Charles I, emperor of Austria

Charles I, 1887–1922, last emperor of Austria and, as Charles IV, king of Hungary (1916–18); son of Archduke Otto and grandnephew and successor of Emperor Francis Joseph. He married Zita of Bourbon-Parma. The death (1914) of his uncle, Francis Ferdinand, made Charles heir to the throne. He showed skill as a commander in World War I. After his accession he put out peace feelers. His correspondence with his brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, justified French claims to Alsace-Lorraine. The Allies published (Apr., 1918) the correspondence, thus causing friction between Austria and Germany and diminishing Charles's popularity. Charles vainly tried to save the Austro-Hungarian monarchy by proclaiming (Oct. 16, 1918) an Austrian federative state. Hungary and Czechoslovakia declared their independence, and on Nov. 3, Charles had to consent to unconditional surrender in the armistice concluded with General Armando Diaz. Charles abdicated as emperor of Austria on Nov. 11 and as king of Hungary on Nov. 13; early in 1919 he and his family went into exile in Switzerland. After the triumph of the monarchists in Hungary in 1920, he attempted unsuccessfully to regain the Hungarian throne in Mar., 1921, and again in October, when the regent, Horthy, had him arrested. Charles was exiled to Madeira and there died of pneumonia. His son, Archduke Otto, inherited his claim to the throne. Charles I was beatified in 2004.

See biographies by H. Vivian (1932) and G. Shepherd (1968).

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