Archduke Johann of Austria

Archduke Johann of Austria

Archduke Johann (or John) of Austria (January 20, 1782 - May 11, 1859) was the 13th child of Leopold, Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany and later Holy Roman Emperor. His son from a morganatic marriage was Franz Graf von Meran.


Johann was born in Florence, where his father Leopold ruled as Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1790, Leopold became Emperor and moved his family to Vienna.

Archduke John had only been given basic military education before he was thrust into commanding the army in Germany in September 1800. He showed personal bravery, but was defeated badly at Hohenlinden on 3rd December 1800. After the peace in 1801, Archduke John was made General Director of the Engineering and Fortification Service, and later commander of two military academies. In 1805 he directed an able defence of several Tyrolean passes brought him the Commander Cross of the MTO. By 1808 he was pressing for the creation of a Landwehr and in 1809 he commanded the army in Italy (VIII and IX Korps) against Prince Eugene. Although initially successful, Archduke John was eventually beaten on the Piave and at Raab.

After losing his military ambitions, which had been forced upon him by his brother, Emperor Franz II, as a consequence of the defeat by Napoleon in Tyrol, he turned to Styria. In that duchy, he developed a great interest for nature, technology and agriculture. He collected minerals and was active as an alpinist and hunter. In his early days Archduke Johann and his brother Louis had the habit of travelling to France, where the latter married to Madame de Gueroust.

In the history of Styria, he is remembered as a great modernizer and became an important figure of identification for Styrians. His proximity to the people is given evidence to by his many contacts with the common man, by wearing the local Tracht, the Steireranzug, and by collecting and promoting the material and spiritual culture of the country. In 1829, he married Anna Maria Josephine Plochl, the daughter of Jakob Plochl, the postmaster of Aussee, and wife Maria Anna Pilz, whose descendants were styled the "Counts of Meran" and "Barons of Brandhofen".

He was a passionate mountaineer and attempted to be the first to climb the Großvenediger. For that reason, the Erzherzog-Johann-Hütte (Adlersruhe) at the Großglockner, and the Archduke John's Vanilla Orchid ("Nigritella rubra" subsp. "archiducis-joannis"), an orchid growing on mountain meadows, are named after him.

In 1811, he laid the foundation for the Joanneum in Graz, the predecessor of Graz University of Technology. Some other foundations were initiated by him, such as the Styrian State Archive 1817, the "Berg- und Hüttenmännische Lehranstalt", which was founded in 1840 in Vordernberg and became the University of Leoben in 1849, the Styrian Society for Agriculture 1819, the Mutual Fire Insurance, the Styrian Building Society, the "Landesoberrealschule" in 1845 und the Society for Styrian History in 1850.

By acquiring a tin factory in Krems bei Voitsberg and coal mines near Köflach he also became an industrialist.

In 1840, he bought the Stainz dominion, where he was also freely elected as mayor in 1850. He was already the lord of the Brandhofen dominion.

His routing of the Austrian Southern Railway from Vienna to Triest over the Semmering and through the Mura and Mürz valleys to Graz is particularly notable. Even though Johann did not consider himself a liberal, he promoted some liberal ideas. He was often in conflict with the Habsburg court, especially because of his morganatic marriage.

In 1848, the Frankfurt National Assembly appointed him regent of the realm. After the failure of the March Revolution of 1848, he resigned from this office in 1849.

Archduke Johann died in Graz in 1859. He is buried in Schenna near Merano (Italy). He was the great-grandfather of noted conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt.


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1= 1. Archduke Johann of Austria
2= 2. Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor
3= 3. Maria Louisa of Spain
4= 4. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
5= 5. Maria Theresa of Austria
Queen of Hungary & Bohemia

6= 6. Charles III of Spain
7= 7. Maria Amalia of Saxony
8= 8. Leopold, Duke of Lorraine
9= 9. Princess Élisabeth Charlotte of Orléans
10= 10. Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
11= 11. Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
12= 12. Philip V of Spain
13= 13. Elisabeth of Parma
14= 14. Augustus III of Poland
Elector of Saxony
15= 15. Maria Josepha of Austria
16= 16. Charles V, Duke of Lorraine
17= 17. Eleonora Maria Josefa of Austria
Queen Dowager of Poland-Lithuania
18= 18. Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
19= 19. Countess Palatine Elizabeth Charlotte of Simmern
20= 20. Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
21= 21. Eleonore-Magdalena of Neuburg
22= 22. Louis Rudolph, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
23= 23. Princess Christine Louise of Oettingen-Oettingen
24= 24. Louis, Dauphin of France
25= 25. Duchess Maria Anna of Bavaria
26= 26. Edward II Farnese, Duke of Parma
27= 27. Countess Palatine Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg
28= 28. Augustus II of Poland
Elector of Saxony
29= 29. Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
30= 30. Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor
31= 31. Wilhelmina Amalia of Brunswick-Calenberg

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