Josef von Österreich-Toskana

From Kaiserreich


Josef von Österreich-Toskana in 1916, as General of the Fourth Army

Josef Ferdinand von Österreich-Toskana (born Josef Ferdinand Salvator Maria Franz Leopold Anton Albert Johann Baptist Karl Ludwig Rupert Maria Auxiliatrix von Habsburg-Lothringen in Salzburg, Austria, on May 24, 1872) is an Archduke of Austria and the current Grand Duke of Tuscany. He also is a military leader and the current Chief of Staff of the Italian Federation.



Early Life

Josef was born in Salzburg, Austria, on May 24 1872 to Ferdinand IV, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his wife, Alice of Bourbon-Parma. He attended the military Oberrealchule at Hranice (in that time also known as Mährisch Weissenkirchen, now part of Bohemia) and later the Maria Theresa Military Academy at Wiener Neustadt, near Vienna.

As the fourth child and second son, he assumed the mantle of heir after his elder brother gave up the claim on December 29 1902 following numerous scandals and he succeeded his father as head of the House of Tuscany on January 17 1908. However, at that time he couldn't become Gran Duke as the Grand Duchy of Tuscany had been annexed by the Kingdom of Italy on March 22 1860.

Military Career

Upon graduating from the academy, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Tirol Jäger regiment on August 18 1892. Following various assignments with Infantrie Regiment (IR) No's. 93, 17, 59 and the Tirol Jäger Regiment No. 4, he was attached to IR No. 27 as an Oberstleutnant in 1903 and from 1895 until 1897, he attended the Kriegsschule in Vienna. From 1905 until 1908, he commanded IR No. 93 as an Oberst, then the Infantry Brigade No. 5.

Josef also concerned himself with aviation, which was not taken seriously in military circles at the time. He was fascinated by balloons from an early age; in 1909, he arranged a balloon flight from his manor in Linz to Dieppe in France, which lasted 16 hours. In January 1911 he received command of the 3rd infantry division in Linz, followed afterwards by his promotion to Feldmarschalleutnant on May 1 1911.

During the Weltkrieg

In August 1914 he took the command of the XIV Corps, succeeding General der Kavallerie Viktor Dankl, who had taken command of the First Army. His Corps was part of the Third Army of General Brudermann, on the eastern front. In early September 1914, the devastating battles at the Zlota and Gnila Lipas practically destroyed the Third Army and the Fourth Army under General Auffenberg was also decimated following Rawa Russka. Josef was chosen to replace Auffenberg and he remained in command of the Fourth Army until early June 1916. At this time, General Aleksei Brusilov launched the Brusilov Offensive at the juncture of the Fourth and First Armies: the result was that Josef's trenches were obliterated by the Russian bombardment and his troops surrendered en masse to the advancing Russians. In light of this massive set-back, the German High Command insisted on his removal from command. The Archduke went into retirement and was replaced by General Tersztyanszky.

Following the accession of Kaiser Karl in November 1916, Josef was offered the post of Inspector General of the Imperial Air Force. The Archduke brought his interest in ballooning to the post, although the Army HQ immediately objected to the appointment. In spite of their reservations, the Archduke was appointed on July 8 1917 and he remained there until the end of the war.

Role in the Italian Federation

Following the re-establishment of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the creation of the Italian Federation on May 3 1922, Josef became Grand Duke of Tuscany and one of the many noblemen to be ciclically appointed as ministers in the government. Thanks to his relations with Austria, his influence grew considerable and when Pius XI and his loyal cardinals managed to centralize the federation and control the government, he was appointed as Chief of Staff, in a move to appease the Austrians. Whatsmore, there is a small monarchic faction in the federation that would like to see the return of an Habsburg King to the throne and, for his position and his relations, he is usually indicated as their preferred choice.

In the Italian Federation he is usually known as Giuseppe di Toscana.

Personal Life

On May 2 1921 in Salzburg Josef married Rosa Kaltenbrunner (born in Linz on February 27 1878 and died in Salzburg on December 9 1929) but they divorced on October 16 1928. On January 27 1929 in Vienna Josef married Gertrude Tomanek von Beyerfels-Mondsee (born in Brünn on April 13 1902) and they had one daughter and one son:

  • Claudia Maria Theresia von Habsburg-Lothringen, Princess of Florence, born in Vienna on April 6 1930
  • Maximilian Franz Josef Karl Otto Heinrich von Habsburg-Lothringen, Prince of Tuscany, born in Vienna on March 17 1932
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