Richmond WW1 Diary 21 November 1916

Image of poppy

Death of Franz Josef I

Franz Josef, ruler of Austria-Hungary, had ruled an empire that included Bohemia (modern Czech Republic) Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. His heir was his nephew, Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked the war. By the time of Franz Josef’s death, his great-nephew, Karl, was the next surviving heir.

Franz Josef was 84 when Austria-hungary declared war on Serbia, in retaliation for the death of Franz Ferdinand. The chain of European alliances dragged the world into war. Franz Josef himself, due to his age, had very little to do with the progress of the war.

Although he later tried to regain the throne, Emperor Karl was forced to resign on 11 November 1918, when Austria and Hungary were declared independent republics following a public vote. The people of Europe had grown tired of being dragged into imperial wars at the behest of unelected rulers.

Following the First World War, many monarchies across Europe were abolished. In Russia a revolution which toppled the entire monarchy. The defeated German and Ottoman empires saw the end the reigns of Wilhelm II and Mehmed VI respectively. The monarchs of states within the German Empire, notably Ludwig III of Bavaria, Frederick Augustus III of Saxony and Wilhelm II of Württemberg, soon gave up their thrones.

King Nicholas I of Montenegro lost his throne when the country became a part of Yugoslavia in 1918. And in Greece the pro-German King Constantine (part of a very short-lived dynasty) was forced to abdicate in June 1917.

In July 1917, the British royal family officially changed its name from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor, to distance themselves from Germany and their German origins.


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