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The Last Emperor – Episode I

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Editor’s note: The eminent American humorist Mark Twain wrote, “History doesn’t repeat itself; it rhymes”. Our series of posts entitled “The Last Emporer” is intended to, and will, show how the fate that befell Charles I, Emporer of the Autro-Hungarian Empire, and that of America are not weak but perfect in nearly all instances.

Image of Grand Duke Charles of Austria, the later Emperor Charles I of Austria

The last Emperor of Austria was Charles I (also known as Karl I). He was the last monarch belonging to the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine to rule over Austria-Hungary. He reigned from 21 November 1916 to 11 November 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after its defeat in World War I.

Charles I was born in 1887 and was the grand-nephew of Franz Joseph I, who was the Emperor of Austria from 1848 to 1916. Charles became heir presumptive to the Hapsburg throne upon the assassination of his uncle Franz Ferdinand in 1914. He ascended to the throne in 1916 after the death of Franz Joseph.

Charles I was a relatively liberal ruler, and he attempted to reform the Austro-Hungarian Empire in order to make it more democratic and less centralized. However, his reforms were met with opposition from both the conservative elements of the empire and from the nationalist movements that were emerging in the different parts of the empire.

In 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after its defeat in World War I. Charles I abdicated the throne on 11 November 1918, and he died in exile in 1922.

The Empire

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a multinational empire in Central Europe that existed from 1867 to 1918. It was the third largest empire in the world at its peak, after the British Empire and the Russian Empire. The empire comprised many different ethnic groups, including Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Croatians, Serbs, Romanians, Ukrainians, and Poles.

Image of Austro-Hungarian Empire in 2017.

The map shows the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1917. The empire was divided into two main parts: Cisleithania and Transleithania. Cisleithania was the Austrian part of the empire, including the provinces of Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Galicia, Bukovina, and Dalmatia. Transleithania was the Hungarian part of the empire, and it included the provinces of Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia-Slavonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Traditional historians repeat the falsehood that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved after its defeat in World War I and that the empire’s territory was divided into several new countries, including Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania by mere force of history.

Such was not the case! In subsequent Episodes, we will delve into the actual reasons and what those reasons may teach us a little over 100 years later.

Research assisted by Bard.

Published in Charles Benninghoff History Charles Benninghoff Political Opinion


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