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  • Emperor Franz II/I
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    Innerer Burghof

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    The statue of Emperor Franz II/I

    A Roman imperator in the inner castle courtyard

    The somewhat confusing name ‘Emperor Franz II/I’ (1768-1835) is the result of the 2 imperial titles he holds. From 1792-1806 Franz, a grandson of Maria Theresa, is Franz II, the last Holy Roman Emperor. From 1804-1835 he is Franz I, the first Emperor of Austria. And for 2 years, from 1804-1806, he is both.

    Franz wishes to have a monument built during his lifetime. But the Austrian Chancellor Metternich, the secret regent of Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, rejects the Emperor’s request.

    After Franz dies in 1835 his son and heir Emperor Ferdinand I (1793-1875), makes plans for a monument. It is completed 1846 and erected in the inner castle courtyard.

    The monument shows Franz II/I as a Roman imperator complete with toga and laurel wreath. The Emperor is looking towards the Swiss Wing, the oldest part of the Vienna Hofburg. The Amalienburg is behind him, the Leopold Wing to his right and the Imperial Chancellory Wing to his left.

    4 female figures are seated at the Emperor’s feet. The 2 facing the Swiss Wing like the Emperor himselfsymbolise peace and faith while the 2 facing the Amalienburg stand for strength and justice.

    The octagonal encasement of the base has reliefs of a further 8 figures. These 8 – 4 male, 4 female – symbolise science, trade, livestock breeding, industry, construction, agriculture, art and heroism. The reliefs are an interesting mix of contemporary and classic; the male figure who represents construction for instance is wearing what appears to be ancient clothing but is leaning on a (for the time) very modern miner’s lamp with his right hand.

    The monument of Franz II/I has 2 Latin inscriptions. The one on the front, “Amorem meum populis meis” (“My love for my peoples”), is a famous line from the Emperor’s will. Franz is known for his stinginess and is mocked for it by the Viennese after his death. He gives us his love, they say, but nothing else.

    The Latin inscription on the back side also mentions the monument’s sponsor, Franz’s son Emperor Ferdinand I. It reads, ”For the pious, just, brave and peace-loving Emperor Franz I, father of the fatherland and illustrious father of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria”. In addition the inscription bears the date 1846 (MDCCCXXXXVI).