Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary

(1830-1916)

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The eldest son of Archduke Charles and Sophia, Franz Joseph was educated as the heir-presumptive of his uncle, Emperor Ferdinand I. After seeing in the Austrian army, he was crowned in 1848. During his initial rule in neo-absolutism, Franz Joseph set out to put his empire in order. Domestically, it was efficient, but it began to be affected by a string of unfortunate outcomes in a number of wars, such as the Crimean War. After several decades of tensions with Prussia and unsatisfactory solutions to quell nationalist tensions, Franz Joseph declared a dual monarchy, which satisfied Hungarians but did nothing for the Slavs. He continued to conduct a peace policy among other countries; however, it was he who issued the ultimatum to Serbia, leading to World War I.

Personal Commentary

Franz Joseph was able to maintain a slowly and inevitably imploding empire and keep it together, which is no small feat. Though his military ventures could have been more successful, his policies and and character made him a well-respected person in and out of his country.