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19. - 20. století

Franz Joseph I

Longest ruling Austrian emperor
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Franz Joseph was the longest ruling Austrian emperor, who ascended the throne as the empire’s new hope. Austria experienced various crises under his pugnacious rule and he died on the eve of the country’s collapse.
Franz Joseph was the son of an ambitious mother, Sophie of Bavaria, and of an unassertive father, the Archduke Franz Karl. He was raised by his mother as the future emperor, considering the mental indisposition of his uncle, the Emperor Ferdinand. The latter relinquished power in 1848 following revolutionary unrests and Franz became emperor. He had always admired the army and this admiration marked the first era of his rule – absolutism. In the first years of his reign he carried out a successful expedition to Italy and Chancellor Schwarzenberg managed to deal with the diverse consequences of the 1848 turmoil.

But after the latter’s death, the policy of Austria started experiencing defeats and setbacks. The Crimean war in 1853 caused a break-up with Russia, the defeat against France in Italy in 1859 led to the decrease of the empire’s prestige, and the following Austro-Prussian war put a definite end to the Austrian dream of unification of all the German-speaking nations. In the end, the crisis led to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867.
Franz Joseph than had to abandon strict absolutism and take the path of a much more moderate style of reigning. By the end of his life, the world was struck by an attack on the successor to the Austrian throne, Franz Ferdinand d’Este, whose death marked the beginning of the First World War. Franz Joseph died in 1916, under the raging of war and the ringing of death knells.


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