Franz Joseph I. of Austria of the Habsburg-Lorraine house was born on August 18th, 1830, in the imperial Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, in the Austrian Empire. His father, Archduke Franz Karl of Austria, was the younger brother of emperor Ferdinand I. Princess Sophie of Bavaria was his mother.
His uncle, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, was a kind person with good intentions. That, however, also meant he was a weak ruler. Besides, he was unable to have children due to sterility. Hence, from a young age, Franz Joseph received the required education to take power after Ferdinand.
On December 2nd, 1848, Ferdinand abdicated. Likely against his will to some extent. So, the reign of Franz Joseph I. began.
The longest-serving emperor of the Habsburg monarchy
He was only 18 years old when he became the ruler of one of the most powerful empires in Europe. Until 1860, the empire was absolutist, meaning the young emperor had complete power over the monarchies.
Several defeats in the 1850s made the emperor open to changes. He was now a ruler of compromise rather than of power. Soon, The Holy Roman Empire became a constitutional monarchy, meaning that the emperor shared some of his powers.
Besides, a conflict with Hungary resulted in the so-called “Austro-Hungarian compromise.” The two countries had separate governments with Franz Joseph I. as the head of state of both these empires. The dual monarchy led to economic growth. More and more manufacturies and railways opened, and in general, the empire thrived. On the other hand, nationalism emerged in Bohemia. The Czechs demanded more rights, such as the use of their language and more. Franz Joseph provided them some autonomy.
In 1908, Austria-Hungary annex Bosnia and Herzegovina. The tension resulted in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the grand-nephew of Franz Joseph, in 1914. Soon, World War I. broke out.
Franz Joseph I. was married to Elisabeth of Austria (“Sissi”) and had four children. The Catholic, conservative, bureaucratic emperor died during the “Great war” on November 21st, 1916, in the Schönbrunn Palace. With 68 years in charge, he was the longest-serving emperor of the Austrian Empire. He was the last great emperor in central Europe, his death marked the end of an era. Two years later, the monarchy broke down.
“My main task is to protect my nations from their politicians.”Franz Joseph I.