Francis Joseph I of Hapsburg°

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FRANCIS JOSEPH I OF HAPSBURG°

FRANCIS JOSEPH I OF HAPSBURG ° (1830–1916), emperor of Austria 1848–1916. During his long reign he won popularity among all strata of Jewry in his empire and abroad. When he died the executive of the Austrian Zionists credited him with the betterment of the lot of the Jews in the empire, describing him as the "donor of civil rights and equality before the law, and their ever benevolent protector" (Blochs Wochenschrift, 33 (1916), 784). Antisemites nicknamed him "Judenkaiser." The Jewish masses referred to him as הקיר״ה (ha-keisar, yarum hodo: "the emperor, may his Majesty be exalted"), and many folklorist tales were told of him, among them that the prophet Elijah had promised him a long life. The synagogues were always full for the services held on his birthday, which were also attended by gentile dignitaries. Francis Joseph appreciated the role of the Jews as a sector of the population both devoted to and dependent on the monarchy at a time of growing internal national tensions. On the question of Jewish emancipation he assented to the liberal attitude of the 1848 Revolution (see also *Austria). In 1849 he granted the long-withheld recognition to the Vienna community simply by addressing its delegation as its representative (A.F. Pribram (ed.), Urkunden und Akten …, 2 (1918), 549). He intervened on behalf of the Jewish side in the *Mortara case. Francis Joseph signed the decree canceling restrictions on Jewish occupations and ownership of real estate (1860), and the Fundamental Law, which made Jews full citizens of the state (1867). In 1869 he met Jewish representatives in Jerusalem and gave a contribution to enable completion of the Nisan Bak Synagogue (Tiferet Yisrael). When visiting synagogues and other Jewish institutions he would assure Jews of his favor and praise their virtues, such as their devotion to family life and charity. He several times expressed his dislike of antisemitism, and in the Lower Austrian Diet called attacks on Jewish physicians a "scandal and disgrace in the eyes of the world" (1892). He twice refused to confirm the antisemite Karl *Lueger as mayor of Vienna, and on the day he finally did so conferred an order on Moritz *Guedemann, the chief rabbi of Vienna. He ennobled 20 Jews during his reign. After World War i many Jews of the former Hapsburg dominions looked back nostalgically to the reign of Francis Joseph as a golden age.

bibliography:

G Deutsch, Scrolls, 2 (1917), 321–40; F. Coglievini, Il viaggio in Oriente di S.M. Francesco Giuseppe I (1869), 172–5; O. Gruen, Franz Josef i in seinem Verhaeltniss zu den Juden (1916); P.G.J. Pulzer, The Rise of Political Anti-semitism in Germany and in Austria (1964), index; J. Fraenkel (ed.), The Jews of Austria (1967), index; F. Heer, Gottes erste Liebe (1967), 320–1; J. Roth, Werke, 3 (1956), 40f.; D. Bronsen, in: Tribüne, 9 (1970), 3556–64.