Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Archduke’s travels

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated a century ago today by Serbian extremists. It was one of the most infamous acts in history since it led directly to the start of the First World War. What is much less well known, however, is that some years earlier the Archduke had undertaken a 10 month-long journey round the world, and kept a fascinating - if sometimes verbose - diary of his travels, expressing delight, for example, at seeing flying fish at sea, or moaning about uncomfortable London cabs in Sydney.

Franz Ferdinand was born in Graz, Austria, in 1863, the oldest son of Archduke Karl Ludwig, the younger brother of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph. He was given the title Archduke of Austria-Este from birth. He began his military career at 12 years of age, rising quickly through the ranks, to be appointed a major general aged 31. Later, as heir-presumptive to the elderly emperor, he was inspector general of all Austria-Hungary’s armed forces.

In 1889, Crown Prince Rudolf (Emperor Franz Joseph’s son, and cousin to Franz Ferdinand) committed suicide, leaving Ludwig in line to inherit the throne. Ludwig immediately renounced the throne in favour of his son, Franz Ferdinand, and died soon after. Franz Ferdinand, however, had fallen in love with a woman, Countess Sophie Chotek, who was not considered eligible to marry a member of the Imperial House of Habsburg. After much negotiation and petitioning, the marriage, which took place in 1900, was allowed, but only under certain conditions: their descendants (they had three children) would have no succession rights to the throne; nor would Sophie share her husband’s rank, title, or privileges.

In this period of European history, Austria-Hungary was an empire full of tensions not only between the regions and their Hapsburg rulers, but between various ethnic groups at odds over religion and politics. Franz Ferdinand is known to have worried about these tensions, and the prospect of the empire disintegrating, and to have considered ideas for allowing the regions more say in government, and more autonomy. But he was not much liked by the people - his public persona is said to have been cold, sharped-tongued and short-tempered - and his political plans were no more popular among the ruling elites.

According to Wikipedia’s biography, Franz Ferdinand advocated a careful approach towards Serbia - repeatedly opposing hardliners in Vienna - warning that harsh treatment of the Serbs would bring Austria-Hungary into open conflict with Russia, to the ruin of both Empires. On Sunday, 28 June 1914, on a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were shot dead by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of Serbian assassins. Another of the group had tried, earlier in the day, to bomb the Archduke’s motorcade, but that assassination attempt had failed. The group had been coordinated by Danilo Ilić, a Bosnian Serb, whose political objective was to break off Austria-Hungary’s south-Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Yugoslavia.

The assassination gave the Vienna hardliners an opportunity to move against Serbia and its fight for independence: Austria-Hungary demanded impossible reparations, and, failing to receive them, declared war on Serbia. The complex web of alliances in Europe, then, was activated as Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary, Germany declared war on Russia, and France and Britain declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. Thus did begin - on 28 July 1914 - World War I.

More information on the Archduke can be found at Wikipedia, and Bio. Wikipedia has a long entry about the assassination itself, and First World War has video footage of the Archduke arriving at the town hall in Sarajevo. See also media articles today: The Guardian, Washington Post, The Telegraph, BBC.

In late 1892 and 1893, Franz Ferdinand traveled around the world, partly, it is recorded, for medical reasons: the journey served both as a cover and as a means to recover. Science was the journey’s official purpose and Franz Ferdinand traveled under the alias of Count of Hohenberg on the torpedo ram cruiser Kaiserin Elisabeth. He was accompanied by over 400 people, ranging from a navy chaplain to a royal treasurer. Throughout the ten months of the journey, he kept a daily diary - often in considerable detail - and wrote more than 2,000 pages. The diary was published in two volumes in 1896 as Tagebuch Meiner Reise Um Die Erde, 1892-1893. It was reprinted in 2012 (copies available through Amazon, for example). The original 19th century volumes, though, can also be bought on Abebooks, at a price.

Franz Ferdinand’s diary was never translated into English. However, in 2013, Der Spiegel ran an informative article on the newly reprinted two volumes, and an English version of the article is available online. Much information about the Antipodean part of the Archduke’s journey and diary is also available thanks to Weekend Australian Magazine. In Vienna, the Welt Museum is celebrating the centenary of Franz Ferdinand’s death with a major exhibition on the Archduke’s journey based on his diaries.

Most significantly, the full text of Franz Ferdinand’s diary is being made freely available online and in English thanks to an unknown translator and editor (although he/she does provide an email address for contact). The editor states: ‘I invite you, Dear Reader, to follow Franz Ferdinand’s world tour of 1893, day by day, in a new translation into English. This is a work in progress and help is welcome.’

The Franz Ferdinand’s World Tour website is simple and easy to use, with information on the people who accompanied the Archduke, the ship he travelled in, and a chronological list of days with the date, the place, and a link to the diary’s entry for that day.

In the Archduke’s own preface to the 1896 publication, he wrote: ‘To collect all the thousands of impressions that assailed me and to remember in old age what I cherished as a young man, I wrote daily notes from its beginning of the voyage on. In this, I was also thinking about those who had remained at home. They who could not experience directly the incomparable allures were - if only in weak form - to find a means to participate indirectly in this journey across the world by my offer of my recollections. Thus, I offer my beloved ones and my friends my diary. It contains sights, experiences, thoughts, lessons and hopes to find a level of interest among those for whom it is intended to the extent that it induces affection and friendship.’

Here are a few extracts, the first a shorter entry characteristic of those made at sea, and the second, a longer entry from Franz Ferdinand’s first day in Sydney, which is more typical of the lengthy notes he made when visiting places on land.

3 April 1893
‘The sky was very cloudy and a rainsquall was pouring down in heavy drops, drumming against the deck but quickly evaporate in the heat. Church service was therefore held in the battery.

Still during the morning appeared the Sayer islands, Salang island off the Panga peninsula, in the afternoon the Brothers islands became visible. All these small islands seem to be of volcanic origin, viewed through a spyglass, and thickly covered with tropical vegetation.

During the day we observed tide rips or stream currents that are very common in the Strait of Malacca; these are wave movements that are caused by counter-currents that move in stripes across the otherwise quiet sea and make the steering much more difficult as they cause the ship to drift from its course. I might compare these currents to a quickly flowing watercourse in a sea that flings out foaming, dancing waves at the surface.

An outstanding number of flying fishes, large schools of dolphins as well as fish similar to tuna were mingling. The latter ones pursued, jumping out of the water, smaller fish while these in turn were followed by large birds similar to common dabs that I could not determine more precisely.

The evening was tepid and mild, so that I whiled away an hour on the bridge before I went to sleep, fanned by the the cool evening air, lost in the view of the southern starry sky which I consider by the way inferior in diversity, beauty and splendor of the zodiacs to the northern sky.’

16 May 1893
‘The youngest continent would not receive the sons of the old world in bad weather. As I arrived on deck at half past 6 o’clock, I found the sky clear and serene. The sun was just rising. The sea had calmed down to some degree. Various seagulls and sea swallows as well as large guillemots or penguins were swarming around our ship which was approaching the entrance to Sydney, Port Jackson. The day was gorgeous but the temperature was so low that we were well advised to wear warm coats. From afar we could see the two white shining capes or peninsulas - Outer North and South Head - through which the approach to the harbor leads. These peninsulas descend steeply into the sea with sharp rocky faces and cliffs. Splashing, the waves break against the shore. Hundreds of crag martins and common swifts were tweeting and circling above their nesting places. On Outer South Head is a light house. The entrance is rich in flashy direction obelisks. On a small steamboat the pilot was approaching toward us to take the position of our our old captain from Port Kennedy.

All the harbors that I have yet seen are surpassed in the beauty of its scenery by Sydney - a view shared also by the other gentlemen who saw it for the first time.

Despite many enthusiastic descriptions of Port Jackson we have received, the scenery that opened up before our eyes still surprised us and our astonishment and admiration grew minute by minute.

Having passed through the outlying mountains the ship enters into a narrow channel turns hard towards Southwest - and now there lies a delightful sound in front of us. In the distance the sea of houses of Sydney are glittering, to the right and left small bays are open, surrounded by green hills covered with trees and countless villas and country homes whose gardens were filled with splendid flowers in the calendar autumnal colors. Overall it creates an extremely lively and serene view. The bays are populated with steam boats, yachts and boats of all kinds whose passengers wave greetings to the entering “Elisabeth”. Truly, Australia could not have offered us a more welcoming reception! We saw this as a good sign for our stay which we were looking forward to in a very good mood.

The fine clear cool air that refreshed us contributed in no small part to the great first impression - doubly welcome after the sweltering humid heat of Java that flags both mind and body.

Our joyful mood was even more increased by the German consul general Pelldram, who also represented Austria-Hungary here at the moment and had come to greet us and handed us three messages at the same time.

The whole force of the sanitary police regulations which is applied especially against ships coming from Batavia we had to endure too. First we had to anchor in Watson Bay for the health assessment - a stay we did not have to regret due to the delightful surrounding landscape.

After we had been given permission to proceed, “Elisabeth” continued the journey alongside the picturesque bay shore whose ledges were crowned by small forts and batteries - which seemed to me of subordinate fortification value. We then passed Garden Island with its arsenal and the navy yard of the Australian war fleet as well as Woolloomooloo Bay and then moored at a buoy amidst the warships of the Australian squadron at Farm Cove between Lady Macquarie’s Chair and Fort Macquarie.

The coastal defense is undertaken by the ships of the British navy stationed in Australian waters, the Australian Auxiliary Squadron and of warships in the service of the colony. According to the Australasian Naval Force Act of 1887 the Australian colonies pay an annual contribution of 1,092,000 fl. in Austrian currency to the British government for it to provide the Australian Auxiliary Squadron. Furthermore the construction costs borne by the British government for the ships of this squadron carries an interest of 5 percent paid by the colonies but the overall annual interest is not allowed to surpass 420.000 fl. in Austrian currency. This Auxiliary Squadron consists of 5 fast cruisers and 2 torpedo cannon boats and is commanded by a British Rear Admiral who also is in command of the squadron of the ships of the British navy stationed in Australian waters. This squadron consists of 1 armored ship, 3 cruisers, 3 cannon boats and 1 steam yacht; its main station is Sydney. The war fleet owned by the Australian colonies consists in total of 1 armored ship, 2 cruisers, 4 cannon boats, 13 torpedo boats, 2 torpedo barges and 7 steam boats; the majority of theses ships belongs to Victoria and Queensland, while New Zealand does not own any warship.

Next to us was moored the proud British ship of the admiral, the armored cruiser “Orlando“, with 5600 t; next to it followed the cruiser “Royalist” and the cruiser “Mildura” of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron besides the cannon boat “Boomerang” and the cannon boat “Paluma” owned by the colony of Queensland which is used at shared cost by the colony and the British government to map the coast. On these ships our anthem rang out accompanied by the sound of the guns.

In a short time appeared Lieutenant Governor Sir F. M. Darley, accompanied by his adjutant and cabinet secretary, and soon afterward the commander of the royal squadron, Rear Admiral Bowden-Smith, as well as the mayor of Sydney, Mr. Manning, came on board to greet me. The governor himself had been recalled to England after only two years of service. His successor is bound to arrive soon. Numerous compatriots namely Istrians and Dalmatians who are doing business in Sydney came on board of “Elisabeth” to look for and find friends and acquaintances.

Dispositions for the next few days were quickly made. Then a boat brought me on land to set foot on the soil of the colony of New South Wales and visit its capital, the oldest city of Australia.

Sydney, which lies on the South coast of Jackson Bay that cuts deeply into the land, is situated on a couple of hills - imposing by the number and size of its buildings - and then by and by blends into villa settlements and the green of the landscape. Founded in 1788 as the seat of the penal colony of New South Wales, Sydney - originally Port Jackson, then named in honor of the secretary of state Viscount Sydney - has grown tremendously namely during the last few years. The population increase of Sydney is best illustrated by the following numbers: In 1800 Sydney had barely 2600 inhabitants, in 1861 95.596, in 1881 already 237.300, on 31 December 1892 including the suburbs already 411.710 inhabitants.

As an important trading and industrial center Sydney owes its rise mostly to the safety and size of its harbor which handles more than three quarters of the total imports and more than half the exports of the colony of New South Wales. In the year 1892 2960 ships with 2,804.549 t entered here and 3067 ships with 2,842.635 t departed; the imports of the colony represented in this year a total value of 249,318.312 fl. in Austrian currency, the exports one of 263,666.964 fl. in Austrian currency.

The boat landed below Government House at Fort Macquarie where the road led along a quay to the city. On this quay there was a very busy life as the large steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company as well as those of the Messageries maritimes are moored and are next to the warehouses of many floors in which wool bales and hides were loaded in and out without interruption. Viewed from the quay the two main streets and main traffic veins of Sydney, George Street und Pitt Street, cross the center of the city running parallel from North to South. Even though many streets are arranged in a grid, this monotonous regularity of modern city design is not much noticed as Sydney is situated on hills which continuously changes the scenery of the streets.

Among the many public buildings of Sydney all built in stone I mention the most remarkable: the university, a colossal building with a grandiose hall in Gothic style which rises at the North end of the beautiful Victoria Park, the cathedral and the newly built Catholic Church of Maria, the splendid Town Hall, the palatial post office with its colonnades and a large tower, the museum next to Hyde Park and finally the parliament.

Pretty houses, many with balconies and verandas, and shops on the ground floor where European goods are sold, line the macadamized streets where a busy crowd is going here and there. The streets are highly urban and still very cozy and friendly. Not the least because the visitor thinks to be in a European city as he sees but white faces, among them especially beautiful women and girls - an agreeable view after the colored and in our opinion not very attractive physiognomy of the natives of the countries we had recently visited.

The streets are very busy which is easy to understand in the case of Sydney as an important trading place. The only thing I find fault with is that they have introduced London cabs that are very uncomfortable for its passengers.

The acquisitions we had to do were fully made in the European manner. The transactions went smoothly and quickly and we appreciated not having to search and haggle for hours as in Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore and Batavia.

Then I paid a visit to the Lieutenant Governor in Government House built in Tudor style and distinguished in its interior by its noble calm elegance of its furnishings. Sir F. M. Darley speaks German fairly well which eased the conversation very much. He showed me the garden of the palace which offers a delicious view of the harbor and Mossmans Bay opposite it with its villa quater of St. Leonard. The garden is well kept and contains a rich collection of Australian tree and bush species.

The next visit was devoted to - I suffer from museum addiction - the museum housed in an imposing building and distinguished by the richness, correct arrangement and good conservation of its objects. As I was first interested in the especially Australian species, I turned towards the mammals to study namely the strange class of marsupials. Among the well stuffed animals were represented various kangaroo and wallaby species, from the giant kangaroo to the lovely rock wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), oppossums, the flying squirrels, various species of quoll and possums, the Australian koala, wombat, dugong, the wild dog dingo or warragal and the platypus.

The bird world of Australia is completely represented. Noteworthy are: the New Dutch cassowary or emu; the rare lyrebird; the numerous species of intensely colored cockatoo and parrots, as well as the group of swamp and water fowl which included many species of which I was unaware. Australia seems to be poor in predator birds and chicken species according to the survey presented in the museum while the order of the pigeons has beautiful specimens. One well stuffed specimen of every bird species is presented in a glass cabinet. Thousands of bird bodies, however, are kept in chests to serve as exchange objects from time to time.

The museum possesses too a rich collection of corals and shells, of beetles and butterflies and finally an ethnographic one of objects from the continent and the islands of Australia which I intended to see during a second visit.

In the mean time, the clock struck five, a time where the streets of Sydney are filled with the vivid traffic as the inhabitants of this city tend to go out into the open air at that time.

Following this example we ambled in Hyde Park and in George Street until it was time for the table d’hôte at the Australian Hotel which I intended to attend.

This giant building six floors high resembles in construction, dimensions and installations the English and American hotels but with the agreeably appreciated difference that one did not have to rely only upon English cooking of roast beef and anodyne vegetables but was well supplied with food and drink. The table d’hôte reunited in a large hall a large company. The gentlemen were, according to English custom, wearing dress coats, the ladies even in mostly low-cut festive dresses. Not much laudable can be said about the dinner music performed by some artists who elicited awful sounds out of their instruments.

As the operetta theater that it was said offered good performances was closed and a circus had just left Sydney the day before, there were only two entertainment locations for us who had been deprived of “artistic” divertissement for a long time - the two music halls “Tivoli” and “Alhambra” in which popular singers, among them also Negroes, and female dancers produced themselves in front of the audience that applauded in the manner of the land by shrill whistling and was not particularly distinguished. The audience consisted mostly of workers, sailors and small business men.’

23 August 1893
‘In the morning I again tried my luck to do some shopping in Yokohama and in fact this time guided by the kind Baron Siebold who was completely familiar with Japan and all its aspects thanks to his stay of many years here and also speaking the Japanese language. Unfortunately my efforts were unsuccessful as I tried in vain to find silk and brocade like I bought in Kyoto. I everywhere received the answer that the cloth would have to be ordered first from Kyoto. In contrast I managed to enlarge the board menagerie with lovely white bantams - a full aviary - and enlarge it with one of the already rare cock with their tails of multiple meters in length. I also sent two very cute bears on board that soon became the darlings of the crew and learned in the shortest time to wait in place. Hopefully they arrive at our home healthy as they are intended to be the grace and live in the castle moat at Konopiste.

In the afternoon I wanted to be back in Tokyo and, to evade the lurking eyes of the police, sent Clam and Pronay directly to the capital where they too were festively received by a crowd of over a thousand people and a corresponding contingent of policemen, while I with Siebold exited at the next to last stop and entered Tokyo in rickshaws. The maneuver succeded too so that we could spend a few hours fully unrestricted and eat a dinner in a restaurant of the beautiful Ueno park.’

1 comment:

James said...

You leave out that he traveled a lot to hunt. From Wikipedia:

"Franz Ferdinand had a fondness for trophy hunting that was excessive even by the standards of European nobility of this time.[22] In his diaries he kept track of an estimated 300,000 game kills, 5,000 of which were deer. Approximately 100,000 trophies were on exhibit at his Bohemian castle at Konopiště[23][24] which he also stuffed with various antiquities, his other great passion.[25]