Courtesy Reuters

Postscript to the Sixtus Affair

Editor's Note: The following article describes a hitherto unrevealed incident in the secret peace parleys which the Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary had with the Allies shortly after his accession to the throne on November 23, 1916.

The best known of these was the so-called Sixtus Affair, in which the Empress Zita's brothers, Prince Sixtus and Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma, served as intermediaries. On March 23, 1917, the Bourbon Princes, who always considered themselves Frenchmen, met the Emperor and Empress at Laxenburg, near Vienna, and presented a four-point proposal which Poincaré and Briand had approved as the basis for a separate peace between Austria-Hungary and the Allies. The terms were that Austria-Hungary should: 1, recognize France's right to Alsace-Lorraine; 2, agree to the reëstablishment of Belgian sovereignty and the restoration of the ruling Belgian house; 3, agree to reestablish the Serbian monarchy, give it an outlet to the Adriatic and transfer to it those portions of Albania then occupied by Austrian troops; and 4, disinterest itself in Russia's claims to Constantinople. Foreign Minister Czernin received these proposals coldly. The Emperor, however, seemed pleased at such relatively easy terms. He gave the Princes an autograph letter in which he accepted the first three points but reserved his decision on the fourth because of the unsettled state of affairs in Russia.

Later in March, Briand was replaced in the French Foreign Office by Ribot, who held more uncompromising views regarding French war aims. He informed Lloyd George of the negotiations and they agreed that Italy must also be sounded out. Sonnino insisted that the promises of the Treaty of London be adhered to literally in any settlement. The Emperor Charles on May 9 wrote a second autograph letter disposing of possible Italian objections. But on June 3 Italy proclaimed a protectorate over Albania, thus infringing the third of the original French proposals. In a speech before the Chamber on June 5, Ribot hinted that he was through with secret diplomacy.

There were other proposals which Count Armand, a French officer, presented about this time

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