The End of the House of Austria

Courtesy Reuters

THIS August eighteenth ends a century since the birth of Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria. And three months later fourteen years will have passed since his death. Although his unhappy grand-nephew Charles succeeded him on the throne, Francis Joseph nevertheless was the last scion of the House of Hapsburg to rule powerfully over his empire. Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Archduke of Lower and Upper Austria, Duke of Salzburg, Prince of Tyrol, King of Bohemia, Marquess of Moravia, and so on, sounds the long title which the Chancery in Vienna carefully composed in the year 1804, when Emperor Francis founded the new Austrian imperial dignity to replace the full splendor of the crown of the Holy Roman Empire which had come down to him since Charlemagne. For he had become disgusted with it in consequence of the continual victories of Napoleon Bonaparte over his own and the Russian and Prussian armies, which had torn up the whole body of the sacred Empire and had taken all the sense out of the highest dignity in Christendom. He was the grandson of that good Emperor Francis, who vividly remembered his grandmother Maria Theresa, the Hungarian queen, and he carried her memory and that of the most enlightened monarch of this age, Joseph II, far into the nineteenth century. Heir and representative of the most exalted idea of rulership, he is the man who -- alone -- signed the ultimatum to Serbia and consequently declared war on July 30, 1914, thereby letting loose the pandemonium of the World War.

I still see him as he stood on the entrance of the open stairs leading up to his rooms in the old Castle of Schoenbrunn on the afternoon of the day of his return from Ischl after the war declaration had been promulgated: he was the same man for whom Field-Marshal Radetzky had reconquered Venice and Milan sixty-six years before, the same whom that gigantic despot of Russia, Nicholas I, had loved like a son, restoring to

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