Tuesday, November 29, 2005

EMPEROR KARL I 1887-1922

Karl succeeded to the thrones of the Austro-Hungarian 'dual monarchy' following the death in November 1916. A relatively liberal figure, he believed that continuing the war would lead to the destruction of Austria-Hungary, and he made several attempts to negotiate a separate peace with the Allies.

When news of this was made public, it placed a great strain on Austria-Hungary's relationship with Germany. Karl's French wife Zita disliked Germany and this, in part, may have influenced his political decisions.A reformer, Karl banned flogging in his armies, prohibited duels and limited the use of poison gas. He replaced the long-standing chief of staff Conrad von Hötzendorff with his own nominee Arz von Straussenberg to gain more control over military policy.

However, this only succeeded in alienating his military élite. As the Austro-Hungarian empire began to crumble, he began to allow his soldiers to join their national armies, a development that accelerated the empire's disintegration.
Karl renounced his constitutional powers on 11 November 1918, and went into exile in Switzerland in spring 1919. Following two unsuccessful attempts to regain the crown, the successor regime in Hungary prohibited his return, and he died in relative poverty in Madeira in 1922.


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