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Francis II

Francis II, 1768–1835, last Holy Roman emperor (1792–1806), first emperor of Austria as Francis I (1804–35), king of Bohemia and of Hungary (1792–1835). He succeeded his father, Leopold II, shortly before the outbreak of war with France (see French Revolutionary Wars). Francis's armies were eventually defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte; by the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797) Francis ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France but obtained Venetia and Dalmatia. In 1798 he joined the Second Coalition against France, was again defeated, and in the Treaty of Lunéville (1801) consented to the virtual dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, which was formally ended (1806) after the Austrian rout at Austerlitz (see also Pressburg, Treaty of). Francis assumed the title emperor of Austria in 1804. In 1809 he again declared war on Napoleon, now Emperor Napoleon I, who was embroiled in difficulties in Spain. Francis's brother, Archduke Charles, defeated Napoleon at Aspern, but was crushed at Wagram. Napoleon entered Vienna and imposed on Francis the Peace of Schönbrunn, in which Austria was forced to give up Galicia, Istria, and part of Dalmatia, and to join Napoleon's Continental System. In 1810, Francis's daughter, Marie Louise, married Napoleon. This marriage was engineered by Metternich, who from 1809 dominated Austrian politics. In Aug., 1813, Francis joined Russia, Prussia, and England in their war against Napoleon. He presided (1814–15) over the Congress of Vienna (see Vienna, Congress of), in which Austria, through Metternich's diplomacy, emerged as the leading power in Europe. Francis was a chief architect of the Holy Alliance. The events of his early reign shaped his later reactionary views, and he instituted severe repressive measures throughout the empire. Francis was succeeded by his son Ferdinand.

See biography by W. C. Langsam (1949).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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