This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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A Royal Family

19 September 2014




Once upon a time there was a prince who lived in a grand palace.
On summer evenings, he and his beautiful  wife enjoyed nothing better
than to listen to their children play music together.
 

Until one day when it all vanished in a flash. 


These might be the opening lines of a fairy tale,
except that it is a true story. 


It begins with a photo postcard of three musical children whose father was the Erzherzog Leopold Salvator, an Austrian Archduke of the Habsburg-Lorraine royal family. His oldest son Rainer sits at an ornate grand piano, while younger brother Leopold and sister Antonie stand on either side holding violins. The photographer, Nashbruck Verg. (?), has left a nice embossed logo in the lower right corner with a date of 1908. Notice that the two boys wear sandals under their sailor suits and short pants, which seems a very modern footwear for the 1900s.

But Rainer, Leopold, and Antonie were just three of 10 children of the Erzherzog Leopold Salvator (1863 – 1931) and his wife, the Infanta Blanca of Spain (1868 – 1949).  Altogether there were 5 boys and 5 girls. Antonie, or more properly Maria Antonia, had 3 older sisters. In this next postcard, father Leopold sits on the left with his youngest child, Karl Pius, and mother Blanca stands center.




All the children shared the title Erzherzog, or Erzherzogin for the girls, which translates from German as Archduke or Archduchess. It came by way of their father, Archduke Leopold Salvator. Though he was born in Bohemia, Leopold was a member of the Tuscan, Italy branch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine which was one branch of a very complicated family tree of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire. He was the eldest son of Archduke Karl Salvator and Princess Maria Immaculata of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who produced 10 children. He was also the grandson of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Archduchess Blanca was the eldest child of Carlos, Duke of Madrid, a claimant to both the throne of Spain and the throne of France too, and his wife Princess Margherita of Bourbon-Parma. The title Infanta is used in Spain to signify a daughter of royal blood. However Blanca's father was born in Slovenia, and her mother in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.
 
This tangled lineage of royal houses was once common knowledge in past centuries when royalty was the only celebrity status that mattered. In 1908, noble blood lines were particularly convoluted in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as it held a great many national groups in what was then a very large country. 


Archduke Leopold Salvator
of Austria, Prince of Tuscany
Source: Wikipedia

As one of many Archdukes in the Austrian nobility, Leopold Salvator was given various state duties by Emperor Franz Josef who was simultaneously Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary in a political arrangement that kept the two principal parts of the empire, Austria and Hungary, on a more or less equal status. This created the uniquely Austrian German term kaiserlich und königlich  meaning Imperial and Royal, usually abbreviated k.u.k.  Leopold found service in the k.u.k. army as an inspector of artillery and seems to have had an excellent tailor for his magnificent uniforms. Did you spot his spurs in the previous photo? Leopold was a first cousin and exact contemporary with the Emperor's nephew and heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was also born in 1863 to Leopold's mother's sister. 





In this postcard, the Salvator family stands outside on the terrace of one of their residences in Vienna. Only seven children and the family dog are with their parents. Missing is the very youngest son and two oldest daughters. Infanta Blanca was very proud of her Spanish heritage and took special efforts to give her many children an education suitable for their high ranking position in a multinational society. In 1944 a book about the second youngest son, Archduke Franz Josef, was written by Bertita Harding. It is entitled Lost Waltz: A Story of Exile and in it she describes details of mother Blanca.

Of greater importance than her accent was the Infanta's choice of reading matter. For entertainment of the younger children she kept on hand the Contes de Fees or fairy tales published by Hachette's famed Bibliotheque Rose Illustre. This fascinating gold-beveled edition was garnished with steel engravings that were either of a cloying sweetness, adored by the very young, or else capable of arousing the most horrendous fright.

Here were the old familiar stories, dear to childhood everywhere. But with a difference. Due to the Infanta's zeal for variation, which in her case was phonetically no variation at all, the listeners became at times confused. Mama liked reading the same tale successively in four tongues, which called for mental agility on the part of her audience. Quite early the children learned that Cinderella was at the same time Cendrillon in French, Cenicienta in Spanish and Aschenbroedel in German. Equally Little Red Riding Hood became Petit Chaperon Rouge, Caperucita Roja, or Rotkappchen, while the dread figure of Bluebeard reappeared as Barbe Bleue, Barba Azul, or the ominous Blaubart.






Palais Toskana, Wien
Source: Wikipedia
The Salvator family home in the city of Vienna was known as the Palais Toskana, a palatial residence built in 1867 in the neo-classic style. I suspect that the previous photos were taken at this home. 





Archduchess Maria Antonia (1899 – 1977) was baptized with the names Maria Antonia Roberta Blanka Leopoldina Karole Josepha Raphaela Michaela Ignatia Aurelia, but was called Mimi by her family. One can only wonder what pedigree names were given to the dogs, but this alert dog standing by her was more than a family pet.

The postcard caption reads:

Erzherzogin Maria Antonia mit
ihrem Hund der für Kriegszwecke
zur Verfügung gestellt wurde.  

Archduchess Maria Antonia with
her dog
which was used
for 
war purposes.

On June 28, 1914 Maria Antonia's cousin, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo. A month later Austria and the rest of Europe was at war.

_





Archduke Rainer (1895 – 1930) was born in Agram, now known as Zagreb, Croatia. His full name was Rainer Karl Leopold Blanka Anton Margarete Beatrix Peter Joseph Raphael Michael Ignaz Stephan. As the eldest son of Archduke Leopold his future was planned for him from birth, and service in the Emperor's k.u.k. army was a duty in time of war. 

His younger brother Archduke Leopold (1897 – 1958), also born in Agram, was given the names Leopold Maria Alfons Blanka Karl Anton Beatrix Michael Joseph Peter Ignatz von Habsburg-Lothringen.

In 1914 at the start of World War I, both Rainer, age 19, and Leopold, age 18, joined an artillery regiment as lieutenants, no doubt through their father's influence. Leopold distinguished himself in 1917 at the Battle of Medeazza, near Trieste, Italy and was awarded the prestigious Order of the Golden Fleece by his great uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph in one of the last honors given by the old Emperor who died in 1916.   

(How the Emperor managed to do this months after his death is not explained in Leopold's Wikipedia entry so we will have to accept this as part of the fairy tale. Perhaps the Golden Fleece was a prize for some other good conduct)


_


















In this wartime photo with their mother, the two young officers wear more elaborate dress uniforms. Rainer leans against a piano, which is similar to the one in the 1908 photo but it has different legs. On the wall behind them are portraits of two sisters. Can you spot the sandals?

This photo may have been taken at the family's country residence, a large estate on the edge of the famed Vienna Woods, called Schloss Wilhelminenberg. This very grand house had previously belonged to another royal member of the Salvator family tree who had died childless, and in 1913 it was inherited by Archduke Leopold Salvator. 


_





Schloss Wilhelminenberg
Source: Wikipedia
The first version of this house was built in 1781 but by 1903 it had became dilapidated and was demolished and rebuilt in the new Second Empire style. In the book Lost Waltz: A Story of Exile there is this description:

At Schloss Wilhelminenberg there were eighty-six servants, all told. This included chauffeurs, grooms, stableboys, valets, cooks, maids, gardeners, gatekeepers, laundresses, dressmakers, mending women, and the nursemaid Resi. Most of these workers, with the exception of the valets, personal maids, and Resi, were housed in separate quarters adjoining the mews, some fifty meters below the archducal home. Daily an administrator set the wheels of the great estate in motion, taking stock of the produce from vegetable and fruit gardens, as well as budgeting the household's needs.


During the war it was converted for use as an army hospital, as was the Archduke Salvator's in-town residence, the Palais Toskana. However the music room of the Schloss Wilhelminenberg probably continued as a center for family concerts. This next photo, courtesy of Wikipedia, shows the Salvator family arranged in a splendid room. Maria Antonia is on the left by her father, and behind her is an older sister with a violin while another brother, Franz Josef, sits at yet one more ornate piano. In the center standing behind his father and sporting a maturing mustache, is Rainer surprisingly with a rotary valve trumpet tucked under one arm.

It looks like a very happy family. But as this must be around 1917 or 1918, they can not know that days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are soon to come to an end.  



Archduke Leopold Salvator and his wife Infanta Blanca
with their ten children
Source: Wikipedia

The end of the Great War of 1914-1918 brought dramatic changes to many countries where monarchies were dissolved in favor of new forms of government. For an Austrian Archduke whose country was on the losing side, this was especially troubling. The life of privilege and entitlement that Leopold and his family had enjoyed for generations came to a crashing halt. There was no longer an emperor or king to serve, and the Austro-Hungarian empire was divided into multiple new nations. The property of royal households was taken over by the new state governments, and Archduke Leopold's personal wealth of lavish houses, fancy uniforms, and gilded pianos was lost forever.

Thankfully no one in this family lost their life in the war but things were never the same after 1918. Archduke Leopold and Infanta Blanca would not recognize the new Austrian republic and were forced to leave Vienna and become exiles from their homeland. Their royal family connections to France and Italy offered no benefit as these countries had been at war with Austria, so Blanca sought asylum in Spain which was granted only after she and her children renounced any claim to the Spanish throne. They moved into a modest house in Barcelona. In 1931 while on a trip to Austria in an effort to recover some of his confiscated properties, Leopold Salvator died at age 67. Now a widow without support, Blanca and three of her children moved back to Vienna, ironically renting three rooms in their former home, the Palais Toskana. When Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, they moved to Viareggio,Italy where they ran a small vineyard until her death in 1949.

Brothers Rainer and Leopold, were allowed to remain in Vienna after renouncing all claims to the Austrian throne. For a time Rainer ran a auto garage and then a motorcycle service delivering film reels to cinemas. In 1930 at age 35 he died of blood poisoning in Vienna. He never married.

Leopold stayed in Vienna as bit longer, but after a failed marriage ended in 1931, he moved to the United States, eventually ending up as a factory worker in Connecticut where he died in 1958.

Maria Antonia stayed with her parents on the move to Barcelona. When her parents become concerned that she might take holy orders and become a nun, she was sent to the Island of Mallorca where she fell in love with a man who belonged to family of minor Spanish nobility. They married and lived in Mallorca with their five children until his death in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. Seeing no prospects in Spain, Maria Antonia emigrated with her children to Uruguay where she married for a second time in 1942. She died in Brazil in 1977.

The grand estate of Schloss Wilhelminenberg was sold to a Swiss banker after the war in 1922, but he lost it in foreclosure to the city of Vienna. For a time it was used by the celebrated Vienna Boys Choir, and in the next war reverted to use as a military hospital. It is now run as a hotel.  



-_ - _-



For thousands of years, musicians depended on royal patronage. Being a member of the aristocratic class meant having lots of leisure time for the appreciation of high culture. The pages of music history are filled with references to noble princes hiring musicians, commissioning composers, or engaging music teachers for their children. Many great musicians like Mozart and Beethoven supplemented their income by giving music lessons to children of royal families. For boys the music was only a recreation but for girls it could be their primary education, as daughters were considered more marriageable if they had accomplishments on a musical instrument. That relationship between royalty and musicians changed just as dramatically with the end of World War One. 

The photos of Archduke Leopold Salvator and his family intrigue me because of their evident love of music. We can not know how serious the children were at learning a musical instrument but the instruments were clearly important enough to be included in these formal Salvator family photos. I don't believe this was a common practice of other wealthy and illustrious Austrian families, so I think it indicates a special family pride in musical accomplishments. 

But the thing that really interests me about these images is that they are postcards. For whom were these postcards made? None of these photos were ever sent through the mail and only two have a name of a collector imprinted on the back. Did cousins across the many branches of the Hapsburg family tree exchange them on the holidays? Were they sold at the corner newsstand like other ordinary tourist postcards? Why did a member of a royal family go to such efforts to have fine photographs made into postcards?

Uncovering the detail about the many domestic servants employed at Archduke Leopold's Schloss Wilhelminenberg got me thinking about a larger family unseen behind the camera. Many household servants probably spent their entire lives looking after royal children, from infancy to adulthood. Despite the differences in class and position, many servants must have developed an affectionate attachment to their royal charges. What could be a better gift for 86 family servants than a collection of souvenir postcard portraits of the Salvator family?

I'm happy to entertain other ideas about why the postcards were made, but this seems to me as good an explanation as any. It is also another example of a class relationship that was destroyed by war and the subsequent collapse of the European monarchies.

Fairy tales do not always end well.
 




This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more sailor suits.



13 comments:

Lorraine Phelan said...

I enjoyed this post - the great photos as well as the background information. Your research is impressive.

Wendy said...

I wonder how difficult it was for those children to adjust to life without riches, without servants. Part of me pities them for having to rent rooms in their own home and part of me admires the resilience they showed in moving on and starting a business.

Little Nell said...

WIth an opening like that who could resist reading on? Another fascinating story and somewhat sad too.

Karen S. said...

You had me at opening line! Marvelous details, and stunning photographs. I always enjoy seeing dogs in those older photos. You are so right about fairy tales not always ending so well.

Deb Gould said...

Amazing story! I think I'm on the side of those who find it sad...
When will we ever learn, anyway, to live peacefully?

La Nightingail said...

The higher you are, the farther you have to fall. At least in their story, the family was left alive and were given the option of renouncing any claim to any throne. Some royal and high ranking families caught on the losing side of a war or rebellion were not so lucky. The family remained strong, however, and persevered so while their fate was a difficult row to hoe, it seems they survived successfully enough.

Bob Scotney said...

A fascinating story with those marvellous postcards thrown in; all part of Europe's history too.

Postcardy said...

Those are great postcards. The decade before WWI was the peak of the postcard craze. Probably the royalty postcards were collected by ordinary people too.

genepenn said...

A wonderful collection of photos to tell a family story - I particularly liked the mother who taught languages by reading a story and swapping languages as she related the tale.

Max said...

Just discovered your blog and such amazing posts as this one. I have a similar blog www.blogaboutpostcards.blogspots.com , but you are the true master of research!

boundforoz said...

That was a fascinating story to go with the photos. The mother is to be much admired, But the old photos are so clear and at times quite tree dimensional. Old style cameras and black and white are tops with me.

Tattered and Lost said...

Weren't they the celebrities of their time? I think of how photos of the Royals in England are sold at every tourist stop. Perhaps these were the same.

I've always found it fascinating when you hear about someone leading an ordinary life with "they are descended from royalty" tacked onto their description. So close, but now so far.

luvlinens said...

Such beautiful photos. Quality printing.

nolitbx

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