Head #6 - House of Habsburg (Rev. 17)
Revelation Time Period #6:
The time during which Head #6 was the dominant ruling power in the realm corresponds to the 6th time period of Revelation, which also corresponds to the 6th Church, the 6th Seal and the 6th Trumpet.
1449 AD - 1840 AD
RiseThe fifteenth to sixteenth centuries saw a gradual switch from medieval to modern characteristics. Great changes occurred, including the discovery of new lands with opportunities for trade, wealth and power. Feudalism faded, giving way to absolutism, as monarchs who had ruled indirectly through hierarchies of nobility, began to rule directly over an entire state.1 The territories that developed by 1660, generally correspond to the European states we see today.
As the political landscape shifted, a new power rose to prominence. "The most striking development in German political history during this period, and one that was to have a tremendous influence on the whole history of Europe, was the phenomenal rise of the Austrian house of Hapsburg."2 This family, best known as the ruling house of Austria, was originally seated in what is now Switzerland. It extended its influence and holdings during the 11th to 13th centuries, eventually ruling approximately half of Europe for over six centuries.3
The prince-electors had made the office of Holy Roman Emperor truly elective, and as kings of Bohemia, the Habsburgs held only one electoral vote. However, the Habsburgs aggregated enough land and riches to "enable the dynasty to impose its candidate on the other German electors".4 With the election of Frederick III (1440-93) the imperial crown remained with the Habsburgs for almost four centuries. Only one emperor, Charles VII (1742 to 1745), was not born into the House of Habsburg, but married into it.
As previously discussed, the emperor Frederick was instrumental in defeating conciliarism, which brought power to the monarchy and thus his family's position (see Head #5 for details on the House of Habsburg transition into power in the realm). In addition, it was increasingly useful to have a Habsburg continue as emperor because a large part of their land was in the East, and the Turks were invading eastern Europe (see the 6th Trumpet). The House of Habsburg's continued success was due in large part to its ability to marry strategically. Frederick III, elected in 1440, began a series of strategic marriages, in which his son, Maximilian I (1459-1519) and grandson, Philip, gained extensive land possessions.
"The Habsburg marriages of 1477 and 1496 give rise to a much quoted line of Latin poetry: Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube (Let others make war; you, fortunate Austria, marry). The first marriage is the achievement of Frederick III, elected Holy Roman emperor in 1440. His long reign, to 1493, is a troubled one for Austria and the Habsburgs. But the turning point is his perception that the wealth of Burgundy (whose ruler Charles the Bold has no male heir) could be linked to the imperial dignity (held by the Habsburgs) to the mutual advantage of both houses - a perception so sound that the imperial crown becomes, in succeeding generations, a Habsburg inheritance."5This time period, after the dividing of the Roman Empire, of intermarrying for political reasons was predicted by the prophet Daniel. "And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seeds of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay" (Daniel 2:43). A centralized power in the realm like imperial Rome would not return, even though many attempts were made to unite Europe through strategic marriages. However, centralized influences would exist, such as the House of Habsburg, that provided the strength of iron (Dan. 2:41-42) that would keep the realm strong even though it would remain divided in government.
The holdings of the House of Habsburg reached its greatest extent in the 16th century. Habsburg territories included its heartland in central Europe, Spain, the kingdom of Naples, parts of Italy, most of the Netherlands, and vast colonial possessions in the Americas.6
See map of the Holy Roman Empire in 1648.
Transition:Historians observe that the decline of Habsburg power resulted from nationalistic and reform movements within its terrorities, the rise of liberal western ideas and revolutions that eroded its power. All of these factors will be examined and are historically woven into the framework of the next political entity.
As we've seen during the time period of the 6th Head, the Habsburgs dominated the political landscape of Europe for centuries and were closely identified with the Holy Roman Empire. From the early 1800s, however, Habsburg history is inseparable from that of the Austrian Empire (founded in 1804 to protect the dynasty's imperial status and its land holdings from Napolean). It also became inseparable from what has been termed the Metternich System or Age of Metternich, so called because of the dominant position of Austria and influence of the rigidly conservative politics of Klemens von Metternich. He virtually ruled Austria through a regent's council for the feeble-minded Habsburg emperor Ferdinand I. Other monarchs in Europe were joined together in this Metternich System with Austria as they tried to restore Europe to a stable condition after the upheavals of the French Revolution.
The transition of power from the 6th to 7th head revolves around attempts to resolve the "Eastern Question". This is a term used to describe the challenges the powers of Europe faced as related to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The decline, generally dated as beginning in 1774 when the Ottomans were defeated in the Russo-Turkish War, threatened to unsettle the balance of power in the region. This issue played a major role in shaping the politics and policies of all the major powers of Europe. The question involved not only the problems of the Ottoman Empire, but also the rivalries and power struggles between the great powers of Europe. The Great Powers are identified as Great Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia.
During the 1830s, resolving the Eastern Question became even more critical as the Ottoman Empire was on the verge of collapse at the hands of one of the Sultan's vassals, Muhammad Ali, Pasha and Wali (Governor) of Egypt. Ali had gradually built up his power and desired to build an empire to replace the Ottomans. In the 1830s he stepped out more boldly and successfully launched the First Turko-Egyptian War (1831-1832), the Battle of Konya (21 December 1832) and the Battle of Nezib (24 June 1839).
Metternich had been seen as the "coachman of Europe," successfully dominating the politically scene for many years and capably orchestrating plans and treaties to protect European interests. When war broke out between Egypt and Turkey, Metternich again took the lead in shaping a diplomatic intervention by European powers to save the Ottoman Empire. Yet during the 1830s he grew less able to bring about the same successes. He greatly wanted to crown his career by bringing about an alliance between the great powers of Europe to save the Ottoman Empire.
In 1833, he attempted to solve the question through establishing a conference in Vienna. The location of the meeting in Austria (Vienna), the mediator being an Austrian diplomat (Metternich), and an actual successful signing of an agreement, were important to the prestige and ongoing leadership of Austria in Europe.
Lord Palmerston, the prime minister of Great Britain, wished for the talks to be held in London. London was the largest city in the world at that time and the British Empire had emerged as the world's dominant trade and naval power. As Britain was rising in power and prestige, Palmerston was the "most serious impediment to his [Metternich's] ambitions."7 Metternich feared that London "might become a permanent centre of European affairs, which is what Palmerston actually desired."8 These two leaders were in a contest for power and prestige, all the while holding the fate of other nations in their hands.
Despite Palmerston's stance, in June of 1839, he finally seemed to accept the location of the meeting in Vienna. Metternich worked long and hard to bring all parties together to the meeting in Vienna to settle the question. Metternich felt sure of success because he was sure of Russia's support and proceeded with all confidence to bring about his plan.
Russia and Austria's close relations were not in doubt by Metternich who had repeatedly given assurance to all participants of Russia's support. Nevertheless, in the summer of 1839, Metternich was shocked and humiliated when Russia refused to support the negotiations in Vienna. This action by the Russian tsar, Nicholas I (Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855), not only caused Metternich's plans to fail, but "pushed him aside in solving the Near Eastern crisis" and by the end of the year London became the center of negotiations for the eastern question.9 Thus it was Palmerston who would now steer the great powers toward a resolution.
The importance of this leadership position and impact on the future direction of Europe is a milestone event with far-reaching influence:
"One must understand that the struggle between Palmerston and Metternich for leadership over diplomatic affairs was not only a contest between these two ambitious men but also a conflict between two different ways of thinking [and for] Palmerston a conference was a tool to separate Austria and Russia and to obtain the latter's submission to the will of the liberal Powers."10An agreement was finally reached and on 15 July 1840 the Convention for the Pacification of the Levant was concluded by Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. It granted Mohammed Ali hereditary claim to Egypt, along with other provisions, on the "condition that he would accept this offer within the space of ten days from the moment it was presented to him by the sultan's agent."11
The offer was delivered to Egypt, by the Turkish Mustesbar for Foreign Affairs, on 11 August 1840. The details of the delivery were reported by the The London Morning Chronicle on September 18, 1840:
"By the French steamer of the 24th, we have advices from Egypt to the 16th... The Turkish government steamer, which had reached alexandria on the 11th, with the envoy rifat bey on board, had by his (the Pachas) orders been placed in quarantine, and she was not released from it till the 16th... however... on the very day [August 11, 1840] on which he had been admitted to pratique, the above named functionary had had an audience of the Pacha, and had communicated to him the command of the Sultan, with respect to the evacuation of the Syrian province, appointing another audience for the next day, when, in the presence of the consuls of the European powers, he would receive from him his definite answer, and inform him of the alternative of his refusing to obey; giving him the ten days which have been allotted him by the convention to decide on the course he should think fit to adopt."12Ali did not agree to the terms of the Convention and the signers proceeded to implement the terms by force. By 13 July 1841, the crisis was formally declared as over.
The success of the Convention in 1840 marks a transition from the conservative reactionary system associated with Metternich and Austria's House of Habsburg, to the liberal movement associated with Palmerston.
This battle of ideas was not only fought between leaders of countries, but also among educators, entertainers, politicians, and everyday citizens. It was fought on many fronts, and one in particular spread the ideas and shaped the realm more than any other, repeatedly manifesting in chaos, intrigue and bloodshed. In other words, revolution! Let's turn now to examine this major aspect of the transition of power.
Between 1765 and 1783, the American Revolution occurred, during which the colonists overthrew the authority of Great Britain and went on to create their own constitution. This had a profound effect on Europeans. It provided a real-life prototype demonstrating that it was possible for the people to overthrow a government. The ideas of freedom, liberty and equality took firm root in the realm and soon came to fruition in France in 1789.
The French Revolution began with great optimism, but quickly lost international support as it descended into chaos, violence and terror. It was carried out much differently than the American revolution. Nonetheless, people were again provided with an illustration that governments can be overthrown. For better or worse, this revolution is regarded as one of the most influential in history (see more details about the French Revolution in the prophecy of the Beast that Ascends from the Bottomless Pit.
Next came the many revolutions of the 1800s.
- 1817 Serbia revolted against the Turks
- 1820-21 Revolts in Piedmont, Naples, Portugal and Spain
- 1821-29 Greek War of Independence
- 1825 Decembrist revolt in Russia
- 1830 Belgians revolted against the Dutch and the Poles against the Russians, Revolts occurred in France, Germany and Italy
- 1831 The revolutionary secret society, Young Italy, was formed
- 1834 Young Europe is formed
- 1846 Polish uprising
- 1847 Civil war in Switzerland
- 1848 Year of many revolutions
These movements and revolutions throughout Europe and beyond are historically linked to Freemasonry, a fraternal organization. They are rooted in Masonic principles and largely initiated and implemented by Freemasons. The liberty and democratic principles experienced by so many in the world today can often be credited to the work of this fraternal organization.
Sven G. Lunden, a Freemason writing for the American Mercury Newspaper in 1941, wrote that "practically everywhere, individual Masons have thus been in the forefront in movements of liberation" and "during the whole of the Nineteenth Century, to be a Freemason was tantamount to being a champion of democracy".13 He goes on to list Masons who led democratic movements and worked for liberation throughout Europe and North America, including Hungary, Italy, Turkey and Latin America.
The extent of Masonic involvement in revolutions throughout the world was researched by a Mason and Past Master, Alex Davidson. He shared his findings on the Masonic Pietre Stones website, pointing out a "glaring contradiction in the history of Freemasonry". He traces the involvement of Freemasons in the American Revolution, the French Revolution and proceeds to the revolutions of the 1800s, which were led by Freemasons (including South America, Mexico, Philippines, Italy and Texas). He says that the "great paradox of Freemasonry is that its history is inextricably interwoven with the history of 18th and 19th century revolutions, at the same time as its writings firmly reject political disobedience and condemn subversion and revolt against the government of any land." 14 He concludes that masons are peaceable subjects when their freedoms are protected by the civil powers and that Freemasonry may have been officially neutral in politics, but its members were not.
Freemasons' involvement in revolutions is indeed extensive, and well documented in history. Another Masonic historian, Francis J. Bell, also traced the involvement of Freemasons in revolutions, exploring the "factors that make this call for revolution against 'unjust governments' not the aberration of Freemasonry, in the time period, but the norm". He does not write that Freemasons were the direct reason for the Enlightenment and revolutions, but that it "allowed for both the nurturing of these revolutionary ideas as well as supplying an outlet for them", and in the case of the rebellion in South America, Freemasonry supplied "the doctrine of revolution" and "also the men of action as well as the support network."15
The push for self-determination and nationalism were main components of the revolutionary activity in the countries in which the Habsburgs ruled. These new ideas gradually eroded Habsburg power. The Hungarian Revolution, which had the largest effect on the Austrian government, was led by Freemason Louis Kossuth. He, along with many of the noblemen and leaders in Austria and its territories, were Freemasons.
Metternich was well aware of Freemasonry and made extensive attempts to suppress its activities. His concerns were shared by wide sections of society. Metternich believed that
"several factors linked them [revolts] all: the spread of new ideas, the resentment of unemployed, former bureaucrats and army officers of Napoleonic regimes, the role of the press and universities in spreading new ideas of nationalism, liberalism and democracy. But what concerned him most was the role of secret societies, explicitly dedicated to revolution and insurrection, sects which from time to time attempted to carry out such plans or to assassinate rulers."16One such plan, well known to be used by the Hungarian Jacobins of 1794 and the Decembrists in 1825, was to organise into two groups, one with a fairly liberal program, and the other, which directed the first, with an outright revolutionary program.17 The potential for recruitment was extraordinary, as seen in the Carbonari, a revolutionary secret society patterned after Freemasonry, which was able to recruit an estimated 400,00 to 600,000 members for the revolution in Italy in 1820.
Secret societies have their foundation in Freemasonry, and Freemasonry has its foundation in Britain. British ideas, such as constitutionalism, spread across Europe via Freemasonry, and this process had already been in motion during the previous century. "By the 1730s masonic lodges were popping up all over western Europe, often sponsored by official representatives of the British government or by their Jacobite opponents."18
Lord Palmerston, most of the British royal family, key politicians, military leaders, clergy, professionals and many others were all Freemasons. It was fashionable to be a Mason. At times, the "summonses of the Lodge read like a Who's Who of the aristocracy and social elites."19
To put all of this together, it can be seen that Freemasonry was the political entity serving as the driving force behind the following events that brought about the end of the House of Habsburg's dominant position in the realm:
- (a) the shifting of power out of Metternich's/Habsburg's Austria to Britain/Western European powers,
- (b) the spread of new ideas that eroded Habsburg power within its territories, and
- (c) the organizing of revolutions throughout the realm that overthrew governments.
Decline:During the 1840s and second half of the 19th century, Austria's and the Habsburg's position and prestige greatly dimished. From the major political events related to the Eastern Question, to the political rivalries of the great powers, to the internal chaos of revolution, to the private discussions and public writings that undermined the old way, Freemasonry was at work, becoming the most powerful political influence in the Roman realm.
The role of the Habsburgs, gradually diminishing since 1715, was irreparably altered during the 1840s. They continued to play an important role in politics, even after losing dominant power in 1840, but neither they nor Austria, ever had the same level of control and influence over European affairs. Their leadership eroded even further during the late 1800s and into the 1900s, until they were eventually banned from Austria unless they became private citizens. It was World War I that finally led to the dismemberment of the Habsburg Empire.20
Continue to: Head #7
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- 2. A Survey of European Civilization, page 393.
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- 7. Metternich, the Great Powers and the Eastern Question, Miroslav Sedivy, page 753.
- 8. Metternich, the Great Powers and the Eastern Question, Miroslav Sedivy, page 754.
- 9. Metternich, the Great Powers and the Eastern Question, Miroslav Sedivy, page 772.
- 10. Metternich, the Great Powers and the Eastern Question, Miroslav Sedivy, page 776.
- 11. Metternich, the Great Powers and the Eastern Question, Miroslav Sedivy, page 800.
- 12. The London Morning Chronicle, Sept. 18, 1840.
- 13. Sven G. Lunden, American Mercury Newspaper, 1941.
- 14. "The Masonic Concept of Liberty", W.Bro Alex Davidson, Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry, last modified 1 Apr 2008, accessed 5 Aug 2016, http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/Davidson.html
- 15. "True Believers: Freemasonry, Revolutionary Thought and the Rise of Simon Bolivar", Bro. Francis J. Bell, http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/freemasonry_bolivar.html.
- 16. Metternich and Austria: An Evaluation, By Alan Sked, page 10.
- 17. Alan Sked, Metternich and Austria, page 21.
- 18. Margaret C. Jacob, Living the Enlightenment, page 90.
- 19. "Winston Churchill A Famous Man and a Freemason", Yasha Beresiner, Mason and Past Master, http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/beresiner7.html) (The Freemasons' Magazine and Masonic Mirror, Volume XVIII, January to June 1868, Page 170.
- 20. Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.uv.es/EBRIT/macro/macro_5002_77_6.html.