Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor

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Biography

Early years

Archduke Charles (baptized Carolus Franciscus Josephus Wenceslaus Balthasar Johannes Antonius Ignatius), the second son of the Emperor Leopold I and of his third wife, Princess Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg, was born on 1 October 1685. His tutor was Anton Florian, Prince of Liechtenstein.

The future Emperor Charles VI Future Emperor Charles VI, Austrian School, late 17th Century.jpg
The future Emperor Charles VI

Following the death of Charles II of Spain, in 1700, without any direct heir, Charles declared himself King of Spain—both were members of the House of Habsburg. [5] The ensuing War of the Spanish Succession, which pitted France's candidate, Philip, Duke of Anjou, Louis XIV of France's grandson, against Austria's Charles, lasted for almost 14 years. The Kingdom of Portugal, Kingdom of England, Scotland, Ireland and the majority of the Holy Roman Empire endorsed Charles's candidature. [6] Charles III, as he was known, disembarked in his kingdom in 1705, and stayed there for six years, only being able to exercise his rule in Catalonia, until the death of his brother, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor; he returned to Vienna to assume the imperial crown. [7] Not wanting to see Austria and Spain in personal union again, the new Kingdom of Great Britain withdrew its support from the Austrian coalition, and the war culminated with the Treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt three years later. The former, ratified in 1713, recognised Philip as King of Spain; however, the Kingdom of Naples, the Duchy of Milan, the Austrian Netherlands and the Kingdom of Sardinia – all previously possessions of the Spanish—were ceded to Austria. [8] To prevent a union of Spain and France, Philip was forced to renounce his right to succeed his grandfather's throne. Charles was extremely discontented at the loss of Spain, and as a result, he mimicked the staid Spanish Habsburg court ceremonial, adopting the dress of a Spanish monarch, which, according to British historian Edward Crankshaw, consisted of "a black doublet and hose, black shoes and scarlet stockings". [8]

Charles's father and his advisors went about arranging a marriage for him. Their eyes fell upon Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, the eldest child of Louis Rudolph, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. She was held to be strikingly beautiful by her contemporaries. [9] On 1 August 1708, in Barcelona, Charles married her by proxy. She gave him two daughters that survived to adulthood, Maria Theresa and Maria Anna.

Succession to the Habsburg dominions

When Charles succeeded his brother in 1711, he was the last male Habsburg heir in the direct line. Since Habsburg possessions were subject to Salic law, barring women from inheriting in their own right, his own lack of a male heir meant they would be divided on his death. The Pragmatic Sanction of 19 April 1713 abolished male-only succession in all Habsburg realms and declared their lands indivisible, although Hungary only approved it in 1723. [10]

Charles VI on a silver Thaler, 1721 Thaler a l'effigie de Charles VI, 1721.jpg
Charles VI on a silver Thaler, 1721

Charles had three daughters, Maria Theresa (1717-1780), Maria Anna (1718-1744) and Maria Amalia (1724-1730) but no surviving sons. When Maria Theresa was born, he disinherited his nieces and the daughters of his elder brother Joseph, Maria Josepha and Maria Amalia. It was this act that undermined the chances of a smooth succession and obliged Charles to spend the rest of his reign seeking to ensure enforcement of the Sanction from other European powers. [11]

Charles agreed to a demand from Britain that he close a trading company, (the Ostend Company), which was based in the Austrian Netherlands and that he himself founded in 1722. [12] However, by 1735 he had secured approvals from key states, most importantly the Imperial Diet, which in theory bound all its members including Prussia and Bavaria.

Charles VI with his wife Empress Elisabeth Christine and their daughters in 1730 Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI with his wife Empress Elisabeth Christine and their three daughters, Archduchesses (L-R) Maria Amalia, Maria Theresia and Maria Anna by Martin van Meytens.jpg
Charles VI with his wife Empress Elisabeth Christine and their daughters in 1730

Other signatories included Britain, France, the Dutch Republic, Spain, Russia, Denmark and Savoy-Sardinia but subsequent events underlined Eugene of Savoy's comment that the best guarantee was a powerful army and full Treasury. His nieces were married to the rulers of Saxony and Bavaria, both of whom ultimately refused to be bound by the decision of the Imperial Diet and despite publicly agreeing to the Pragmatic Sanction in 1735, France signed a secret treaty with Bavaria in 1738 promising to back the 'just claims' of Charles Albert of Bavaria. [13]

In the first part of his reign, the empire continued to expand; success in the Austro-Turkish War (1716–1718), adding Banat to Hungary, and establishing direct Austrian rule over Serbia and Oltenia (Lesser Wallachia). This extended Austrian rule to the lower Danube. [6]

Charles III in front of the port of Barcelona by Frans van Stampart Retrat de Carles III davant el port de Barcelona, Frans van Stampart.jpg
Charles III in front of the port of Barcelona by Frans van Stampart

The War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-1720) followed. It too ended in an Austrian victory; by the Treaty of The Hague (1720), Charles swapped Sardinia, which went to the Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus, for Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, which was harder to defend than Sardinia. [14] The treaty also recognised Philip V of Spain's younger son, Don Carlos (the future Charles III of Spain), as heir to the Duchy of Parma and Grand Duchy of Tuscany; Charles had previously endorsed the succession of the incumbent Grand Duke's daughter, Anna Maria Luisa, Electress Palatine. [15]

Peace in Europe was shattered by the War of the Polish Succession (1733–1738), a dispute over the throne of Poland between Augustus of Saxony, the previous King's elder son, and Stanisław Leszczyński. Austria supported the former, France the latter; thus, a war broke out. By the Treaty of Vienna (1738), Augustus ascended the throne, but Charles had to give the Kingdom of Naples to Don Carlos, in exchange for the much smaller Duchy of Parma. [16]

The issue of Charles' elder daughter's marriage was raised early in her childhood. She was first betrothed to Léopold Clément of Lorraine, who was supposed to come to Vienna and meet Maria Theresa. Instead, he died of smallpox in 1723, which upset Maria Theresa. Léopold Clément's younger brother, Francis Stephen, then came to Vienna to replace him. Charles considered other possibilities (such as Don Carlos) before announcing the engagement to Francis. [17] At the end of the War of the Polish Succession, France demanded that Francis surrender the Duchy of Lorraine (his hereditary domain), to Stanisław Leszczyński, the deposed King of Poland, who would bequeath it to France at his death. Charles compelled Francis to renounce his rights to Lorraine and told him: "No renunciation, no archduchess." [18] Francis complied; he was married to Maria Theresa in February 1736, and Lorraine devolved to Stanisław in July 1737.

In 1737, the Emperor embarked on another Turkish War in alliance with Russia. Unlike the previous Austro-Turkish War, it ended in a decisive Austrian defeat. Much of the territory gained in 1718 (Except for the Banat) was lost. Popular discontent at the costly war reigned in Vienna; Francis of Lorraine, Maria Theresa's husband, was dubbed a French spy by the Viennese. [19] The war not only revealed the sorry state of the Austrian army, but also the weakness of the imperial state itself, which did not have the financial strength to sustain a long war without the subsidies of its allies.

Death and legacy

Tomb of the emperor in the Imperial Crypt, Vienna Kapuzinergruft Wien2.JPG
Tomb of the emperor in the Imperial Crypt, Vienna

At the time of Charles' death, the Habsburg lands were saturated in debt; the exchequer contained a mere 100,000 florins; and desertion was rife in Austria's sporadic army, spread across the Empire in small, ineffective barracks. [20] Contemporaries expected that Austria-Hungary would wrench itself from the Habsburg yoke upon his death. [20]

Despite the predicaments faced by Charles, the territorial extent of his Habsburg lands was at its greatest since the days of his cognatic ancestor Emperor Charles V, reaching the Southern Mediterranean and including the Duchy of Milan.

The Emperor, after a hunting trip across the Hungarian border in "a typical day in the wettest and coldest October in memory", [21] fell seriously ill at the Favorita Palace, Vienna, and he died on 20 October 1740 in the Hofburg. [22] In his Memoirs Voltaire [23] wrote that Charles' death was caused by consuming a meal of death cap mushrooms. [24] Charles' life opus, the Pragmatic Sanction, was ultimately in vain. Maria Theresa was forced to resort to arms to defend her inheritance from the coalition of Prussia, Bavaria, France, Spain, Saxony and Poland—all party to the sanction—who assaulted the Austrian frontier weeks after her father's death. During the ensuing War of the Austrian Succession, Maria Theresa saved her crown and most of her territory but lost the mineral-rich Duchy of Silesia to Prussia and the Duchy of Parma to Spain. [25]

Emperor Charles VI has been the main motif of many collectors' coins and medals. One of the most recent samples is high value collectors' coin the Austrian Göttweig Abbey commemorative coin, minted on 11 October 2006. His portrait can be seen in the foreground of the reverse of the coin. [26]

Children

NamePortraitLifespanNotes
Leopold Johann13 April 1716 –
4 November 1716
Archduke of Austria, died aged seven months. [27]
Maria Theresa Andreas Moeller - Erzherzogin Maria Theresia - Kunsthistorisches Museum.jpg 13 May 1717 –
29 November 1780
Archduchess of Austria and heiress of the Habsburg dynasty, married Francis III Stephen, Duke of Lorraine (later Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor) and had issue; succeeded by the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.
Maria Anna Andreas Moeller 002.jpg 14 September 1718 –
16 December 1744
Archduchess of Austria, married Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine, with whom she served as Governess of the Austrian Netherlands. Died in childbirth.
Maria Amalia Andreas Moeller 003.jpg 5 April 1724 –
19 April 1730
Archduchess of Austria, died aged six. [27]

Heraldry

Ancestors

Notes

  1. Crankshaw, Edward, Maria Theresa, 1969, Longman publishers, Great Britain (pre-dates ISBN), 24.
  2. Jones, Colin: "The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon", University of Columbia Press, Great Britain, 2002, ISBN   0-231-12882-7, 89.
  3. 1 2 3 Crankshaw, 37.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Pragmatic Sanction of Emperor Charles VI, Encyclopædia Britannica, retrieved 15 October 2009.
  5. Fraser, 312.
  6. 1 2 Encyclopædia Britannica. "Charles VI (Holy Roman emperor)". britannica.com. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  7. Fraser, Antonia: Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of The Sun King, Orion books, London, 2006, ISBN   978-0-7538-2293-7, 331.
  8. 1 2 Crankshaw, 9.
  9. Crankshaw, 10–11.
  10. Crankshaw, 12.
  11. Holborn, Hajo: A History of Modern Germany: 1648–1840 Princeton University Press 1982 ISBN   0-691-00796-9, 108.
  12. Encyclopædia Britannica. "Ostend Company". britannica.com. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  13. Black, James (1999). From Louis XIV to Napoleon: The Fate of a Great Power. Routledge. p. 82. ISBN   185728934X.
  14. Kahn, Robert A.: A History of the Habsburg Empire, 1526–1918, University of California Press, California, 1992, ISBN   978-0-520-04206-3, 91.
  15. Acton, Harold: The Last Medici, Macmillan, London, 1980, ISBN   0-333-29315-0, p. 256.
  16. Encyclopædia Britannica. "War of the Polish Succession (European history)". britannica.com. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  17. Mahan, 26.
  18. Fraser, Antonia: Maria Antoinette: the Journey, Orion books, London, 2002, ISBN   978-0-7538-1305-8, p. 7
  19. Crankshaw, 26.
  20. 1 2 Crankshaw, 33.
  21. Edward Crankshaw: Maria Theresa, A&C Black, 2011. And also: «[...] after a day of hunting, the emperor fell ill with a cold and fever. Upon his return to his hunting lodge, Charles requested his cook to prepare him his favorite dish of mushrooms. Soon after eating them, he fell violently ill. His physicians bled him but to no avail» (Julia P. Gelardi: In Triumph's Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory, Macmillan, 2009).
  22. In the first days of October 1740, in a cold day of pouring rain Emperor Charles VI, «in spite of the warnings of his physicians» (Eliakim Littell, Robert S. Littell: Littell's Living Age, Volume 183, T.H. Carter & Company, 1889, pg. 69), went to hunting ducks on the shores of Lake Neusiedl, close to the Hungarian border and he had come back chilled and soaked through to his little country palace at La Favorita; on his return, though he was feverish and suffering from colic, the Emperor persisted in eating one of his favourite dishes, a Catalan mushroom stew («a large dish of fried mushrooms» for the Littell brothers), prepared by his cook. He spent the night between 10 and 11 October vomiting. The following morning he was gravely ill, brought down by a high fever. Carried slowly to Vienna in a padded carriage, he died in the Hofburg nine days after.
  23. «Charles the Sixth died, in the month of October 1740, of an indigestion, occasioned by eating champignons, which brought on an apoplexy, and this plate of champignons changed the destiny of Europe» (Voltaire: Memoirs of the Life of Voltaire, 1784; pp. 48–49).
  24. Wasson RG. (1972). The death of Claudius, or mushrooms for murderers. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University23(3):101–128.
  25. Browning, Reed: The War of the Austrian Succession, Palgrave Macmillan, 1995, ISBN   0-312-12561-5, 362.
  26. "Nonnberg Abbey coin". Austrian Mint. Archived from the original on 24 September 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  27. 1 2 Crawley, Charles (16 November 2017). "AUSTRIA". Medieval Lands (3rd ed.). Retrieved 17 April 2018 via Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.
  28. 1 2 Eder, Karl (1961), "Ferdinand II.", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 5, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 83–85; (full text online)
  29. 1 2 Eder, Karl (1961), "Ferdinand III.", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 5, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 85–86; (full text online)
  30. 1 2 3 4 Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 100.
  31. 1 2 Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Maria Anna von Bayern"  . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 23 via Wikisource.
  32. 1 2 Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Philipp III."  . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 120 via Wikisource.
  33. 1 2 Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Maria Anna von Spanien"  . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 23 via Wikisource.
  34. 1 2 Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Margaretha (Königin von Spanien)"  . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 13 via Wikisource.
  35. 1 2 Breitenbach, Josef (1898), "Wolfgang Wilhelm", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 44, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 87–116
  36. 1 2 Fuchs, Peter (2001), "Philipp Wilhelm", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 20, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, p. 384; (full text online)
  37. 1 2 Wolf, Joseph Heinrich (1844). Das Haus Wittelsbach. Bayern's Geschichte (in German). p. 281.
  38. 1 2 Becker, Wilhelm Martin (1964), "Georg II.", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 6, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, p. 217; (full text online)
  39. 1 2 Louda, Jirí; MacLagan, Michael (1999). Lines of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe (2nd ed.). London: Little, Brown and Company. table 84.
  40. 1 2 Flathe, Heinrich Theodor (1881), "Johann Georg I. (Kurfürst von Sachsen)", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 14, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 376–381

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References

Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
Born: 1 October 1685 Died: 20 October 1740
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Joseph I
Duke of Teschen
1711–1722
Succeeded by
Leopold
Holy Roman Emperor
King in Germany

1711–1740
Succeeded by
Charles VII
King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia;
Archduke of Austria

1711–1740
Succeeded by
Maria Theresa
Preceded by
Charles III of Spain
Duke of Parma and Piacenza
1735–1740
Preceded by
Maximilian II Emanuel
Duke of Luxembourg
Count of Namur

1714–1740
Preceded by
Philip V of Spain
Duke of Brabant, Limburg,
Lothier, and Milan;
Count of Flanders and Hainaut

1714–1740
King of Sardinia
1714–1720
Succeeded by
Victor Amadeus
King of Naples
1714–1735
Succeeded by
Charles III of Spain
Preceded by
Victor Amadeus
King of Sicily
1720–1734