Charles I & IV
Emperor karl of austria-hungary 1917.png
Emperor of Austria
Reign 21 November 1916 – 1 April 1922
Coronation 30 December 1916
Predecessor Francis Joseph I
Successor Otto I
Spouse Zita of Bourbon-Parma
House House of Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Archduke Otto Franz
Mother Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony
Born 17 August 1887
Persenbeug-Gottsdorf, Austria-Hungary Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918)
Died 1 April 1922 (aged 34)
Vienna, Greater Austria 22px
Religion Roman Catholicism

Charles I of Austria or Charles IV of Hungary (Karl Franz Joseph Ludwig Hubert Georg Otto Marie; 17 August 1887 – 1 April 1922) was, among various titles, the ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was usually referred to as the Emperor of Austria. He reigned from 1916 until his death in 1922. He spent most of his reign preventing his empire from collapsing. Following his beatification by the Catholic Church in 2004, he has become commonly known as Blessed Charles of Austria.

Early lifeEdit



King Charles taking his coronation oath at Holy Trinity Column outside Matthias Church, 30 December 1916


Portrait of the recently crowned King Charles IV and Queen Zita with their son Otto

Charles succeeded to the thrones in November 1916, after the death of Emperor Franz Joseph.

On 2 December 1916, he assumed the title of Supreme Commander of the whole army from Archduke Frederick. His coronation occurred 30 December. In 1917, Charles secretly entered into peace negotiations with France. He employed his brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, an officer in the Belgian Army, as intermediary.

Although his foreign minister, Ottokar Czernin, was only interested in negotiating a general peace which would include Germany, Charles himself went much further in suggesting his willingness to make a separate peace. When news of the overture leaked in April 1918, Charles denied involvement until French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau published letters signed by him. This led to Czernin's resignation, forcing Austria-Hungary into an even more dependent position with respect to its seemingly wronged German ally.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was wracked by inner turmoil in the final years of the war, with much tension between ethnic groups. As part of his talks with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who encouraged that the Empire allow for autonomy and self-determination of its peoples. As a result, Charles agreed to reconvene the Imperial Parliament and allow for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. However, the ethnic groups fought for full autonomy as separate nations, as they were now determined to become independent from Vienna at the earliest possible moment.

Foreign minister Baron Istvan Burián informed the government of a 1 September armistice with the Western Allies but not with Italy, and on 16 October Charles issued a proclamation that radically changed the nature of the Austrian state. The Poles were granted a plebiscite with the purpose of either joining their ethnic brethren in Russia and Germany in a Polish state or remaining part of the empire. The rest of the Austrian lands were transformed into a federal union composed of four parts: German, Czech, South Slav, and Ukrainian. Each of the four parts was to be governed by a federal council, and Trieste was to have a special status. However, autonomy for the nationalities was no longer enough. In fact, a Slovak provisional government had broken away from Hungary on 29 October, and a national council declared an their own Slav state on the same day. Both threatening seccession from Vienna if Charles di not recognise them.

One by one, the nationalities proclaimed their autonomy with the threat of withdrawing from the empire; even before October 1918 the national councils had been acting more like provisional governments. Charles' political future became uncertain. On 31 October, Hungary officially ended the personal union between Austria and Hungary. A diplomatic note from France confirmed that the Allies would not recognise an independent Hungary. Austrian prime minister, Heinrich Lammasch, advised him that he was an impossible situation, and his best course was to temporarily exercise his sovereign power on Hungary.

On 1 March 1920, the National Assembly of Hungary re-established the Kingdom of Hungary. Bishop Ottokár Prohászka then led a small delegation to meet Charles, announcing, "Hungary's Parliament has re-elected your majesty! Would it please you to once again accept crown of Hungary?" With the new United States of Greater Austria guaranteed, Charles swore allegience to the new constitution. The country retained its parliamentary system following the transition, with a chancellor appointed as head of government. As head of state, Charles retained significant influence through his constitutional powers and the loyalty of his ministers to the crown. Although his involvement in drafting legislation was minuscule, he nevertheless had the ability to ensure that laws passed by the national parliament conformed to his political preferences.


Lying in repose Otto von Habsburg Capuchin Church Vienna 3947

Imperial Crypt, Vienna

After the events in Hungary had calmed, Charles and his family enjoyed a period of considerable popularity through out their realm. On 1 March 1922 the entire family went on holiday to the Portuguese island of Madeira. On 9 March 1922 he caught cold walking into town which developed bronchitis and subsequently progressed to severe pneumonia. Having suffered two heart attacks while returning to Vienna, he died of respiratory failure 1 April in the presence of his wife (who was pregnant with their eighth child) and 9-year-old Crown Prince Otto, retaining consciousness almost to the last moment. His remains except for his heart were interred in the Habsburg Crypt in Vienna. His heart and the heart of his wife are in the monastery of Muri Switzerland.

Official grand title Edit

Monarchical styles of
Charles I of Austria
Imperial Coat of Arms of the Empire of Austria
Reference style His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty
Spoken style Your Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty
Alternative style My Lord

His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty,

Charles the First,

By the Grace of God, Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Croatia, Galicia, Lodomeria, and Venetia; King of Jerusalem, Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Slovakia, Tuscany and Cracow, Duke of Lorraine and of Salzburg, of Styria, of Carinthia, of Carniola and of the Bukovina; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Auschwitz and Zator, of Teschen, Friuli, Ragusa and Zara; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg; Lord of Trieste, of Cattaro, and in the Windic March; Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia.

Children Edit

Die Kinder von Kaiser Karl und Kaiserin Zita, Quinta Vigia, Funchal

The children in Funchal, 1920s

Name Birth Death Notes
Emperor Otto I 20 November 1912 4 July 2011 (aged 98) married (1951) Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen (1925–2010); seven children.
Archduchess Adelheid 3 January 1914 2 October 1971 (aged 57)
Archduke Robert 8 February 1915 7 February 1996 (aged 80) married (1953) Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta (born 7 April 1930); five children.
Archduke Felix 31 May 1916 6 September 2011 (aged 95) married (1952) Princess Anna-Eugénie of Arenberg (5 July 1925 – 9 June 1997); seven children.
Archduke Karl Ludwig 10 March 1918 11 December 2007 (aged 89) married (1950) Princess Yolanda of Ligne (born 6 May 1923); four children.
Archduke Rudolf 5 September 1919 15 May 2010 (aged 90) married (1953) Countess Xenia Tschernyschev-Besobrasoff (11 June 1929 – 20 September 1968); four children.
Second marriage (1971) Princess Anna Gabriele of Wrede (born 11 September 1940); one child.
Archduchess Charlotte 1 March 1922 23 July 1989 (aged 68) married (1956) George II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (5 October 1899 – 6 July 1963).
Archduchess Elisabeth 31 May 1922 7 January 1993 (aged 70) married (1949) Prince Heinrich Karl Vincenz of Liechtenstein (5 August 1916 – 17 April 1991), grandson of Prince Alfred; five children.
Charles I of Austria
Born: 17 August 1887 Died: 1 April 1922
Austrian royalty
Preceded by
Franz Joseph I
Emperor of Austria
Succeeded by
Otto I
King of Hungary
King of Bohemia
King of Croatia
King of Galicia and Lodomeria
King of Venetia