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In , he was declared of age and Prince Zdenko Lobkowitz was appointed his chamberlain. In the next few years he carried out his military duties in various Bohemian garrison towns. Charles's relations with his granduncle were not intimate, and those with his uncle Franz Ferdinand were not cordial, with the differences between their wives increasing the existing tension between them. For these reasons, Charles, up to the time of the assassination of his uncle in , obtained no insight into affairs of state, but led the life of a prince not destined for a high political position.

They had met as children but did not see one another for almost ten years, as each pursued their education. As a result, the Emperor pressured Charles to marry. Zita not only shared Charles' devout Catholicism, but also an impeccable royal lineage.

Das Leben Kaiser Karls I von Österreich/The life of emperor Charles the Ist of Austria

Charles became heir presumptive after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in , the event which precipitated World War I. Only at this time did the old Emperor take steps to initiate the heir-presumptive to his crown in affairs of state. But the outbreak of World War I interfered with this political education. Charles spent his time during the first phase of the war at headquarters at Teschen , but exercised no military influence.

In the spring of , in connection with the offensive against Italy, he was entrusted with the command of the XX. Corps, whose affections the heir-presumptive to the throne won by his affability and friendliness. The offensive, after a successful start, soon came to a standstill. Shortly afterwards, Charles went to the eastern front as commander of an army operating against the Russians and Romanians.

Charles succeeded to the thrones in November after the death of his grand-uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph. On 2 December , he assumed the title of Supreme Commander of the whole army from Archduke Friedrich. His coronation as King of Hungary occurred on 30 December.

Emperor of Austria

In , Charles secretly entered into peace negotiations with France. However, the Allies insisted on Austrian recognition of Italian claims to territory and Charles refused, so no progress was made. When news of the overture leaked in April , Charles denied involvement until French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau published letters signed by him. This led to Czernin's resignation, forcing Austria-Hungary into an even more dependent position with respect to its seemingly wronged German ally. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was wracked by inner turmoil in the final years of the war, with much tension between ethnic groups.

As part of his Fourteen Points , U. President Woodrow Wilson demanded that the Empire allow for autonomy and self-determination of its peoples. In response, Charles agreed to reconvene the Imperial Parliament and allow for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. However, the ethnic groups fought for full autonomy as separate nations, as they were now determined to become independent from Vienna at the earliest possible moment.

The Poles were granted full independence with the purpose of joining their ethnic brethren in Russia and Germany in a Polish state. The rest of the Austrian lands were transformed into a federal union composed of four parts: German, Czech, South Slav, and Ukrainian. Each of the four parts was to be governed by a federal council, and Trieste was to have a special status. Therefore, autonomy inside the Empire for the nationalities was no longer enough. In fact, a Czechoslovak provisional government had joined the Allies 14 October, and the South Slav national council declared an independent South Slav state 29 October Since the beginning of his rule he favored the creation of a third Croatian political entity in the Empire, in addition to Austria and Hungary.

In his Croatian coronation oath in , he recognized the union of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia with Rijeka [8] and during his short reign supported trialist suggestions from the Croatian Sabor and Ban , but the suggestions were always vetoed by the Hungarian side which did not want to share power with other nations. Aleksandar Horvat, with other parliament members and generals went to visit the emperor on 21 October in Bad Ischl, [10] [11] where the emperor agreed and signed the trialist manifest under the proposed terms set by the delegation, on the condition that the Hungarian part does the same since he swore an oath on the integrity of the Hungarian crown.

On 29 October , the Croatian Sabor parliament ended the union and all ties with Hungary and Austria, proclaimed the unification of all Croatian lands and entered the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The Lansing note effectively ended any efforts to keep the Empire together.

One by one, the nationalities proclaimed their independence; even before the note the national councils had been acting more like provisional governments. Charles' political future became uncertain. On 31 October, Hungary officially ended the personal union between Austria and Hungary. Nothing remained of Charles' realm except the predominantly German-speaking Danubian and Alpine provinces, and he was challenged even there by the German Austrian State Council. His last Austrian prime minister, Heinrich Lammasch , advised him that he was an impossible situation, and his best course was to temporarily give up his right to exercise sovereign power.

On 11 November , the same day as the armistice ending the war between the Allied Powers and Germany was signed, Charles issued a carefully worded proclamation in which he recognized the Austrian people's right to determine the form of the state and "relinquish ed every participation in the administration of the State. On 13 November, following a visit with Hungarian magnates, Charles issued a similar proclamation the Eckartsau Proclamation for Hungary. Although it has widely been cited as an "abdication", that word was never mentioned in either proclamation.

Privately, Charles left no doubt that he believed himself to be the rightful emperor. I did not abdicate, and never will. I see my manifesto of 11 November as the equivalent to a cheque which a street thug has forced me to issue at gunpoint. I do not feel bound by it in any way whatsoever. Instead, on 12 November, the day after he issued his proclamation, the independent Republic of German-Austria was proclaimed, followed by the proclamation of the Hungarian Democratic Republic on 16 November.

An uneasy truce-like situation ensued and persisted until 23—24 March , when Charles left for Switzerland , escorted by the commander of the small British guard detachment at Eckartsau, Lt. As the Imperial Train left Austria on 24 March, Charles issued another proclamation in which he confirmed his claim of sovereignty, declaring that "whatever the national assembly of German Austria has resolved with respect to these matters since 11 November is null and void for me and my House. Although the newly established republican government of Austria was not aware of this "Manifesto of Feldkirch " at this time it had been dispatched only to the Spanish King Alfonso XIII and to Pope Benedict XV through diplomatic channels , the politicians now in power were extremely irritated by the Emperor's departure without an explicit abdication.

Other Habsburgs were banished from Austrian territory unless they renounced all intentions of reclaiming the throne and accepted the status of ordinary citizens. Another law, passed on the same day, abolished all nobility in Austria. Horthy's failure to support Charles' restoration attempts is often described as "treasonous" by royalists. Critics suggest that Horthy's actions were more firmly grounded in political reality than those of Charles and his supporters.


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Indeed, neighbouring countries had threatened to invade Hungary if Charles tried to regain the throne. Later in , the Hungarian parliament formally nullified the Pragmatic Sanction , an act that effectively dethroned the Habsburgs. After the second failed attempt at restoration in Hungary, Charles and his pregnant wife Zita were briefly quarantined at Tihany Abbey.

Determined to prevent a third restoration attempt, the Council of Allied Powers had agreed on Madeira because it was isolated in the Atlantic and easily guarded. Originally the couple and their children, who joined them on 2 February , lived at Funchal at the Villa Vittoria, next to Reid's Hotel and later moved to Quinta do Monte.

Compared to the imperial glory in Vienna and even at Eckartsau, conditions there were certainly impoverished. Charles did not leave Madeira again. On 9 March he had caught a cold in town, which developed into bronchitis and subsequently progressed to severe pneumonia. Having suffered two heart attacks, he died of respiratory failure on 1 April, in the presence of his wife who was pregnant with their eighth child and nine-year-old Crown Prince Otto , remaining conscious almost until his last moments. His last words to his wife were "I love you so much. His heart and the heart of his wife are entombed in Muri Abbey , Switzerland.

Historians have been mixed in their evaluations of Charles and his reign. In the interwar years he was celebrated in Austria as a military hero. When Nazi Germany took over it made his memory into that of a traitor. For decades after , both popular interest and academic interest in the war practically disappeared. Attention has slowly returned. One of the most critical historians is Helmut Rumpler, the head of the Habsburg commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences , who has described Charles as "a dilettante, far too weak for the challenges facing him, out of his depth, and not really a politician.

The English Jacobite writer, Herbert Vivian , wrote:. Furthermore, Anatole France , the French novelist, stated:.

Selected Bibliography

He sincerely wanted peace, and therefore was despised by the whole world. It was a wonderful chance that was lost. Even as he dealt with elements who were sworn to the goal of destroying his empire he believed that his acts of political grace would affect their conscience. These attempts were totally futile; those people had long ago lined up with our common enemies, and were far from being deterred. Catholic Church leaders have praised Charles for putting his Christian faith first in making political decisions, and for his role as a peacemaker during the war, especially after They have considered that his brief rule expressed Catholic social teaching , and that he created a social legal framework that in part still survives.

The decisive task of Christians consists in seeking, recognizing and following God's will in all things.

The Christian statesman, Charles of Austria, confronted this challenge every day. To his eyes, war appeared as "something appalling". Pope Benedict XV 's peace plan consisted of seven principal elements: Although the plan seemed unattainable due to the severity of the war thus far, it had been appealing to the Catholic Emperor Charles I, who could have seen it as his duty as Apostolic King of Hungary to carry out the Church's will, or as a way to preserve his throne in the years to come. Pope John Paul II was also beatifying and canonizing a significantly larger amount of individuals as saints during the later part of his reign as Pope, which could have influenced his decision to beatify Emperor Charles I as Charles the Blessed.

From the beginning, Emperor Charles conceived of his office as a holy service to his people. His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness also in his political actions. For this reason, his thoughts turned to social assistance. The cause or campaign for his canonization began in , when the testimony of his holiness was collected in the Archdiocese of Vienna. In , the cause was opened and he was declared "servant of God", the first step in the process. At the beginning of the cause for canonization in his tomb was opened and his body was discovered to be incorrupt.

His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty ,. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Charles I disambiguation. Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma m. Charles IV of Hungary's attempts to retake the throne. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. I can never forsake that trust or my people.

It was not an abdication-he would keep his sacred trust, even if it meant exile and poverty. Emperor Karl went into seclusion at Eckartsau, a family hunting estate outside of Vienna and from where he would later be sent into Swiss exile. While he was in exile, he was approached several times by unscrupulous people and groups offering to return him to his throne. They, of course, had ulterior and selfish motives for making their offers. He refused them saying: He spent a couple of quiet years with his family in Switzerland, but requests from Hungary continually begged him to return.

Hungary was still a monarchy at this time and Karl was the rightful monarch. He staged two attempts to reclaim his throne from his regent, Admiral Horthy. The first time, Admiral Horthy convinced him that it was not yet time to restore Karl to the vacant throne, and that more preparations had to be made.

However, back in Switzerland, Karl continued to receive requests for him to return, along with reports that convinced him that Horthy had betrayed him, and had no intention of returning the throne. He attempted a second restoration bid, which had the support of the French government and the Vatican, but this time, Admiral Horthy lied to university students in Budapest, armed them, and sent them against their rightful king.

Thinking the King was held captive by Slovak forces, the students created a standoff with the army, which was loyal to Karl. When he saw that there would be bloodshed in his name, instead of pressing on to the capital with his loyal troops, the Emperor-King surrendered saying: Emperor Karl was taken prisoner, and then sent into exile on Madeira island, where he soon became fatally ill.

Towards the end of his illness, he called his eldest child, Crown Prince Otto, to his side. He wanted his son and heir to witness the faith, with which he approached death, saying: Like a loving father and good monarch, Karl's prayers during the final days of his life were for the people of his former empire. He forgave his enemies, and those who betrayed and exiled him.

His most fervent desire was to return to his homeland. He prayed for his homeland, saying: From the very beginning of his reign, Karl worked to create peace for his empire. He had been against the declaration of war, and now he was in a position to put an end to the needless killing and fighting. In his accession speech he proclaimed: Emperor Karl's deepest desire was to end the killing and suffering brought on by the First World War. As an archduke and military man, he saw first hand the killing and mutilations created on the battlefields of the various fronts.

As Emperor, he saw the suffering and starving of his people during his visits to various cities, towns, and villages throughout his empire. As hereditary monarch, he foresaw the impending doom for his dynasty from numerous revolutionaries. Karl tried to enter into secret negotiations with the Entente Powers. His brotherin- laws, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma and Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma, who were serving in the military on the Entente side, acted as intermediaries between the Emperor and the French and English leaders.

The princes were secretly smuggled into Austria, so they could discuss with Emperor Karl possible solutions to the war. As a result of their discussions, the Emperor wrote a confidential lettered addressed to Prince Sixtus, which could be shown to the Entente Powers to indicate Karl's good faith to negotiate a peace, and willingness to help lead his German ally to the peace table.

He ended the letter stating: Because the success of this attempt relied totally on its confidentiality, a great scandal occurred when a dispute between the Austrian Foreign Minister Count Ottokar Czernin and the new French leadership occurred. The contents of the letter were reveled, and during the subsequent accusations and denials by the various ministers, Karl's influence on his allies was compromised and his standing with the Entente as a realistic instrument for peace was ruined.

The peace initiative collapsed, the war was prolonged, and some of the bloodiest days of fighting occurred, resulting in the loss of over two million more lives. Although the "Sixtus Affair" ended peace negotiations through his brother-in-law, Emperor Karl did not stop his pursuit of peace. He made it clear that his sole intention was to end the war as quickly as possible, and because he was not one of the original belligerents he was the ideal person to bring the war to an end. During the second half of his reign, he ordered negotiations to continue.

The talks continued to almost the very end of the war, but the discussions unfortunately came to nothing. Karl accepted the proposal unconditionally. Responding in a letter dated August 1, , he wrote to the Pope that from the earliest days of his reign he sought peace. In the meantime, our government has not stopped repeating our continual call for peace-a call heard by the entire world-expressing the desire and agreement of the people of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy to put an end to the bloodshed according to the peace plan that Your Holiness has before you.

However, the other belligerents flatly rejected it because the plan basically reestablished pre-war borders. The other combatants wanted the war to continue for their own selfish purposes. The Italians wanted the war to continue because the Entente promised them any Austrian territory they occupied at war's end-and the Italians did not occupy any promised territory.

The French wanted the war to continue so that they would be winning at war's end and able to punish Germany, and take Alsace-Lorraine from them. The English also wanted to be in a dominant position at the conclusion of the war in order to better negotiate terms.

Why Canonize an Emperor? — Blessed Karl of Austria

Finally, because the Germans were winning the war at the time, they wanted it to continue so they could expand their territory even farther. The war might have ended then, but France and the United States surprisingly recognized a group of Bohemian refugees in Paris as a legitimate Czechoslovakian government in exile, rather than accepting Karl's compliance to Wilson's demands. The other ethnic groups and nationalities in the empire saw their chance at independence and began declaring their separation from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

France and the United States encouraged them, and it soon became clear that the Empire was being dismantled from within and without-with nothing Karl could do to halt the process. It is uncontestable that Karl tried everything in his power to bring peace to his empire and to Europe. Even writers from his enemy combatants recognized this trait.

The French novelist and satirist, Anatole France, wrote: Emperor Karl is the only decent man to come out of the war in a leadership position, yet he was a saint and no one listened to him. He sincerely wanted peace, and therefore was despised by the whole world. It was a wonderful chance that was lost. Karl was a great leader, a prince of peace, who wanted to save the world from a year of war; a statesman with ideas to save his people from the complicated problems of his empire; a king who loved his people, a fearless man, a noble soul, distinguished, a saint from whose grave blessings come.

On March 9, Emperor Karl took his two oldest children with him to the town of Funchal to buy a birthday present for Karl-Ludwig who would turn four the next day. At the top of the mountain where they were living, the air was densely foggy, cold, and damp; while at the base in town, it was sunny and warm.

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On the return trip, the Emperor became overheated with exertion, and was not properly dressed for the chillier climate on top of the mountain. This affected a chronic lung problem he had suffered from for several years. A few days later, Karl went down to Funchal again, but on his return he went to bed exhausted, with a cough and fever.

Since he could not afford a doctor, he delayed calling for medical aid, and his sickness became worst, developing into pneumonia and influenza. Finally doctors were summoned, but Karl was seriously ill, and in a weakened state. They injected him with camphor, turpentine and caffeine; they applied mustard plasters, and gave him small balloons of oxygen when it could obtained.

Finally in desperation, they cupped his back-a painful procedure meant to suction infection out of the body. Despite his suffering, the Emperor never complained about his pain or agony. In fact, he was more worried about the trouble he was causing the household, and the possibility that he might be contagious to others.

The extent of his suffering was evident when he was overheard speaking to himself: Otherwise, it would be impossible to bear with all this. Everywhere he traveled, he took with him an image of the Sacred Heart, which he kept under his pillow. During his final illness, he also kept a relic of the True Cross, a second-class relic of Pope St. Pius X, and a relic of Br.

His wife stayed with him throughout most of his ordeal. She would hold him, sooth him, and pray with him. He prayed for his oldest son Otto, as well as all of his children. He forgave those who betrayed him, and prayed for his subjects. On the evening before he died, he uttered: On the morning of his last day he whispered to his beloved wife: The Eucharist was exposed in his room, and he prayed in the Lord's presence. About ten minutes before he died, he prayed: My Jesus, as You will it-Jesus. It was shortly after noon on Saturday, April 1, He was only 34 years old. By now it should be obvious why the three questions at the beginning of this essay are not important.

They are not important because Blessed Karl's story has universal appeal. His faith inspires Catholic men and women, husbands and fathers, military men, politicians, and heads-of-state. His influence reaches out beyond the borders of Austria and the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and embraces the world with his Christian example.

Blessed Karl of Austria must be canonized! Not because he needs it, but because we need his inspiring and selfless example.

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Back Who is Karl? Why Canonize an Emperor? Back Photos Videos and Audio. Why an Austrian Emperor Should be Canonized: An American Perspective By Br. The Marriage of Karl and Zita. Herbert Vivian, an English writer, wrote later in life about his meeting with the Emperor: In a world where many do not believe in God, we need Blessed Karl's faith.