Blog category: Austrian History
Marie Louise of Austria, Napoleon’s Second Wife
May 28, 2021
At the age of 18, Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria was obliged to marry 40-year-old French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who had spent years waging war against her country. Despite the circumstances, the marriage was relatively happy. Napoleon and Marie Louise spent four years together and then never saw each other again. While he was destined for an early death in faraway exile, she went on to govern the Duchy of Parma.
A 19th-Century Austrian Christmas
December 25, 2020
In 1836, English writer Frances Trollope visited Austria, accompanied by her 26-year-old son Thomas and her 20-year-old daughter Cecilia. She provided the following description of Christmas in Vienna, including a party at the home of Austrian chancellor and foreign minister Clemens von Metternich.
Visiting the Habsburg Imperial Crypt
November 15, 2019
The Imperial Crypt of the Habsburg family lies beneath the Capuchin Church in Vienna, Austria. Today the tomb that receives the most visitor attention is that of Empress Elisabeth, also known as Sisi, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916). She was assassinated in Geneva in 1898. In 1837, the year that Sisi was born, English writer Frances Milton Trollope paid a visit to the Imperial Crypt. At that time, Emperor Francis I (1768-1835) was the star exhibit. He was the father of Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise, who is also buried in the crypt.
Foot Washing by a Habsburg Empress
March 30, 2018
Foot washing, or the Washing of the Feet, is a religious ceremony performed by many Christians on the Thursday before Easter. On Maundy Thursday in 1837, Empress Maria Anna of Austria washed the feet of elderly paupers.
Of Sealing Wax and Emperor Francis
March 2, 2018
Emperor Francis I of Austria – the father of Napoleon’s second wife Marie Louise – was known for his skill in making sealing wax. Like door knockers, sealing wax used to be a feature of everyday life. Sealing wax was used to securely close letters and other documents before the introduction of gummed envelopes in the late 19th century. When stamped with an engraved stone or piece of metal, such as a signet ring, sealing wax was also used to confirm the identity of a document’s signatory.
Morganatic Marriage: Left-Handed Royal Love
January 12, 2018
A morganatic marriage is a marriage contracted between a member of a royal or noble family and someone (typically, but not necessarily) of lower status, in which the spouse and any resulting children have no claim to royal or noble rank, title, or hereditary property. Another term for a morganatic marriage is a left-handed marriage, stemming from the custom of the groom extending his left hand, rather than his right hand, to the bride. Morganatic marriages primarily took place in the Germanic areas of the Holy Roman Empire and its successors between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Dangers of Walking in Vienna in the 1820s
February 17, 2017
Pity the poor pedestrian in Vienna in the early 19th century! Here’s what an English visitor had to say about the dangers of walking in Austria’s capital in the early 1820s.
The Marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise
April 1, 2016
Fancy a royal wedding? Napoleon Bonaparte and his second wife Marie Louise had three of them. They were married in a religious ceremony on March 11, 1810, though Napoleon was not present for the occasion. They then had a civil wedding on April 1 and another religious wedding on April 2. Here’s a look at the festivities.
Adam Albert von Neipperg, Lover of Napoleon’s Wife
January 23, 2015
Adam Albert von Neipperg was an Austrian nobleman, soldier and diplomat who seduced Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise, while Napoleon was in exile on Elba.
Archduke Franz Karl of Austria
December 12, 2014
Archduke Franz Karl of Austria loomed large in the brief life of his nephew, Napoleon II. He also fathered two emperors: Franz Joseph of Austria and Maximilian of Mexico.
Caroline Augusta, Empress of Austria
December 5, 2014
Caroline Augusta was a Bavarian princess who became Empress of Austria thanks to an arranged marriage with Emperor Francis I. Much younger than her husband, she became a “second mother” to Francis’s grandson, Franz, who happened to be Napoleon’s son, Napoleon II. She tried to bring warmth to the boy’s life in the Viennese court.
Maurice Dietrichstein, Governor of Napoleon’s Son
November 21, 2014
Little did Napoleon realize, when releasing Major Maurice Dietrichstein from a French prison in 1800, that the Austrian nobleman would one day be responsible for the education of his son, Napoleon II. More a musical connoisseur than a military man, Dietrichstein became the child’s governor after Napoleon’s 1815 defeat and remained in that capacity until the boy’s death in 1832. Though Dietrichstein was a strict taskmaster with impossibly high expectations, Franz (as Napoleon II was called in Austria) was grateful for the pains his governor took with his education.
Clemens von Metternich: The man who outwitted Napoleon?
February 28, 2014
As Austrian foreign minister from 1809 to 1848, Clemens von Metternich was a major player in European affairs for twice as long as Napoleon Bonaparte. A closet admirer of the French Emperor, he was concerned to show himself as the man who had outwitted him.
Napoleon II: Napoleon’s Son, the King of Rome
February 21, 2014
Napoleon had only one legitimate child: Napoleon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, also known as the King of Rome, Napoleon II, the Prince of Parma and the Duke of Reichstadt. He did not hold all those titles at the same time, and you can tell whether someone was a supporter of Napoleon based on how they referred to the boy after 1815.
Francis I of Austria: Napoleon’s Father-in-Law
February 14, 2014
When you marry into the Austrian royal family, you might expect some benefits from the situation – say, perhaps, that Austria will not attack you. But no such luck, as Napoleon discovered in 1813, when Francis I of Austria joined the leaders of Great Britain, Russia, Prussia and Sweden in their coalition against France.
We must confess that fate, which sports with man, makes merry work with the affairs of this world.