Francis II of Habsburg-Lorraine


August 19, 2022

Francesco Giuseppe Carlo Giovanni d'Asburgo-Lorena (Florence, February 12, 1768 - Vienna, March 2, 1835), son of Leopold II, was the last Emperor of the Romans, first Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia and King of Hungary, and last Duke of Milan. To counter Napoleon's hegemony in Europe, and to prevent a loss of rank, in 1804 he assumed the title of Hereditary Emperor of Austria - numbered as Francis I - but carried the title of Roman Emperor Augustus until 1806. In history he is therefore called Francesco II, to distinguish him from his grandfather Francis I of Lorraine. His proclamation of 6 August 1806, in which he declared the Reich extinct, sanctioned that "the German imperial crown and the imperial government" had officially lapsed and that "the Electors, Princes and other classes, as well as all the members and vassals of the German Empire, are released from their previous obligations ". He thus gave birth to the Hereditary Empire of Austria, consisting of the hereditary lands of the House of Habsburg. This is because if the Imperial Crown had ended up in French hands, its Austrian lands included in the Reich could also have fallen under Napoleonic rule. The Empire had in fact already been abolished by Napoleon, when he founded the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806, an organism that included many territories that had escaped from the Reich following the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss two years earlier. As a result then, Francis II formally dissolved the Empire, founded in 800 with the imperial coronation of Charlemagne. From 1792 the Emperor Francis was also king of Bohemia, Croatia and Hungary, the hereditary realms of the House of Austria that merged into the new Empire he founded.


The early years

Francesco Giuseppe Carlo Giovanni was born in Florence on February 12, 1768, second son and first male of the then Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, (later Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire with the name of Leopoldo II) and of the Infanta of Spain Maria Ludovica di Bourbon. His paternal grandparents were the emperor Franz Stephen of Lorraine and Maria Theresa of Austria, while his maternal grandparents were Charles III of Spain and Maria Amalia of Saxony. From the beginning, little Francesco was destined to the throne as the successor of his uncle Giuseppe II after his father: the emperor Joseph in fact had no heirs from his two wives. In 1784 Francesco's uncle then demanded that he complete his training with him in Vienna. Already in 1780, on the death of Maria Teresa, Giuseppe had asked Count Colloredo for a detailed report on the development of his nephew, but this task had proved rather difficult; after the sixteen-year-old prince was brought to the capital of the Empire, he immediately had to participate in the official ceremonies alongside his uncle; at the same time, the wife that his uncle had chosen for him, Elizabeth of Württemberg (sister of Tsarina Maria Fëdorovna), was educated in the monastery for her future life as empress. In the eighth war against the Turkish (1788 - 1791) the young Francesco was sent to the front at the behest of his uncle. , commenting on the fact with these words "He can never be defined as a native Austrian, nor a Hungarian, nor a Bohemian, since he was born and raised in Italy") and for this reason his method to temper his nephew was to isolate him completely from the rest of the world, believing that this would make him more independent, detaching him from the influences of others. Joseph II said of his nephew Francesco: "he struggles to grow", "he is backward both in physical dexterity and in bearing," he is neither more nor less a son spoiled by his mother, but moreover the way in which he was raised for more than sixteen years could only av