Tuesday, November 27, 2012
When he inherited the estate of his godfather in 1895, Archduke Friedrich became the wealthiest man in all the realms of the House of Hapsburg. He proved an extremely capable businessman, acquiring other properties and business interests until he dominated whole industries. Widely admired and respected, in 1905 Emperor Francis Joseph made him Inspector-General of the troops and after receiving further awards and honors, he and his family moved to Vienna where he was put in command of the Landwehr, the Austrian militia (a relatively new formation compared to the older and more famous Prussian Landwehr) which was somewhat limited in scope. Due to the nature of the multi-national Hapsburg empire, the emperors tended to be reluctant to embrace the idea of pan-empire armed militia. The Archduke was also promoted to General of the Infantry. He was well respected across Europe and Emperor Francis Joseph held him in the highest regard, appreciating his more conservative nature compared to his nephew and heir Archduke Francis Ferdinand, whose ideas for change tended to worry the monarch. The Emperor was more reassured to have Archduke Friedrich on hand to take charge of the military should war break out.
The Emperor needed Friedrich more than ever and promptly promoted him to command of the whole army as war broke out with Serbia and soon began to engulf almost the whole of Europe. Despite was some detractors might claim, Archduke Friedrich was probably more qualified than even he himself believed. However, from the start it was expected that the actual planning would be done by his chief of staff, Conrad von Hoetzendorf, whom the Archduke was perfectly willing to give a free hand and who was also widely respected as a strategist. The Archduke was promoted to General Field Marshal and German Kaiser Wilhelm II also gave him the same rank in his own army as he had nothing but respect for the grand, old Archduke. This was important as, when German commander General Erich von Falkenhayn clashed with Conrad von Hoetzendorf over strategy on the eastern front, Archduke Friedrich was able to intervene with the German Kaiser to obtain support for the Austrian position. This was all the more important to the war effort since Emperor Francis Joseph could not have done so himself, monarch to monarch, as he was not terribly fond of his German counterpart, viewing him (like his late nephew) as too given to change. It is no exaggeration to say that, on at least one occasion, it was Archduke Friedrich who prevent Conrad von Hoetzendorf from losing his job.
Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen died in Hungary on December 30, 1936 at eighty-years old. His funeral was a grand affair, attended by His Catholic Majesty King Alfonso XIII of Spain (then in exile of course), a small army of Austrian archdukes, all of the field marshals of the Austro-Hungarian army, representatives of the King of Italy, the exiled German Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Hungarian regent, the Austrian government and of Adolf Hitler. Whole battalions of the Hungarian army showed up to pay their respects to their former wartime commander, a tribute not only to the respect his soldiers had for Archduke Friedrich but also of the extent of royalist sentiment in the Hungarian military even decades after the monarchy had effectively ended. He was a good man and a good general, he fulfilled the requirements of his position very well and could probably have done quite a competent job even if had exercised command himself.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Philip IV was born on April 8, 1605 in Valladolid to King Philip III and Margaret of Austria. When he was only ten years old he married Isabella of France in 1615. The couple had seven children, 6 girls and 1 boy who sadly died in 1646 when he was only 16-years-old. Despite being pushed toward temptation in many ways, King Philip IV corresponded with Venerable Mary of Agreda; a Spanish mystic who advised him on how to be good Catholic monarch. Yet, he was not always a hard enough man to bear the burdens of his office and found diversion in riding, hunting, the theatre and being a great patron of the arts. He also, like his father, placed a great deal of power in the hands of his chief minister the Duke of Olivares. Thankfully, however, Olivares was a more noble man than Lerma had been. However, Queen Isabella and a clique of powerful nobles managed to have Olivares removed in 1643 and she became a much more dominant figure until her own death the following year.
Still wishing to maintain the Austrian alliance, in 1646 King Philip IV married Maria Anna of Austria, his niece and the daughter of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. Yet, Philip still had trouble producing an heir with his only surviving son of six pregnancies, Prince Carlos Jose, being often in poor health. As monarch his government was plagued by the financial problems he inherited from the Lerma regime which left Spain strapped for cash and heavily dependent on gold and silver imports from Latin America to fund continental obligations. These Spain certainly had for, while Philip IV could often be an absent monarch like his father, he also tried to carry on a foreign policy more like Philip II, fighting for the restoration of Catholic Christendom in the Thirty Years War alongside Emperor Ferdinand II. The Spanish contribution largely consisted in renewing the war against the Dutch republic which had previously broken away from the Spanish empire.
Spain won a number of victories over the Dutch and even marched into Germany to support the Emperor against the intervention of the Swedes on the Protestant side. However, this ultimately led to war with King Louis XIII of France and Spanish troops and finances were stretched to the limit and uprisings broke out in areas already conquered and even in Spain itself. Peace was finally agreed to with the Dutch and a renewed effort was made against France but no decisive victory was forthcoming. Philip IV was finally forced to make peace, sealed by a marriage between his daughter and King Louis XIV of France. Spain itself and the war effort suffered greatly from financial problems, particularly as English and Dutch warships raided the Spanish treasure fleets Philip IV heavily depended on.
Despite a very eventful reign, what Philip IV will probably be most remembered for is his great love of art. He was patron to a number of artists, loved artwork and the theatre and during his life amassed an extensive and very impressive art collection of his own. He gained renown across Europe and the world for the majestic grandeur of his court, an image which he owed to a large extent to his many large and magnificent paintings. Unfortunately, these were expenses he could not afford and despite the success of his early years Spain was going into visible decline by the time of his death on September 17, 1665 at the age of 60 in Madrid. He was buried in El Escorial and succeeded by his son King Carlos II, the last Spanish Hapsburg.