Franz Joseph I. - Austria-Forum : AEIOU : english
Franz Joseph I
b. Vienna-Schoenbrunn, Aug. 18, 1830,
d. Vienna-Schoenbrunn, Nov. 21, 1916, eldest son of Archduke Franz
Karl and Princess Sophie of Bavaria; from Dec. 2, 1848 Emperor of
Austria. On his accession to the throne he adopted the double name F.
J. (his original name was Franz). In his youth under the strong
influence of his mother and other advisers. He showed a pronounced
sense of duty and was very much aware of his mission. On April 24,
1854 he married Princess Elisabeth in Bavaria. The couple had four
children, but had very difficult times during their marriage.
Influenced by his wife, F. J. agreed to the Austro-Hungarian
Compromise (Ausgleich) of 1867. Although he started his reign as an
absolutist monarch, he later respected all duties laid down in the
constitution and reigned as a constitutional monarch. Rendered
cautious by a series of wrong political decisions and under the
impression of personal tragedies within his family (execution of his
brother Maximilian in Mexiko in 1867, suicide of his son Rudolf in
1889, assassination of his wife in 1898), he concentrated more on his
duties as a monarch rather than on his personal life. He became the
symbol par excellence of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. After his
marriage had failed, he had a close relationship with the actress K.
During the last 20 years of his life he advocated political integration and was the unifying figure within a multinational state, and many of his contemporaries considered him to be the only guarantor of the country's cohesion. In old age, he displayed a certain stubbornness and opposed all reforms, but finally signed the ultimatum issued to Serbia and the declaration of war against Serbia in 1914. He regarded himself first and foremost as a civil servant and a soldier and was a devout, but tolerant Catholic. Although cultural achievements reached a zenith during his era ( Ringstrasse), F. J. showed little interest in the arts.
Literature: E. C. Conte Corti, Ks. F. J., 3 vols., 1950-1955; F. Herre, Ks. F. J. von Oe., 1978; Ks. F. J. und seine Zeit, exhibition catalogue, Grafenegg 1984; Ks. F. J. in seiner Zeit, exhibition catalogue, Grafenegg 1987; E. C. Conte Corti and H. Sokoll, F. J., 61990; B. Hamann, Die Habsburger, 41993; A. Palmer, F. J., 1995.