Background of Lives and Marriages from Emperor Charlemagne to Kaiser Wilhelm II, plus the build up in Russia and Germany to World War Two

The imperial seat was mostly at Aachen in Germany 794-1327, then Munich 1328-1347, Prague 1355-1437, Vienna 1438-1576, Prague 1576-1611, Vienna 1611 onwards.

Go to Francis II, last official emperor who abdicated in 1806 in the face of Napoleon, and to Queen Victoria and her descendants who have reigned in England from 1837.

Click here for the Fall of Hitler and Mussolini in our last world war, the battle in the Pacific, and the battle of Britain

Click here for the build up to Charlemagne, the nearly total defeat of Spain by the Muslim Moors (founders of Morocco) in north-western Africa in the years 711 - 718.

Charlemagne's grandfather Charles Martel 686-741 also known as Charles the Hammer was famous for defeating their invading army at Tours in France in 732 and halting their expansion into western Europe.

At this time, the Pope in Rome acknowledged a single Roman Empire, under the reign of the Greek Emperor based in Constantinople in the East. In terms of territory, the Lombard dynasty ruled Northern Italy (Lombardy Major) and Southern Italy (Lombardy Minor) leaving just Rome and Ravenna in Central Italy (referred to as Romagna) to be directly ruled by Constantinople. The Lombard kingdom ended in 774 with their defeat by Charlemagne, King of the Franks.

 

Charlemagne 742-814 King of the Franks (East and West) and the Lombards (Italy), Emperor

Charlemagne: Following a breakdown in communication with the eastern church in Constantinople that had culminated with their crowning of a lady emperor (or empress) in 797 AD, Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope on Christmas Day at the close of 800 AD as he knelt in prayer in Saint Peter's Church in Rome. It was said to be to his surprise - and that had he known what was in store, he would not have come. This could well be true, the man was said to have had a deep faith in God, also believing that government should be for the benefit of the governed. This coronation was now seen to be the recommencement of the Holy Roman Empire in the West. When Charlemagne learned about the Archbishop Bede's work on a standard calendar and history timeline over in Northumbria, England, he continued Bede's work by strongly supporting its general usage throughout the empire. And with a mint now firmly established at Dorestad on the Rhine with access to a significant quantity of silver, Charlemagne joined forces with King Offa of Mercia in England to standardise the silver penny (pfennig) at a set weight of just under 1½ grams of silver with 240 pennies making up a pound-weight (i.e. tower pound) containing about 350 grams.

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Louis 778-840 and Charlemagne's only surviving son. King of Aquitaine in France.

Louis the Pious: Crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 816. Crowned his eldest son Lothair in 817 as joint emperor with himself. After Louis's death, the kingdom broke into three realms: East Francia (much of modern day Germany), West Francia (France), and the somewhat ephemeral middle kingdom including the Kingdom of Italy and Rome under Lothair. Various emperors e.g. Charles the Fat followed, having minimal influence over East Francia and West Francia, ending with Berengar I of Italy who was dethroned and murdered by his enemies in 924.

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Now to trace Otto 1, the Saxon king who restored the united Holy Roman Empire in 962, we have Louis's daughter Gisela (born 821), marrying Eberhard I 815-866 Duke of Friuli in north-east Italy
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Their daughter Ingeltrude (born 837), is thought to have married Henry Count of Saxony and Duke of Franconia in northern Bavaria.
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Their daughter Hedwiga married Otto I 851-912 Duke of Saxony
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Henry 876-936 Duke of Saxony and King of East Francia
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Otto I 912-973 Duke of Saxony initially (as Otto II), then King of the Franks and of the Lombards (Italy), and Emperor

Otto 1: Notes compiled from WikiAnswers Rich silver mines were developed in Rammelsberg in Saxony at the time Otto was king, and this provided him with the money he needed to build up his military. Various subject dukes had rebelled against his father Henry, but Otto was now able to defeat them and strengthen himself in the process. These rebellions had included alliances with Louis IV of France, but Louis was now also defeated. In addition, there were rebellions by Hungarian tribes in the East, but these were also defeated. When Adelaide of Italy inherited the throne of that country in 950, she was abducted by Berengar of Ivrea, who took the throne and tried to marry Adelaide to his son. She escaped and requested German aid. In the confusion that followed, Otto invaded Italy in 951, married Adelaide himself and took the throne, assuming the title King of the Lombards. Berengar and his son Adalbert were allowed to remain Italian kings as Otto's vassals, however in 960 Berengar invaded the Papal States and the pope appealed to Otto. Otto marched again against Italy, Berengar's troops deserted him, and Otto this time declared Berengar deposed. Otto now proceeded to Rome, where the pope crowned him Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 962.

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Otto II 955-983 King of the Franks and the Lombards, Emperor
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Otto III 980-1002 King (with his mother a regent), King of Italy, Emperor

Otto III: Being only a small child when his father died, Theophanu his mother, a Roman princess from Constantinople in the east became regent. France then speedily broke away, with Hugh Capet (Hugh the Great) being declared King of the Franks in 987. Then, following Otto's sixteenth birthday in 996 when he was able to be crowned as emperor, he made Rome the administrative centre of his Empire, reviving elaborate Roman customs and the court ceremonies practised in Constantinople. He built an imperial palace on the Palatine Hill and established a regular administrative system of government for the capital, naming a patrician, a prefect, and a body of judges who were commanded to recognize only Roman law. He died around the time of his 22nd birthday and was immediately succeeded by his second cousin Henry (see below) who continued his work.

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Henry II 972-1024 (his grandfather Henry was the younger brother of Otto I) King, King of Italy, then Emperor

Henry continued Otto's work of church-state relations and ecclesiastic administration throughout the rest of the Empire. He supported the bishops against the monastic clergy, aiding them in establishing their temporal rule over broad territories. He also strongly enforced clerical celibacy in order that the public land and offices he granted the church would not be passed on to heirs. In 1007 he founded the Diocese of Bamberg in Bavaria, which quickly became a centre of scholarship and art. Though married, Henry and his wife had no children.

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Conrad II 990-1039 King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Burgundy, Emperor

Conrad: He was related to Otto I through Otto's daughter Liutgarde. Orphaned young, Conrad grew up poor by the standards of the nobility and was raised by Burchard, Bishop of Worms. Married Gisela, also descended from Charlemagne. Upon Henry II's death in 1024, Conrad appeared as a candidate before the electoral assembly of princes at Kamba, opposite to the German town Oppenheim on the east banks of the Rhine. He was crowned king in Mainz, then went to Milan where he was crowned king of Italy. In Rome, the Pope crowned him emperor in 1027. In 1028 at Aachen (Aix la Chappelle) he had his son Henry elected and anointed King of the Romans. This procedure, election first, then crowning as king, then later travelling to Rome to become emperor upon his father the previous emperor's death, became the standard practice.

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Henry III 1017-1056 Duke of Bavaria, King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Burgundy, Emperor
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Henry IV 1050-1106 Duke of Bavaria, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor

Henry IV: During his reign, the pope treated him as an enemy and referred to him as rex teutonicorum, King of the Teutons, in order to brand him as a foreigner. However, it wasn't until 1806 that the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved and the German Empire formed.

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Henry V 1086-1125 King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor
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Lothair III 1075-1137 Duke of Saxony, King of the Romans, Emperor

College of Electors: Henry had no surviving children and Lothair was chosen by a small group of eminent nobles. Shortly afterwards, the right to choose the monarch was settled on an exclusive group of seven: three archbishops — Mainz, Trier and Cologne and four dukes — Bohemia, Brandenburg, Palatine of the Rhine and Saxony - subsequently referred to as the College of Electors.

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Conrad III 1093-1152 King of the Romans, King of Italy

Conrad: Lothair had had only one surviving child, a daughter Gertrude, born 1115. Lothair married Gertrude to Henry (the Proud), the duke of Bavaria, in 1127. The electors however chose Conrad, whose mother Agnes was the sister of Henry V, the previous emperor. A civil war ensued, in which Conrad was victorious. Conrad was never crowned emperor and continued to style himself "King of the Romans" until his death. On his deathbed, in the presence of only two witnesses, his nephew Frederick Barbarossa and the Bishop of Bamberg, he allegedly designated Frederick, the son of his elder brother as his successor, rather than his own surviving six-year-old son Frederick. Frederick Barbarossa, who had accompanied his uncle on the unfortunate second crusade, forcefully pursued his advantage and was duly elected King in Cologne a few weeks later.

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Frederick I 1122-1190 King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor
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Henry VI 1165-1197 King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Sicily, Emperor
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Otto IV 1175-1218 King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor

Otto: The previous emperor Henry VI had one son Frederick, at that time two years old, but who later became Emperor Frederick II. For now the electors, with the encouragement of King Richard of England, elected Richard's nephew Otto, great grandson of the earlier emperor Lothair. Richard's sister Matilda had married Henry (the Lion) who was the grandson of Lothair through Henry (the Proud) and Lothair's daughter Gertrude.

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Frederick II 1194-1250 King of the Romans, King of Italy, King of Sicily, King of Jerusalem, Emperor
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Henry VII 1211-1242 King of the Romans, King of Sicily co-reigning with his father
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Conrad IV 1228-1254 King of the Romans, King of Sicily, King of Jerusalem co-reigning with his father
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William II 1228-1256 King of the Romans (in opposition to Frederick and Conrad)

William: Son of Floris IV, Count of Holland. Elected King of the Romans in 1247 after Frederick II was excommunicated. Importantly, a castle he built in 1248, later known as the Binnenhof Inner Court was the beginning of the city later known as The Hague The Hedge.

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Richard 1209-1272 King of the Romans

Richard: Son of King John of England. One of the wealthiest men in Europe. Went on 6th crusade, fought no battles, but negotiated a prisoner release after a battle in Gaza in 1239. Elected King of the Romans in 1256.

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Rudolf I 1218-1291 King of the Romans

Rudolf: Son of Count Albert IV of Habsburg and Seventh generation descendant of Count Radbot who had built Habsburg Castle in Switzerland. In 1278, after Rudolf's election as King of the Romans, defeated his rival for the throne on the battlefield and secured the duchy of Austria for the Habsburg dynasty for 640 years.

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Adolf 1255-1298 King of the Romans

Adolf: Son of Walram II, Count of Nassau, a small German state. Father-in-law to Rudolf of Bavaria, the son of Louis II Duke of Upper Bavaria and Count Palatine of the Rhine and of Matilda a daughter of Rudolph I. Adolf was elected King of the Romans in 1292 following numerous concessions to the College of Electors.

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Albert I 1255-1308 Duke of Austria, King of the Romans

Albert: Son of Rudolf I. Defeated and slew Adolf in battle on July 2nd 1298, and elected King of the Romans 25 days later. Famous today for being the Habsburg emperor in the William Tell story who placed a (probably legendary) bailiff, Hermann Gessler, under orders to deliberately provoke the people of Switzerland into a rebellion to serve as an excuse for Austria to invade Switzerland. In 1308 Albert was assassinated by his nephew over an inheritance matter.

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Henry VII 1275-1313 Count of Luxembourg, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor

Henry: Son of Count Henry VI of Luxembourg. His brother Baldwin, Archbishop of Trier, successfully won over a number of the electors in exchange for some substantial concessions. Consequently, Henry skilfully negotiated his way to the crown.

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Louis IV 1282-1347 Duke of Lower and Upper Bavaria, Count of Holland and Zeeland, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor

Louis: A younger son of Louis II and Matilda, daughter of Rudolph I. Elected King of the Romans in 1314 in preference to Henry VII's son John, who was at the time only 18.

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Charles IV 1316-1378 Count of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, King of Burgundy, King of the Romans, King of Italy, Emperor

Charles: Grandson of Henry VII through his son, King John of Bohemia. Elected King of the Romans in 1349.

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Wenceslaus 1361-1419 Duke of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, King of the Romans

Wenceslaus: Son of Charles IV. Elected King of the Romans in 1376, co-reigning with his father for two years. Deposed (as King of the Romans) by electors in 1400.

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Rupert 1352-1410 King of the Romans

Rupert: Son of Rupert II, Count Palatine of the Rhine and great-great-grandson of Louis II and Matilda, through their eldest son Rudolf of Bavaria. Elected King of the Romans in 1400.

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Sigismund 1368-1437 Prince of Luxembourg, King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, King of the Romans, Emperor

Sigismund: Another son of Charles IV. Elected King of the Romans in 1410.

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Albert II 1397-1439 Archduke of Austria, King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, King of the Romans

Albert: Son of Albert IV, Duke of Austria. Married Elisabeth of Luxembourg, daughter and heiress of King Sigismund. Chosen to be King of the Romans in 1438, but never crowned, dying in 1439.

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Frederick III 1415-1493 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Emperor

Frederick: Son of Duke Ernest, cousin of Albert II's father. Elected King of the Romans in 1440.

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Maximilian I 1459-1519 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Emperor
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Charles V 1500-1558 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Duke of Burgundy and Lord of the Netherlands (Luxembourg, Flanders, Holland and Zeeland), also King of Spain (including Naples, Sicily, Castile and Leon), Emperor

Charles was the grandson of Maximilian through his first wife, Mary of Burgundy. Mary was heiress over the Netherlands, but had died young in 1482. Charles was born in Ghent in the Netherlands in 1500, inheriting the title when his father Philip died, also quite young, in 1506.

In 1556 Charles, who had also inherited the Spanish throne through his mother, Joanna, abdicated as King of Spain in favour of his son Philip II.

Some background. Charles's mother Joanna was the older sister of Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry VIII of England, the mother of Mary, a lady separated from her mother by her father when they both refused to acknowledge his second marriage. Charles's son Philip became famous for marrying this much older lady in 1554, a somewhat depressed lady whom he rarely saw, who never conceived (and who became infamous for executing 283 Protestant leaders, starting the mass executions during a false pregnancy in 1555). After Mary died in 1558, Philip proposed to her sister, now Queen Elizabeth, but nothing came of it. Later, he sent the Spanish Armada against England in 1588.

Back to 1555. In that year Charles had also abdicated from his Lordship over the Netherlands, an action which led to seven of the northern provinces in the Netherlands refusing to acknowledge Philip II as their Spanish ruler after Charles died (also in 1558). In 1568 their refusal became open warfare, the Eighty Years War. The seven provinces formed the Dutch Republic in 1581, but were not recognized by Spain until 1648.

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Ferdinand I 1503-1564 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Emperor
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Maximilian II 1527-1576 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, Emperor
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Rudolf II 1552-1612 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, Emperor
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Matthias 1557-1619 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, Emperor
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Ferdinand II 1578-1637 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Emperor
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Ferdinand III 1608-1657 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Emperor
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Ferdinand IV 1633-1654 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia but pre-deceased his father before he could become emperor
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Leopold I 1640-1705 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Prince of Transylvania, Emperor
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Joseph I 1678-1711 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Emperor
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Charles VI 1680-1740 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Duke of Milan, Count of Flanders, (temporary) King of Spain 1700-1713, (permanent) King of Sardinia, Naples and Sicily, Emperor
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Charles VII 1697-1745 King of the Romans, King of Bohemia, Emperor

Charles: married Maria Amalia, daughter of Joseph I, and niece of Charles VI. Charles VII thus inherited the empire through his wife. On his death, she persuaded her son Maximilian to make peace with her cousin Maria Theresa.

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Francis I 1708-1765 Duke of Lorraine, Archduke of Austria, German King, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Emperor

Francis: His grandmother Eleanor of Austria 1653-1697 on his father's side was the younger sister of Emperor Leopold I, with her son Leopold, ie Francis's father, thus becoming the cousin of Charles VI. Francis now married his second cousin Maria Theresa of Austria 1717-1780 daughter of Charles VI. She became the real power behind the throne, securing for her husband the right to become the new Holy Roman Emperor in 1745. They had 16 children together between 1737 and 1756, including Holy Roman Emperors Joseph II and Leopold II, as well as Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France who was executed during the French Revolution.

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Joseph II 1741-1790 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Duke of Luxembourg and Milan, Count of Flanders, Emperor

Joseph: After the death of his father in 1765, he became Holy Roman Emperor and was made co-regent by his mother in the Austrian dominions. As emperor, he had little true power, his mother having resolved that neither her husband nor her son should ever deprive her of sovereign control in her hereditary dominions. Joseph, by threatening to resign his place as co-regent, could induce his mother to abate her dislike for religious toleration. He could and did place a great strain on her patience and temper, but in the last resort, the empress spoke the final word. Therefore, until the death of his mother in 1780, Joseph was never quite free to follow his own instincts.

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Leopold II 1747-1792 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, Grand Duke of Tuscany, King of Hungary and Bohemia, Duke of Luxembourg and Milan, Count of Flanders, Emperor.
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Francis II 1768-1835 Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, King of Hungary and Bohemia, and until 1806, Emperor.

Francis: At the start of Francis's reign, the French Revolutionary leaders executed King Louis XVI of France in January 1793. This was followed by threats related to the Queen, and then, when no appeasement was forthcoming, they beheaded Francis's aunt, Queen Marie Antoinette in October 1793. All of Europe, including England, was outraged by the two executions, and prepared for war. In 1794, the French defeated army troops in the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium), annexing that country in 1795. England declared war, winning some major sea battles, particularly at Egypt in 1798, and later at Trafalgar (off south-west Spain) in 1805.

But initially France suffered minimal restraint, invading Spain in 1796 and taking over the Spanish administration that same year. In Portugal the Portuguese Government shifted their administration temporarily over to Brazil. In 1799, Napoleon came to the forefront. He was an army general who'd had earlier victories in Italy and Egypt, and was now declared First Consul and Ruler of France.

Following French defeat in Egypt by the Turks in 1801, and a temporary peace in Europe, Napoleon declared himself Emperor of France in December 1804. Francis in response declared himself Emperor of Austria. Though at the time Francis's declaration was seen by some to have had little resonance, it came to prominence when he then abdicated as Holy Roman Emperor in 1806 in the face of Napoleon's advance, eastwards, through Europe.

Following a disastrous campaign in Russia in 1812, Napoleon's French army was greatly diminished. He did have further victories in Europe, but lacking military strength, he abdicated in April 1814. After a brief exile to Elba off the coast of Italy, he regathered his troops to Paris for a final battle, Waterloo, in 1815. After that defeat, Francis, as Emperor of Austria, now became President of the German Conferation, also King of Lombardy-Venetia.

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Ferdinand I 1793-1875 Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Lombardy-Venetia. President of the German Conferation.

Suffered considerably from epilepsy. Forced to abdicate in 1848 in favour of his brother's son, Francis Joseph, as revolutionaries marched on the palace.

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Francis Joseph I 1830-1916 Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Croatia and Lombardy-Venetia.
President of the German Conferation after 1850.

In 1859 he lost most of Lombardy, including its capital Milan and Tuscany in a war with France and Sardinia, with Sardinia receiving aid from France in exchange for their ceding Nice and Savoy over to France. In 1860 military general Garibaldi brought Sicily and Naples into this newly re-unifying country of Italy. Only Venetia (ceded to Italy in 1866) and Rome (captured by Italy in 1870 after France withdrew its garrison) were yet to be added.

In 1866 Emperor Francis, along with the southern German states, fought a seven-week war against Prussia (and Italy) and though he defeated Italy, he lost the war with Prussia, and the German Confederation was subsequently abolished. A newly formed North German Confederation was ceded to Prussia. In the outcome he also ceded Venetia over to France who immediately ceded it over to Italy.

During this seven-week war, most of the mid-sized German states had opposed Prussia, by 1870 these states had been coerced and coaxed into mutually protective alliances with Prussia. In the event that a European state, in particular France, declared war on one of their members, they all would come to the defence of the attacked state. With skilful manipulation, Prussian General Bismarck laid out a situation in which France played the role of aggressor, and Prussia, that of protector.


 

Looking back at Prussia, Frederick William III 1770-1840 had become King in 1797.

Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son, Frederick William IV 1795-1861.

Upon his death, he was succeeded by his brother, Wilhelm I 1797-1888 who in 1871 now became Emperor of a reunified Germany.

Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son Frederick III 1831-1888 who reigned just 99 days before dying of throat cancer. In 1858 he had married Victoria 1840-1901 princess royal (eldest daughter) of Queen Victoria after she had just turned seventeen. Their first son Wilhelm in 1859 was a breech birth via forceps delivery with the English obstetrician awkwardly crippling his left arm.

In 1888, this boy Wilhelm II 1859-1941 succeeded his father as emperor.

 

Click here for a page on Wikipedia showing the sons and daughters of Queen Victoria (herself a descendant of King George II, also Charlemagne) and King Christian IX and Louisa of Denmark (also both descended indirectly from King George II) with their royal marriages in Europe and Russia during the 19th century producing numerous offspring, resulting in Queen Victoria (1819-1901) being nicknamed the grandmother of Europe and King Christian its father-in-law.

Queen Victoria's descendants

On another note, click here for some of the background to the rise of Stalin, also Hitler, Churchill, and World War 2.

** End of Report