The term Emperor of Austria has many different connotations today. Find out where this terminology comes from and who it refers to.
The modern Republic of Austria has come a long way to become what it is today. Prior to the declaration of Austria as a republic it existed as a subject of absolute monarchy for many centuries. The term Emperor of Austria is but naturally associated with the trends of those times.
At the head of the Austrian Empire sat the Holy Roman Emperor who was believed to be the ruler of the people chosen by God. This honor was held by the Habsburg family, the first of them being Francis II. It was Francis II who was declared Emperor of Austria in 1804.
The title of Emperor remained with Francis II until he finally gave way to time. After his death the title travelled down to his successors who held it for the next century. It was under the Habsburg Family’s rule of more than a hundred years that Austria developed much of its cultural heritage that we see today. The Emperorship of the Habsburgs remained intact until the end of the First World War when they were finally stripped of their title and consequently the power that came with it.
Francis II felt threatened by the aggression coming from Napoleon’s end. He feared that his dear Holy Roman Empire was at stake if Napoleon’s forces attacked. In the attempt to keep his honorable title and the imperial status of his family he sent out his forces to combat Napoleon’s men. Much to his dismay they suffered a humiliating defeat the results of which were the annexation of certain parts of the old Reich and their transformation into a separate confederation of the Rhine.
The once Holy Roman Emperor of the huge dynasty now became the Emperor of Austria due to the diminished size of the empire. The title was lower in status as compared to the one Francis held before but his dynasty continued to rule for quite a long time. Francis I was still much more than a king for the Austrians, he was their ultimate emperor known as Kaiser in the local language.
The Habsburg family held the title of Emperor of Austria for some time over the next hundred years. The land that came under the emperorship of the Habsburgs remained unclear throughout the hundred year period. This was largely due to the reduced size of the empire after Napoleon’s battles.
Since the 15th century Austria had put on Archduchy attire. History tells us that many attempts had been made in order to centralize the states in the mid nineteenth century. The lands that represented the imperial council were the Hungarian and non-Hungarian lands combined together. This was the kingdom of the emperor of Austria.
Austria remained under the emperorship of the Habsburg family up until the end of the First World War. It was at this time that the emperor of Austria was stripped of his title and authority and Austria declared as a republic in its own right. The remaining parts of the empire either became republics themselves or joined other states. Hence the term emperor of Austria is now only to be found in the history books.