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Ferdinand I of Austria
19th-century Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary
Ferdinand succeeded on the death of his father Francis II and I on 2 March 1835. He was incapable of ruling his empire because of a mental deficiency, so his father, before he died, made a will promulgating that Ferdinand should consult his uncle Archduke Louis on all aspects of internal policy and urged him to be influenced by Prince Metternich, Austria's Foreign Minister.
Ferdinand has been depicted as feeble-minded and incapable of ruling. Yet, although he had epilepsy, he kept a coherent and legible diary and has even been said to have had a sharp wit. However, suffering as many as twenty seizures per day severely restricted his ability to rule with any effectiveness. Though he was not declared incapacitated, a Regent's Council (Archduke Louis, Count Kolowrat, and Prince Metternich) steered the government.
When Ferdinand married Princess Maria Anna of Savoy, the court physician considered it unlikely that he would be able to consummate the marriage. When he tried to consummate the marriage, he had five seizures. He is best remembered for his command to his cook: when told he could not have apricot dumplings (Marillenknödel) because apricots were out of season, he said "I am the Emperor, and I want dumplings!" (German: Ich bin der Kaiser und ich will Knödel!).
As the revolutionaries of 1848 were marching on the palace, he is supposed to have asked Metternich for an explanation. When Metternich answered that they were making a revolution, Ferdinand is supposed to have said "But are they allowed to do that?" (Viennese German: Ja, dürfen's denn des?) He was convinced by Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg to abdicate in favour of his nephew, Franz Joseph (the next in line was Ferdinand's younger brother Franz Karl, but he was persuaded to waive his succession rights in favour of his son) who would occupy the Austrian throne for the next sixty-eight years.
Ferdinand recorded the events in his diary: "The affair ended with the new Emperor kneeling before his old Emperor and Lord, that is to say, me, and asking for a blessing, which I gave him, laying both hands on his head and making the sign of the Holy Cross ... then I embraced him and kissed our new master, and then we went to our room. Afterwards I and my dear wife heard Holy Mass ... After that I and my dear wife packed our bags."
In retirement (1848-1875)
Photograph of the aged Ferdinand by the 1860's
Ferdinand was the last King of Bohemia to be crowned as such. Due to his sympathy with Bohemia (where he spent the rest of his life in Prague Castle) he was given the Czech nickname "Ferdinand V, the Good" (Ferdinand Dobrotivý). In Austria, Ferdinand was similarly nicknamed "Ferdinand der Gütige" (Ferdinand the Benign), but also ridiculed as "Gütinand der Fertige" (Goodinand the Finished).
Ferdinand's parents were double first cousins as they shared all four grandparents (Francis' paternal grandparents were his wife's maternal grandparents and vice versa). Therefore, Ferdinand only had four great-grandparents, being descended from each of them twice. Further back in his ancestry there is more pedigree collapse due to the close intermarriage between the Houses of Austria and Spain and other Catholic monarchies.