Ferdinand I of Austria

Not to be confused with Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor.
Ferdinand I and V

Portrait of Kaiser Ferdinand I, c. 1830
Emperor of Austria
King of Hungary and Croatia
King of Bohemia
King of Lombardy–Venetia
Reign 2 March 1835 – 2 December 1848
Coronations 28 September 1830, Pressburg
(Hungary and Croatia)
7 September 1836, Prague
6 September 1838, Milan
Predecessor Francis I
Successor Franz Joseph I
President of the German Confederation
In office 2 March 1835 – 12 July 1848
Predecessor Francis I
Successor Franz Joseph I
Born (1793-04-19)19 April 1793
Vienna, Archduchy of Austria, Holy Roman Empire[1]
Died 29 June 1875(1875-06-29) (aged 82)
Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia, Austria-Hungary[1]
Burial Imperial Crypt
Spouse Maria Anna of Savoy
Full name
Ferdinand Charles Leopold Joseph Francis Marcelin
House Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Religion Roman Catholicism

Ferdinand I (19 April 1793 – 29 June 1875) was Emperor of Austria, President of the German Confederation, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia (as Ferdinand V), as well as associated dominions from the death of his father (Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor) on 2 March 1835, until his abdication after the Revolutions of 1848.

He married Maria Anna of Savoy, the sixth child of Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia. They had no issue. Ferdinand was incapable of ruling his empire because of his mental deficiency, so his father, before he died, drafted a will promulgating that he consult Archduke Louis on every aspect of internal policy, and urged him to be influenced by Prince Metternich, Austria's foreign minister.[2]

He abdicated on December 2, 1848. He was succeeded by his nephew, Francis Joseph. Following his abdication, he lived in Hradčany Palace, Prague, until his death in 1875.[3]


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. Upon his marriage to Maria Anna of Savoy, the court physician considered it unlikely that he would be able to consummate the marriage.[4] He was educated by Baron Josef Kalasanz von Erberg, and his wife Josephine, née Gräfin von Attems.[5]


Coronation of King Ferdinand V in 1836 in Prague

Ferdinand has been depicted as feeble-minded and incapable of ruling, but although he had epilepsy, he kept a coherent and legible diary and has even been said to have had a sharp wit. Having as many as twenty seizures per day, however, 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. His marriage to Princess Maria Anna of Sardinia (1803–1884) was probably never consummated, nor is he believed to have had any other liaisons. 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!).[6][7]

1848 Revolution

Photograph of the aged Ferdinand dated circa 1870
Photograph of the aged Ferdinand dated circa 1870
Ferdinand's sarcophagus in Kaisergruft, the Imperial Crypt, in Vienna, Austria

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."

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:[8]

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

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ferdinand I of Austria.


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.


  1. 1 2  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ferdinand I. of Austria". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. Taylor, AJP: "The Habsburg Monarchy 1809-1918" Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1990, ISBN 978-0-14-013498-8, pp.52-53
  3. van der Kiste, p 16
  4. van der Kiste, John. Emperor Francis Joseph London: Sutton Publishing, 2005 ISBN 0-7509-3787-4. p 2
  5. Grafenauer, Bogo (1925–1991 (printed ed.). 2009 (electronic ed.)). "Erberg Jožef Kalasanc baron" [Erberg Joseph Calasanz baron]. In Vide Ogrin, Petra (electronic ed.). Cankar, Izidor et al. (printed ed.). Slovenski biografski leksikon (in Slovenian). ISBN 978-961-268-001-5. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. 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
  7. Regan, Geoffrey. Royal Blunders page 72
  8. http://www.heraldica.org/topics/royalty/royalstyle.htm#austria
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ferdinand I of Austria.
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, Croatia and Bohemia

Succeeded by
Francis Joseph I
Political offices
Preceded by
Francis I of Austria
President of the German Confederation
Succeeded by
Franz Joseph I of Austria
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