Wednesday, May 30, 2012
What Is So Special About The Hapsburgs?
Although the ranks of the Hapsburgs included many able soldiers and sailors, most of the expansion of the family was not accomplished by conquest but by matrimonial alliances. This gave rise to the saying that, “Others make war, but thou, O happy Austria, only marry”. It may have been a slight exaggeration but for the most part this was true. Duke Albert V brought Bohemia and Hungary into the Hapsburg fold by marrying Elisabeth of Luxembourg, Emperor Maximilian I gained the Low Countries by marrying Mary of Burgundy and his son, Philip the Fair, married Joanna of Castile which ultimately brought the united Spain into the Hapsburg orbit. This finally united all the Hapsburg domains in the person of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V who was also King Carlos I of Spain. His rule stretched over countries in Eastern Europe, Austria and Germany, northern Italy, the Low Countries, Spain and from Spain across the ocean to the New World. It was this Hapsburg empire about which it was first said that ‘the sun never set’.
The Spanish Hapsburgs lost The Netherlands in a long war for independence which was also a front for the ongoing conflict between Catholics and Protestants. However, Belgium remained in Hapsburg hands and under the governorship of Infanta Isabella of Spain and Archduke Albert of Austria reached its “Golden Age” in terms of prosperity, art, religion and learning. However, after this period, Hapsburg influence in Germany, particularly northern Germany, began to decline. Still, the Hapsburg court remained world famous. Under Emperor Joseph II there was a turn toward the principles of the “Enlightenment” as well as patronage for some of the greatest musical geniuses of history, most notably Mozart and Beethoven. His policies made him extremely popular with the common people but often quite unpopular with the aristocracy and the clergy. The French Revolution had a dramatic impact on the House of Hapsburg, as it did most every great house in Europe.
The lovely tragic Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, who lost her life on the Paris guillotine was the sister of Emperor Joseph II (daughter of Empress Maria Theresa). Another sister was Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples who was displaced by the French invasion of Italy. After Napoleon Bonaparte ended the French Revolution and began his wars to dominate Europe, one of his most talented battlefield opponents was the Austrian Archduke Charles. When the Frenchman determined to make himself Emperor this brought about the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire with the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Francis II becoming Emperor Francis I of Austria in 1804. In fact, the Holy Roman Empire had long been a mostly nominal entity for some time prior to that. It was always little more than a confederation of minor German monarchies though under certain emperors it became more centralized and more like a formal German nation-state. However, decentralized power was an old tradition for the Hapsburgs. During their rule of Spain, a great deal of localism remained and there was not a great deal of centralization until after the Spanish Hapsburgs died out and were replaced by the French House of Bourbon. In Austria, there had not been much centralization of power under the Hapsburgs until the reign of Emperor Joseph II.
In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, the Austrian statesman Prince Metternich had played a leading role in re-drawing the map of Europe to maintain a balance of powers and uphold legitimate authority. However, as he passed from the scene a series of events worked in concert to upset that balance. Emperor Francis Joseph was a good man and a solid, stable monarch. Nonetheless, he was not immune from making mistakes and at times also faced situations in which he could only choose the lesser of two unfortunate options. Growing unrest in Hungary obliged the Emperor to agree to a dual monarchy in which power was shared between the Germans of Austria and the Magyars of Hungary, hence the Austrian Empire was replaced by the “Dual Empire” of Austria-Hungary in 1867. Politicians cut the military budget, weakening Austria at a time when innovations were changing the nature of war rapidly.
In 1859 Austria allowed herself to be provoked into a war with France which ultimately resulted in the loss of most of the Hapsburg possessions in Italy to the House of Savoy. In 1866 the Hapsburg-led German Confederation opposed the expansion of the Kingdom of Prussia in the north which resulted in a war between Austria and Prussia (and the allies of Prussia including most of the north German states and Italy) which saw Austria pushed out of German politics after which even the Catholic German states of the south moved into the orbit of Prussia. The friendly ties with the massive Russian Empire were ended when Emperor Francis Joseph refused to take sides in the Crimean War (seeing neither side as justified) which caused great offense in Russia in light of the aid they had given the Hapsburgs in maintaining their rule over Hungary. The expansion of Austria-Hungary southward, such as with the annexation of Bosnia, angered the Serbians in particular and soon Austria-Hungary was almost surrounded by powers who viewed her with suspicion if not outright hostility. This, along with the fact that the Austrians were not immune from feelings of nationalism either, meant that Austria-Hungary joined in a firm alliance with the new German Empire that had previously displaced her.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. Despite the last-ditch efforts of the last Emperor Charles I (later beatified as Blessed Charles I by Pope John Paul II) the alliance with Germany proved impossible to withdraw from and while Germany did well Austria-Hungary survived, the final defeat of Germany and the other Central Powers meant the total dissolution of the Hapsburg empire. Austria was reduced to a small, landlocked state, deprived of the ability to unite with Germany, Hungary was drastically reduced in size, Czechoslovakia was created, Yugoslavia was created (eventually) and other bits of territory were parceled out to Poland, Italy, Romania with most going to Serbia to create Yugoslavia. It was a dark time for the House of Hapsburg but, for a time, there was some hope for a restoration. Two attempts were made to restore Charles to the throne of Hungary but these ran afoul of the regent, Admiral Horthy, who would not give up power. The Allies also remained inexplicably hostile to a Hapsburg restoration. The last Emperor died and the family legacy was left to his son Archduke Otto. After the “Fatherland Front” came to power in Austria there was again talk of a restoration of the Hapsburg throne but the Nazis moved in to occupy and later annex Austria to prevent this from happening.
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"Romania, Serbia and Italy also longed to reclaim historic territories under Hapsburg rule." - I'm sorry but this is false. These were our historic territories (at least in the Serbian and Romanian case) and they just wanted these territories for themselves. Transylvania and Southern Hungary were never part of Romania and Serbia.ReplyDelete
"and would remain opposed to nationalist movements throughout his life." - I don't know if you consider Francoist Spain to be a nationalist regime, but Otto II was a huge supporter and admirer of General Franco and his work, he even helped him get Spain into the EU.
The Serbian Empire of the medieval period included some areas of what was Austria-Hungary in 1918. Romania of course did not exist as itself prior to the creation of the Kingdom of Romania but (though I'm sure you know this) their claims were based on the historic Romanian majorities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. When it comes to that part of Europe almost every place belonged to almost every sort of people in at least one point in history and that is one reason why after the Hapsburgs were overthrown there has still been trouble keeping the peace. In any event, all I said was that they wished to reclaim historic territories, I did not say they wished to reclaim "their" historic territories. The touchy nature of this issue is, I think, illustrative of the problem central and southern Europe faced at the time.Delete
I am aware that the Archduke was supportive of Franco (and rightly so) but though Franco was a "Spanish nationalist" he was not an ethnic nationalist and he was very concerned about suppressing those ethnic nationalists who wished to break up Spain. I'm sure the Archduke saw this as not entirely dissimilar from the ethnic groups whose seperatism broke up Austria-Hungary.
Thanks for the answer, this way it's clear.Delete
To recognize that some made claims against Austro-Hungarian territory is not to necessarily say these claims were valid or had merit. My only intention was to convey that the Hapsburg empire was virtually surrounded by powers that 'wanted a piece of them'.Delete
I've seen, sir, the claim the late Archduke regretted the 1961 renunciation from time to time, and I know you wrote that he expressed regret. However, I have seen no citations.ReplyDelete
He told me in 2006 that he had no regrets -- in an interview published in 2007. Of course, he could have expressed regrets previously, and even later decided that he had no regrets. And of course, there is also the possibility that he came to regret it very late in life.
What would you consider a valid citation? The usual quotation given is, "This was such an infamy, I'd rather never have signed it. They demanded that I abstain from politics. I would not have dreamed of complying. Once you have tasted the opium of politics, you never get rid of it." from Uncrowned Emperor by Gordon Brook-Shepherd. But, I never knew there was any doubt about this. Everyone I've ever spoken to about it was of the opinion that he felt coerced into doing so, detested doing it, regretted it and never considered it really binding. That is not to say he would have pursued restoration if he had not renounced the claim but that he viewed it as being forced to go against his family in a way.Delete
I don't doubt that he felt coerced into doing it, sir.Delete
He said he was unhappy about it, but he also said it was the right thing to do in that situation and hence had no regrets about it.
Unhappy about it but did not regret it? I cannot quite grasp that attitude. Would it be better then to delete the line about regretting the decision and leave it simply that he renounced his claim to the throne?Delete
Asked concretely if he had any regrets the answer was no. However, there was no need to "drag out of him" the follow-up on his not being happy about it.Delete
To me, it was clear that the situation forced him to do it.
I think regretting is imprecise, but it is perhaps better than nothing.
Perhaps I should seek to have this particular segment of the audio recording published.
If there is some wording that would be more precise I would be happy to hear it. Personally, I've never understood (or really believed) anyone who says they have "no regrets". I just have a hard time thinking anyone could actually mean that. Unless you're the Holy Mother of God or something, you're going to make mistakes or just have misfortunes you would prefer to have been avoided. If he was not happy about it (which I would not expect him to be), if he was forced into it, it would seem to be implied that he would have preferred it not happened that way. The way I was taught, "regret" simply means to be sorry (sorrowful) about something. That seemed to me to be the Archduke's feeling on the renunciation. Again, if there is a more precise term to use I would gladly change the line in question.Delete
What about this?:Delete
in a move whose circumstances he expressed regret over
Of course, this is simply my suggestion. You're the boss at this weblog. :-)
This is a nice article on the uncrowned Emperor. Otto von Habsburg was the legitimate heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. And curiously Otto von Wittelsbach of the royal line of Bavaria, is heir to the Stuart claim to the throne of England, and thusly, Scotland and Wales. However Otto von Habsburg was a tireless worker in politics for the benefit of humanity. An example of how to live one's life no matter what our circunstances.ReplyDelete
I have the hapsburg jaw.......ReplyDelete
I worked with a man (now deceased) who claimed to be in charge of the actual fortune of the Hapsburgs. He remembered being on the docks with his grandmother when the Hindenburg blew up. He definitely had the Hapsburg jaw.Delete
HIRH Otto also supported the jihadis in Kosovo in their illegal and immoral destruction of the heartland of Serbia. He was my youngest daughter's godfather, but I broke off all correspondence with him at that point.ReplyDelete
I just wish the Catholics and Protestants never fought each other but instead Allied all Europe against the Muslims who trying to take over Europe. I was wondering if u ever talked about how Europe would be if Germany had won WWI and how the monarch would be today.ReplyDelete
I have talked about what monarchies Germany and Austria tried to set up in the latter part of World War I. Of course we can never know what would have happened as they did not win.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
EDIT: After further research into the matter with my coleagues in Spain I must apologize, the former was true before the Spanish Republic. Henceforth the title of the Descendants of Catherine Ooynik Hapsburg and the Valadez family are an Infante (a type of Spanish prince) family with the right to bear arms, wear an Infante Coronet, call the king of Spain Cousin but no land or monetary entitlements save by direct appointment of The King of Spain and the Independent Asturian region of Spain.Delete
Pleasw accept my apologies for any confusion.
NunShin aka Natan Shlomo Valadez
Thank you for your insight. It was very helpful. But I have a few questions.ReplyDelete
First ...How did the Hapsburg's come into being royity ? Did they a point them self's. And how did they start the blood line in the United kingdom and how menu times did they marry in to that blood line .
And Since they did marry and had incest with in their own family in believing it would keep the line pure. (which I believe is why we today have so many blood born diseases and birth defects. )and in turn the off spring and siblings were sent off to rule over territorys to keep the realm under their control. So in fact they Would be actual be fighting with in Their own family over control of a terrotory that was given to them in the first place.
Thank you for your time . I enjoyed reading all about it .
The Hapsburgs rose in royal status as part of the First Reich (Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation). Rudolf I was the first to come to royal status when he was elected King of Germany and they added other royal titles later by treaty or by marriage. They did not appoint themselves. Neither did they "start the blood line in the United Kingdom", in fact there has been very, very little marriage between the Hapsburgs and the British Royal Family. The notable exception is Queen Mary I who married King Philip II of Spain (a Hapsburg) but the two had no children. Since the time of Henry VIII, religion has mostly kept them apart and most of the family ties across Europe from the British Royal Family date to Queen Victoria who was not terribly fond of the Hapsburgs.Delete
As far as inbreeding, I get the impression you think the Hapsburgs had an effect on society as a whole which is not true. They did do too much of it in certain cases but those branches of the family died off (most notably the Spanish branch with Carlos II) and then things were renewed, in a way, starting with Empress Maria Theresa after whom the family became Hapsburg-Lorraine.