Emperor Franz II/I
Franz II/I was born on the 12th February 1768 and died on the 2nd March 1835.
The invasion of France during the winter of 1794 and 1795 led to a counter attack. French forces drove the Austrian and Prussian armies back across the border occupying the Austrian Netherlands.
Austria renewed the war against France in 1799 and again in 1805 but was defeated both times.
Austria received Salzburg, which was formerly ruled by an archbishop but lost several of its Italian and German provinces. The French domination of Germany opened up the possibility of Napoleon Bonaparte being elected as Holy Roman Emperor.
In 1806, Franz II renounced the imperial title of Holy Roman Emperor and dissolved the Holy Roman Empire after introducing the title of Emperor of Austria in 1804 (Franz I).
Although Austria had been politically allied to France during the invasion of Russia, it quickly joined together with all of the other European powers to defeat Napoleon in 1814.
The decisions made during the Congress of Vienna led to Austria losing the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) to the Netherlands. Austria gained new provinces such as Venetia and Dalmatia in Italy.
Austria also took over the leadership of the newly formed German Confederation with Metternich as Foreign Minister.
Austria dictated the politics of a large part of the continent for the following 30 years. At first Metternich was very successful in maintaining Austrian interests and support of Prussia and Russia.
Britain’s politics favoured the strong Austrian presence in Germany and the limited French influence in Italy together with the maintenance of the Ottoman Empire, which prevented Russian advances in the Balkans.
Russian influence did, however, start to grow steadily more in the Balkans during the 1820’s. Britain tried to block French interests in Egypt.
Austria failed to respond effectively to Prussia’s formation of a German Customs union in 1834, which excluded Austria from forming an economic union together with other German states, creating the first German political union under Prussian leadership later in the century.
In Austria a new penal code was introduced in 1803 together with a new civil code in 1811 but state control was needed to prevent the spread of nationalism and liberalism within the empire.
These two movements supported the establishment of a unified German nation state, which included Austria as a means for realising the liberal reforms, which couldn’t be established within the framework of the Habsburg Empire and were a threat to the conservative government under Franz I.
The young Archduke Franz at the age of two years.
The young Archduke Franz at the age of seven years.
Franz was a son of Emperor Leopold II and his wife Maria Ludovica. He had a happy childhood but in 1784 the young Archduke was sent to the Imperial Court in Vienna to be educated for his future role as Emperor. His uncle, Emperor Joseph II supervised his education and discipline was the word of the day. Joseph regarded the young Archduke as being spoilt and he was isolated to make him more self-sufficient.
Franz feared and admired his uncle.
The Archduke had to finish his training by joining an army regiment in Hungary.
He was the last Holy Roman Emperor and ruled as Franz II from 1792 until the 6th August 1806. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved after the defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz.
In 1804, the Austrian Empire had been founded and the Emperor became Franz I the first Emperor of Austria from 1804 to 1835. He was the only so-called Doppelkaiser (double emperor) in history and is referred to as Franz II/I.
He was Apostolic King of Hungary and King of Bohemia as Franz I.
He was also the first president of the German Confederation after the foundation of the confederation in 1815.
His daughter, Archduchess Marie Louise was married to Napoleon on the 10th March 1810.
6th August 1806
The End of the Holy Roman Empire
Emperor Franz II decided to dissolve the Holy Roman Empire (962–1806)
The declaration was circulated to the other envoys at Regensburg by the Austrian envoy.
We, Francis II, etc.
Since the conclusion of the peace of Pressburg, our whole attention and care had been directed, with our usual faithfulness and conscientiousness, to utterly fulfil the obligations which thereby had been contracted and to preserve for our peoples the blessings of peace, to confirm everywhere the friendly relations which had been propitiously restored, and to await and see if the changes in the German Empire introduced by this peace would make it possible for us to carry out the heavy obligations placed on us as head of the Empire by the electoral capitulation. The consequences which have resulted from several articles from the moment of their publication up to the present, and the well known events which have occurred in the German Empire, have convinced us that it would be impossible under the circumstances to further satisfy the duties under the capitulation; and even if the possibility remained that through the propitious elimination of certain political complications a new state of affairs should arise, the agreement signed on July 12 in Paris by several prominent states and since confirmed by the signatories, to completely secede from the Empire and to unite in a separate Confederation, definitively shatters such an expectation.
Being thereby completely persuaded of the total impossibility to carry out any longer the duties of Our imperial office, We owe it to our principles and our dignity to renounce a crown which could retain value in our eyes only as long as we were able to answer the trust placed in us by the Electors, Princes and States, and other members of the German Empire, and to fulfil the obligations we had assumed.
We therefore declare by these presents that we view the bound that until now tied us to the bodies of the German Empire to be dissolved, the office and dignity of head of the Empire to be abolished by the union of the confederate states of the Rhine, that we consider ourselves absolved from all the duties we had assumed toward the German Empire, and that we set aside the imperial crown and imperial government which we had held on account of these duties.
At the same time we free the Electors, Princes and States, and all members of the Empire, in particular the members of the highest imperial courts and all other servants of the Empire, from their obligations by which they were bound to us as legal head of the Empire in accordance with the constitution. Conversely, we consider all our German provinces and imperial lands to be free of the obligations they had until now toward the German Empire under any title, and by uniting them with the whole Austrian state, we, as Emperor of Austria, will strive to bring them in new and renewed peaceful relations with all powers and neighbouring states to that degree of happiness and prosperity which is the aim of all our desires and the purpose of our most urgent care.
In 1806, Franz II renounced the imperial title of Holy Roman Emperor and dissolved the Holy Roman Empire
after introducing the title of Emperor of Austria in 1804 (Franz I).
Meeting between Napoleon and Franz I, Emperor of Austria after the battle of Austerlitz.
King Franz I of Hungary - coronation as King of Hungary
The Emperor was also Apostolic King of Hungary and King of Bohemia as Franz I.
Emperor Franz II/I entering Vienna on the 16th June 1814
The Imperial family
Franz II/I and his family, 1834
Franz Joseph Haydn