Francis I (Emperor of Austria)


August 15, 2022

Francis II, Emperor of the Romans, then from August 11, 1804, Francis I of Austria, born February 12, 1768 in Florence and died March 2, 1835 in Vienna, Archduke of Austria (1792 – 1804) then Emperor of Austria (1804 – 1835), King of Hungary (1792 – 1835), King of Bohemia (1792 – 1835) and King of Lombardy-Venetia (1815 – 1835), was also the last ruler of the Holy Roman Empire (1792 – 1806), elected Emperor of the Romans under the name of Francis II. Nephew of Marie-Antoinette, he finds himself engaged from the beginning of his reign in the war against France which lasts for twenty-three years. Despite the real capacities of her brother, the Archduke Charles-Louis, Austria is beaten everywhere; Francis II was forced to sign the Treaty of Campo-Formio in 1797, which took away the Austrian Netherlands and Lombardy from him, and gave France the entire left bank of the Rhine by absorbing the electorates of Trier and Cologne, and by largely that of the Rhine Palatinate. As compensation, Austria receives the Republic of Venice. Having resumed arms shortly after, he was beaten at Marengo and Hohenlinden then lost by the Treaty of Lunéville (1801) all his possessions on the left bank of the Rhine. In 1801, he banned Freemasonry. In a third campaign, in 1805, he was defeated at Ulm then at Austerlitz, and signed the Peace of Pressburg, which further diminished his possessions. When the Confederation of the Rhine was established on July 12, 1806, he had to renounce the title of Emperor of the Romans. Foreseeing this failure, he had taken two years earlier, limiting himself to his hereditary States, the title of Emperor of Austria, under the name of Francis I. In 1808, he built a large theater in Pest, to appease the national feelings that were born in Hungary. He attempted the fate of arms for the fourth time in 1809, was again defeated at Eckmühl and at Wagram was forced to ask for peace (Treaty of Schönbrunn): to cement it, he married his daughter Marie-Louise of Austria to the Emperor Napoleon I. In 1809, he appointed the Prince of Metternich as minister. This one governs Austria until 1848. Nevertheless, it enters in 1813 in the coalition against his son-in-law and contributes to dethrone it. The events of 1814 put him back in possession of most of his states. In 1815, he founded the Imperial and Royal Polytechnic Institute of Vienna (de), the precursor of the Technical University of Vienna, on the model of the École polytechnique. On his death in 1835, his son Ferdinand I succeeded him.


He is the eldest son of Emperor Leopold II and Marie-Louise de Bourbon, Infanta of Spain, daughter of Charles III of Spain and Marie-Amélie of Saxony. The infant received the first name of his paternal grandfather, Emperor Francis I, who had died three years earlier, as his older sister had received the first name of their paternal grandmother, Marie-Thérèse. The latter, at the news of the birth of her first grandson, overjoyed to see her dynasty consolidated, runs to the Burgtheater which adjoins the Imperial Palace and exclaims in Viennese patois: “Our Poldi has a kid! The illustrious Empress died in 1780 when Archduke Francis was only twelve years old. Son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the education of the young Archduke was marked by Italian culture. Fully engaged in her policy of reconciliation with the House of Bourbon, the Empress married her children to princes from the peninsula: in 1760, the heir archduke married a princess of Parma. In 1765, Archduke Leopold, promised to the throne of Tuscany, married an infanta from Spain. In 1768, two of her sisters having died before celebrating their wedding, it was the Archduchess Marie-Caroline who married the King of Naples and Sicily. The following year, Archduchess Marie-Amélie married the Duke of Parma. In 1771 Archduke Ferdin