Ferdinand I of Austria

Ferdinand I (German: Ferdinand I.; 19 April 1793 – 29 June 1875) was the Emperor of Austria from 1835 until his abdication in 1848. As ruler of Austria, he was also President of the German Confederation, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia (as Ferdinand V), King of Lombardy–Venetia and holder of many other lesser titles (see grand title of the Emperor of Austria). Due to his rocky, passive but good-intended character, he gained the sobriquet The Benign (German: Der Gütige) or The Good (Czech: Ferdinand Dobrotivý).[2]

Ferdinand I & V
Ferdinand in Austrian Field Marshal uniform, portrait by Eduard Edlinger, 1843
Emperor of Austria
Reign2 March 1835 – 2 December 1848
PredecessorFrancis I
SuccessorFranz Joseph I
Prime MinisterSee list
King of Hungary
Reign28 September 1830 – 2 December 1848
Coronation28 September 1830, Pressburg
PredecessorFrancis I
SuccessorFranz Joseph I
Born(1793-04-19)19 April 1793
Vienna, Austria, Holy Roman Empire[1]
Died29 June 1875(1875-06-29) (aged 82)
Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia, Austria-Hungary[1]
Maria Anna of Savoy
(m. 1831; his death 1875)
Full name
German: Ferdinand Karl Leopold Joseph Franz Marcelin
English: Ferdinand Charles Leopold Joseph Francis Marcelin
FatherFrancis II, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherMaria Theresa of the Two Sicilies
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Ferdinand succeeded on the death of his father Francis II and I on 2 March 1835. He was incapable of ruling his empire because of his mental deficiency, so his father, before he died, made a will which promulgated that Ferdinand should consult Archduke Louis on all aspects of internal policy and urged him to be influenced by Prince Metternich, Austria's Foreign Minister.[3]

Following the Revolutions of 1848, Ferdinand abdicated on 2 December 1848. He was succeeded by his nephew, Franz Joseph. Following his abdication, he lived in Hradčany Palace, Prague, until his death in 1875.[4]

Ferdinand married Maria Anna of Savoy, the sixth child of Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia. They had no children.


Early life

Ferdinand was the eldest son of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily. Possibly as a result of his parents' genetic closeness (they were double first cousins), Ferdinand suffered from epilepsy, hydrocephalus, neurological problems, and a speech impediment. He was educated by Baron Josef Kalasanz von Erberg, and his wife Josephine, by birth a Countess von Attems.[5]


Ferdinand has been depicted as feeble-minded and incapable of ruling. Yet, although he had epilepsy, he kept a coherent and legible diary and has even been said to have had a sharp wit. However, suffering as many as twenty seizures per day severely restricted his ability to rule with any effectiveness. Though he was not declared incapacitated, a Regent's Council (Archduke Louis, Count Kolowrat, and Prince Metternich) steered the government.

When Ferdinand married Princess Maria Anna of Savoy, the court physician considered it unlikely that he would be able to consummate the marriage.[6] When he tried to consummate the marriage, he had five seizures. He is best remembered for his command to his cook: when told he could not have apricot dumplings (Marillenknödel) because apricots were out of season, he said "I am the Emperor, and I want dumplings!" (German: Ich bin der Kaiser und ich will Knödel!).[7][8]

1848 Revolution

As the revolutionaries of 1848 were marching on the palace, he is supposed to have asked Metternich for an explanation. When Metternich answered that they were making a revolution, Ferdinand is supposed to have said "But are they allowed to do that?" (Viennese German: Ja, dürfen's denn des?) He was convinced by Felix zu Schwarzenberg to abdicate in favour of his nephew, Franz Joseph (the next in line was Ferdinand's younger brother Franz Karl, but he was persuaded to waive his succession rights in favour of his son) who would occupy the Austrian throne for the next sixty-eight years.

Ferdinand recorded the events in his diary: "The affair ended with the new Emperor kneeling before his old Emperor and Lord, that is to say, me, and asking for a blessing, which I gave him, laying both hands on his head and making the sign of the Holy Cross ... then I embraced him and kissed our new master, and then we went to our room. Afterwards I and my dear wife heard Holy Mass ... After that I and my dear wife packed our bags."

In retirement (1848–1875)

Ferdinand was the last King of Bohemia to be crowned as such. Due to his sympathy with Bohemia (where he spent the rest of his life in Prague Castle) he was given the Czech nickname "Ferdinand V, the Good" (Ferdinand Dobrotivý). In Austria, Ferdinand was similarly nicknamed "Ferdinand der Gütige" (Ferdinand the Benign), but also ridiculed as "Gütinand der Fertige" (Goodinand the Finished).

He is interred in tomb number 62 in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.


He used the titles:[9]

His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty Ferdinand the First, By the Grace of God


Ferdinand's parents were double first cousins as they shared all four grandparents (Francis' paternal grandparents were his wife's maternal grandparents and vice versa). Therefore, Ferdinand only had four great-grandparents, being descended from each of them twice. Further back in his ancestry there is more pedigree collapse due to the close intermarriage between the Houses of Austria and Spain and other Catholic monarchies.

See also


  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ferdinand I. of Austria" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. Thomas Nipperdey: Deutsche Geschichte 1800-1866. Bürgerwelt und starker Staat, C.H. Beck, broschierte Sonderausgabe 1998, S. 339.
  3. Taylor, A. J. P.: "The Habsburg Monarchy 1809-1918" (Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1990, ISBN 978-0-14-013498-8), pp 52-53
  4. van der Kiste, p 16
  5. Grafenauer, Bogo. "Erberg Jožef Kalasanc baron" [Erberg Joseph Calasanz baron]. In Vide Ogrin, Petra (electronic ed.). Cankar, Izidor et al. (printed ed.) 1925–1991. 2009 (electronic ed.) (eds.). Slovenski biografski leksikon (in Slovenian). ISBN 978-961-268-001-5. Archived from the original on 2012-01-28. Retrieved 2012-05-01.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  6. van der Kiste, John. Emperor Francis Joseph London: Sutton Publishing, 2005 ISBN 0-7509-3787-4. p 2
  7. According to A.J.P. Taylor, he was in fact asking for noodles - "But it is an unacceptable pun in English for a noodle to ask for noodles" - The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918
  8. Regan, Geoffrey. Royal Blunders page 72
  9. Velde, Francois R. "Royal Styles". www.heraldica.org.
  10. Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Maria Theresia (deutsche Kaiserin)" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 60 via Wikisource.
  11. Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1860). "Habsburg, Franz I." . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 6. p. 208 via Wikisource.
  12. Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Maria Ludovica (deutsche Kaiserin)" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 53 via Wikisource.
  13. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 9.
  14. Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Maria Theresia von Neapel" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 81 via Wikisource.
Ferdinand I of Austria
Cadet branch of the House of Lorraine
Born: 19 April 1793 Died: 29 June 1875
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Francis I
Emperor of Austria
King of Hungary and Croatia
King of Bohemia
King of Lombardy–Venetia

Succeeded by
Francis Joseph I
Political offices
Preceded by
Francis I of Austria
Head of the Präsidialmacht Austria
Succeeded by
Franz Joseph I of Austria
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