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Francis II (I)
King of Hungary and Croatia
Reign 1 March 1792 – 2 March 1835
Coronation 6 June 1792, Buda
Predecessor Leopold II
Successor Ferdinand V
King of Bohemia
Reign 1 March 1792 – 2 March 1835
Coronation 9 August 1792, Prague
Predecessor Leopold II
Successor Ferdinand V
Holy Roman Emperor
King in Germany
Reign 5 July 1792 – 6 August 1806
Coronation 14 July 1792, Frankfurt
Predecessor Leopold II
Successor Office abolished
Emperor of Austria
Reign 11 August 1804 – 2 March 1835
Predecessor New creation
Successor Ferdinand I
Spouse Elisabeth of Württemberg
Maria Theresa of Naples
Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este
Caroline Augusta of Bavaria
Archduchess Ludovika Elisabeth
Marie Louise, Empress of the French
Ferdinand I
Archduchess Marie Caroline
Archduchess Caroline Ludovika
Maria Leopoldina, Empress of Brazil
Clementina, Princess of Salerno
Archduke Joseph Franz Leopold
Marie Caroline, Crown Princess of Saxony
Archduke Franz Karl
Archduchess Maria Anna
Archduke Johann Nepomuk
Archduchess Amalie Theresa
Full name
Francis Joseph Charles
House House of Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria Luisa of Spain
Born 12 February 1768(1768-02-12)
Died 2 March 1835 (aged 67)

Francis II (German: Franz II, Erwählter Römischer Kaiser) (12 February 1768 – 2 March 1835) was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Empire after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804, he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I of Austria (Franz I.), the first Emperor of Austria (Kaiser von Österreich), ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the one and only Doppelkaiser (double emperor) in history. For the two years between 1804 and 1806, Francis used the title and style by the grace of God elected Roman Emperor, always August, hereditary Emperor of Austria and he was called the Emperor of both Germany and Austria. He was also Apostolic King of Hungary as I. Ferenc, King of Croatia-Slavonia as Franjo II, and King of Bohemia as Francis I ("František I."). He also served as the first president of the German Confederation following its establishment in 1815.

Francis I continued his leading role as an opponent of Napoleonic France in the Napoleonic Wars, and suffered several more defeats after Austerlitz. The proxy marriage of state of his daughter Marie Louise of Austria to Napoleon I on 10 March 1810 was assuredly his most severe defeat. After the abdication of Napoleon following the War of the Sixth Coalition, Austria participated as a leading member of the Holy Alliance at the Congress of Vienna, which was largely dominated by Francis' chancellor Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich. Due to the establishment of the Concert of Europe, which largely resisted popular nationalist and liberal tendencies, Francis became viewed as a reactionary later in his reign.


Early life

Francis was a son of Emperor Leopold II (1747 – 1792) and his wife Maria Luisa of Spain (1745 – 1792), daughter of Charles III of Spain. Francis was born in Florence, the capital of Tuscany where his father reigned as Grand Duke from 1765–90. Though he had a happy childhood surrounded by his many siblings,[1] his family knew Francis was likely to be a future Emperor (his uncle Joseph had no surviving issue from either of his two marriages), and so in 1784 the young Archduke was sent to the Imperial Court in Vienna to educate and prepare him for his future role.[2]

Emperor Joseph himself took charge of Francis's development, and his disciplinarian regime was a stark contrast to the indulgent Florentine Court of Leopold. The Emperor wrote that Francis was "stunted in growth", "backward in bodily dexterity and deportment", and "neither more nor less than a spoiled mother's child". Joseph concluded that "…the manner in which he was treated for upwards of sixteen years could not but have confirmed him in the delusion that the preservation of his own person was the only thing of importance."[2]

Joseph's martinet method of improving the young Francis were "fear and unpleasantness".[3] The young Archduke was isolated, the reasoning being that this would make him more self-sufficient as it was felt by Joseph that Francis "fail[ed] to lead himself, to do his own thinking". Nonetheless, Francis greatly admired his uncle, if rather feared him. To complete his training, Francis was sent to join an army regiment in Hungary and he settled easily into the routine of military life.[4]

After the death of Joseph II in 1790, Francis's father became Emperor. He had an early taste of power while acting as Leopold's deputy in Vienna while the incoming Emperor traversed the Empire attempting to win back those alienated by his brother's policies.[5] The strain told on Leopold, and by the winter of 1791 he became ill. He gradually worsened throughout early 1792, and, on the afternoon of 1 March Leopold died, at the relatively young age of 44. Francis, just past his 24th birthday, was now Emperor much sooner than he had expected.


As the leader of the large multi-ethnic Habsburg Empire, Francis felt threatened by Napoleon's call for liberty and equality in Europe. Francis had a fraught relationship with France. His aunt Marie Antoinette died under the guillotine at the beginning of his reign. Francis, on the whole, was indifferent to her fate (she was not close to his father Leopold, and Francis had met her, but when he was of an age that was too young for Francis to remember). Georges Danton attempted to negotiate with the Emperor for Marie Antoinette's release from captivity, but Francis was unwilling to make any concessions in return.[6]

Later, he led Austria into the French Revolutionary Wars. He briefly commanded the Allied forces during the Flanders Campaign of 1794 before handing over command to his brother Archduke Charles. He was later defeated by Napoleon. By the Treaty of Campo Formio, he ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France in exchange for Venice and Dalmatia. He again fought against France during the Second and Third Coalition, when after meeting crushing defeat at Austerlitz, he had to agree to the Treaty of Pressburg, which effectively dissolved the Holy Roman Empire, weakening the Austrian Empire and reorganizing present-day Germany under a Napoleonic imprint.

Francis meets Napoleon Bonaparte following the Battle of Austerlitz in December, 1805.

In 1809, Francis attacked France again, hoping to take advantage of the Peninsular War embroiling Napoleon in Spain. He was again defeated, and this time forced to ally himself with Napoleon, ceding territory to the Empire, joining the Continental System, and wedding his daughter Marie-Louise to the Emperor. Francis essentially became a vassal of the Emperor of the French. The Napoleonic wars drastically weakened Austria and threatened its preeminence among the states of Germany, a position that it would eventually cede to the Kingdom of Prussia.

In 1813, for the fourth and final time, Austria turned against France and joined Great Britain, Russia, Prussia and Sweden in their war against Napoleon. Austria played a major role in the final defeat of France—in recognition of this, Francis, represented by Clemens von Metternich, presided over the Congress of Vienna, helping to form the Concert of Europe and the Holy Alliance, ushering in an era of conservatism and reactionism in Europe. The German Confederation, a loose association of Central European states was created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to organize the surviving states of the Holy Roman Empire. The Congress was a personal triumph for Francis, where he hosted the assorted dignitaries in comfort,[7] though Francis undermined his allies Tsar Alexander and Frederick William III of Prussia by negotiating a secret treaty with the restored French king Louis XVIII.[8]

Austrian Royalty
House of Habsburg-Lorraine
Wappen Kaisertum Österreich 1815 (Klein).png

Francis I
(Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor)
Children include
   Archduchess Marie Louise
   Ferdinand I
   Archduchess Maria Leopoldina
   Archduchess Clementina
   Archduke Franz Karl
Grandchildren include
   Franz Joseph I
   Archduke Maximilian
   Archduke Karl Ludwig
   Archduke Ludwig Viktor
Great-grandchildren include
   Archduke Franz Ferdinand
   Archduke Otto Franz
Ferdinand I
Franz Joseph I
   Archduchess Sophie
   Archduchess Gisela
   Crown Prince Rudolf
   Archduchess Marie Valerie
Grandchildren include
   Archduchess Elisabeth Marie
Charles I
Children include
   Crown Prince Otto
   Archduke Robert
   Archduke Felix
   Archduke Karl Ludwig
   Archduke Rudolf
Grandchildren include
   Archduchess Andrea
   Archduchess Monika
   Archduchess Michaela
   Archduchess Gabriela
   Archduchess Walburga
   Archduke Karl
   Archduke Georg
   Archduke Lorenz
Great-Grandchildren include
   Archduke Ferdinand Zvonimir
   Archduke Amedeo

The federal Diet met at Frankfurt under Austrian presidency (in fact the Habsburg Emperor was represented by an Austrian 'presidential envoy').

Domestic policy

The events of the French Revolution impressed themselves deeply into the mind of Francis, and he came to distrust 'radicalism' in any form. In 1794, a 'Jacobin' conspiracy was discovered in the Austrian and Hungarian armies.[9] The leaders were put on trial, but the verdicts only skirted the perimeter of the conspiracy. Francis's brother Alexander Leopold (at that time Palatine of Hungary) wrote to the Emperor admitting "Although we have caught a lot of the culprits, we have not really got to the bottom of this business yet." Nonetheless, two officers heavily implicated in the conspiracy were hanged and gibbeted, while many others were sentenced to imprisonment (where many died in the conditions).[10]

Francis was by nature suspicious,[11] and set up an extensive network of police spies and censors to monitor dissent[10] (in this he was following his father's lead, as the Grand Duchy of Tuscany had the most effective secret police in Europe).[2] Even his family did not escape attention. His brothers, the Archdukes Charles and Johann had their meetings and activities spied upon.[12] Censorship was also prevalent. The author Franz Grillparzer, a Habsburg patriot, had one play suppressed solely as a 'precautionary' measure. When Grillparzer met the censor responsible, he asked him what was objectionable about the work. The censor replied "Oh, nothing at all. But I thought to myself 'One can never tell'."[13]

Francis presented himself as an open and approachable monarch (he regularly set aside two mornings each week to meet his imperial subjects, regardless of status, by appointment in his office, even speaking to them in their own language),[14] but his will was sovereign. In 1804, he had no compunction about announcing that through his authority as Holy Roman Emperor, he declared he was now Emperor of Austria (at the time a geographical term that had little resonance). Two years later, Francis personally wound up the moribund Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Both actions were of dubious constitutional legality.[15]

Later years

Monarchical Styles of
Emperor Francis I of Austria
Wappen Kaisertum Österreich 1815 (Klein).png
Reference style His Imperial Majesty
Spoken style Your Imperial Majesty
Alternative style My Lord

Francis was a devoted family man, and a main point in the political testament he left for his son and heir Ferdinand was "Preserve unity in the family and regard it as one of the highest goods". In many portraits (particularly those painted by Peter Fendi) he was portrayed as the patriarch of a loving family, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.[16]

On 2 March 1835, 43 years and a day after his father's death, Francis died in Vienna of a sudden fever aged 67, in the presence of many of his family and with all the religious comforts.[16] His funeral was magnificent, with his Viennese subjects respectfully filing past his coffin in chapel of the Hofburg[17] for three days.[18] Francis was interred in the traditional resting place of Habsburg monarchs, the Kapuziner Imperial Crypt in Vienna's Neue Markt Square. He is buried in tomb number 57, surrounded by his four wives.

After 1806 he used the titles: "We, Francis the First, by the grace of God Emperor of Austria; King of Jerusalem, Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria; Archduke of Austria; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Würzburg, Franconia, Styria, Carinthia and Carniola; Grand Duke of Cracow; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Sandomir, Masovia, Lublin, Upper and Lower Silesia, Auschwitz and Zator, Teschen and Friule; Prince of Berchtesgaden and Mergentheim; Princely Count of Habsburg, Gorizia and Gradisca and of the Tirol; and Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria", President of the German Confederation.


Silver Thaler of Francis I, struck 1821
By the time the coin was minted, Francis had abdicated the title of "Holy Roman Emperor," and his title had changed to Francis I of Austria. Obverse: (Latin) FRANCISCVS I, D[EI] G[RATIA] AVSTRIAE IMPERATOR, or in English, "Francis I, by the Grace of God, Emperor of Austria" Reverse: (Latin) HVN[GARIAE] BOH[EMIAE] LOMB[ARDIAE] ET VEN[ETIARUM] GAL[ICIAE] LOD[OMERIAE] IL[LYRIAE] REX A[RCHIDUX] A[USTRIAE] 1821, or in English, "King of Hungary, Bohemia, Lombardy-Venetia, Galicia, Lodomeria, and Illyria, Archduke of Austria 1821."



Francis II married four times:

  1. On 6 January 1788, to Elisabeth of Württemberg (21 April 1767 – 18 February 1790), who died bearing a short-lived daughter, Ludovika Elisabeth of Austria (1790–1791)
  2. On 15 September 1790, to his double first cousin Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies (6 June 1772 – 13 April 1807), daughter of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies (both were grandchildren of Empress Maria Theresa and shared all of their other grandparents in common), with whom he had twelve children, but only seven reached adulthood:
  3. On 6 January 1808, he married again to another first cousin, Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este (14 December 1787 – 7 April 1816) with no issue. She was the daughter of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este and Maria Beatrice d'Este, Princess of Modena.
  4. On 29 October 1816, to Karoline Charlotte Auguste of Bavaria (8 February 1792 – 9 February 1873) with no issue. She was daughter of Maximilian I of Bavaria and had been previously married to William I of Württemberg.


From his first wife Elisabeth of Württemberg, one daughter, and his second wife Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies, eight daughters and four sons:

Name Birth Death Notes
Archduchess Ludovika Elisabeth of Austria 18 February 1790 24 June 1791 died in childhood, no issue
Archduchess Marie-Louise 12 December 1791 17 December 1847 married first Napoleon Bonaparte, had issue, married second Adam, Count of Neippberg, had issue, married third to Charles, Count of Bombelles, no issue
Archduke Ferdinand I 19 April 1793 29 June 1875 married Maria Anna, Princess of Sardinia, no issue
Archduchess Marie Caroline 8 June 1794 16 March 1795 died in childhood, no issue
Archduchess Caroline Ludovika 22 December 1795 30 June 1797 died in childhood, no issue
Archduchess Maria Leopoldina 22 January 1797 11 December 1826 married Pedro I of Brazil, had issue
Archduchess Maria Clementina 1 March 1798 3 September 1881 married her maternal uncle Prince Leopoldo of the Two Sicilies, had issue
Archduke Joseph Franz Leopold 9 April 1799 30 June 1807 died some weeks after his mother in childhood, no issue
Archduchess Maria Caroline of Austria 8 April 1801 22 May 1832 married Crown Prince (later King) Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, no issue
Archduke Franz Karl 17 December 1802 8 March 1878 married Princess Sophie of Bavaria; issue included Franz Joseph I of Austria and Maximilian I of Mexico.
Archduchess Maria Anna 8 June 1804 28 December 1858 died unmarried
Archduke Johann Nepomuk 30 August 1805 19 February 1809 died in childhood, no issue
Archduchess Amalie Theresa of Austria 6 April 1807 9 April 1807 died in childhood, no issue

See also




  • Fraser, Antonia - Marie Antoinette: The Journey : Phoenix 2002, ISBN 0-7538-1305-X
  • Wheatcroft, Andrew - The Habsburgs : Embodying Empire : Penguin 1996, ISBN 0-14-023634-1
  • Richard Reifenscheid, Die Habsburger in Lebensbildern, Piper 2006


  1. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 233. 
  2. ^ a b c Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 234. 
  3. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 235. 
  4. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 236. 
  5. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 238. 
  6. ^ Fraser. M.Antoinette. pp. 492. 
  7. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 249. 
  8. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 250. 
  9. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 239. 
  10. ^ a b Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 240. 
  11. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 251. 
  12. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 248. 
  13. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 241. 
  14. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 245. 
  15. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 246. 
  16. ^ a b Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 254. 
  17. ^ "Wien", Wiener Zeitung: 1, col. 2, 1835-03-05, 
  18. ^ Wheatcroft. The Habsburgs. pp. 255. 

External links

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Cadet branch of the House of Lorraine
Born: 12 February 1768 Died: 2 March 1835
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Leopold II
Holy Roman Emperor
King in Germany
Formally King of the Romans

1792 – 1806
Office abolished
Holy Roman Empire
Count of Flanders
1792 – 1793
Office abolished
Occupation by the
French Republic
Apostolic King of Hungary
King of Croatia
King of Bohemia

1792 – 1835
Succeeded by
Ferdinand I
Archduke of Austria
1792 – 1835
New creation
Austrian Empire
Emperor of Austria
1804 – 1835
New creation
German Confederation
President of the
German Confederation

1815 – 1835
Titles in pretence
New title
Loss of actual title
Count of Flanders
1793 – 1835
Succeeded by
Ferdinand I


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