Archduke Rainer Joseph of Austria

Not to be confused with his son, Archduke Rainer Ferdinand of Austria.
Archduke Rainer Joseph
Born (1783-09-30)30 September 1783
Pisa, Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Died 16 January 1853(1853-01-16) (aged 69)
Bolzano, Austrian Empire
Burial Bolzano Cathedral
Spouse Princess Elisabeth of Savoy
Issue Adelaide, Queen of Sardinia
Leopold Ludwig
Rainer Ferdinand
Full name
Rainer Joseph Johann Michael Franz Hieronymus
House Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria Luisa of Spain

Rainer Joseph of Austria (30 September 1783 – 16 January 1853) was a Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia from 1818 to 1848. He was also an Archduke of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia.


Rainer was a son of Emperor Leopold II and Empress Maria Luisa, and was thus a younger brother of Emperor Franz I.

Although Rainer suffered from a mild form of epilepsy, this did not visibly interfere with his military career.[1]

Rainer served as Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia from 1818 to 1848. The position made Rainer and his wife the head of the Austrian court at Milan. Rainer politics were increasingly unpopular, the Italians resented him for their lack of political freedom and for collecting revenues with so little benefit to them.

Throughout the 1840s, the political situation worsened to such an extent that in 1847, Metternich resurrected his 1817 plans for an Italian chancellery by sending his right-hand man count Charles-Louis de Ficquelmont to Milan as acting Chancellor of Lombardy–Venetia to restore the Austrian rule while taking over Northern Italy's administration. But only a few months later, Ficquelmont was recall to Vienna to assume the leadership of the Council of war as the Revolutions of 1848 started.

Archduke Rainer's mistakes as well as the lack of understanding between Rainer and Feldmarschall Graf Radetzky, were blamed for the disasters of the Italian Revolution of 1848.[2]

Marriage and children

He married at Prague on 28 May 1820 Princess Elisabeth of Savoy (13 April 1800 – 25 December 1856). She was the sister of the Prince of Carignano, who would in 1831 become King of Sardinia as King Charles Albert. She was also a granddaughter of the late former Duke of the Baltic principality of Courland.

Children included:

The Revolution of 1848 forced Rainer and Elisabeth from the court at Milan; when the insurrection was quelled, Radetzky was named Rainer's successor as Viceroy. Although his children, except Adelheid, are buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna, he and his wife are buried at the Maria Himmelfahrtskirche in Bolzano.

Through his daughter Adelaide, Rainer is an ancestor of the entire royal family of Italy which reigned from 1861 to 1946.


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles


  1. George R. Marek, The Eagles Die. Franz Joseph, Elisabeth, and Their Austria, pp. 41–42. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. This mild form of epilepsy was also suffered by Archduke Karl and his son, Archduke Albrecht, both of whom were able military commanders.
  2. Joan Haslip, The Crown of Mexico, pp. 22, 89, 109. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971.
  3. Robert Adolf Kann, A History of the Habsburg Empire 1526–1918, pp. 328, 331. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.
  4. Alan Palmer, Twilight of the Habsburgs. The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Joseph, pp. 122–123. New York: Grove Press, 1994.
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