*** European royalty Austria : Austria, Franz Karl's family

Archduke Franz Karl: Family

Figure 1.--This portrait of Prince Franz Josef with his mother, Princess Sophie of Bavaria, was painted about 1831.

Franz Josef / Francis Joseph was a descendent of one of Europe's most illustrious royal families--the Hapsburgs. Francis Joseph's father was Arch Duke Franz Karl, a brother of the Emperor. His mother was a Bavarian princess--Princess Sophie (Wittelsbach) of Bavaria. There was a close relationship brtween the Austrian an Bavarian royals. He had two brothers, all three relatively close in age. Neither of his brothers ended up well, but for very different reasns. There was some question about Maximillian's parentage. He would be shot by a Mexican firing squad, a rather unlikely end to a Austrian royal. Franz Ludwig caused a scandal, but the succession after the death of Franz Josef's son Rudolf was to pass through Franz Ludwig's son Franz Ferdinand. .


Francis Joseph's father was Arch Duke Franz Karl (1802). Franz Karl's parents were Emperor Francis II (1768- ) and Maria Theresa of Naples (1772- ). Francis Joseph's mother was Princess Sophie (Wittelsbach) of Bavaria (1805- ). Sophie's parents were King Maximilian I Joseph (Wittelsbach) King of Bavaria (1756- ) amd Catharine (Zähringen) of Baden (1776- ). Many rumors surrounded the marriage. Sophie was known to be unhappy with her marriage to Arch Duke Franz Karl. She was a beautifull and extremely intelligent woman. He seems to have been opposite. Nor was he by some accounts a specialy a good lover.


Francis Joseph (1830-1916) was the eldest son. He had two brothers, all three relatively close in age. Neither of his brothers ended up well, but for very different reasns. One brother was a competent man with liberal persasions, but ended up before a Mexican firing squad. Their younger brother was an embarassment to the family, but bcame important in the secession.

Franz Josef (1830-1916)

Franz Joseph was born in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna (1830). He was not expected as a child to become Emperor but proved to be one of the longest ruling monarchs in European history. He woyld become Emperor as a result of the 1848 Revolutions and saved by the Tsarist Army. He would prove to beca conservative force, ruling one of the great empires of Europe. He was strongly opposed to democracy. His marriage to Elizabeth of Bavaria was one of the great love stories of Europe, Their marriage proved tragic because of the suiside of their son Rudolf and the assassination od Elizabeth. After defeated by the Prussians, he had the task of ruling a multi-national empire. Increasing national sentiment would eventually lead to World War I and the destruction of the Empire.

Maximillian (1832-67)

One brother was the ill-fated Maximilian. Royal historians believe that Maximillian was not actually the son of Franz Karl. There is a wide-spread belief that he was actually the son of Napoleon II, Duke of Reichstadt. There are several reasons for believing that. First there was a particularly affenctionate relationship between Sophie and Napoleon II. Second, Sophie in fact never recovered from Napoleon II's untimely death. She blamed it on Count Metternich and hated him for the rest of her life. Third, Maximilian stature and face resembled Napoleon II more than than either Franz Karl or his brothers. Maximillian was much moreliberal than his older brother. He was appointed an Austrial official in Italy, but eventually removed. Maximillian's marriage to the Bavarian princess Carlotta is on of the great love stories of the 19th century. When the French attempted to install as Emperor of Mexico in 1863. Napoleon III's choice is in part a reflection of the wide-spread belief that Maximilian's father was actuall the Bonaparte Napoleon II. Maximillian mer atragic end in Mexico. He was shot by Mexican Republican forces in 1867 after the Emperor Napoleon III withdrew French forces.

Karl Ludwig (1833-1906)

Francis Joseph's youngest brother was Arch Duke Karl Ludwig who had to be exiled after being convicted of taking gross indecencies with a boy at a public bath. While Kar Ludwig played only a minor role in Austrian affairs, he himself became very important in terms of dynastic succession. When Francis Joseph's only son Crown Prince Rudolf killed himself in 1889, the succession then went to Arch Duke Karl Ludwig and after his death in 1906 to his discendents. His son was Franz Ferdinand who became heir to the throne, but was assasinated by Serbian revolutionaries in 1914, setting off World War I.

Maria Anna (1835- )

Maria Anna, the only daughter, died at the age of four.

Ludwig Viktor (1842-1919 )

Archduke Ludwig Viktor Joseph Anton was born in 1842. He was the youngest son of Emperor Franz Josef and Emperess Sophie. He grew up surounded the by the grandeur and struct concerbative values of the Austrian court was Archduke Ludwig Viktor. As a teenager he defied the societal norms of his age and as a young adult openly embraced his homosexuality. He was educated as a Hapsburg Pribnce with a heavy infkluence on politics, but unlike his brothers was primarily interested in the arts. He collercted fine art and emersed himself in literature. His personal salon attracted creative minds of the Empire. They duiscussed music, literature, and culture. Emperess Sophia attempted arrange a marriage with Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria to no avail. He showed no interest. He also rejectd efforts to convince him to marry Isabel, daughter and heir presumptive of Emperor Pedro II of Brazil. Here his brother Maximillian intervened, wanting him tommarry Isabel. He had become the short-lived Emoperor of Mexico and he thought '“such a marriage might found yet another Habsburg dynasty in Latin America.' Maximilian even wrote to Franz Joseph that Ludwig Viktor was ‘anything but pleased with the idea,’ and asked Franz Joseph to order Ludwig Viktor to marry her. The Emperor refused. Ludwig Viktor remained a confirmed bachelor. He had no interest in abandoning his homosexuality and did not try to hide it. The Emperor ordered him to remain out of Vienna. Ludwig Viktor lived at the Klessheim Palace near Salzburg. He died there shortly after World War I (1919).


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Created: 8:59 PM 5/31/2009
Last updated: 8:25 PM 7/27/2023