Franz Joseph I of Austria

Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I (German: Franz Josef Karl, Hungarian: Ferenc József Károly; 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916) was Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia, and monarch of other states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from 2 December 1848 until his death.[1] From 1 May 1850 to 24 August 1866 he was also President of the German Confederation. He was the longest-reigning ruler of Austria and Hungary, as well as the sixth-longest-reigning monarch of any country in history.[2]

Franz Joseph I
Franz Joseph I wearing a Hungarian Hussar cavalry uniform (photograph, 1903)
Emperor of Austria,
King of Hungary, Bohemia,
Dalmatia, and Croatia
Reign2 December 1848 21 November 1916
Coronation8 June 1867, Budapest (as king of Hungary)
PredecessorFerdinand I & V
SuccessorCharles I & IV
Prime MinisterSee list
King of Lombardy–Venetia
Reign2 December 1848 12 October 1866
PredecessorFerdinand I
SuccessorAnnexation to Italy
Head of the Präsidialmacht Austria
In office1 May 1850 – 24 August 1866
PredecessorFerdinand I
SuccessorWilhelm I (as head of the North German Confederation)
Born(1830-08-18)18 August 1830
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austrian Empire, German Confederation
Died21 November 1916(1916-11-21) (aged 86)
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Burial
Spouse
(m. 1854; died 1898)
Issue
Names
German: Franz Josef Karl
English: Francis Joseph Charles
HouseHabsburg-Lorraine
FatherArchduke Franz Karl of Austria
MotherPrincess Sophie of Bavaria
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Signature

In December 1848, Franz Joseph's uncle Emperor Ferdinand abdicated the throne at Olomouc, as part of Minister President Felix zu Schwarzenberg's plan to end the Revolutions of 1848 in Hungary. Franz Joseph then acceded to the throne. Largely considered to be a reactionary, he spent his early reign resisting constitutionalism in his domains. The Austrian Empire was forced to cede its influence over Tuscany and most of its claim to Lombardy–Venetia to the Kingdom of Sardinia, following the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. Although Franz Joseph ceded no territory to the Kingdom of Prussia after the Austrian defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the Peace of Prague (23 August 1866) settled the German Question in favour of Prussia, which prevented the unification of Germany from occurring under the House of Habsburg.[3]

Franz Joseph was troubled by nationalism during his entire reign. He concluded the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which granted greater autonomy to Hungary and transformed the Austrian Empire into the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. He ruled peacefully for the next 45 years, but personally suffered the tragedies of the execution of his brother Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico in 1867, the suicide of his son Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889, the assassination of his wife Empress Elisabeth ("Sisi") in 1898, and the assassination of his nephew and heir-presumptive, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in 1914. After the Austro-Prussian War, Austria-Hungary turned its attention to the Balkans, which was a hotspot of international tension because of conflicting interests with the Russian Empire. The Bosnian Crisis was a result of Franz Joseph's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, which had been occupied by his troops since the Congress of Berlin (1878). On 28 June 1914, the assassination of his nephew Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo resulted in Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against the Kingdom of Serbia, which was an ally of the Russian Empire. That activated a system of alliances which resulted in World War I. The Emperor died in 1916, after ruling his domains for almost 68 years. He was succeeded by his grandnephew Charles.