The Last days of the Habsburg Monarchy

In November 1918, writes Norman Stone, a whole political and social order in central Europe came to an end.

On Sunday, November 10th, 1918, a Habsburg Emperor attended mass in the Imperial Chapel of Schönbrunn for the last time. The young Emperor Charles, nephew of the murdered Archduke Francis Ferdinand, great-nephew of Francis Joseph, knelt at the prie-dieu of his ancestors, white and trembling.

The congregation, made up of loyal servants of the dynasty, knew that this was to be the last occasion of its kind; and as the organ began the Imperial anthem, the Gott Erhalte, the people present burst into sobs.

They knew that a whole political and social order had come to an end, that a whole way of life had become empty and meaningless. The next day, as the armies in France stopped fighting, Charles formally renounced his share in the government of the Austrian Empire; that evening, he left Schönbrunn with his family, driving through the dim and deserted streets of Vienna, and went to a hunting-lodge not far away, at Eckartsau.

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