Ludwig Salvator: ‘King of Mallorca’

Print

Our beloved Tuscan relatives! The archdukes of Austria-Tuscany were regarded as the nonconformists of the Habsburg family. Like many other sun-hungry drop-outs after him, Ludwig Salvator found his happiness on the island of Majorca.

In 1859, the drive for Italian unification brought an end to more than a century of Habsburg rule in Tuscany. Once attempts at restoration had had to be given up in 1866, the Tuscan branch of the family – regarded by their relatives as unconventional, pleasure-loving and in some cases even eccentric – fell under the regulations of the Habsburg Family Statute, much to the displeasure of the conservative emperor. One of his problematic Tuscan relatives was Ludwig Salvator, who was posted to Prague to work in the administration of Bohemia, the workings of which aroused only moderate interest in the young archduke, as his real enthusiasms lay in science and natural history. Using an asthmatic complaint as a pretext, he sought more distant shores and at the age of 20 discovered the charms of the Balearic Islands.

Five years later, Ludwig Salvator requested the Emperor’s permission to settle permanently in Majorca. In return for the assurance that yet another member of the Tuscan line would keep himself at a safe distance from home, Franz Joseph probably assented all too gladly. As a result, not surprisingly, the Emperor had few disputes with Ludwig Salvator his whole life long.

Having initially acquired properties in medieval Miramar, the bohemian archduke continually extended his estates between 1872 and 1901, until the whole coastal area between Valldemossa and Deya was in his possession as the ‘Principality of Miramar’. The ‘Austriaco’ was extremely well loved amongst the Majorcans, as he was constantly simple and modest in his ways, cultivated friendships with his tenants, and was accessible even to the rural labourers. His properties, on the other hand, were quite magnificently fitted and furnished, even though he referred to Schloss Miramar simply as his country house. Archduke Ludwig Salvator bought land at high prices and promoted viticulture, but his generous hand with finances led to much of his enterprise collapsing when the flow of money was stopped by the war.

Ludwig Salvator loved the island of Majorca, learned its local dialect and conducted research into its flora and fauna, history and culture that bore fruit in the nine-volume work entitled Die Balearen in Wort und Bild (‘The Balearic Islands in word and image’). At the outbreak of war in 1914, the archduke, already a seriously sick man, had to leave his ‘principality’. He died a year later at Schloss Brandeis (Czech: Brandýs nad Labem) in Bohemia.

Sonja Schmöckel