Archduke Otto at 100

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“It is a wonderful November Wednesday,” writes Jørn K. Baltzersen. “The 64th year of the reign of the Emperor Franz Joseph is coming to an end. Most people can remember no other reign. The old Emperor has outlived many heirs, and he is soon to outlive his erstwhile Finance Minister Eugen Böhm Ritter von Bawerk, a pioneer of the Austrian School of Economics, who was born in his reign. On this November day, or rather night, a boy is born early in the morning to Archduke Charles and Archduchess Zita in Villa Wartholz in Reichenau in Lower Austria; a new heir is born. He is a strong boy. He is to go on to live about 19 months short of a century. His name is to be Archduke Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius.

“About a year and a half passes, and we arrive at June 28, 1914. The immediate heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is on an official visit to Sarajevo with his consort, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. And that visit ends at the hands of Gavrilo Princip. The long, golden, relatively peaceful period of Western civilization comes to a horrific halt through a tense July and outbreak of a full European war by the early days of August.

“The old Emperor lives for two more years and some months. The Archduke Otto celebrates his fourth birthday. The next morning the old Emperor passes. Archduke Charles ascends the throne as Emperor-King og Austria-Hungary, and Archduke Otto becomes Crown Prince. High on the agenda of the new, young Emperor is to end the war, but other actors have other plans.”

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10:52 am on November 20, 2012