Franz Josef I. Emperor of
(18.08.1830 - 21.11.1916)
place of birth: Wien, Österreich
Seine Majestät der Kaiser und König,
Emperor Franz Josef I, also
referred to as Francis Joseph,
ruled Austria from 1848 to 1916 and was also King of Hungary from 1867.
He fought the constant struggle to hold together the many different
nationalities of his empire. In 1849 he was able to subdue both Hungary
and Sardinia's Victor Emmanuel II., but in 1859 he lost Lombardy
to Napoleon III. During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 his
only territorial loss was that of Venetia to Italy,
but this crushing defeat resulted in the loss of Austrian influence
over German affairs and was the precursor to the ascendancy of Prussia.
In February 1895, Kaiser Wilhelm II. named him an honorary general
field marshal in the Prussian Army.
Constant pressure from Hungary led to the
reorganization of the empire as a dual monarchy in 1867. In 1879 he
joined Germany and Italy in the Triple Entente. His reign brought
material prosperity but was marked by perpetual discontent on the part
of some national minorities, notably the Serbs. And there were personal
tragedies as well. In 1889 his only son and heir, Archduke Rudolf,
committed suicide. In 1898 his wife was assassinated by an Italian
anarchist. When Russian Pan-Slavism backed Serbia, particularly after
the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina
in 1908, a situation arose which helped contributed to the base causes
of World War I. In 1914 his nephew and heir apparent Franz
Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, an incident
which proved to be the spark which would set Europe ablaze. Franz Josef
I. died in November 1916 before his empire actually fell apart under
the impact of military defeat. His grand-nephew Karl I. then assumed
the throne as the last Habsburg monarch until November 1918.