Franz Joseph I 1830-1916
Emperor of Austria 1848-1916
King of Hungary
1/10 scale resin bust
Sculpted by: Carl Reid
Box Art Painted by: Mike Cramer
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I (German: Franz Joseph I., Hungarian: I. Ferenc József, 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916) was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916. Franz Joseph was born in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, the oldest son of Archduke Franz Karl (the younger son of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II), and his wife Princess Sophie of Bavaria. Because his uncle, from 1835 the Emperor Ferdinand, was weak-minded, and his father unambitious and retiring, the young Archduke “Franz” was brought up by his mother as a future Emperor with emphasis on devotion, responsibility and diligence. At the age of 13, young Archduke Franz started a career as a colonel in the Austrian army. From that point onward, his fashion was dictated by army style and for the rest of his life he normally wore the uniform of a junior officer.
Franz Joseph was soon joined by three younger brothers: Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian (born 1832, the future Emperor Maximilian of Mexico); Archduke Karl Ludwig (born 1833), and Archduke Ludwig Viktor (born 1842), and a sister, Maria Anna (born 1835), who died at the age of four.
In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of Ministerpräsident Felix zu Schwarzenberg’s plan to end the Revolutions of 1848 in Austria, which allowed Ferdinand’s nephew Franz Joseph to ascend to the throne. Largely considered to be a reactionary, Franz Joseph spent his early reign resisting constitutionalism in his domains. The Austrian Empire was forced to cede most of its claim to Lombardy–Venetia to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia following the conclusion of the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859, and the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. Although Franz Joseph ceded no territory to the Kingdom of Prussia after the Austrian defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the Peace of Prague (23 August 1866) settled the German question in favor of Prussia, which prevented the unification of Germany under the House of Habsburg.
Franz Joseph was troubled by nationalism during his entire reign. He concluded the Ausgleich of 1867, which granted greater autonomy to Hungary, hence transforming the Austrian Empire into the Austro-Hungarian Empire under his Dual Monarchy. His domains were then ruled peacefully for the next 45 years, although Franz Joseph’s personal life became increasingly tragic after the suicide of his son, the Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889, and the assassination of his wife, the Empress Elisabeth in 1898.
After the Austro-Prussian War, Austria-Hungary turned its attention to the Balkans, which was a hotspot of international tension due to conflicting interests with the Russian Empire. The Bosnian crisis was a result of Franz Joseph’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, which had been occupied by his troops since the Congress of Berlin (1878). On 28 June 1914, the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at the hands of Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, resulted in Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against the Kingdom of Serbia, which was Russia’s ally. This activated a system of alliances which resulted in World War I.
Franz Joseph died on 21 November 1916, after ruling his domains for almost 68 years. His 68-year reign is the third-longest in the recorded history of Europe (after those of Louis XIV of France and Johannes II, Prince of Liechtenstein). He was succeeded by his grandnephew Karl.
The bust is based on the monumental painting of Emperor Franz Joseph I in coronation dress for his Hungarian coronation, signed and dated Frankenberger 1870 (lower left) and inscribed Gew. Von A.J. Elias 1870 (lower right). Painted when Franz Joseph I was just 40 years old. The painting over 8 feet high, once hung in Schonbrunn Palace, Vienne Austria until sold at auction in 2002.