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His Serene Highness Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg

Prinz Felix zu Schwarzenberg (2 October 1800, Böhmisch-Krumau (Český Krumlov), Bohemia - 5 April 1852, Vienna, Austria) was an Austrian statesman who restored the Habsburg empire as a European power following the disorders of 1848.

Felix was the son of Joseph, Prince of Schwarzenberg, and brother of Johann Adolf II, Prince of Schwarzenberg. The nephew of Prince Karl Philipp zu Schwarzenberg, the commander of the Austrian armies in the last phases of the Napoleonic wars, Schwarzenberg entered the diplomatic service, where he became a protégé of Prince Klemens von Metternich and served in several Austrian embassies. During his time in London and Paris he had an affair with Jane Digby, whom he deserted after causing her husband to divorce her, and making her pregnant. This episode led to the nickname of "Prince of Cadland" being applied to him in London.

In the Revolutions of 1848, he helped Josef Radetzky defeat rebel forces in Italy. For his role as a close advisor to Radetzky, as well as his status as brother-in-law to Marshal Windischgrätz, who had suppressed the revolution in Prague and Vienna, Schwarzenberg was appointed minister-president foreign minister of Austria in November 1848. In this role, which he held until his premature death in 1852, his first step was to secure the replacement of Emperor Ferdinand by Francis Joseph. Together with the new Emperor, Schwarzenberg called in a Russian army to help suppress the Hungarian revolt and thus free Austria to attempt to thwart Prussia's drive to dominate Germany. He re-established order in Austria with the Constitution of 1849 that transformed the Habsburg empire into a unitary, centralized state, and imposed the Punctation of Olmütz on Prussia, forcing Prussia to abandon, for the moment, its plan of unifying Germany under its own auspices, and to acquiesce in the reformation of the old German Confederation.

Schwarzenberg was widely respected in Europe as an able statesman, although not much trusted (his own statement following the Russian intervention in Hungary that Austria would "shock the world by the depth of its ingratitude" may have played a part in this), and his early death has generally been seen by historians as a grave setback to Austria, as none of his successors possessed his stature or skill.

Bibliography

  • Edward Crankshaw, The Fall of the House of Habsburg, 1963.

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