Karl I of Austria

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Image:Emperor Karl I of Austria-Hungary.jpg
Karl I of Austria,
Károly IV. of Hungary,

The Blessed Karl I (Karl Franz Josef Ludwig Hubert Georg Maria von Habsburg-Lothringen) (17 August 18871 April 1922) (Hungarian: Károly IV (Károly Ferenc József)) was (among other titles) the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary and Bohemia, and the last monarch of the Habsburg Dynasty. He reigned as Emperor Karl I of Austria and King Károly IV of Hungary from 1916 until 1918, when he renounced the government (but did not abdicate), and spent the remaining years of his life attempting to regain the throne until his death in 1922. His name is sometimes anglicized as "Charles".


[edit] Life

Karl was the son of Archduke Otto Franz of Austria (1865–1906) and Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony (1867–1944); he was also a nephew of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination triggered World War I. In 1911, he was married to Princess Zita of Parma.

He had eight children (six boys and two girls):

  • Crown Prince Otto (1912–), married Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen and Hildburghausen and has issue
  • Archduchess Adelheid (1914–1971), unmarried
  • Archduke Robert (1915–1996), married Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta and had issue
  • Archduke Felix (1916–), married Princess Anna-Eugénie of Arenberg and has issue
  • Archduke Karl Ludwig (1918–), married Princess Yolande of Ligne and has issue
    • Archduke Rudolf (b. 1950)
    • Archduchess Alexandra (b. 1952)
    • Archduchess Karl Christian (b. 1954), married Princess Marie Astrid of Luxembourg and has issue
      • Archduchess Marie Christine (b. 1983)
      • Archduke Imre (b. 1985)
      • Archduke Christoph (b. 1988)
      • Archduke Alexander (b. 1990)
      • Archduchess Gabriella (b. 1994)
    • Archduchess Maria Constance (b. 1957)
  • Archduke Rudolf (1919–), married firstly Countess Xenia Tschernyscheva-Besobrasova and secondly Princess Anna of Wrede, has issue by both
    • Archduchess Maria-Anne (b. 1954)
    • Archduke Carl Peter (b. 1955)
    • Archduke Simeon (b. 1958)
    • Archduke Johannes Carl (1962–1975)
    • Archduchess Catherine (b. 1972)
  • Archduchess Charlotte (1921–1989), married Count Georg of Carlow, Duke of Mecklenburg
  • Archduchess Elisabeth (1922–1993), married Prince Heinrich of Liechtenstein and had issue
King Charles taking his oath as part of the coronation ceremonies
Budapest, December 1916.

Karl became heir-presumptive when his uncle Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914, the event which precipitated World War I. Karl's reign began in 1916, with the death of his grand-uncle, Franz Joseph. In 1916, he also became a Generalfeldmarschall in the Austro-Hungarian Army. In 1917, Karl secretly entered into peace negotiations with France. Although his foreign minister, Ottokar Czernin, was only interested in negotiating a general peace which would include Germany as well, Karl himself, in negotiations with the French with his brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, an officer in the Belgian army, as intermediary, went much further in suggesting his willingness to make a separate peace. When news of the overture leaked in April 1918, Karl denied all involvement until the French prime minister Georges Clemenceau published letters signed by him. This led to Czernin's resignation, forcing Austria-Hungary into an even more dependent position with respect to its seemingly wronged German ally.

Karl as King Charles IV of Hungary, with Zita and Crown Prince Otto.
coronation portrait, Budapest, 1916.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was wracked by inner turmoil in the final years of the war, with much tension between ethnic groups. US President Woodrow Wilson demanded that the Empire allow for the self-determination of its peoples as part of his Fourteen Points. In response, Karl agreed to reconvene the Imperial parliament and allow for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. However, the reforms quickly spiraled out of control, with each national government declaring complete independence. Karl's political future quickly became uncertain. For a while it appeared as though he might reign as monarch of a newly independent Austria, but Austria's new republican government ultimately vetoed this idea.

On 11 November 1918, he proclaimed formally "I relinquish every participation in the administration of the State" but did not abdicate his thrones.[1] He then fled to Switzerland and continued to pursue regaining power from exile. Encouraged by Hungarian nationalists, he sought twice in 1921 to reclaim the throne of Hungary but failed due to various factors including the lack of support of the Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy. Horthy's failure to support Karl's restoration attempts is often described as "treasonous" by monarchists. Critics suggest that Horthy's actions were more firmly grounded in political reality than the King of Hungary and his supporters. He left Hungary from the city of Baja forever. (For a more detailed account of Karl's attempts to regain the throne, see Karl I of Austria's conflict with Miklós Horthy.)

He died of severe pneumonia (brought on after Karl, an already sickly man, walked into town on a freezing winter's day) on the Portuguese island of Madeira in 1922. His remains are still kept in the island, in the Church of Our Lady of the Monte, in spite of several attempts to move them to the Habsburg Crypt in Vienna. During his stay on the island, his personal chaplain was Priest Jorge de Faria e Castro.

[edit] After his death

Historians have been mixed in their evaluations of Karl and his reign. One of the most critical has been Helmut Rumpler, head of the Habsburg commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, who has described Karl as "a dilettante, far too weak for the challenges facing him, out of his depth, and not really a politician." However, others have seen Karl as a brave and honorable figure who tried as emperor-king to halt World War I. The English writer, Herbert Vivian, wrote: "Karl was a great leader, a prince of peace, who wanted to save the world from a year of war; a stateman 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, distinquished, a saint from whose grave blessings come." Furthermore, Anatole France, the French novelist, stated: "Emperor Karl is the only decent man to come out of the war in a leadership position, yet he was a saint and no one listened to him. He sincerely wanted peace, and therefore was despised by the whole world. It was a wonderful chance that was lost."

All of these various viewpoints give weight to the words of Pope Saint Pius X during an audience with a young Karl: "I bless Archduke Karl, who will be the future Emperor of Austria and will help lead his countries and peoples to great honor and many blessings--but this will not become obvious until after his death."

[edit] Beatification

Karl has been solemnly declared blessed in the ceremony of beatification by the Roman Catholic Church. The Church has praised Karl for putting his Christian faith first in making political decisions, and for his perceived role as a peacemaker during the war, especially after 1917. During the Mass of Beatification on 3 October 2004, Pope John Paul II stated:

The decisive task of Christians consists in seeking, recognizing and following God's will in all things. The Christian statesman, Karl of Austria , confronted this challenge every day. To his eyes, war appeared as "something appalling". Amid the tumult of the First World War, he strove to promote the peace initiative of my Predecessor, Benedict XV.
From the beginning, the Emperor Karl conceived of his office as a holy service to his people. His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness also in his political actions. For this reason, his thoughts turned to social assistance. May he be an example for all of us, especially for those who have political responsibilities in Europe today!

The cause or campaign began in 1949 when testimony of his holiness was collected in the Archdiocese of Vienna. In 1954, he was declared venerable, the first step on the process beatification. The League of Prayers established for the promotion of his cause has created this website. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna has been the Church's sponsor for his beatification.

Recent milestones include:

  • On 14 April 2003, the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the presence of Pope John Paul II, promulgated Karl of Austria's "heroic virtues."
  • On 21 December 2003, the Congregation certified, on the basis of three expert medical opinions, that a miracle in 1960 occurred through the intercession of Karl. The miracle attributed to Karl was the scientifically inexplicable healing of a Brazilian nun with debilitating varicose veins; she was able to get out of bed after she prayed for his beatification.
  • On 3 October 2004, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II. The Pope also declared 21 October, the date of Karl's marriage in 1911 to Princess Zita, as Karl's feast day. The beatification has caused controversy because of the mistaken belief that Karl authorized his army's use of poison gas during [[World War I [2]]], when he was the first, and only, world leader during the war who banned its use.
  • Currently, several possible miracles attributed to his intercession are being investigated and documented. Another miracle is required for his canonization as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

[edit] Ancestors

Karl's ancestors in three generations
Karl I, Emperor of Austria Father:
Otto Franz of Austria
Father's father:
Karl Ludwig of Austria
Father's father's father:
Franz Karl of Austria
Father's father's mother:
Sophie of Bavaria
Father's mother:
Maria Annunciata of the Two Sicilies
Father's mother's father:
Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
Father's mother's mother:
Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Josepha of Saxony
Mother's father:
George of Saxony
Mother's father's father:
John I of Saxony
Mother's father's mother:
Amelia of Bavaria
Mother's mother:
Maria Anna of Portugal
Mother's mother's father:
Ferdinand II of Portugal
Mother's mother's mother:
Maria II of Portugal

[edit] Official Title of Karl I

Monarchical Styles of
Charles of Austria
Image:Krone Kaiser Rudolf II Kaisertum Österreich.jpg
Reference style His Imperial Majesty
Spoken style Your Imperial Majesty
Alternative style Sire
Styles of
Charles IV of Hungary
Image:Hungarian National Crown by toddjames.jpg
Reference style His Apostolic Majesty
Spoken style Your Apostolic Majesty
Alternative style Sire

His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty,

Charles the First,

By the Grace of God, Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, of this name the Fourth, King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, and Galicia, Lodomeria, and Illyria; King of Jerusalem etc., Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow, Duke of Lorraine and of Salzburg, of Styria, of Carinthia, of Carniola and of the Bukovina; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Auschwitz and Zator, of Teschen, Friuli, Ragusa and Zara; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg, etc.; Lord of Trieste, of Cattaro, and in the Wendish Mark; Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia etc. etc.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

House of Habsburg-Lothringen

Born: 17 August 1887; Died: 1 April 1922

Preceded by:
Franz Joseph I
Emperor of Austria
Succeeded by:
Directory of the Council of State
King of Hungary
Succeeded by:
Mihály Károlyi
Provisional President
King of Bohemia
Succeeded by:
Tomáš Masaryk
President of Czechoslovakia
Head of the house of Habsburg
Succeeded by:
Otto von Habsburg
Preceded by:
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Archduke of Austria-Este
Succeeded by:
Archduke Robert
be:Карл І Габсбург

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Karl I of Austria

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