Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
The 20th century was not kind to kings and queens, with half the world's monarchies swept away in a massive tide of social change. The century was particularly cruel to Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary, who sat on Europe's oldest throne for nearly seven tragedy-filled decades only to see his heir, Francis Ferdinand, assassinated and his empire crumble away during the world war that resulted. The Hapsburg monarchy was abolished in 1918. An excerpt from The Post of Nov. 22, 1916:
Vienna, Nov. 22 (Wednesday)
Emperor Francis Joseph is dead.Early this morning the aged emperor's physicians, who throughout yesterday had issued bulletins, made the announcement that the monarch had at last succumbed. Outside the palace a huge throng stood anxiously waiting since early in the afternoon, when the emperor's condition had been officially declared to be "worse."
Like wildfire the news spread, and the tolls of all the city churches, joining in a solemn chorus awakened Vienna's people to the fact that the long-expected end had at last come. The emperor was 86 years old.
The emperor's death comes within a few short weeks before the date -- early next month -- on which he had decided to confer upon Archduke Charles Francis Joseph, the Austro-Hungarian throne heir, the rights of co-regent.
Charles Francis Joseph, a grandnephew of the dead emperor, now succeeds to the throne. He is 29 years old and has been commanding the Austrian troops on the Transylvanian front. He is a nephew of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, who, with his wife, was slain at Sarajevo, June 28, 1914, by a 19-year-old Serbian. This double murder led to the war now raging. ...
Francis Joseph has been called the "Emperor of Sorrow" of Austria because of the long record of tragedies that attended his reign. "The curse of the Hapsburgs" haunted him in his declining years. Of all the figures in contemporary history, his was at once one of the most magnificent and the most pathetic. With a long and eventful life behind him -- a life overcast by disasters that would have unseated a feebler ruler and saddened by sorrows that would have wrecked a weaker man -- in the evening of his days he bore the burden of the dual crown unbowed. ...
There were many who said that the unprecedented list of family disasters that attended his life was due to a curse that hung over the house of Hapsburg, uttered by the aged Countess Carolyn Korolyi, whose son was put to death for participating in the Hungarian uprising of 1848. She called on "heaven and hell to blast the happiness of the emperor, to exterminate his family, to strike him through those that he loved, to wreck his life and ruin his children."
DEATHS THAT SADDENED FRANCIS JOSEPH'S LIFE
His wife, "the good Elizabeth," was stabbed in Switzerland by an anarchist.
His brother Maximilian was executed in Mexico.
His only son, Rudolph, was found dead in a cottage with the Baroness Vetera.