** Emperor Francis I

Austrian Royalty: Emperor Francis I (1792-1835)

Figure 1.--This painting shows an aging Emperor Francis I and some of his older cvhilren alom with Napoleon II. Left to right is Caroline Augusta, Francis I, Napoleon II, Princess Sophie, Duchess Marie-Louise, Ferdinand I, and Archduke Franz Karl. It was painted by Leopold Fertbauer in 1826.

Francis was born in Florence, the capital of Tuscany (1768). His father reigned as Grand Duke there (1765-90). His father briefly reigned as Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (1790-92). His mother was Maria Luisa, daughter of Charles III of Spain (Bourbon) (1745-1792). He had a happy childhood surrounded by many siblings. It was clear that Francis was going to be the future Emperor. The Emperor, his uncle Joseph. had no surviving issue from either of his two marriages. So the Emperor ordered the the young Archduke at the age of 16 years to come to the Imperial Court in Vienna to be educate and prepared him to be emperor (1784). Emperor Joseph took charge of Francis's education andvtraining. He debvised a disciplinarian regime that could not have been more diufferent than the indulgent Florentine Court of his father. The Emperor assessment of Francis was that he was 'stunted in growth', 'backward in bodily dexterity and deportment', and 'neither more nor less than a spoiled mother's child.' The Emperor decided that '"the manner in which he was treated for upwards of 16 years could not but have confirmed him in the delusion that the preservation of his own person was the only thing of importance.' And he said out to change that. Joseph was a martinet and set out to improve Francis through 'fear and unpleasantnes'. Francis was isolated, the idea being that this would make him more self-sufficient. The Emperor believed that Francis 'failed to lead himself, to do his own thinking.' Francis appears to admired his uncle, but also feared him. Finally to complete his training, the Emperor sent Francis to an army regiment in Hungary. After his tratment in Vienn, he appears to have adjusted well to the routine of military life. Emperor Joseph II died (1790). Francis's father Leopold became Emperor. Francis had an early taste of power acting as his father's deputy in Vienna. Francis only 24 years was surprised to find himself the Emperor. He fond himself facing the full fury of the French Revolutiuionary and Napoleonic Wars. He abdicated as Holy Roman Emperor as Napoleon disolved the Holy Roman Empire (1806). Francis became Emperor of Austria (1804). He married Elizabeth Wilhelmine von Wurttemberg (1788- ). They had one child: Ludovika (1790- ). He then married Maria Theresa of Naples (1790- ). They had 13 children: Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria (1791- ), Emperor Ferdinand I/II (1793- ), Caroline (1794- ), Caroline (1795- ), Leopoldine (1797- ), Clementine (1798- ), Joseph (1799- ), Caroline (1801- ), Arch Duke Franz Karl (1802- ), Marie Anna (1804- ), Johann (1805- ), and Amalie (1807- ). Frances married twice more to Marie Ludovika in 1808 and Charlotte of Bavaria in 1816, but had no more children. Two of the children are notable. Ferdinand succeeded his father. Marie Louise married Napoleon I after he divorced Josiphine (1810). Amazingly with all those children, the oldest (Ferdinand) was incapable of reigning.


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Created: 9:51 AM 4/26/2021
Last updated: 9:51 AM 4/26/2021