Friday, October 28, 2011
Monarch Profile: Duke Francis V of Modena
Duke Francis grew up amidst all of this and was known for his kindness and sensitivity as well as being at times indecisive. He also had quite an illustrious pedigree, not only on the Hapsburg side of his father but also on the Savoy side of his mother. In 1840, when his mother died, intractable British Jacobites recognized the future Duke of Modena as “King Francis I of England, Scotland, Ireland and France”. An interesting historical twist but, needless to say, Francis never used or claimed such lofty titles himself. He knew he would have his hands full simply becoming and remaining Duke of Modena. He was given a good education with a number of eminent aristocrats and clerics serving as his tutors. By 1842 he had been honored with the Austrian Order of the Golden Fleece, the Dutch Order of the Netherlands Lion and the Savoy Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation. He was fond enough of chivalric orders that in 1855 he started one of his own, the Order of the Eagle of Este.
By this time Francis also had a family to worry about having been married in 1842 to Princess Adelgunde of Bavaria (daughter of King Ludwig I) and if the trauma of the 1848 revolt was not bad enough it was followed by the death of the couple’s only child, Princess Anna Beatrice in 1849. However, none of this should be seen as the result of a personal dislike for Francis V. Even though many people were unhappy with the state of affairs in Modena, their Duke remained quite popular with the ordinary people. He was fair in matters of justice and impressed many people during the war when he helped care for the sick and injured himself. Even those suffering from a cholera outbreak were not shunned by the hands-on Hapsburg Duke. When he was restored by the Austrian forces after the unpleasantness of 1848 many people turned out to cheer his return. Even those who wanted some political reform and to join in some union or coalition with their Italian brothers often still liked the Duke personally and hoped that he would lead them in that direction.
Duke Francis V spent the rest of his life in exile, mostly in Austria but occasionally visiting other countries, including a pilgrimage to the Middle East. He died, still loved by some and despised by others, on November 20, 1875 and was buried in the Capuchin Church in Vienna, leaving his large estate to his cousin the ill-fated Archduke Francis Ferdinand, who also inherited his title of Archduke of Austria-Este.