House of Hapsburg

The world famous Hapsburgs came from the land of Switzerland as we know this area today. Their name was chosen after the name of their castle Hapsburg in the year of 1100. The count Rudolph became the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from this family in 1273 and in 1278 the new Roman emperor Rudolph I of Hapsburg won the battle on Moravian field. Thus He conquered the new areas of upper and lower Austria for his son Albrecht.

Several times the Hapsburgs tried to get bigger influence in the central Europe. The first Hapsburg on Czech throne was Ferdinand I in 1526. He had the direct hereditary succession thanks to his marriage with Anna the Jagellon. In 1528 Ferdinand I was also named the Hungarian king to his denomination of Holy Roman Emperor from the year of 1521. The reign over central Europe was 400 years long.

Ferdinand’s son Maxmilian II was named the new ruler (1564 - 1576) and he was very capable successor of his father. He tried to keep the steady Hapsburg dominancy with great number of political compromises and the economic balance in Hungary as well. In 1548 he married the daughter of his uncle, the Roman emperor, Charles V and his cousin Mary of Spain. He had in total 16 children from this marriage.

The new successor, artistically based, Rudolph II (1576 - 1611) brought with him extraordinary knowledge from the Spanish court of his uncle Philip II. Rudolph was a bit controversial ruler because he was interested more in art and alchemy in stead of Politics. He was forced to leave from Vienna to Prague in 1583 because of his often arguments with family and especially with his brother Matthias. But also Prague was not a calm place for Rudolph. Matthias used the situation and urged Rudolph to abdicate due to his uneven character. But also ambitious Matthias wasn’t lucky in his reign. He had no descendants with his wife Anna of Tyrol and therefore he chose Ferdinand II of Styrian stem of Hapsburgs to be his successor. Future ruler restricted the political influence of Matthias and stood out strictly against the nobility (the Prague defenestration). The general assembly refused to recognize Ferdinand II as the Czech king and he was pronounced dethroned. The assembly chose a new king in 1619, Frederick of the Palatinate (1619 - 1621).

Ferdinand III was a son of Ferdinand II and Maria Anna of Bavaria. In the year of 1625 his father (Ferdinand II) let him crown to be the Hungarian king and then the Czech king (1627) and finally the Roman king (1636). He became also the supreme commander after the violent death of Albrecht of Wallenstein, who was murdered per order of Ferdinand II for alleged betrayal. Ferdinand became the Holy Roman emperor after the death of his father in1637.

Ferdinand III crowned his eldest son, Ferdinand IV, to be the new Czech, Hungarian and Roman king but he died too soon and the fourth son of Ferdinand III, Leopold, took the seat on the throne. It wasn’t easy for Leopold to get the position of Roman king after the death of his father and the elections took almost one year but eventually he was successful. On 18th of July he was chosen to be the Roman king and on first of August became also the Roman emperor.

The next successor was Joseph, son of Leopold and Eleonore of Neuburg. He got the throne of Hungary and Roman kingdom already as a child but not the Czech one. The empire was in a very difficult situation after the death of Leopold in 1705 but young Joseph was already very capable and intelligent ruler. He tried to initiate many reforms and peace negotiations but this ended with his sudden death (1711).

A new emperor came. It was Joseph’s younger brother Charles VI He was the youngest son of Leopold and Eleonore of Neuburg and he became the ruler of Holy Roman Empire from 1711 (to 1740). Charles’s allies made peace after a long war with exhausted France and Spanish king Philip V of Anjou was finally defeated and the Spanish throne should come in the hands of Charles as well but this didn’t happen.  Charles VI got part of Spanish domains (The Spanish Netherlands) and also the former Spanish provinces on Apennine peninsula. In the year 1713 Charles VI promulgated the Pragmatic Sanction and the succession of highest Austrian archbishopric which abolished male – only succession and established the possibility to get the crown also for women successors in case of extinction of Hapsburg male line. The Sanction also declared the Hapsburg’s property indivisible.

The Hapsburg monarchy became extinct in male line by the death of Charles VI (20th of October 1740) so the next who got the throne was Charles’s eldest daughter Maria Theresa. She became the first female monarch in the Hapsburg monarchy. Her full name was Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christine. She married Francis Stephen the Grand Duke of Tuscany on 12th of February 1736. The Wars of Austrian Succession began in a few stages (1740 - 1748) followed with Seven Years War (1756 - 1763). The husband of Maria Theresa, Francis I, suddenly died on 18th of August 1765 and the new emperor became their eldest son Joseph II (1765 - 1790) who ruled together with his mother till 1780. He brought a lot of reforms and set about six thousands edicts during the period of his rule (concerning canceling of censorship, death penalty and serfdom). Joseph II died on 20th of February 1790.

The second emperor from the Hapsburg – Lorraine dynasty became his younger brother, Leopold II (1790 - 1792). Leopold II skillfully solved the problems inherited from the previous Joseph’s reign. But when he just made to stabilize the situation in the country he unexpectedly died on 1st of March in 1792.

His eldest son Francis II got the throne but the time of his rule was stigmatized by the French commander Napoleon Bonaparte. On 6th of August in 1806 Francis II abandoned the crown of Holy Roman Empire and he also cancelled the Roman emperorship. His rule was restricted only to Alpine family domains and Czech and Hungarian crown. He remained only the Austrian emperor. Francis II died on 2nd of March 1835. Ferdinand V, the son of Francis II and Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily, became the Austrian emperor after the death of his father in 1835. His nickname was “gentle” because of his nice behaviour. Ferdinand V gave the ruling power to his brother and inaugurated Franz Joseph I to be the new emperor. Franz Joseph I was one of longest ruling monarch in the world. He died in age of 86 years.

The new successor on the throne should be Francis Ferdinand d’Este but he was assassinated in Sarajevo. After the death of Franz Joseph the new emperor became I Charles, the eldest son of archduke Otto and Maria Josepha of Saxony. Charles’s grandfather archduke Charles Luis Hapsburg – Lorraine was the brother of emperor Franz Joseph I. Charles was the last Czech king and also the last emperor of Austria.