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Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen

Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria and Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, was the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian Empire from birth. Rudolf was born at Schloss Laxenburg, a castle near Vienna on August 21, 1858, the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth. Influenced by his tutor Ferdinand von Hochstetter (1829-1884) – who later became the first superintendent of the Imperial Natural History Museum – Rudolf became very interested in the natural sciences, starting a mineral collection at an early age.

On January 30, 1889, Rudolph murdered his lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera, and then committed suicide. Rudolph was the only son of Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria and Empress Elisabeth, and heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Rudolph's mistress was the daughter of Baron Albin Vetsera, a diplomat at the Austrian court. The bodies of the 30-year-old Archduke and the 17-year-old baroness were discovered in the Imperial hunting lodge at Mayerling in the Vienna Woods, fifteen miles southwest of the capital.

The death of the crown prince had momentous consequences for the course of history in the nineteenth century. It had a devastating effect on the already compromised marriage of the Imperial couple and interrupted the security inherent in the immediate line of Habsburg dynastic succession. As Rudolph had no son, the succession passed to Franz Joseph's brother, Karl Ludwig and his issue, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This destabilization endangered the growing reconciliation between the Austrian and the Hungarian factions of the empire, which became a catalyst of the developments that led to the assassination of the Archduke and his wife Sophie by Gavrilo Princip, a Yugoslav nationalist and ethnic Serb at Sarajevo in June 1914 and the subsequent drift into the First World War.

Following Rudolph's death, large portions of his mineral collection came into the possession of the University for Agriculture in Vienna.

"Crown Prince Rudolf (1858-1889)" (museum notes), Natural History Museum of Vienna, 2006, NHM-Wien-Rudolf.
FITZ, O. (1993) Eine Sammlung erzählt / Beitrag zu Inhalt und Geschichte der Mineralien- und Gesteinssammlung an der Abteilung Baugeologie des Institutes für Bodenforschung und Baugeologie, Universität für Bodenkultur Wien. Mitteilungen des Institutes für Bodenforschung und Baugeologie, Abteilung Baugeologie, Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, Sonderheft 1, 80 p.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
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The Mineralogical Record - Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen Rudolph
The Mineralogical Record - Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen (Label from the collection of Karlheinz Gerl)
The Mineralogical Record - Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen 63 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen 63 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen 56 x 79 mm
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