Thursday, July 21, 2011

The very last note

World War I changed a great many things, mostly for the worse, setting the stage for terrible events in the 20th century. Peter Berger reflects on the recent death of the last pretender to the Habsbrg throne of Austria and Hungary: "The Fading Shadow of the Habsburgs":
.... Otto von Habsburg was the eldest son of Charles I, the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Otto died on July 4, 2011, aged 98, in Poecking, Bavaria. If the monarchy had survived, he would have succeeded to the throne after his father. I read about his death in both The New York Times and The Boston Globe. The latter paper had picked up the news from the Associated Press, and I assume that other American newspapers carried it. I doubt whether many readers in this country, or for that matter in Europe, were moved by it. I was. It seemed to me like the silence that follows the very last note of a powerful piece of music which probably will never be played again. It is a silence that invites reflection.

Otto was only six years old when he accompanied his family into exile. He was not allowed to return to Austria, even for a visit, until he formally renounced all claims to the throne. .... [more]
And, from The Economist:
.... He became a member of the European Parliament in 1979 when that body was just a talking shop, seeing it as a harbinger of bigger things to come.

A family history going back to the eighth century helped him see the continent’s destiny in grand terms, with the European Union a wider and better version of the Holy Roman Empire (his family had headed that lamented outfit until history caught up with it in 1806). He was no fan of the Brussels bureaucracy, but promoted the integration his name epitomised: common culture, open borders and, above all, no more wars. ....
The Economist lists his titles had the empire survived and had he ruled:
“Emperor of Austria; King of Hungary and Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria; King of Jerusalem, etc; Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, Auschwitz and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trento and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia”. His other titles were more minor.
The Fading Shadow of the Habsburgs | Religion and Other Curiosities, Otto von Habsburg | The Economist