Archduke Otto of Austria (1865–1906)

Archduke Otto
Born (1865-04-21)21 April 1865
Graz, Austrian Empire
Died 1 November 1906(1906-11-01) (aged 41)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Burial Imperial Crypt
Spouse Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony
Issue Charles I of Austria
Archduke Maximilian Eugen
Full name
Otto Franz Joseph Karl Ludwig Maria
Father Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria
Mother Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies

Otto Franz Joseph Karl Ludwig Maria, Prince Imperial and Archduke of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia (April 21, 1865 November 1, 1906) was the second son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria (younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria) and his second wife, Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. He was the father of Charles I of Austria, the last Emperor of Austria.


Monarchical styles of
Archduke Otto Franz of Austria
Reference style His Imperial and Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial and Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

Heirs presumptive

Otto was a son of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria and his wife, Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. Otto's father, Karl Ludwig, was a younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria; and Karl Ludwig became heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne when his nephew Crown Prince Rudolf died in 1889. Although a newspaper account claimed that Karl Ludwig renounced his rights to the throne that same year (1889) in favour of his eldest son, Franz Ferdinand that story is not true.

On the death of Karl Ludwig in May 1896, Otto's brother Franz Ferdinand did indeed become heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. At the time of their father's death, Franz Ferdinand had been ill with tuberculosis and there was speculation that Franz Ferdinand would renounce his rights, which would have made his brother, Otto, heir presumptive. However, this did not happen, and Otto was never first in line to the throne.

In 1914, Franz Ferdinand was murdered in Sarajevo, and Otto's son Charles became heir presumptive. Charles inherited the throne two years later.


Otto's mother died when he was six years old. Otto and his elder brother Franz Ferdinand were educated by Alfred Ludwig, Baron of Degenfeld. Otto was not interested in learning and often played pranks on his teachers. Nevertheless, his teachers liked the cheerful Otto better than his grumpy and irascible older brother. He was also his father's favourite, which led to a difficult relationship with his brother.[1]:p. 58–61

Otto had a reputation as a loafer and was often involved in scandals. He was gradually alienated from the imperial court, and eventually even his wife distanced herself from him.


Around 1900, he contracted syphilis. This caused him agonizing pain for the last two years of his life. He withdrew from public life and spent a year in Egypt, where he found temporary reprieve. He returned to Austria, where he fell ill again. The last few months of his life, he lived in a villa in the Viennese suburb Währing. He was seriously ill, and was nursed by his last mistress, Louise Robinson, using the pseudonym Sister Martha, and by his stepmother Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal (1855-1944). He died on 1 November 1906, in the presence of his spiritual adviser, Godfried Marschall, the auxiliary bishop of Vienna.[2]


After their father's death, Otto's elder brother Franz Ferdinand automatically became heir-presumptive to the throne under the Habsburg house laws. There was no need for a special declaration to make him heir presumptive. However, it did not escape the public's attention that the Emperor never commented on his new heir-presumptive. Franz Ferdinand suffered from some serious medical problems, and there were concerns that his health might never allow him to fulfill his rôle as emperor.

In 1896 it was brought to Franz Ferdinand's attention that Count Gołuchowski, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and of the Imperial and Royal House, had suggested that the emperor, considering Franz Ferdinand's lung disease, might reconsider the line of succession. This led to speculations that Otto might inherit the throne. It was noticed that Otto had more personnel than was usual for an archduke and that he carried out representative tasks that would normally be done by the heir presumptive. Despite his life style, Otto was more popular among the courtiers than his elder brother. Franz Ferdinand was outraged by these speculations and by the fact that he had received the modest Modena Palace as his residence and Otto the larger Augarten Palace. Franz Ferdinand felt snubbed, although Otto assured him he had no ambitions for the throne.[1]:p. 108–109

Marriage and issue

Archduke Otto Franz and his family

Under pressure from the imperial court, he married Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony, daughter of King George of Saxony on October 2, 1886.[3] The court in Vienna urgently needed such a wedding to repair their relationship with the Saxon royal family, after both Crown Prince Rudolf and Otto's brother Franz Ferdinand had snubbed the Saxons by rejecting Maria's elder sister Mathilde.

Otto and Maria had two sons:

Their marriage was unhappy, however, since the Archduke was often unfaithful. He had two children by his mistress, Marie Schleinzer:



The mountain lodge Erzherzog-Otto-Schutzhaus on the Rax plateau in Lower Austria, is named after him.


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Archduke Otto Franz of Austria.


  1. 1 2 Friedrich Weissensteiner: Franz Ferdinand Der verhinderte Herrscher, Österr. Bundesverlag, Vienna, 1983
  2. Richard Reifenscheid: Die Habsburger in Lebensbildern. Von Rudolf I. bis Karl I., Verlag Styria, Graz, 1982, ISBN 3-222-11431-5, p. 342
  3. "Archduke Otto of Austria and his fiancee Maria Josepha of Saxony". Grand Ladies; the Belle Epoque.
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