Charles I of Austria : biography
Attempts to reclaim throne of Hungary
Encouraged by Hungarian royalists ("legitimists"), Charles sought twice in 1921 to reclaim the throne of Hungary, but failed largely because Hungary’s regent, Miklós Horthy (the last admiral of the Austro-Hungarian Navy), refused to support him. Horthy’s failure to support Charles’ restoration attempts is often described as "treasonous" by royalists. Critics suggest that Horthy’s actions were more firmly grounded in political reality than those of Charles and his supporters. Indeed, the neighbouring countries had threatened to invade Hungary if Charles tried to regain the throne. Later in 1921, the Hungarian parliament formally nullified the Pragmatic Sanction—an act that effectively dethroned the Habsburgs.
- "Now, we must help each other to get to Heaven."James and Joanna Bogle, "A Heart for Europe," page 35. Addressing Empress Zita on 22 October 1911, the day after their wedding.
- "I am an officer with all my body and soul, but I do not see how anyone who sees his dearest relations leaving for the front can love war."Bogle, "A Heart for Europe," page 54. Addressing Empress Zita after the outbreak of World War I.
- "I have done my duty, as I came here to do. As crowned King, I not only have a right, I also have a duty. I must uphold the right, the dignity and honor of the Crown…. For me, this is not something light. With the last breath of my life I must take the path of duty. Whatever I regret, Our Lord and Savior has led me."Bogle, "A Heart for Europe," page 137. Addressing Cardinal János Csernoch after the defeat of his attempt to regain the Hungarian throne in 1921. The British Government had vainly hoped that the Cardinal would be able to persuade him to renounce his title as King of Hungary.
- "I must suffer like this so my people will come together again."Bogle, "A Heart for Europe," page 143. Spoken in Madeira, during his last illness.
- "I can’t go on much longer… Thy will be done… Yes… Yes… As you will it… Jesus!"Bogle, "A Heart for Europe," page 144. Reciting his last words while contemplating a crucifix held by Empress Zita.
coronation oath at Holy Trinity Column outside Matthias Church, 30 December 1916]] Queen Zita with their son Otto]] Charles succeeded to the thrones in November 1916, after the death of Emperor Franz Joseph.
On 2 December 1916, he took over the title of Supreme Commander of the whole army from Archduke Frederick. His coronation occurred on 30 December. In 1917, Charles secretly entered into peace negotiations with France. He employed his brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, an officer in the Belgian Army, as intermediary.
Although his foreign minister, Ottokar Czernin, was only interested in negotiating a general peace which would include Germany, Charles himself went much further in suggesting his willingness to make a separate peace. When news of the overture leaked in April 1918, Charles denied involvement until French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau published letters signed by him. This led to Czernin’s resignation, forcing Austria-Hungary into an even more dependent position with respect to its seemingly wronged German ally.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was wracked by inner turmoil in the final years of the war, with much tension between ethnic groups. As part of his Fourteen Points, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson demanded that the Empire allow for autonomy and self-determination of its peoples. In response, Charles agreed to reconvene the Imperial Parliament and allow for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. However, the ethnic groups fought for full autonomy as separate nations, as they were now determined to become independent from Vienna at the earliest possible moment.