Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor

Infobox Austrian Royalty|emperor
name =Francis I
title =Emperor and Archduke of Austria
King of Hungary, Croatia, Slavonia, Italy, and Bohemia

caption =
succession =Holy Roman Emperor
reign =March 1 1792 - August 6 1806
succession1 =Emperor of Austria
reign1 =August 11 1804 - March 2 1835
coronation =
full name =Francis Joseph Charles
predecessor =Leopold II
successor1 =Ferdinand
spouse =Elisabeth of Württemberg
Maria Louisa of Austria-Este
Maria Theresa of Naples
Caroline Augusta of Bavaria
issue = Archduchess Ludovika Elisabeth of Austria
Marie Louise, Empress of the French
Maria Leopoldina, Empress of Brazil
Archduchess Clementina, Princess of Salerno
Archduke Franz Karl of Austria
royal house = House of Habsburg-Lorraine
titles ="HI&RM" The Emperor of Austria
"HI&RM" The Holy Roman Emperor
"HI&RH" Archduke Francis of Austria
dynasty =
royal anthem =
father =Leopold II
mother =Maria Louisa of Spain
date of birth =February 12, 1768
place of birth =Florence
date of death =March 2, 1835
place of death =Vienna
date of burial =
place of burial =|

Francis II ( _de. Franz II, Heiliger Römischer Kaiser) (12 February 1768 – 2 March 1835) was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August, 1806, when he dissolved the Empire after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804 he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I of Austria ("Franz I."), the first Emperor of Austria, ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the one and only "Doppelkaiser" (double emperor) in history. For the two years between 1804 and 1806 Francis used the title and style "by the grace of God elected Roman Emperor, always August, hereditary Emperor of Austria" and he was called the "Emperor of both Germany and Austria". He was also King of Hungary as "I. Ferenc". Francis I continued his leading role as an opponent of Napoleonic France in the Napoleonic Wars, and suffered several more defeats after Austerlitz. The proxy marriage of state of his daughter Marie Louise of Austria to Napoleon I on March 10, 1810 was assuredly his most severe defeat.

Early life

Francis was a son of Emperor Leopold II (1747 – 1792) and his wife Maria Luisa of Spain (1745 – 1792), daughter of Charles III of Spain. Francis was born in Florence, the capital of Tuscany where his father reigned as Grand Duke from 1765–90. Though he had a happy childhood surrounded by his many siblings, [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 233] his family knew Francis was likely to be a future Emperor (his uncle Joseph had no surviving issue from either of his two marriages), and so in 1784 the young Archduke was sent to the Imperial Court in Vienna to educate and prepare him for his future role.cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs| accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 234]

Emperor Joseph himself took charge of Francis's development, and his disciplinarian regime was a stark contrast to the indulgent Florentine Court of Leopold. The Emperor wrote that Francis was "stunted in growth", "backward in bodily dexterity and deportment", and "neither more nor less than a spoiled mother's child". Joseph concluded that "…the manner in which he was treated for upwards of sixteen years could not but have confirmed him in the delusion that the preservation of his own person was the only thing of importance."

Joseph's martinet method of improving the young Francis were "fear and unpleasantness". [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs| accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 235] The young Archduke was isolated, the reasoning being that this would make him more self-sufficient as it was felt by Joseph that Francis "fail [ed] to lead himself, to do his own thinking". Nonetheless, Francis greatly admired his uncle, if rather feared him. To complete his training, Francis was sent to join an army regiment in Hungary and he settled easily into the routine of military life. [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs|accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 236]

After the death of Joseph II in 1790, Francis's father became Emperor. He had an early taste of power while acting as Leopold's deputy in Vienna while the incoming Emperor traversed the Empire attempting to win back those alienated by his brother's policies. [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs| accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 238] The strain told on Leopold, and by the winter of 1791 he became ill. He gradually worsened throughout early 1792, and, on the afternoon of 1 March Leopold died, at the relatively young age of 44. Francis, just past his 24th birthday, was now Emperor much sooner than he had expected.


As the leader of the large multi-ethnic Habsburg Empire, Francis felt threatened by Napoleon's call for liberty and equality in Europe. Francis had a fraught relationship with France. His aunt Marie Antoinette died under the guillotine at the beginning of his reign. Francis, on the whole, was indifferent to her fate (she was not close to his father Leopold, and Francis had met her, but when he was of an age that was too young for Francis to remember). Georges Danton attempted to negotiate with the Emperor for Marie Antoinette's release from captivity, but Francis was unwilling to make any concessions in return. [cite book |last=Fraser|title=M.Antoinette |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 492] Later, he led Austria into the French Revolutionary Wars and was defeated by Napoleon. By the Treaty of Campo Formio, he ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France in exchange for Venice and Dalmatia. He again fought against France during the Second and Third Coalition, when after meeting crushing defeat at Austerlitz, he had to agree to the Treaty of Pressburg, which effectively dissolved the Holy Roman Empire, weakening the Austrian Empire and reorganizing present-day Germany under a Napoleonic imprint.

In 1809, Francis attacked France again, hoping to take advantage of the Peninsular War embroiling Napoleon in Spain. He was again defeated, and this time forced to ally himself with Napoleon, ceding territory to the Empire, joining the Continental System, and wedding his daughter Marie-Louise to the Emperor. Francis essentially became a vassal of the Emperor of the French. The Napoleonic wars drastically weakened Austria and threatened its preeminence among the states of Germany, a position that it would eventually cede to the Kingdom of Prussia.

In 1813, for the fourth and final time, Austria turned against France and joined Great Britain, Russia, and Prussia in their war against Napoleon. Austria played a major role in the final defeat of France—in recognition of this, Francis, represented by Clemens von Metternich, presided over the Congress of Vienna, helping to form the Concert of Europe and the Holy Alliance, ushering in an era of conservatism and reactionism in Europe. The German Confederation, a loose association of Central European states was created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to organize the surviving states of the Holy Roman Empire. The Congress was a personal triumph for Francis, where he hosted the assorted dignitaries in comfort, [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 249] though Francis undermined his allies Tsar Alexander and Frederick William III of Prussia by negotiating a secret treaty with the restored French king Louis XVIII. [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 250]

The federal Diet met at Frankfurt under Austrian presidency (in fact the Habsburg Emperor was represented by an Austrian 'presidential envoy').

Domestic policy

The events of the French Revolution impressed themselves deeply into the mind of Francis, and he came to distrust 'radicalism' in any form. In 1794, a 'Jacobin' conspiracy was discovered in the Austrian and Hungarian armies. [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 239] The leaders were put on trial, but the verdicts only skirted the perimeter of the conspiracy. Francis's brother Alexander Leopold (at that time Palatine of Hungary) wrote to the Emperor admitting "Although we have caught a lot of the culprits, we have not really got to the bottom of this business yet." Nonetheless, two officers heavily implicated in the conspiracy were hanged and gibbeted, while many others were sentenced to imprisonment (where many died in the conditions).cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 240]

Francis was by nature suspicious, [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 251] and set up an extensive network of police spies and censors to monitor dissent (in this he was following his father's lead, as the Grand Duchy of Tuscany had the most effective secret police in Europe). Even his family did not escape attention. His brothers, the Archdukes Charles and Johann had their meetings and activities spied upon. [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 248] Censorship was also prevalent. The author Franz Grillparzer, a Habsburg patriot, had one play suppressed solely as a 'precautionary' measure. When Grillparzer met the censor responsible, he asked him what was objectionable about the work. The censor replied "Oh, nothing at all. But I thought to myself 'One can never tell'." [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 241]

Francis presented himself as an open and approachable monarch (he regularly set aside two mornings each week to meet his imperial subjects, regardless of status, by appointment in his office, even speaking to them in their own language), [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 245] but his will was sovereign. In 1804, he had no compunction about announcing that through his authority as Holy Roman Emperor, he declared he was now Emperor of Austria (at the time a geographical term that had little resonance). Two years later, Francis personally wound up the moribund Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Both actions were of dubious constitutional legality. [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 246] Infobox Austrian monarch styles
royal name = Emperor Francis II of Austria
dipstyle = His Imperial Majesty
offstyle = Your Imperial Majesty
altstyle = My Lord

Later years

Francis was a devoted family man, and a main point in the political testament he left for his son and heir Ferdinand was "Preserve unity in the family and regard it as one of the highest goods". In many portraits (particularly those painted by Peter Fendi) he was portrayed as the patriarch of a loving family, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 254]

On March 2 1835, 43 years and a day after his father's death, Francis died in Vienna of a sudden fever aged 67, in the presence of many of his family and with all the religious comforts. His funeral was magnificent, with his Viennese subjects respectfully filing past his coffin in St. Stephen's Cathedral for three days. [cite book |last=Wheatcroft|title=The Habsburgs |accessdate=2007-05-07|pages=p. 255] Francis was interred in the traditional resting place of Habsburg monarchs, the Kapuziner Imperial Crypt in Vienna's Neue Markt Square. He is buried in tomb number 57, surrounded by his four wives.

After 1806 he used the titles: "We, Francis the First, by the grace of God Emperor of Austria; King of Jerusalem, Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria; Archduke of Austria; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Würzburg, Franconia, Styria, Carinthia and Carniola; Grand Duke of Cracow; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Sandomir, Masovia, Lublin, Upper and Lower Silesia, Auschwitz and Zator, Teschen and Friule; Prince of Berchtesgaden and Mergentheim; Princely Count of Habsburg, Gorizia and Gradisca and of the Tyrol; and Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria".


Coin image box 1 double
header = Silver Thaler of Francis I, struck 1821

caption_left = By the time the coin was minted, Francis had abdicated the title of "Holy Roman Emperor," and his title had changed to Francis I of Austria. Obverse: (Latin) "FRANCISCVS I, D [EI] G [RATIA] AVSTRIAE IMPERATOR," or in English, "Francis I, by the Grace of God, Emperor of Austria"
caption_right = Reverse: (Latin) "HVN [GARIAE] BOH [EMIAE] LOMB [ARDIAE] ET VEN [ETIARUM] GAL [ICIAE] LOD [OMERIA] IL [LYRIAE] REX A [RCHIDUX] A [VUSTRIAE] 1821", or in English, "King of Hungary, Bohemia, Lombardy-Venetia, Galicia, Lodomeria, and Illyria, Archduke of Austria 1821."
width = 250
position = center
margin = 0


style=font-size: 90%; line-height: 110%;
boxstyle=padding-top: 0; padding-bottom: 0;
boxstyle_1=background-color: #fcc;
boxstyle_2=background-color: #fb9;
boxstyle_3=background-color: #ffc;
boxstyle_4=background-color: #bfc;
boxstyle_5=background-color: #9fe;
1= 1. Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Francis I 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


Francis II married four times:

# On January 6, 1788, to Elisabeth of Württemberg (April 21, 1767February 18, 1790), who died bearing a short-lived daughter, Ludovika Elisabeth of Austria (1790–1791)
# On September 15, 1790, to his double first cousin Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies (June 6, 1772April 13, 1807), daughter of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies (both were grandchildren of Empress Maria Theresa and shared all of their other grandparents in common), with whom he had twelve children, but only seven reached adulthood:
# On January 6, 1808, he married again to another first cousin, Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este (December 14, 1787April 7, 1816) with no issue. She was the daughter of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este and Maria Beatrice d'Este, Princess of Modena.
# On October 29, 1816, to Karoline Charlotte Auguste of Bavaria (February 8, 1792February 9, 1873) with no issue. She was daughter of Maximilian I of Bavaria and had been previously married to William I of Württemberg.


From his first wife Elisabeth of Württemberg, one daughter, and his second wife Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies, eight daughters and four sons :

ee also

*German monarchs family tree



*Fraser, Antonia - "" : Phoenix 2002, ISBN 0-75381-305-X
*Wheatcroft, Andrew - "The Habsburgs : Embodying Empire" : Penguin 1996, ISBN 0-14-023634-1
* Richard Reifenscheid, Die Habsburger in Lebensbildern, Piper 2006


External links


NAME=Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Francis I of Austria
DATE OF BIRTH=February 12, 1768
PLACE OF BIRTH=Florence, Tuscany, Italy
DATE OF DEATH=March 2, 1830
PLACE OF DEATH=Vienna, Austria

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