Franz Josef’s father was the second son of Emperor Francis II. Franz Karl has been described as a ‘kindly nonentity’ but at least somewhat brighter than his elder brother Ferdinand I (reigned 1835-48). He married Princess Sophie of Bavaria in 1824.
In 1835 Francis II’s will excluded Archduke Franz Karl from the group appointed to run the government but, after much infighting, the Staatskonferenz included him and he played the part Sophie dictated.
The Habsburg monarchy was shaken by the 1848 revolutions and when Ferdinand abdicated, Sophie ensured Franz Karl passed the crown onto the 18-year-old Franz Josef.
The Times (12 March 1878) reported that he was one of the most familiar and popular members of the Austrian royal family. He left £2.4m of which one third went to the poor. Thanks to his father’s legacy Franz Josef was able to indulge Sisi’s hunting trips to England and Ireland.
Attribution to Rosa Jenik [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons