Finally, after six years of marriage the Archduke Franz Karl and his wife, the Archduchess Sophie -neé Princess of Bavaria- got to have a little baby boy named Franz Joseph (1830-1916). Nearly two years after the birth of this baby, the Archduchess Sophie gave birth to another son. The exact day was July 6th, 1832, the boy received the named of Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph -he was named after his paternal uncle, future Ferdinand I, and his second name was in honor of his maternal grandfather, the Bavarian King Maximilian I-. Not much time after, the ill fated Duke of Reichstadt -son of Napoleon I- died of tuberculosis, when the Archduchess knew about his death, she fainted. Her character changed altogether after that day, she became cold, ambitious and quite dominant.
The problem was that people started spreading rumours that the little Archduke Maximilian was actually son of the Duke of Reichstadt, he was very close to the Archduchess Sophie, who was devasted by the death of her lover. But really there are not proofs to prove the claims, in fact, there were also -baseless- rumours about the paternity of the Archduke Franz Joseph, many claimed that his real father was the Prince Gustav Vasa.
The parents of the Archduke:
The alleged father of the Archduke:
Deffinitively, among all the children of the Archduchess Sophie, Maximilian was his favorite. Franz Joseph was intelligent and a disciplined student, but Maximilian wasn't as disciplined as his eldest brother -but was as intelligent as Franz-, the Archduchess loved him so much anyways. Maximilian inherited of his mother the Wittelsbach character that made him a melancholic, idealisitc and dreamy boy, totally different to Franz Joseph who inherited the Habsburg character, he was disciplined, pragmatic and not much imaginative. But not only the proud mother, but also Maximilian's maternal grandmother adored the little boy.
Since an early age the little Archduke had a fragile health that made him to stay a few times with his Bavarian family. The little boy was a great lover of nature and botany, this love remained until the end of Maximilian's life.
Little Maximilian with his brothers, Franz Joseph and Karl Ludwig:
But the Archduchess and Archduke had more children after Maximilian, the new kids were: Archduke Karl Ludwig (1833-1896), Archduchess Maria Anna (1835-1840), stillborn son (October 24th, 1840) and Archduke Ludwig Viktor (1842-1919).
Maximilian was quite close to his brothers Franz Joseph and Karl Ludwig, mainly with the first one.
Maximilian's family suffered a great loss after the death of the only daughter of the family, the little Archduchess Maria Anna who suffered epilepsy. The death of the girl devasted her mother, and her sorrow possibly affected the son that she was expecting, who died just a few hours after his birth. Two years after this tragedy, the Archduchess gave birth to another baby, Ludwig Viktor who conforted the Archduchess of her two losses.
Maximilian and his two closer brothers years after:
Maximilian and his brother Franz Joseph remained close until their youth.
Time after the death of the Emperor Francis I, he was succeeded by his son Ferdinand I, but he had mental problems and didn't have children, so Metternich ordered to educate the Archduke Franz Joseph to take the Austrian throne after the death of his uncle.
The Revolutions of 1848 made the Prince Schwarzenberg to set up the dictatorship and convinced Ferdinand I to abdicate in favor of the Archduke Franz Joseph (December 2nd, 1848) who was 18 years old.
The new Emperor:
Apparently the change of status of the former Archduke Franz Joseph wouldn't make any difference between he and his brothers, but the excellent relationship between he and Maximilian started to getting damaged.
Maximilian was a popular young man, with an attractive personality, now he was the heir of the Austrian Crown -Franz Joseph was still unmarried-, but the Archduke perfectly understood that his possibilities on becoming Emperor were quite limited. Franz Joseph was still young and was totally reasonable to think that he would marry later and new Archdukes would born and they would relegate their uncle Maximilian. And even considering that Franz Joseph would not have a son, Maximilian would have to wait a very long time to have a chance to get the Crown over his head, that was frustrating for him.
But in the other hand, Franz Joseph was aware that his brother Maximilian was a popular man, so he started feeling jealous of him. He feared that his younger brother could betray him to get the Austrian throne for himself. After that, the relationship between both brothers became cold.
That made Maximilian to get closer to his younger brother, Karl Ludwig. Their friendship would remain until the death of Maximilian years after.
The new favorite brother of Maximilian:
But not much time after, at 1851, the 19 year old Maximilian met a lovely young lady, the Countess Paula von Linden. She was daugther of the ambassador of Würtemberg. Young Maximilian used to dance with this woman always at the balls celebrated in the Imperial Court at Vienna, to celebrate the Carnival.
Maximilian as much other Royal Men had several affairs before with actresses, but when he saw Paula at first time, he found her totally different to the other women that he met before, she seemed innocent and pure.
The problem was that von Linden was just a Countess and all the Imperial family of Austria disapproved the relationship between she and the Archduke who was fascinated by the young lady. The Archduchess Sophie wanted a Princess from a Royal House as wife of his adored son not just a Countess.
But Franz Joseph -possibly influenced by his mother, the Archduchess Sophie- sent to the King of Würtemberg a request to remove the ambassador and to send him and his family far from Vienna. At the same time, Maximilian was sent far away in a vessel to the Spanish and Portuguese courts, the Archduchess Sophie expected that his son would find an adequate wife there.
Paula and her family left Vienna and time after, she married the Count Bülow. Maximilian soon met another young woman that made him to forget Paula.
Maximilian joined to the Austrian Navy since an early age, the sea became one of the greatest passions of the young Archduke. But during his service at the Navy, the vessel where Maximilian was travelling stopped in Portugal; there he visited a relative, her name was Maria Amalia of Portugal. That visit was in the first days of the year 1852.
This young lady was the only daughter of Pedro I of Brazil and IV of Portugal and his second wife, Amalia of Beauharnais. Since the death of Maria Amalia's father, she lived with her widow mother in Portugal.
Maria Amalia of Braganza was described as a very beautiful and intelligent young lady, she could draw, paint and play the piano very well, she also could spoke several languages.
When Maximilian saw her, he immediately fall in love. Both decided to marry and were engaged. The new of Maximilian's engagement wasn't received with pleasantness by the Austrian Imperial family, except for the Archduchess Sophie. Two reasons surely made her to approve the engagement: 1) Sophie was half sister of Maria Amalia's grandmother, and 2) Maria Amalia, unlike Paula von Linden, was a real Princess that belonged to a Royal Family.
The engagement wasn't made official then, it was only known by Maximilian's family and Maria Amalia's mother, who was pleased by the idea too.
Not much time after, in february, Maria Amalia contracted scarlett fever. The time passed and she didn't recover, instead of this, she developed persistent cough that was a symptom or tuberculosis.
On August, the Princess and her mother decided to move to Madeira, it was known to be an excellent place to recover the health. Unhappily for Maria Amalia, she didn't recover and finally died on February 1853, she was just 21 years old.
Maximilian was very sad for the early death of his fiancée. He would never forget her and kept a ring with some hair of his adored Maria Amalia. She was deffinitively Maximilian's greatest love.
The ill fated young fiancée:
When Maximilian reached the age of 22 years old -1854- and was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian Navy, in German: "Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine". The sea power had a little priority for the Austrian foreign politic, despite this, the young Archduke did a great job trying to improve the organization of the Austrian Navy, among all he did, we find many reforms to modernise the naval forces as well as the creation of the naval ports at Trieste and Pola.
Maximilian as a great lover of science also did many scientific expeditions (years 1857-1859) on his famous frigate SMS Novara, this ship became the first Austrian warship to circumnavigate the globe.
Maximilian the same year he became Comander in Chief of the Austrian Navy:
But Maximilian's activities also included the representation of Austria in other European Courts, taking the responsibility of representing his eldest brother, the Emperor Franz Joseph.
On the year 1856, Maximilian's schedule included a visit to the Emperor Napoleon III at France. Maximilian was a critical and skeptical young Archduke, so the first he did, according to the reports that he sent to his Imperial brother, was to critizice the French Court as well as important people of the French Empire. He compared the French Court to the Austrian one, that was ruled by the Spanish style of court.
He praised the beauty of the French Empress, Eugenie of Montijo. At first he took a reserved attitude towards the French Imperial Couple but at least, they got to have a good realtionship.
The Archduke was quite busy there going to all the events that were made in France in honor of the foreign guest among them, some theatrical representations. He also spent much time with the Imperial French couple knowing their political position at the events of the time. After a time with them, he went to continue his trip, this time to visit the Belgian Court.
The French Imperial Family and their court years later:
Maximilian went to visit the King Leopold of Belgium and his family. He was received there by the Belgian Royal Family, is quite interesing to notice that Maximilian talks about Leopold I, his sons and his daughter in law, Marie Henriette, Duchess of Brabante but doesn't mention one person: the 16 years old Princess Charlotte of Belgium.
Since the early death of Leopold I's second wife, the first Queen of Belgium, Louise Marie of Orleans, the young Princess Charlotte took the place of first lady in the Court. Things didn't change at all when her eldest brother, Leopold, Duke of Brabante married the Austrian Archduchess Marie Henriette. Charlotte did all her best to prepare the Belgian Court for the visit of the foreign Imperial visitor.
Leopold and Marie Henriette:
The young Archduke also attended to several events at Belgium that were prepared by him. He described King Leopold as pretentious, wanting to teach him about politics and he got bored of his talks.
But at the same time, the only daughter of King Leopold I was falling in love with Maximilian. Not much time before the young lady rejected two suitors that asked for her hand, but unexpectedly, she was interested in the handsome and intelligent Archduke.
Maximilian wasn't in love with Charlotte, of course, he was surprised by the intelligence and culture of the young girl, as well as her early maturity, but wasn't in love with her.
At least, Maximilian decided to acept the idea of marrying the young Belgian Princess. He perfectly knew that she was among the richest Princesses of Europe at that time, it was an excellent new for he, he always had debts due his bad financial mismanagement. He loved to spend great amounts of money in books and art, but now he was starting to build a dreamlike Castle at Trieste Gulf named Miramare, the Archduke needed money to pay it, and Charlotte's dowry guaranteed it.
After several bad moments while arranging the exact amount of Charlotte's dowry, they finally got married at July 27th, 1857 in Brussels. Maximilian was 25 years at the day of his wedding and Charlotte was 17.
Charlotte at the same year of her wedding:
But Maximilian's father in law wasn't much pleased with the limited role that his new son in law, and of course, his own daughter were going to play at the Austrian Court. So the old King decided to force Maximilian's brother, the Emperor Franz Joseph to give to Maximilian an important charge. The Austrian Emperor finally accepted to fullfill the request of the Belgian King and appointed his younger brother as Viceroy of Lombardo Veneto. That calmed Leopold I.
The recently married couple:
But the new role wasn't an easy task, the Italians were wanting their Independence of Austria and Franz Joseph knew that.
Maximilian decided to take the risk and he and Charlotte moved to Milan because the Miramare Castle wasn't finished.
But Maximilian was a liberal man and he wanted to govern Lombardo Veneto in a liberal way, he became quite popular among many people but it wasn't enough to make Italians to abandon their ideas of freedom and Independence of Austria.
But Maximilian wasn't totally free to implement the most convenient policies, he was limited by the Austrian government headed by his eldest brother. And after two difficult years as Viceroy (1857-1859), Franz Joseph decided to dismiss Maximilian of his charge, the Emperor was really annoyed by the liberal ideas of his brother, and possibly feared that Maximilian was preparing a coup d'etat against he. The critical political situation made a plan like this possible, but was unlikely that Maximilian was planning to betray his brother. The fear of Maximilian's popularity from Franz Joseph came again one more time.
But the same year of Maximilian's dismission, Austria lost the battle of Solferino and with it, they lost the majority of their Italian provinces, as well as Maximilian lost his opportunity of getting again the charge of Viceroy. That made King Leopold I to get annoyed.
Maximilian and his wife retired from public life and moved to Trieste in a place named il Castelleto, they remained there until the next year, 1860, when Miramare Castle was finished.
Maximilian devoted his time to his passions: poetry, History, literature, art, philosophy and nature. He was really happy living at Miramare, he even got the Lacroma Island -Charlotte payed it for her adored husband with her own money- that was a paradise for the Archduke.
On the same time, Maximilian did a travel to Brazil, it was one of his scientific expeditions; but there are rumours saying that on this trip, the Archduke contracted syphilis with a mistress that he had there. It is quite dubious, there was a similar rumour about Emperor Franz Joseph and Sissi that was also doubtful.
But one thing was sure, the marriage of Maximilian and Charlotte was passing a crisis. We must not forget that Maximilian wasn't in love with his wife, but the lack of children and occupation of this couple caused serious problems to Charlotte, who was the one deeply in love of the couple.
Archduchess Charlotte at that time:
Things seemed not to improve, but a promising opportunity was coming to them...