Thursday, December 27, 2012

Luxarazzi 101: Habsburg and Lorraine

"Don't forget about Lorraine!", that is what - according to one of his grandnephews - the late Archduke Otto, the last crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian empire, often told his family. Said grandnephew, namely Archduke Christoph, certainly did not forget about the Lorraine when he chose his wedding location. On December 28th and 29th, he will marry his longtime girlfriend Adelaide Drape-Frisch in the capital of Lorraine, Nancy.

Orginating from present day Switzerland, the Habsburg's are one of the most important royal houses in Europe. Different branches of the House of ruled various parts of Europe until 1918. Members of the family were the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors for hundreds of years. The family can trace their roots back to the 8th century.
Empress Maria Theresia

In 1740, the Austrian branch of the Habsburg family went extinct in male line when Charles VI died without leaving a male heir. Instead, his daughter Maria Theresia succeeded him on the basis of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 and became the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma. Today's Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty began with the marriage of said Empress Maria Theresia and Duke Franz Stephan of Lorraine.

Originally it had been planned that Maria Theresia would marry Hereditary Prince Léopold Clément, Franz Stephan's older brother, but he died of smallpox in 1723. So, his younger brother Franz Stephan was sent to Vienna to meet with the very young archduchess. He remained at the Austrian court until he ascended to the throne of Lorraine upon his father's death in 1729. It was not until January 1736, that he was formally promised Maria Theresa's hand during the War of the Polish Succession; only a few days later, the couple married on February 12th.

At the time King Louis XV of France demanded that Duke Franz Stephan would trade Lorraine in exchange for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to Stanisław Leszczyński, the deposed King of Poland and father-in-law of the French king. Upon Gian Gastone de Medici's death in 1737, Franz Stephan ceded Lorraine and became the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Emperor Franz I
Technically, today's House of Habsburg-Lorraine - or Habsburg-Lothringen as it is known in German - is only descending from the old House of Habsburg in matrilineal descent, while patrilineal they belong to the House of Lorraine. To affirm the claim to the thrones of the Austrian, Bohemian and Hungarian countries, it was chosen that the family would bear the name of Habsburg-Lorraine at the time of the wedding of Maria Theresia and Franz Stephan. The couple had sixteen children. Today, the House of Habsburg-Lorraine is the main and now only remaining line of the House of Lorraine.

Three years later in 1740, Maria Theresia's father Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI died and his daughter succeeded him. After five years and a Wittelsbach as Holy Roman Emperor, Franz Stephan was formally elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1745 as Franz I. Three other members of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine would follow him on this post until the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was abolished in 1806.

Apart from the Habsburg mainland, members of several junior branches of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine reigned in the Italian duchies of Parma (until 1847), Modena (until 1859) and Tuscany (until 1860). Another member of the House, Archduke Maximilian, became emperor of Mexico.

Blessed Emperor Karl
The main branch of the family ruled the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918, when Austria was declared a republic. A year later the Habsburg law was passed stripping the family of its properties, banning members born before the end of the empire from entering the country and banning anyone bearing the name Habsburg-Lothringen from running for higher office. The latter to parts were since lifted because they violated human rights.

The great grandfather of Archduke Christoph, Blessed Emperor Karl, was the last ruler of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, he bore the title of Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, of Dalmatia, of Croatia, of Slavonia, of Galicia, of Lodomeria, and of Illyria, King of Jerusalem, and so forth, Archduke of Austria, Grand Duke of Tuscany and of Cracow, Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, of Styria, of Carinthia, of Carniola and of the Bukovina, Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave in Moravia, Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Auschwitz and Zator, of Teschen, Friuli, Ragusa and Zara, Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca, Prince of Trent and Brixen, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria, Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg, and so forth, Lord of Trieste, of Cattaro and of the Wendish Mark, Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia, and so forth.
Wedding of Archduke Otto in Nancy

Archduke Otto, who felt so adamant to never forget Lorraine because some of Blessed Emperor Karl's very last words to his oldest son were "never forget the Lorraine", married in Nancy in 1951. He tied the knot with Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen at the Église des Cordeliers, it is there where Christoph and Adelaide will go to lay down a bouquet of flowers at the tombs of the Dukes of Lorraine.

Blessed Emperor Karl's wish to never forget Lorraine, one of the ancestral homes of the family,  is the reason why all of his descendants still use Habsbourg-Lorraine or Habsburg-Lothringen as their surname while other some other branches only go by Habsburg.

Back in July, Archduke Carl-Christian, who is married to Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg, sent his second son Christoph and his fiancée Adelaide to Nancy to attend a mass for Archduke Otto, who died last year. During this visit they met with the mayor of the town and the priests of the Basilique Saint-Epvre, they were so impressed with the town that they decided that they would like to get married in the capital of the historical Duchy of Lorraine.

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