Emperor Francis Joseph Book Summary and Study Guide

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Emperor Francis Joseph: Life, death and the fall of the Habsburg Empire
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John Van der Kiste
Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Glos. (UK), 2005
ISBN: 0750937874

Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria-Hungary, ascended the throne in December 1848 at the age of 18. He was a natural autocrat, but tempered absolutism with reform. During his reign of almost 68 years, the longest in modern European history, he presided over the introduction of general suffrage and an often fractious Reichsrat, the forerunner to a constitutional parliament.

Politically, his reign was a disaster. Austrian defeats in war led to the loss of states in Italy, and to her expulsion from the German Confederation by her smaller but more powerful rival Prussia. The decline of empire was mirrored by the horrific events in his own family. His brother Maximilian, chosen as Emperor of Mexico in 1864, reigned over a country torn apart by civil war and was executed by firing squad three years later. Francis Joseph's wayward wife Elizabeth was assassinated in Geneva in 1898. Two of his heirs met violent deaths - his only son Rudolf killed his mistress Marie Vetsera and then committed suicide at his hunting lodge at Mayerling in 1889, while his nephew Francis Ferdinand was assassinated with his wife at Sarajevo in 1914, a killing which precipitated the Great War.

This biography examines the personal relationships of the Emperor with his family, against the turbulent background of 19th-century Europe. It looks at the life and times of the man who, despite the disasters of his reign, was the last major Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
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Plot & Themes

Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Politician story?    -   rightist dictator Royalty bio    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1600-1899

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   Prince/Nobleman/King Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   Eastern European


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Eastern Europe Misc setting    -   Fancy Mansion Century:    -   19th century

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A ton 16-20 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   little dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   76%-100% of book

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