The Catholic Southern Front

May 9, 2015

Austrio-Hungarian Emperor Karl von Habsburg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Conservative @ 3:18 pm


At present in my possession I have a book written by Dennis Mifsud titled ‘ Thy Will be done’. It deals with the life of Karl von Hapsburg, the last Austrio-Hungarian Emperor.  Since Roman days the world had seen many Emperors however few were truly worthy. If this topic is deemed interesting definitely one should study their lives, though the differences between one and the other are obvious and very contrasting. Some were conquerors, others are remembered for their great persecutions, being fierce and cruel just like the devil. Others still loved and basked in power and snatched the title for themselves, such as Napoleon,  and others there were holy (or semi-holy) and victorious in war such as Constantine and Blessed Charles the Great. In this case Karl von Hapsburg who was similarly holy and a peacemaker, probably just like King St Louis was not very successful at war (a peacemaker) but holy nonetheless. Due to copyright reasons I will not be quoting directly but if you could get a copy of ‘Thy will be done!’ by Dennis Mifsud 2010 it is a very good read.

On August 17, 1887, Karl of Asburg was born in Persenbeug in lower Austria, the son of Franz Josef of Hapsburg, brother of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria. Following the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Karl I became heir to the throne of the Hapsburg Empire. In 1916, Emperor Franz Josef died during the First World War and Karl ascended the throne as Karl I, or Charles I, of Austria and Károly IV of Hungary. Karl I assiduously attempted to halt the escalation of the First World War, he commanded the XX corps at Verdun and Somme and although victorious was nauseated by the slaughter. From that point onwards he attempted all in his power to stop the War by diplomatic ways. During the war years Karl I was said of having worn out the gold Holy Rosary beads his wife had given him by his frequent recitation, so much so that his wife had given him another one. He was successful at preventing the German Kaiser from using poison gas on the enemy and halted the destruction of Venice by a submarine attack. Following the end of WWI the secret brotherhoods in his Kingdom were successful at ousting their King from power, a Christian Monarch was deemed as a public enemy. Karl of Asburg died exiled on the Island of Madeira, he was ostracized and abandoned by his allies who refused to help the last potential Christian Emperor. His funeral was held at Nossa Senhora do Monte, 30,000 people attended the funeral of the 34-year-old Emperor.

Therefore, Karl von Hapsburg was in truth a successor of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who together with his wife Sophie, was murdered in Sarajevo in June 28, 1914 (by the revolutionary messenger of the black hand, Princep – who was by the way no prince but a cold blooded assassin) and which had precipitated the world into World War One 1914 – 1918.

Dennis Mifsud’s book speaks and deals with the many cases of holiness Karl von Hapsburg displayed in his life, especially on the battlefield. Although great wars of conquest did not occur in his case, (similarly to St Louis of France), he saved the lives of soldiers and is accredited for having saved the Italian city of Venice from the Kaiser’s U-Boat attacks, he also comforted many people.

Most strikingly for me as a Maltese, this personality who died at the tender age of 34 exiled on the Island of Madeira had to be exiled in Malta by the British powers of the time. He was King of Hungary, Emperor of Austria and when he received the crown he had taken an oath to defend St Stephen’s crown and accepted his fate of exile.

He had not abdicated! His was a forced dethronement!

In 1921 from the Abbey of Tihany the couple was told that they were to be transported by the said British powers from Austria to Malta. They received an Apostolic Blessing by the Papal Nuncio The British commander had kind words for him, “He proved to be a devout Catholic, and gave the most sublime example of courage and dignity in the face of adversity that I have seen.” Relatio et vota Consultori storici, p. 46.

His wife explains further, “…after we had changed ships several times, after we had passed Constantinople, the Dardanelles, and the islands of Greece, and after we began heading towards the coast of Africa – supposedly to Malta – we continued towards Gibraltar where we finally learned the destination of our voyage. While the officers on duty tried their best to make our stay more bearable… The servant of God was distressed not to be able to participate in Holy Mass and to receive Holy Communion. He asked for it repeatedly before we reached Gibraltar, but in vain… While at Gibraltar, a priest was given permission to celebrate Holy Mass onboard the ship. The servant of God served at the altar and we both received Holy Communion. On this occasion we also made confession and asked for holy water. After a short stay we continued the journey to Madeira, where we landed on November 19, 1921… even before his fatal illness – and death which took place a few months later – he understood that God wanted from him the sacrifice of his life…” Summ. Test., pp. 552-554 733, Empress Zita. 107 Summ. Test., pp. 106-107, ad 35, Alfred Keisewetter.

Just for historical purposes it would be interesting to know how come this historical figure was taken to Madeira rather than Malta. The following is Wiki’s explanation, “Charles I, the last Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, went into exile in Madeira, after his second unsuccessful coup d’état in Hungary. He died there on 1 April 1922 and is buried in Monte. Charles had tried in 1917 to secretly enter into peace negotiations with France. Although his foreign minister, Ottokar Czernin, was interested only in negotiating a general peace to include Germany, Charles independently pursued a separate peace. He negotiated with the French using his brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, an officer in the Belgian Army, as intermediary. When news of the overture leaked in April 1918, Charles denied involvement until the French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau published letters signed by him. Czernin resigned and Austria-Hungary became more dependent in relation to its seemingly wronged German ally. Determined to prevent an attempt to restore Charles to the throne, the Council of Allied Powers agreed he could go into exile on Madeira because it was isolated in the Atlantic and easily guarded.[26]  The New York Times, 6 November 1921 (accessed 4 May 2009)


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