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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • Francis II

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(17681835)

    Holy Roman Emperor

    When the Holy Roman Emperor LEOPOLD II

    (174192) died in 1792, Francis, the oldest of his

    16 children succeeded him. At age 24 the new

    emperor was immature, unimaginative, narrowminded,

    and shy. There is no doubt that he was

    unsuited for the task of ruling the HOLY ROMAN

    EMPIRE and protecting the Habsburg lands, especially

    against the threats of the French Revolution

    and NAPOLEONICWARS. It is said that he was

    devoted to the specifics of government and had

    no sense of the historical forces that manifested

    themselves during his reign. He followed the

    greatest monarchs of the 18th century such as

    MARIA THERESA and FREDERICK THE GREAT, and

    was representative of the monarchical mediocrity

    that was to follow. Considering himself too

    young and inexperienced to become emperor, he

    was faced with challenges that might have overwhelmed

    a greater man than he.

    Scarcely a month after his accession France

    declared war on AUSTRIA. The DECLARATION OF

    PILLNITZ (August 27, 1791), which Leopold II

    had negotiated with PRUSSIA just before his

    death, made the war inevitable between France

    and the two German powers. This began a struggle

    that would last more than two decades,

    revealing the weaknesses of the Austrian

    monarchy. In the first phase the Austrians failed

    to decisively defeat France and in humiliating

    defeats lost all their Italian territories south of

    the Adige. After the Prussian defeat at Valmy on

    September 20, 1792, the Austrians lost their territories

    in the Netherlands. In 1793, when the

    revolutionaries executed the French monarchs,

    Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Austria joined

    the First Coalition against them. There was

    nothing but the humiliation of defeat for Austria,

    which came with the Treaty of Campo

    Formio (October 1718, 1797). After Austria

    joined the Second Coalition military defeats at

    Francis II 381

    the battles of Marengo and Hohenlinden again

    followed, ending with the Peace of Luneville

    (February 2, 1801). Despite these military disasters

    Austrian NATIONALISM increased, as did the

    popularity of the emperor. To counter the

    French threat and the end of the Holy Roman

    Empire, Francis unified the Habsburg lands into

    the Austrian Empire and on August 10, 1804,

    proclaimed himself emperor. Under French pressure

    Francis agreed to the dissolution of the Holy

    Roman Empire, which was announced in

    Vienna on August 6, 1806. The medieval regalia

    and vestments were placed in the treasury of the

    Hofburg.

    During the reign of Francis Austria lacked

    direction and resolve. Austrian diplomacy was

    weak, and military commanders and most officials

    were incompetent. The worse the situation

    became, the more Francis stuck to his old advisers,

    who resisted change. Fear of revolution

    within also made Francis more reactionary. The

    young emperor was further alienated from the

    progressive programs of his father and uncle

    because a revolutionary conspiracy was discovered

    and its leaders punished in 1794. Repression

    increased, and in 1801 censorship was

    placed in the hands of the police. Public discussion

    disappeared, the qualities of the ARISTOCRACY

    were defended as sources of stability and

    order, and the secular spirit of Josephinism was

    replaced by an emphasis on religious orthodoxy

    and piety.

    In 1809 Austria again went to war with

    France. This time the general was the brother of

    Francis, the talented Archduke Charles, who

    won a small victory at Aspern-Essling, but was

    quickly defeated by Napoleon at the Battle of

    Wagram on July 56. Another positive change

    was the appointment of Klemens von METTERNICH

    (17731859) as the new foreign minister.

    Metternich arranged the marriage of the

    emperors daughter, Marie Louise, to Napoleon.

    Metternich then maneuvered the defeat of

    Napoleon in the WAR OF LIBERATION 181315. At

    the end of war he organized the peace conference

    at the CONGRESS OF VIENNA (September

    1814June 1815), which redrew the map of

    Europe and restricted Frances influence. Austria

    gave up western territories, but became a more

    compact empire and gained the presidency of

    the GERMAN CONFEDERATION.

    During the restoration period Francis followed

    a reactionary conservative policy, which

    was executed by Prince Metternich. Along with

    Prussia, Austria adhered to the Holy Alliance of

    Czar Alexander I dedicated to suppressing any

    revolutionary activity. Internally, the age was

    called BIEDERMEIER, characterized by homely

    middle-class values and the creative music of

    Franz SCHUBERT and Johann STRAUSS. Those

    who espoused LIBERALISM were suppressed by a

    secret police symbolized by the fortress prison of

    the Spielberg. The policy of political reaction was

    formalized in the CARLSBAD DECREES of 1819,

    which were enacted after the assassination of

    August von Kotzebue. Austria also intervened in

    suppressing several revolutions. Censorship and

    the repression of the peasantry continued, and

    assertiveness by the nationalities in the Empire

    was suppressed. On the other hand, Francis

    retained some of the reforms of his father, especially

    state control of the church. Francis refused

    to exclude his retarded son from the succession

    to the throne. When Francis II died on March 2,

    1835, it was Metternich who became one of the

    regents governing the Austrian Empire during

    the reign of Ferdinand.

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