We refrain from empathy
With vexing females.
Today on Punchable Faces Week, we have Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. He proves that having a long and relatively stable rule doesn’t spare you from having a punchable face.
Franz Joseph was born in 1830 to Archduke Franz Karl of Austria and Princess Sophia of Bavaria. He became Emperor of Austria in 1848 when his uncle abdicated. For him, change was bad, constitutions were bad, and why couldn’t people just do whatever the emperor said, like back in the old days?
But in any case, emperors gotta get them a wife that’s gonna pop out some heirs. He put his mom on the job, and she settled on her age-appropriate niece, Helene. Buuuut Helen’s 15-year old sister, Elisabeth (commonly called ‘Sisi’), came along when the prospective couple met up and 24-year old Franz fell in love with her instead. He insisted on Sisi as his bride. Sophia was not keen on this. More importantly, Sisi was not keen on this. But of course, nobody was listening to her at this point and the half-happy couple wed in 1854.
This supposedly deathless passion did not drive him to step in to spare Sisi from his mother’s cruel treatment. Yes, a lot of people complain about their in-laws, but Sisi had more cause to than most. Most mother-in-laws, to give you an example, don’t snatch away your children as soon as they’re born, name your firstborn after themselves without so much as a by-your-leave, and anonymously publish shitty gossip about you until you finally produce that all-important male heir. (Sisi was only allowed to raise the fourth and final child, a girl.) And what did Franz do to mitigate this? ‘Jack’ and ‘all’. Nor did he help her out when court life stressed her out to the point where she developed a pretty serious case of anxiety, manifesting in coughing fits.
Remember: she wasn’t fucking keen on marrying him in the first place.
No fucking wonder Sisi became obsessed with micromanaging every aspect of her appearance. This mindset led to her going through a three hour DAILY haircare regimen (which did have a positive side effect in that she used that time to learn a bunch of languages), refusing to have any photographs of her taken past the age of 32, and maintaining a SIXTEEN GODDAMNED INCH WAIST. This she achieved through constant exercise and not eating, which led to her being sick all the time.
And it doesn’t stop there, friends!
Fast forward a few years ago. His beloved only son dies in a suicide pact with a teenage girl, his only legitimate child being a useless girl. Franz’s brother, Karl Ludwig, becomes his heir. Then Karl dies and Karl’s son, Franz Ferdinand, becomes the heir. And Uncle Franz was a shit to Ferdinand, trying his best to keep him away from accruing ruling experience. Matters only became worse when Ferdinand became set on marrying Countess Sophie Chotek… because while she was noble, she wasn’t noble ENOUGH. Franz, therefore, only allowed a morganatic marriage, which is royalty-speak for ‘marriage that doesn’t count’. So Sophie wasn’t entitled to any sort of respect whatsoever, nor would she become her husband’s empress, nor would their children count for anything so far as succession goes.
Franz continued to treat the couple like shit and encouraged every other noble, in Austria and the whole of Europe, to follow his lead. The only major exceptions were King George V and Queen Mary of the UK and… Kaiser Wilhelm II?! I’m sorry, but if THAT guy is demonstrating more compassion and class than you, you need to rethink your life.
But Franz Joseph never did, because he was a decripet, reactionary dinosaur. Even when Franz Ferdinand and poor Sophie got shot up in Sarajevo (an event of which some, ahem, drama resulted), his reaction was that of relief. Then he proceeded to give Sophie a really shitty casket and bury her far away from her husband, because let’s just shove a knife in along with all those bullets.
Franz Joseph died in 1916, without reconsidering that maybe his relief over his nephew and his niece-in-law might have been a little misplaced, despite the rapidly rising body count in Europe.