Franz von Matsch: Franz Joseph on his deathbed, oil painting, 1916

Decline and Fall


With the death of Crown Prince Rudolf the succession of the dynasty had to be settled anew. Conflict within the family arose – it was no secret that relations between Emperor Franz Joseph and his designated successor Archduke Franz Ferdinand were embittered.

The assassination at Sarajevo changed the situation completely. The First World War confronted the Habsburg Monarchy with new problems, with which the dynasty and the empire were no longer capable of dealing.

When Franz Joseph died in 1916 after a reign lasting 68 years, the Monarchy lost its preeminent figurehead. His successor Karl, politically inexperienced and out of his depth, could do little to prevent the empire falling apart.

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