Francis I (Austria)


August 20, 2022

Francis I (12 February 1768 Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany – 2 March 1835 Vienna, Austrian Empire) was the last Holy Roman Emperor (1792–1806) and the first Emperor of Austria (1804–1835). He belonged to the Habsburg family that ruled Austria from the 13th century to the 20th century. Frans ascended the throne in 1792 after his father, Emperor Leopold II. At that time, he became the Roman Emperor under the reigning name of Francis II, as well as Archduke of Austria and King of Hungary and Bohemia. After the defeat of Napoleon, Frans of the German-Roman Empire declared himself Emperor of Austria in 1804 with the sovereign name Frans I; two years later he officially renounced his title of Roman Emperor. He is the only ruler in European history who has held two different imperial titles at the same time, and has therefore received the nickname Doppelkaiser ("double emperor").


Frans' parents were Emperor Leopold II and Princess Maria Louise of Spain, daughter of Charles III, King of Spain's Bourbon family. When Francis was born, his uncle Joseph II was emperor, and his father ruled the northern Italian Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which was part of the Habsburg family's possessions. Since Joseph II was childless, it seemed likely that his brother's eldest son Francis would inherit the empire. Because of this, at the age of 16, Frans was invited to the imperial court in Vienna, where he was raised as an heir to the crown. Joseph II died in 1790, and his brother Leopold became the new emperor. However, Leopold only had time to be on the throne for two years, as he died prematurely in 1792, only 44 years old. His son, 24-year-old Frans, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in March of the same year. The Great French Revolution threatened the French Empire. His aunt Marie-Antoinette died by guillotine. In April 1792, revolutionary France declared war on Austria. The first war lasted five years and ended in defeat. Austria was forced into peace at Campo-Formio in 1797, and lost Lombardy and the west bank of the Rhine. Frans led Austria to war again in 1799 and 1805, but lost both times. In the Peace of Pressburg in 1805, Francis had to hand over Venice to the Kingdom of Italy and Tyrol to Bavaria. Frans took the title of Emperor of Austria in 1804, shortly after Napoleon declared himself emperor. As Emperor of Austria, he was Frans I. After the next lost war, he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire. Frans again declared war on France in April 1809. In the Peace of Vienna in 1809, he lost Salzburg, the Carinthia and the Adriatic coast. Frans appointed a new foreign minister, Klemens von Metternich, and became an ally of the victorious France. The emperor's daughter Maria Louise was given as Napoleon's wife and France was helped in the Russian campaign. In 1813, he went to war against France again, and at the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) he regained his former territory, except for Belgium and, in addition, Venice. The Holy Alliance concluded by the emperors guaranteed that the recession would remain in power and the borders of the European great powers remained unchanged for almost half a century. Frans supported von Metternich's conservative policies and restored the Catholic Church to the power it had lost. In addition, he supported the arts and sciences, and introduced steamboats on the Danube and was enthusiastic about building railways. Frans was buried in grave number 57 in the imperial crypt in Vienna, surrounded by his four wives. In the other countries he ruled, he was known by the names: in German: Franz II/I, in Czech and Slovak: František I, in Hungarian: I. Ferenc, in Italian: Francesco II/I and in Slovenian Franc.


Frans I was married four times:6. January 1788 Frans married Elisabeth of Württemberg (21 April 1767–18 February 1790), daughter of the Duke of Württemberg. Married