Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg bigraphy, stories - Austrian prince

Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg : biography

2 October 1800 - 5 April 1852
Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg


Felix was born at Böhmisch Krumau Castle () in Bohemia, the second son of Prince Joseph of Schwarzenberg (1769–1833) and his wife Pauline of Arenberg. The House of Schwarzenberg was one of the most influential Bohemian noble families; his elder brother Prince Johann Adolf II of Schwarzenberg later initiated the building of the Emperor Franz Joseph Railway line from Vienna to Plzeň (Pilsen), while Felix' younger brother Frederick became Archbishop of Salzburg in 1835 and Archbishop of Prague in 1849.

The nephew of Prince Karl Philipp of Schwarzenberg (1771–1820), commander of the Austrian armies in the last phases of the Napoleonic wars, Schwarzenberg after a short military interlude entered the diplomatic service, where he became a protégé of State Chancellor Prince Klemens von Metternich and served in several Austrian embassies at Saint Petersburg, London, Paris, Turin, and Naples. During his time as a London attaché in 1828 he had an affair with Jane Digby, whom he deserted after causing her husband to divorce her, and making her pregnant. This episode led to the nickname of "Prince of Cadland" being applied to him in London.

Schwarzenberg formed a new government with conservative politicians like Interior Minister Count Franz von Stadion but also liberal allies like Baron Alexander von Bach, Karl Ludwig von Bruck and Anton von Schmerling as well as the Bohemian federalist Education Minister Count Leopold von Thun und Hohenstein. Learning from Metternich's fate, Schwarzenberg was determined not only to fight, but overcome revolution. Against the perceptions in the Frankfurt Parliament concerning the German question, he advocated the idea of an Austrian-German federation, including all Austrian crown lands in and outside the German Confederation. He delegetimized the Frankfurt assembly by recalling the Austrian delegates and preempted the federalist ideas of the Austrian Kremsier Parliament with the promulgation of the March Constitution in 1849.

Together with the new Emperor, Schwarzenberg called in the Imperial Russian Army to help suppress the Hungarian revolt, and thus give Austria free rein to attempt to thwart Prussia's drive to dominate Germany. He undid democratic reforms and re-established monarchist control in Austria, with the 1849 March Constitution that transformed the Habsburg Empire into a unitary, centralized state. In matters of German dualism, he was able to impose the Punctation of Olmütz on Prussia, forcing it to abandon, for the moment, its plan of unifying Germany under its own auspices, and to acquiesce in the reformation of the old German Confederation. At the same time his government initiated substantial administrative, juridicial and educational reforms.

Schwarzenberg died in office at Vienna, suffering a stroke in the early evening of 5 April 1852.


Schwarzenberg was widely respected in Europe as an able statesman, although not much trusted, even by his emperor. His own statement following the Russian intervention in Hungary that Austria would "shock the world by the depth of its ingratitude" later realised in the Crimean War, which may have played a part in this. Varying between the ideas of constitutionalism and the revival of an absolute monarchy, he neither gained the support of liberal nor of conservative circles. However, the early death of the "Austrian Bismarck" has generally been seen by historians as a grave setback to Austria, as none of his successors possessed his stature or skill.

The honorary citizenship of Budapest bestowed on Schwarzenberg during his lifetime was officially revoked in 2011 by the local government under Mayor István Tarlós.

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