H. Schlesinger: Franz II (I), 19th century

Money Does (Not) Matter

The Habsburg Fortune


The members of the imperial family had no need to worry about money, at least if they kept to certain rules – those who broke the rules had their own methods of obtaining money. The Habsburg fortune did not become a matter of real controversy and conflict until the establishment of the Austrian Republic in 1918.

If you think about the emperor or the monarchy then it will probably be crown jewels, treasure-chambers and unimaginable wealth that first come to mind. In fact the imperial family was indeed richly endowed with financial means, and the head of the family had the last word on how they were used. The family had at their disposal various types of assets. First there was ‘aulic property’ (Hofärar), that is to say those assets which the Habsburgs were entitled to as the ruling dynasty, for example Schönbrunn Palace. Secondly there were ‘tied assets’ (gebundenes Vermögen), from which the maintenance payments for the family were made, and thirdly ‘private assets’ (privates Vermögen). It was these different forms of property, which cannot be separated easily, that had to be dealt with after the end of the monarchy when the Austrian Republic had to decide what was to be done with the Habsburg fortune.

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