The Spare(s)

With so much talking about Prince Harry’s book these days, it just came to mind that life for the “Spare(s)” has been historically tricky, if not dramatic. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, may consider himself lucky to have dropped his Royal duties for a life of tranquillity.

Not everybody was so lucky.


Maximilian I (full name: Ferdinand Maximilian Josef Maria von Habsburg-Lothringen) was the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria; as the second son, he was a “spare” himself.

From an early age, Maximilian tried to surpass his older brother Franz Joseph in everything, attempting to prove to all that he was the better qualified of the two and thus deserving of more than second-place status.

Maximilian was popular. His attempts to outshine his older brother and his ability to charm opened a rift between him and the aloof and self-contained Franz Joseph that would widen as years passed and their close friendship in childhood would be all but forgotten.

After a distinguished career as the Austrian viceroy of Lombardy–Venetia and the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Austrian Navy, Maximilian decided to build for himself and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, the splendid residence of Miramare Castlee, in Trieste.

Maximilian had visited Trieste with his brother Franz Joseph and later decided to move there and have a home built facing the sea and surrounded by a park worthy of his name and rank.

Maximilian steadily supervised the work; he intended to create an intimate atmosphere in the castle in the area reserved for his family, where he wanted to be in contact with nature, reflecting both his spirit and that of an epoch.

The castle was completed only after his departure in 1864 for Mexico.

Maximilian was contacted by Napoleon III and offered to become Emperor of Mexico.

On 9 April 1864, Maximilian met with his brother Emperor Francis Joseph at Miramar to sign a “Family Pact.” In this document, Maximilian renounced any rights to the Austrian throne or as an Archduke of Austria. This renunciation followed an extended period of negotiations between the two brothers and was agreed to by Maximilian with reluctance.

In Mexico where after a brief and turbulent reign as Emperor, he was executed in June 1867.

Posted by

I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s