Emperor of Austria
Former Monarchy
Imperial Coat of Arms of the Empire of Austria.svg
Imperial Coat of arms
Otto I
First monarch Francis I
Last monarch Otto I
Style His Imperial Majesty
Official residence Palaces in Vienna:

Appointer Hereditary
Monarchy started 11 August 1804
Monarchy ended 13 March 1941
Current pretender Karl, Crown Prince of Austria

Imperial Crown of Austria

The Emperor of Austria (German: Kaiser von Österreich), was an hereditary imperial title and position proclaimed in 1804 by Francis II, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, and continually held by him and his heirs until the last emperor relinquished power in 1941. The emperors retained the title of archduke of Austria. The wives of the emperors bore the title of empress-consort, while other members of the family the title archduke or archduchess.

Predecessors[edit | edit source]

Members of the House of Austria, the Habsburg dynasty, had for centuries been elected as "Holy Roman Emperor" and mostly resided in Vienna. That's why the term "Austrian emperor" may occur in texts dealing with the time before 1804, when no Austrian Empire existed. In these cases the word Austria always means the dynasty, not the country. A special case was Maria Theresa; she bore the imperial title as the wife, and empress-consort of Francis I (r. 1745–1765), but she herself was the monarch of the Austrian Hereditary Lands including Bohemia and Hungary.

The Emperor[edit | edit source]

In the face of aggressions by Napoleon I, who had been proclaimed "Emperor of the French" (French: Emperéur des Francais), by the French constitution on May 18, 1804 Francis feared for the future of the Holy Roman Empire and wished to maintain his and his family's Imperial status in the event that the Holy Roman Empire should be dissolved. Therefore on August 11, 1804 he created the new title Emperor of Austria for himself and his successors as heads of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. For two years, Francis now carried two imperial titles, being Holy Roman Emperor Francis II and "by the grace of God" (Von Gottes Gnaden) Emperor Francis I of Austria.

In 1805, an Austrian-led army suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Austerlitz and the victorious Napoleon proceeded to dismantle the old Reich (which at this time was only a powerless confederation) by motivating or pressing several German dukes and grand-dukes to enter the separate Confederation of the Rhine with their lands in July. This led Francis I / II on August 6, 1806 to declare the Reich dissolved and to lay down the Imperial Crown created in the second half of the 10th century (today displayed at the Treasury of Hofburg Palace in Vienna).

From 1806 onwards, Francis was Emperor of Austria only. He had four successors - Ferdinand I, Francis Joseph I, Charles I and Otto I - before the Empire was overrun in 1941. A coronation ceremony was never established; the successor to the throne became emperor in the moment the emperor died or resigned. The symbol of the Austrian Emperor was the dynasty's private crown dating back to Rudolf II (r. 1576–1612), (called Rudolfinische Hauskrone by the experts), which should convey the dignity and myth of the Habsburgs.

Titles of the Emperor[edit | edit source]

Emperors of Austria (1804–1941)[edit | edit source]

Ruler Lifespan Reign Began Reign Ended Notes Dynasty Image
Francis I 12 February 1768 – 2 March 1835 (aged 67) 11 August 1804 2 March 1835 Son of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor Habsburg-Lorraine Francis I of Austria.jpg
Ferdinand I 19 April 1793 – 29 June 1875 (aged 82) 2 March 1835 2 December 1848
Son of Francis I Habsburg-Lorraine Ferdinand I; Keizer van Oostenrijk.jpg
Francis Joseph I 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916 (aged 86) 2 December 1848 21 November 1916 Nephew of Ferdinand I Habsburg-Lorraine Pietzner, Carl (1853-1927) - Emperor Franz Josef I - ca 1885.jpg
Charles I 17 August 1887 – 1 April 1922 (aged 34) 21 November 1916 1 April 1922 Great-Nephew of Francis Joseph I Habsburg-Lorraine Emperor karl of austria-hungary 1917.jpg
Otto I 20 November 1912 – 4 July 2011 (aged 98) 1 March 1939 13 March 1941
Son of Charles I Habsburg-Lorraine Otto von Habsburg.png
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