Ferdinand Karl Leopold Joseph Franz Marcellin was born on the 19th April 1793 and died on the 29th June 1875.
His parents, Emperor Francis II and Maria Theresia of Naples and Sicily were closely related (double first cousins).
Ferdinand was born with severe disabilities and was handicapped but was not incapable.
The young child suffered with disabilities such as water on the brain, soft bones and severe epilepsy which caused him a great deal of problems. He was fragile and very slow in learning to talk and suffered from with a speech impediment. His education was limited and seemingly inappropriate for his position as future Emperor.
At the age of fourteen, his stepmother, Maria Ludovika of Modena dismissed his tutors and appointed new staff that concentrated on preparing the young man toward a “normal” life.
He was a very kind and religious man who tried to do his best.
During his reign he had been known as “Ferdinand the Good” a kind description regarding his good natured ways.
The Emperor Ferdinand was regarded a well-meaning monarch but was subject to fits of epilepsy that led to the chancellor of Austria (Metternich) becoming the main political mind behind the scenes.
The Emperor’s disabilities certainly cannot be ignored but should also not be exaggerated. He was not incapacitated and was able to take part in activities such as riding and fencing. He could also speak in five languages and could play two musical instruments.
He was a peaceful man who preferred compassion to military confrontation.
During his reign the industrialisation and the railroad construction took hold of the Austrian Empire. The chancellor, Prince Metternich managed to stabilise the Empire's financial situation but, at one and the same time, neglected the other political problems within the Empire.
The dissatisfaction in Hungary, Italy and the Slavic lands led to further problems creating the explosive situation that led to the revolution of 1848.
The outbreak of the Revolutions of 1848 was a major crisis which made the Emperor realise that he was not capable of coping with such a drastic situation. Even Prince Metternich had to flee the country as riots started to break out in Vienna.
It is said that Ferdinand was viewing the riots and street fighting from a palace window and turned to his aide and commented “Are they allowed to do that?”
The revolution dramatically changed the political attitude of the Imperial Family.
The Imperial Court was forced to leave Vienna and began to plan the counter-revolution to regain control of Vienna and restore law and order to the Empire.
Archduchess Sophie emerged as the strongest personality in the family and was often referred to as “the only man at court.”
A younger monarch was required and Archduchess Sophie was quick to point to her son Franz Joseph.
Prince Felix von Schwarzenberg, advised Emperor Ferdinand to abdicate in favour of his nephew. The 18-year old new monarch thanked his former Emperor and Ferdinand replied, “Don’t mention it, Franzl, it was my pleasure”.
After returning to Vienna the Archduchess Sophie presided as first lady at the Imperial Court and began to dominate Franz Joseph's free-spirited cousin and young wife Elisabeth of Bavaria.
Ferdinand retired with his wife to Prague and together devoted much time to the Church. He became a quite competent and wealthy businessman in Bohemia and took part in the increase of trade in that area.
Ferdinand died in Prague on the 29th June, 1875 at the age of 82 and was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.