Rudolph was the Shining Prince of the moldering Austro Hungarian Empire. He inspired hope in his people that there was light at the end of a dark tunnel of military defeats, economic stagnation, missed opportunities, and groveling humiliation at the hands of the arrogant Junkers. Rudolph gave his people hope that they would survive the Fin de Siecle to see in the Twentieth Century with hope instead of despair.
Rudolph presided over many world expositions, conventions, trade shows, civil events, military events, and Pomp & Circumstances. Rudolph’s calendar showed between 10, 20, 30, even 40 events a day. Up to 200 a week sometimes. This is the same work load as his father. But Rudolph was a much more visible Royal. He visited more cities and towns and villages than any Royal. He traveled across more of the Empire than any Royal. He inspected more schools and hospitals than any Royal. His hours were seven to five plus required evening court balls and balls at court (two totally different things you understand!).
He traveled Europe as the Royal Face of the Habsburgs more than any Royal (Sisi’s flight really not counting as anything but aimless flight). He represented the Empire at Victoria’s Jubilee and he had just booked an event in Berlin just before he went to Mayerling. So Rudolph was the face most Austro Hungarians envisioned. Not Sisi. Not Francis Joseph. And what the ordinary people loved most about their Shining Prince was that he was so informal and gracious in his magnanimity. He did not wrap Spanish Etiquette around himself. He reached out. And he could speak to almost anyone in their own language and converse with them as if they were special. Rudolph was the People’s Prince.
Rudolph took his job seriously as a student prince. He started a 20 volume series of books on the Austro Hungarian Monarchy In Words And Pictures. Rudolph wrote military dissections of battles and long memorandums and reports to modernize the military as well as reports on inspections of every part of the military. Rudolph wrote over 40 ornithology (bird) articles and co-founded conservation organizations for promoting bird preservation. Rudolph wrote many political and reformist and modernist articles for Szeps’s syndicate of progressive newspapers.
Rudolph championed the Academics and promoted scholars and aided and abetted cutting edge research in to the Sciences as well as Economics. Rudolph was an advocate for Darwin and Pasteur and advocated teaching schools for nurses and for upping the age to keep kids in school beyond twelve years old to learn modern skills of the future Twentieth Century instead of manual skills of the old Nineteenth Century. The Student Prince always regretted not being allowed to go to university and considered that one of his deepest lost opportunities.
Rudolph loved technology and worked on every sort of exposition and trade show which showcased technology and gizmos and the latest inventions. Rudolph was frustrated that the Empire treated cutting edge technology as novelties. He liked to remind people that the inventor of Gaslight was an Austrian and Tesla was a child of the Empire. One of the first cities in Europe to dig an underground transportation system was in his Empire believe it or not. One of the first European cities to electrify was likewise in his Empire. Rudolph was aggressive in promoting advances in communication such as the ‘Twitter’ style instant telegram and was fighting to expand the telephone system at the time of his death.
Rudolph supported Baron Hirsch’s twenty year dream of building the Transcontinental Orient Express Railroad Corridor to link London to Paris to Munich to Vienna to Budapest and then on through the Hinterland to Bucarest to the underused port of Varna to ferry to Istanbul. A second branch of the complex railroad corridor detoured through Belgrade and then on through the ‘Wild East’ of the Balkans before heading on to Istanbul. Another projected branch would run from Paris to Milan and Venice and then on to Belgrade and Sofia to end at Istanbul.
This ultramodern express railroad corridor would feature not only modern infrastructure but rapid cross border trade routes to speed up delivery while bringing down costs of global trade as well as revolutionizing rapid express commuter trains. The dream railroad corridor would then leap over Europe to Asia from Istanbul to roll across the Near East into India and perhaps even China.
Hirsch finally achieved part of his dream in 1888 and then retired. The Berlin Railroad built the Near East link. But the growing calls of War by Berlin prevented the express train corridor from crossing Persia into Afghanistan and on to India. Much less China. So the dream was never achieved to create a rapid transcontinental land corridor to circumnavigate around the Suez for both trade express and passenger express.
Rudolph supported Hirsch’s twenty year project when no one else in Vienna did. He is reputed to have personally delivered a bribe couched as ‘jizya tax’ to the Sultan of Istanbul to buy permission to finish the route over Islamic protestations despite the fact the Young Turks knew that the ‘Sick Man of Europe, the Ottoman Empire, desperately needed the economic kick start which this express railroad corridor would provide. Rudolph allowed himself to be humiliated by the mad Sultan of Istanbul to secure the completion of the express corridor which would kick start his own empire’s moldering economy. If the Ottoman Empire was the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ then the Austro Hungarian Empire was the ‘Second Sick Man of Europe’. Both moldering empires desperately needed this railroad corridor to kick start their economies.
Rudolph, who was trained by no less than Carl Menger of the Vienna School of Economics, knew that his empire desperately needed this kick start. As usual, Francis Joseph was totally oblivious and Prime Minister Taaffe only sneered Rudolph for agreeing to deliver the bribe couched as ‘jizya’ while implying that anyone who would associate with Baron Hirsch’s scheme had to be corrupt. Bribed. Bought. It was beyond Vienna or the Corrupt Camarilla’s comprehension to envision what an express railroad corridor across the continent could do economically. Today it would be like sneering that airports were useless because transportation by flight was redundant. It was that mentality which was crippling the empire.
Rudolph also pressured Baron Hirsch to extend credit lines to the Jewish colony of Trieste to finish the crucial dry dock expansion which the port desperately needed. Maximilian was the brilliant and glamorous younger brother of Francis Joseph. So the bitter older brother hated Maximilian. Maximilian was a navy man. A Trieste man. So after Maximilian died so tragically Francis Joseph ignored Trieste which by default became the Empire’s only port after the loss of Venice. Francis Joseph ignored Maximilian’s Navy and Dry Dock Expansion schemes. Italy dangerously wooed Trieste. This scheme would leave the empire landlocked. [Italy finally did snare Trieste but has never treated Trieste especially well.]
Rudolph pressed the Dry Dock Completion Scheme to transform Trieste from an underused port into a key port on the Mediterranean. Rudolph helped the Jewish based ‘Trieste Lloyds’ Syndicate to expand its vital Suez Trade. Rudolph also pushed to modernize the rickety railroad corridor linking Trieste to Budapest and Vienna and to include it on the proposed Orient Express Railroad Scheme.
Rudolph in 1888 also pressured Baron Hirsch who desperately wanted to retire to become a full time philanthropist and give all of his millions away to charity to extend some last crucial credit lines to the merchant marine and importer/exporters of Trieste and to also expand the crucial Trieste Coffee Syndicate & Consortium. None of this would have been done by either Francis Joseph or Taaffe. Instead of being thanked, Rudolph was criticized as a Jew Lover and a corrupt minion of Hirsch. Rudolph was vilified.
Rudolph phase for electricity as a ‘Ocean Of Light’ became famous after his electric exposition in Vienna. He was its patron. Remarkably, no member of his family or the Hofburg or Prime Minister Taaffe bothered to attend. It was a visible back handed gesture of contempt which was all to tragically typical of his family and authorities who went out of their way to ridicule or humiliate Rudolph in public as well as in private.
Francis Joseph and Sisi never supported Rudolph in anything he did. They judged Rudolph by the Victorian standards: how well did Rudolph ride a horse? Not very well. Rudolph hated horses. So according to Francis Joseph and Sisi Rudolph was a coward and a failure. Rudolph also could not drink everyone under the table or fornicate lustily or dominate the parade grounds in extravagantly useless hussar uniforms. More failure. Rudolph’s passions for modernity were tossed aside as piffle and dross. Science? Economics? Technology? Bah! And don’t even mention Darwin or ornithology (Bird Studies). As for Rudolph’s dissections and taxidermy! Well! Dissecting humans is illegal in Catholic countries and as for birds! Well! What is the point? You eat a bird on the plate! You don’t draw it or else mount it in a natural museum!
Rudolph was a famous Anglophile and Francophile and Americanophile. He wanted his moldering empire to copy the blueprint of success of Britain and America. Britain and America inhabited the top spots in national productivity, inventions, science, technology, per capita GNP, and general prosperity in a brutal century. The growing middle class was still a novelty and the poor still outnumbered the middle class. But still! The novelty was that there was a middle class and for the first time in the history of the world the middle class was growing and becoming the dominate class. This was economically revolutionary. Please google ‘The Great Divergence’ and see how amazing this convergence of economics, technology, science, democracy, meritocracy, due process of law, productivity, secularism, freedom, and prosperity was.
Rudolph wanted to use the blueprint for success posed by Britain and America to revitalize his own moldering empire. The tragedy was Francis Joseph and Taaffe did not even understand the concept. The ‘Third Estate’ would lose their greatest champion when Rudolph died.
Like Sisi, Rudolph found the Hofburg and its obsessive Spanish Etiquette suffocating. But unlike Sisi, Rudolph did not use his many illnesses and nervosa to run away. Rudolph worked mano y mano exactly as many hours as Francis Joseph and persisted in trying to pierce Taaffe’s stranglehold into the Inner Sanctum to contact the oblivious Francis Joseph. Rudolph was toiling away up to the last hours of his life trying to salvage a defense bill mucked up by a Budapest politician. And Rudolph not only booked an appointment for the poor man to train to Vienna to meet Rudolph but Rudolph booked a fresh appointment in Berlin. Would a suicide work as if an obsessive compulsive workaholic up to the last hours of his life?
If Rudolph went to Mayerling regretfully accepting the necessity of death he was going under a military execution to shoot himself or else by shot on January 30st at 6:30 A.M. But Rudolph worked up to the early hours of night so Rudolph worked with the hope that the man who signed off on that military hit might change his mind: Francis Joseph. Why else work so hard? Rudolph still hoped to live to be the Shining Prince of the Twentieth Century to lead his people into a bright new future instead of a dismal past. Please read the Crime of the Fin de Siecle!
Rudolph suffered from migraines, asthma with asthmatic panic attacks, and insomnia. Tragically, his court doctor prescribed the standard treatment: morphine — and cocaine for his glaucoma. The court pharmacy ledger records the reckless over prescription of drugs by the royal doctors for all of their royal patents. It was recklessly irresponsible. ‘Addiction’ was a novel concept which even the brilliant young Freud failed to understand for the longest time. Because Rudolph suffered from Anxiety Depression with PTSD and probable OCD he was an ‘addictive personality’. That is why he could not drink like most Victorians. His body was too fragile and his body’s chemistry was too volatile. So alcohol and drugs effected him more.
Until 1900 morphine and cocaine and opium and laudanum and heroin were not banned or even regulated. A patient trusts a man in a white coat or in the Nineteenth Century a man in a black frock coat.
Dr. Widerhofer betrayed Rudolph before his death and betrayed him again after his death by lying under oath that Rudolph died of syphilis when Dr. Widerhofer only treated Rudolph once for gonorrhea. What a despicable betrayal! Please see Rudolph A Man And His Demons for more information about Rudolph’s morphine use and his proven weaning from it.
Rudolph was pummeled into hunting by the Brutal Colonel to please his father Francis Joseph who was a famous hunter. There are letters from Francis Joseph to little Rudolph suggesting that hunting could be a consolation for loneliness as well as proof of manliness. As Rudolph grew up Francis Joseph demanded that Rudolph hunt to prove his manliness and valor to prove he was not a coward. But Rudolph’s hunting statistics could never impress his father or earn Francis Joseph’s respect. Father & Son Hunts were exercises in stress and anxiety. Francis Joseph was a demanding taskmaster.
During one hunt Rudolph shot out of sequence and winged Francis Joseph’s gun man. Was it Freudian? But a month later father and son were hunting again. Francis Joseph could be very dense and he always thought Rudolph was an utter failure anyway so the accident probably only confirmed his utter contempt for his son.
As a Royal Habsburg Rudolph was expected by Francis Joseph to be a soldier. Rudolph dutifully became a soldier even though he did not incline toward the military. Rudolph tried to modernize the fossilized military which had sustained endless defeats under Francis Joseph.
Rudolph’s zeal to modernize the army collided with Supreme Commander Albrecht who was Francis Joseph’s uncle. Francis Joseph was so scared of his uncle he never dared fire him even after Albrecht not only became all but blind but increasingly senile and therefore dangerously paranoid. Francis Joseph only once defied the ‘Gravedigger of the Habsburg’s when he forced Albrecht to adopt Rudolph’s long delayed Drill Manual Reforms. This unexpected show of backbone occurred right after Mayerling where Albrecht’s Roll Commandos encircled to execute Rudolph after some paralegal star chamber court martial.
Like the gesture of building a nunnery at Mayerling, Francis Joseph channeled his regret for ordering the military execution of his son through symbolic gestures of utter meaningless. Please see Taaffe’s Metal Box.
Please see Rudolph the Soldier and also the Gun Crisis for more details about Rudolph’s military career.
Rudolph saw himself as an officer and a gentleman. That was his one Victorian mindset. Rudolph went to Mayerling knowing he would die. Shoot himself or else be shot at 6:30 AM on January 30th. Rudolph thought when he kissed his father’s gloved hand at the German Embassy Ball as Wily smirked that they were agreeing to a quid pro quo. If Rudolph did the right thing as an officer and a gentleman his honor and reputation after his death would be preserved. Instead, a trapped Francis Joseph was forced into covering up a conspiracy by von Holstein to destroy Rudolph with a Berlin manufactured suicide/sex scandal with naked and bludgeoned Mary garnishing the crime scene to prevent the Hofburg from declaring Rudolph’s death that of a heart attack which the Hofburg were preparing to do. Francis Joseph mutely let the machine of state destroy Rudolph’s honor and reputation beyond the pale. Please read the Crime of the Fin de Siecle.
Please read Mayerling to find out the truth rather than the myth which destroyed Rudolph’s honor and reputation forever and obliterated his entire life’s work leaving Rudolph famous for only one thing: morbid Love & Death with a teenager he scarcely knew who invited herself to the scene of his military execution while waving a forged invitation and carrying poison and a civilian revolver.
After Rudolph’s brutal death the Hofburg appeared utterly incapable to counteracting the patented von Holstein /Smutty Petri smear. Mayerling was rapidly turning into another Berlin destruction of yet another enemy of Bismarck such as Leon Gambetta. The people flowed into Vienna and all but rioted in their grief for their People’s Prince. The Hofburg had to do something and fast or a very unpopular dictator would topple from his throne!
Von Slatin manufactured a back fire called the Myth of Mayerling: a Romero and & Juliet double lovers suicide. Love & Death as a fatal romance instead of von Holstein/Smutty Petri’s Venus And Furs sordid sadistic sex murder and cowardly suicide. The rioting people incredulously accepted this piffle despite the fact no facts supported it and everyone in the loop knew the truth was neither a von Holstein/Smutty Petri sex scandal -cowardly suicide or a Love & Death Fatal Romance. The truth was a brutal military hit by Roll Commandos (possibly Lieutenant Vetsera) and certainly with Coburg overseeing it which left Rudolph horribly and brutally murdered. The truth was whispered as the machine of state manufactured The Big Lie to conceal a Terrible Truth.
Francis Joseph died in the depths of WW1 as his empire was imploding all around him. He swore to his final heirs Karl and Zita that evidence existed to ‘exonerate’ Rudolph. But after the old tyrant’s death all the naïve Karl and Zita found was a drawer full of moldering old newspapers. Francis Joseph died lying. His long ago imperial order consigned all of the exonerating evidence away inside Taaffe’s notorious metal box with an imperial order for its contents to never ever see the light of day. Please read Taaffe’s Metal Box.