Archduke Karl Ludwig: Marriage and family

Erzherzog Otto und Erzherzog Karl Ludwig

Archduke Karl Ludwig is described as an upright family man. He was the only one of Franz Joseph’s brothers to have surviving male offspring who could continue the ruling branch of the dynasty.

Erzherzog Otto und Erzherzog Karl Ludwig

Karl Ludwig was married three times:

His first marriage was to Margarete of Saxony (1840–1858), a daughter of King Johann of Saxony and Princess Amalie Auguste of Bavaria. Margaret was thus a first cousin to Karl Ludwig, as her mother was a sister of Karl’s mother Sophie. The marriage remained childless, as Margarete died of typhoid aged eighteen only two years after they married.

His second marriage was to Maria Annunziata (1843–1871), who was from the House of Bourbon but also had a high proportion of Habsburg blood. She was the daughter of King Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily and the Habsburg archduchess Maria Theresia, a daughter of Archduke Karl, the victor of Aspern. Maria Annunziata was afflicted with poor health all her life. She was epileptic, even suffering a severe seizure during the wedding ceremony in full public view, and later contracted pulmonary tuberculosis which killed her at the age of only twenty-eight. Despite her poor health Maria Annunziata bore her husband four children.

The biographies of the first two sons – Franz Ferdinand (1863–1914), the heir to the throne who was assassinated at Sarajevo, and Otto (1865–1906), the scandal-ridden father of Karl, the last emperor of Austria – are treated in more detail elsewhere.

The third son, Ferdinand Karl (1868–1915), caused a stir in 1911 when he was forced to leave the House of Habsburg-Lorraine by Emperor Franz Joseph, having admitted to secretly marrying the commoner Berta Czuber (1879–1979). He subsequently assumed the name Ferdinand Burg.

Karl Ludwig’s eldest daughter, Margarethe Sophie (1870–1902), initially became abbess of the Theresia Convent in Prague prior to her marriage to Duke Albrecht of Württemberg in 1893. She died at the age of thirty-two.

Karl’s third marriage was to Maria Teresa (1855–1944) from the Portuguese royal House of Braganza, who was regarded as a great beauty. Her amiable character soon made her a great favourite in the Habsburg family. She was a loving stepmother to Karl Ludwig’s children from his second marriage, supporting them actively in later years. Following the death of Empress Elisabeth she assumed the position of the highest-ranking female representative of the dynasty on official occasions. She also played an indispensable role in mediating between Franz Joseph and the rest of the family. A widow from 1896, she was even considered as a possible second wife for the emperor when he was widowed in 1898. After the end of the monarchy she remained in Austria, residing in her Viennese palace on Favoritenstrasse.

Archduchess Maria Teresa had two daughters of her own by Karl Ludwig. Maria Annunziata (1876–1961) did not marry and lived for a time in exile with the former empress Zita, to whom she was very close. Elisabeth Amalie (1878–1960) married into the princely family of Liechtenstein and was the grandmother of the ruling Prince of Liechtenstein, Hans Adam II.


Martin Mutschlechner