II. FRANCIS II

That story has been told from the French corner; how did the Austrians view it and feel it? They heard of their Archduchess—whose beauty had sent Edmund Burke into a delirium of eloquence—being scorned by the Parisians as “L’Autrichienne,” being in effect imprisoned in the Tuileries by the mob, and then deposed and imprisoned by the Assembly. They heard of the September Massacres, and how the severed head of the Princesse de Lamballe was paraded on a pike in view of the Queen who had loved her. They heard of her, white-haired, riding captive in a tumbril through a taunting crowd to her death under the guillotine. Nothing more was needed to make the people of Austria rally to the young Emperor who was to lead them in war against those French murderers. It did not matter that he was a middling mind, a bungling though benevolent despot, choosing incompetent generals, losing battle after battle, surrendering part after part of the body of Austria, and leaving his capital to the mercy and use of the conqueror. These defeats made the Austrians love Francis all the more; he seemed to them their appointed ruler by divine right, by papal consecration, and by the unchallenged legitimacy of royal descent; and he was defending them as well as he could against murderous barbarians and then against a Corsican devil. His repudiation of every liberal measure left by his uncle and his father, his restoration of feudal dues and the corvée, his rejection of any move away from autocracy to constitutional government—all this seemed forgotten when, after Austerlitz and Pressburg, he reentered his capital beaten and despoiled. He was acclaimed with wild devotion by his people.2 In all the crowded events of the next eight years they saw only the triumph of the wicked, and the scandalous humiliation of a God-given ruler, who, as surely as God existed, would in due time be revenged upon Austria’s enemies, and be restored to his full birthright of possessions and power.

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