Erzherzog Josef Franz

Erzherzog Josef Franz (Leopold Anton Ignatius Maria) was born on the 28th of March 1895 at Brünn (Brno) as the eldest son of the later Feldmarschall Erzherzog Joseph and Augusta von Bayern. After graduating from the high school at Budapest and some basic training at a cadet institute he began to study law at the University of Budapest. With the outbreak of the First World War he was sent for training at the Ludovica academy, the military academy of the Hungarian Honvéd and assigned to hussar regiment number 7 as a Fähnrich on the18th of March 1915. After some troop duty with this unit he was commissioned as a Leutnant on the 13th of July 1915 followed by his admission to the Order of the Golden Fleece. For gallant conduct he received the Military Merit Cross 3rd class with war decoration on the 1st of December 1915 and the Oberstinhaber of his regiment, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II.,  honored him with the award of the Prussian Iron Cross 2nd class in January 1916.

Although the young Archduke was more interested in fine arts than in a military career it seems that he was a dashing cavalry officer. On the 1st of December 1916 he was promoted to Oberleutnant and became a squadron commander in hussar regiment number 7. On the 25th of December 1916.Erzherzog Josef Franz received the commendation of the Kaiser which allowed him to wear the Bronze Military Medal (Signum Laudis) with war ribbon  He was further honored on the 22nd of February 1917 when the Ottoman Sultan awarded him the Golden Liakat.Medal and the Iron Crescent and on the 1st of December 1917 he received the Prussian Iron Cross 1st class. For his gallant conduct during the battle of the Putna-Tal he again received the commendation of the Kaiser which allowed him to wear the Silver Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis) with war decoration and swords on the 21st of February 1918 and the accelerated promotion to Rittmeister with seniority from the 1st of February 1918. On the 3rd of October 1918 Erzherzog Josef Franz was finally honored with the award of the Silver Bravery Medal for Officers. Similar to all other Archdukes he was transferred "außer Dienst" status by the order of the new authorities on the 1st of December 1918.

After the war he settled down at the family estate at Alscut in Hungary. During the communist revolution in 1919 he was taken as an hostage by the bolshevik republicans but soon liberated by the international pressure mainly by the British Royal Family. When Admiral Horthy came to power, Erzherzog Josef Franz decided to remain in Hungary where he married the daughter of King Friedrich August III. of Saxony, Princess Anna, in the summer of 1924. The photo attached to this article shows him, wearing the uniform of a Rittmeister of the Hungarian national army, with his bride. When the House of Lords was re-establised in 1927 he became a member. Erzherzog Josef Franz started to study business at the Technical University of Budapest and completed these studies with a doctors' degree. In addition to this he was a talented painter and wrote poems and plays for the theatre. In 1930 he published "Magyar dalai" a book with poems in the Hungarian language and his play "Kolumbus" (1935) was performed at Szeged, Raab (Györ) and Baja. When the Soviets came again to Hungary in 1944 he fled to Portugal where he died at Carcavelos on the 25th of September 1957. He was buried at the cemetery at Feldafing (Bavaria).

Back to the Habsburgs