
installed a modern bathroom. 

Franz Joseph was only 18 years old at the time of his elevation. His
first task was to complete the suppression of the rebellions. 
In October 1848 the revolts in Vienna and Prague were crushed. 
In Italy the power was restored in 1849.

The Hungarian revolutionaries refused to recognized 
Franz Joseph's authority (he wasn't crowned as King of Hungary).

April 1849

Hungary was declared as a republic. Tsar Nicholas I
of Russia wanted to intervene. When Franz Joseph agreed, he felt
like a humiliation. He had to accept help for one of his own realms.
Together they could defeat the revolutionaries. 

The reaction of Austria was hard, Hungarian generals were
executed and numerous other army officers were imprisoned.
Political leaders who had fled were condemned to death and hanged
in absentia and even moderate leaders were shot.

Serfdom was definitively abolished. Peasants, students and workers
were politicized as they never had been before.

The new constitution established a precedent for sharing the
monarch's power with an elected, representative assembly.
However ministers were directed strictly by the emperor and
most officials throughout the monarchy were appointed by him. 


Franz Joseph wrote to his mother Sophie:
"We have thrown all that constitutional stuff  overboard, and
now Austria has only one master."

On February 18th. 1853

the Emperor survived an assassination
attempt by an Hungarian nationalist. The nationalist was put on
a trial and condemned to death. He was executed on the
Simmeringer Heide.

Archduke Maximilian, brother of Franz Joseph asked the
European Royal families for a donation. He ordered to build
a new church. It is located on the Ringstrasse and is known as
the Votivkirche. On this link you can check my Treetuesday
about this beautiful church. 


Franz Joseph had to deal with the Crimean crisis. 
Russia wanted to have this area but the Ottoman Empire too.
Russia occupied Turkish dependencies along the Danube, this
alarmed Franz Joseph. He didn't want Russia on his doorsteps.
Austria arranged a secret deal with Prussia. 

May 1854

Franz Joseph issued an ultimatum to Tsar 
Nicholas I to evacuate Moldavia and Wallachia. Nicholas was
so angry (he saw this as a betrayal) that he turned a portrait
of Franz Joseph to the wall.


Franz Joseph made a state visit to Venice. There he was
received coldly and the Venetian nobility declining an invitation
to the court reception. 


he appointed his brother Maximilian as governor-general.
He recommended Franz Joseph to grant the people in Lombardy
and Venetia some concessions. But Franz Joseph was against new
reforms. This built the resistance to the Habsburg rule. War broke
out in 1859 and Austria had no allies to count on. Napoleon III of
France helped Venetia and Lombardy to defeat Austria.

Later Franz Joseph met Napoleon III to make the Treaty of Zürich.
The House of Habsburgs lost Lombardy, Modena and Tuscany. 
Franz Joseph lost much of his credibility as a leader. 

Also in 1857 Franz Joseph decided to tear down the fortifications,
and he ordered to build the Ringstrasse.


Otto von Bismarck, a Prussian diplomat, launched a plan for the
unification of Germany. The crown of Germany couldn't go to the
Emperor of Austria ... the largest and the most powerful German
state was Prussia. After Prussia won the Seven Weeks War the
problem was solved. The King of Prussia became emperor of 
Germany. Austria lost no territories as long as they remained out
of German affairs....

Wilhelm II wrote to Crown Prince Rudolf that the Habsburg
monarchy was rotten and near to dissolution. 

Franz Joseph wrote to his mother:
"When the whole world is against you and you have no friends, there
is a little chance of success, but you have to keep fighting as long as
you can to do your duty and finally to succumb with honour"


Franz Joseph made the Austro-Hungarian Compromise due to Sisi.
She loved Hungary and advocated for the Hungarian interests at
the court. She was rewarded with their love in return. He and Sis
were crowned in Hungary as King and Queen in a lavish ceremony.

Meanwhile another drama took place.
Archduke Maximilian (brother of Franz Joseph), who had become
emperor of Mexico was executed by a firing squad. 
Princess Charlotte of Belgium (wife of Archduke Maximilian)
went insane.


The neo-Renaissance opera house opened in Vienna. 
But the negative public reception drove one of its architects to suicide.

The Ring in Vienna attracted many noble families. They all wanted
to build their palaces as close to the Royal Family as possible.


Due to Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust and Gyula Andrássy
Austria-Hungary remained neutral in Prussia's war with 


Franz Joseph entered into the league of the Three emperors.
This league included emperor Wilhelm I of Germany,  
Tsar Alexander II of Russia and Franz Joseph. This lasted until


Berlin Conference. Her it was agreed that Austria-Hungary would 
occupy the formerly Turkish possession of Bosnia-Herzegovina to
frustrate Tsar Alexander II of Russia.


Alliance between Austria-Hungary and Bismarck's Germany.


In 1881 Rudolf wrote about his father:
"He stands lonely on his peak; he talks to those who serve him of 
their duties, but he carefully avoids any real conversation. Accordingly
he knows little of what people think and feel, their views and opinions.
Only those people now in power have access to him."


France and Russia Allied and later Britain Joined.


riots in Vienna, Graz, Prague and other parts of Bohemia due to
language troubles.


Franz Joseph's veto of Cardinal Rampolla's election to 
the papacy was transmitted to the conclave. It was the last use
of such a veto. 


parliamentary crisis in Hungary. The military occupied the
parliament and formally dissolved it. 


new agreement to increase Hungary's contribution to the
general treasury. 


Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina, without
sufficient diplomatic preparation. 


The government of István Tisza interfered with a number of
civil rights including those of the press, assembly and jury


On July 28th. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The 
later Empress Zita reported that Emperor Franz Joseph 
declared to her at the beginning of the war that he foresaw
it ending in defeat and revolution.


Italy entered the war against Austria-Hungary.

Serbia was overrun with German help and Galicia was won
back from Russia.


Franz Joseph died at the Schönbrunn Palace on the evening of
November 21st. 1916 at the age of 86 and during World War  I.

He took a cold while he was walking several days before, while
he was walking with the King of Bavaria, in the
Park of Schönbrunn. Later Franz Joseph got pneumonia at his
right long.



Charles was born on August 17th. as a son of Archduke Otto Franz
of Austria and Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony. 


Charles served as an officer chiefly in Prague. He studied law
and political science concurrently with his military duties.


Prince Zdenko Lobkowitz was appointed as his chamberlain.


Charles married Zita of Bourbon - Parma

Born: 1892 in Italy Died: 1989 in Zizers (Switzerland)

The two met each other as children, but they didn't see
each other for ten years. During a visit in 1909 Charles
met her again. Due to the marriage of Franz Ferdinand
and Sophie Chotek, Emperor Franz Joseph pressured 
him to marry. 

On June 13th. 1911 Charles asked for Zita 's hand and 
their engagement was announced at the Viennese court.  

On October 21st. 1911, the couple was married at the
Schwarzau Castle. This wedding was attended by 
Emperor Franz Joseph.

October 22nd. 1911 Charles to Zita:
"Now, we must help each other to get to heaven."


picture: Charles & Zita and their children
Source picture: Wikipedia

Crown Prince Otto

picture: Franz Joseph, Charles and Otto of Habsburg
Source picture: Wikipedia

Born: 1912
Died: 2011 in Pöcking, Bavaria, Germany
married: Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen

Crown Prince Otto served as member of the European Parliament
for the Christian Social Union of Bavaria. 

Otto spoke 5 languages: German, French, English, Hungarian and

Archduchess Adelheid

Born: 1914
Died: 1971 the age of 57

Archduke Robert

Born: 1915

In 1917, Robert was created Archduke of Austria - Este. 

In Belgium, he studied Law and Political Science at the
University of Louvain. 

During World War II, he served at the Royal Air Force. Later
he moved to Paris.

He married on 29 December 1953 in Bourg-en-Bresse to 
Princess Margherita of Savoy Aosta, daughter of  Amadeo,
the 3rd. Duke of Aosta. 

They are the parents of Prince Lorenz of Belgium, husband of 
Princess Astrid of Belgium.

Archduke Robert died in 1996 at the age of 80.

Archduke Felix

Born: 1919
Married: Princess and Duchess Anne Eugénie of Arenberg
Died: 2011 in Mexico City

Archduke Carl Ludwig

Born: 1918
Married in 1949 to Princess Yolanda of Ligne
Died: 2007 at the age of 89 in Brussels, Belgium

Archduke Rudolf

Born: 1919

1/ Countess Xenia Czernichev-Besobrasov
2/ Princess Anne Gabriele of Wrede

Died: 2010 in Brussels, Belgium

Archduchess Charlotte

Born: 1921
Married: George, Duke of Mecklenburg
Died: 1989 at the age of 68 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Archduchess Elisabeth

Born: 1922
Married: Prince Heinrich of Liechtenstein
Died: 1993 at the age of 70 in Waldstein, Bavaria, Germany



Charles became heir presumptive after the assassination of
Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. This event led to
World War I.

Emperor Franz Joseph took steps to initiate his 
heir-presumptive of the crown in the affairs of state.

In World War I Charles served in the Austro-Hungarian army.


After the death of Emperor Franz Joseph , Charles succeeded
to the thrones.

On December 2nd. 1916 he assumed the title Supreme 

On December 30th. 1916 his coronation took place.


Charles entered secretly into peace negotiation with France.
His brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, who
was an officer in the Belgian army, worked as intermediary.

Writer Herbert Vivian noted:
"Charles was a great leader, a Prince of Peace, who wanted to
save the world from a year of war; a statesman with ideas to
save his people from the complicated problems of his Empire;
a King who loved his people, a fearless man, a noble soul,
distinguished, a saint from whose grave blessings come."


Charles wanted to make a separate peace, without Germany.
However the French Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau,
published the letters. This forced Austria-Hungary into an even
more dependent position.

In the final years of the war, US President Woodrow Wilson
demanded that the Empire allow for autonomy and 
self-determination of its peoples.

The ethnic groups fought for full autonomy as separate nations.
They were determined to become independent from Vienna
as soon as possible.

On October 14th., Baron Istvan Burián, Foreign minister,
asked for an armistice, based on the 14th. Points.

On October 16th. Charles issued a proclamation that radically
changed the Austrian state. It was divided in an independent
Polish state, and into a federal union composed of four parts:
German; Czech, South Slav and Ukrainian. On October 31st. 
Hungary officially ended the personal union.

Heinrich Lammasch, the last Austrian prime minister who
served under an monarch, advised him that he was in an
impossible situation. Charles could best, temporarily, give
up his right to exercise sovereign power.

November 11th. 1918

Charles issued a proclamation in which he recognized 
the Austrian People's right. On the same day the
Imperial Family left Schönbrunn and moved to Castle
Eckartsau near Vienna.

On November 13th. Charles issued a similar proclamation
for Hungary.

Charles mentioned in a letter:

" I did not abdicate and never will."

November 12th. 1918

The independent Republic of German-Austria was proclaimed,
followed by the proclamation of the Hungarian Democratic
Republic. (November 16th.)

March 23rd. 1919

Charles left Austria for Switzerland. 

April 3rd. 1919

The Austrian Parliament passed the Habsburg law and it 
banned Charles and Zita from returning to Austria. Other
Habsburgs were banished from the Austrian territory unless
they renounced all intentions of reclaiming the throne and they
have to accept the status of ordinary citizens. 


Charles tried to reclaim the throne of Hungary, but he
didn't get any support. Later the Hungarian Parliament
issued an act that dethroned the Habsburg

November 19th. 1921

Charles and Zita arrived on his final exile, this was the 
Portuguese island Madeira. Originally the couple 
lived at Funchal at the Villa Vittoria.


On March 9th. 1922 Charles got a cold, while walking into town
it developed into a bronchitis and it got worse to pneumonia. 
After having two heart attacks, he died on April 1st. 

"I must suffer like this, so my people will come together again."

He was buried in the Church of Our Lady of Monte at Madeira
and his heart were in the monastery of Muri in Switzerland.

End of the Habsburg monarchy

Although Charles' family lived modestly, many of his subjects were suffering.
The people found Charles weak and indecisive. He had indeed a lack of 
experience in the monarchy's politics. 

In 1916 the unrest became stronger. The economy was wracked and this
hurted the complete population and the Hunger grew too.

From May 1917 till November 1918 the Austrian Empire was hit by many 

On 11 November 1918 the armistice ended the war between the
Central and the Allied powers.

On 12 November 1918 the independent Republic of German-Austria
was proclaimed.


The catholic church leaders praised Charles for putting his
Christian faith first in making political decisions and for his role as
a peacemaker during World War I.

October 3rd. 2004

Pope John Paul II declared Charles "Blessed" in a beatification

January 31st. 2008

A Church tribunal, formally recognized a second miracle
attributed to Charles I. 


To recommend

Books The Habsburgs The History of a Dynasty

* pictures: Wikipedia (except those I took myself).

* Schönbrunn

* History of Belgium for dummies

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