1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Albert (archduke)

For works with similar titles, see Albert.

ALBERT (FRIEDRICH RUDOLF ALBRECHT), Archduke (1817–1895), Austrian field-marshal, was the eldest son of the archduke Charles (Karl Friedrich), and was born on the 3rd of August 1817 at Vienna. After being educated under the careful superintendence of his father, he entered the Austrian (K.K.) army as a colonel of infantry in 1837, and was transferred to the cavalry arm in 1839, becoming a major-general in 1840. A brief period of leave in this year he spent at the great manœuvres in Italy, to learn the art of troop-leading from the first soldier in Europe, Radetzky. He then took over the command of a brigade of all arms at Graz. In 1844 he married Trincess Hildegarde of Bavaria. He had been made a lieutenant field-marshal in the previous year, and was now placed in command of the forces in Upper and Lower Austria. In this position he did much to maintain and improve the efficiency of the troops under his command, at a time when nearly all armies in Europe, with the exception of Radetzky’s in Italy, had sunk to the lowest level. The influence of Radetzky over the young archduke was indeed remarkable. At this time the Austrian generals and staff officers had committed themselves blindly to the strategical method of the archduke Charles, the tradition of whose practical soldiership survived only in Radetzky and a few others. Albert chose to follow the latter, and was thus saved from the pseudoscientific pedantry which brought defeat to the Austrian arms in 1359 and in 1866. His first serious service came in March 1848, when it became his duty, as district commander, to maintain order in Vienna by force, and at the outbreak of revolution in Vienna during the month of March he was in command of the troops who came into collision with the rioters. Owing to the collapse of the government it was impossible to repress the disturbances, and he was relieved from a post which brought much unpopularity and was not suitable to be held by a member of the imperial family. He went at once to the seat of war in Italy, and fought under Radetzky as a volunteer throughout the campaign of 1848, being present at the action of bastrengo and the battles of Santa Lucia and Custozza. In the following campaign he applied for and obtained the command of a division in the II. corps (FZM. d’Aspre), though his previous grade had been that of a general commanding-in-chief. The splendid fighting of the corps at Novara was decisive of the war, and Radetzky named d’Aspre, Count Thurn, and the archduke as the general officers worthy of the greatest rewards. The field-marshal indeed recommended, and almost insisted, that Albert should receive the much-prized order of Maria Theresa. In 1850 he became a general of cavalry, and in 1851 military and civil governor of Hungary. In this important and difficult position he remained until 1860, when he was relieved at his own request. Shortly afterwards he was appointed to succeed Radetzky as commander-in-chief in Italy, and in 1863 he was promoted field-marshal. In the following year the archduke lost his wife, soon after the marriage of their elder daughter to Duke Philip of Württemberg. In 1859 and 1864 he was sent on important military and diplomatic missions to Berlin. When war became imminent in 1866, the archduke took command of the field army in Italy. The story of the campaign of 1866 in Italy will be found under Italian Wars (1848-1870); the operations of the archduke, who disposed of greatly inferior forces, were crowned with success in the brilliant victory of Custozza (June 23), and his reputation as a general-in-chief was firmly established by only eight days of field operations, though it is possible that his chief of staff, Lieut. Field-Marshal von John, contributed not a little to the success of the Austrian arms. The result of Custozza was the retreat and complete immobilization of the whole Italian army, so that Albert was able to despatch the greater part of his troops to reinforce the Bohemian army, when, after being defeated by the Prussians, it fell back on Vienna. On the 10th of July the archduke was summoned to Vienna to take supreme command of the forces which were being collected to defend the capital, but peace was made before further hostilities took place. From this time, under various titles, he acted as inspector-general of the army. Like his father, and with better fortune, he was called upon to reorganize the military system of his country on an entirely new plan, learned, as before, by defeat. The principle of universal short service, and the theory of the armed nation, were necessarily the groundwork of the reforms, and the consequent preparation of all the national resources for their task in war, by the superintendence of peace administration, by the skilful conduct of manœuvres, was thenceforward the task of his lifetime. In 1870 he conducted the military negotiations preparatory to an alliance with France, which, however, was not concluded. The tragic death of his daughter, Princess Mathilde, in 1867, and the death of his brother, Archduke Karl Ferdinand, in 1874, narrowed still further his family circle, and impelled him to even greater activity in his military duties, and to effective participation in the work of many military charities. He retained personal control of the army until his last illness, which he contracted at the funeral of his nephew Francis, ex-king of Naples. His only remaining brother, the archduke Wilhelm, had died a few months before, as the result of an accident. He himself died on the 18th of February 1895. His only son died in childhood, and his nephew Archduke Frederick (born 1856) inherited his great possessions, including the Albertina, a famous collection of books, manuscripts, engravings and maps, founded by Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen.

Amongst the military works of the Archduke Albert may be named Über die Verantwortlichkeit im Kriege (a work which created a great sensation, and was translated into English and French), Gedanken über dem Militärgeist, Uber die höhere Heitung im Kriege, and Kritische Betrachtunger über den Feldzug 1866 in Italien. He also was the principal editor of the military works of his father.

See Duncker, F. M. Erzherzog Albrecht (Vienna and Prague, 189; Mathes v. Bilabruck, "Gedenkrede auf Weiland Sr. K. u. K. H. Erzh. Albrecht," Mil.-Wissenschaftl. Verein, 1895; Teuber, F. M. Erzh. Albrecht, ein Lebensbild (Vienna, 1895).