Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Hunter Gentleman

I'll sometimes point out oddball moments of European and German history, and how things unravel in ways that you cannot imagine.

There's this kid born on 18 December 1863 in Graz, Austria.  The kid is royalty, but on the scale of things....he's number four down and ought remain a prince for his entire life.  As statistics's a ninety-nine percent that you will go through life....learn how to ballroom dance, get some hunting skills, learn French mostly to chat with some hot lusty French pretender royal gals, develop a passion for dressing well for occasions, and be a first-rate horse enthusiast.  Toss in some knowledge of history, participation in the Catholic Church, and visiting other royal folks to gossip up on affairs and diseases of a suspicious nature....and you got a pretty good life as a prince.

So is destined Ferdinand of the Habsburg Empire.  There are three guys in front of him, and the odds are stacked against him ever getting to the number one spot.

Well....things just didn't turn out well.

There's Archduke Maximilian.....who ends up in Mexico as a royal.  He's the brother of the Emperor (Franz Joseph I).  "Max" ends up as the Mexican Emperor (yeah, who could imagine such a scene).  His reign lasted three years, and then the whole thing fell apart in 1867.  "Max" is executed by Mexican locals, who tossed out the monarchy idea entirely.

There's Archduke Karl Ludwig.....who ends up dying in 1896 of typhoid.

Finally, there's Crown Prince Rudolf, who would have been the absolute guy to take the place of the Emperor one day....except he got married with a Belgian royal baroness gal.  Things never took off, and Rudolf took to drinking....heavily.  What is generally said is that he kinda got fed up with the new wife only after two or three years, and wanted some type of blessing from the Pope to get out of the 'mess' (this would never come).

Rudolf ends up taking up hunting, and buys this great lodge deal in 1887 (Mayerling).  This is six years after the marriage start-up.  Mayerling was a upscale property in the woods.....a manor....that was far away from the inside crowd and private enough that guy could do just about anything he wanted.

From what is written....Rudolf ends up twelve months later after buying the hunting some kind of relationship with a fifteen-year old Baroness.  Yeah, she was underage, and in the immortal words of a fellow Bama-ite...."jail-bait".

Rudolf and this Baroness Mary Vetsara become a hot item.   For three years, the relationship the point where Mary is begging Rudolf to get a divorce from the old wife, and marry her.  This divorce never seems to get serious, and in the end....there is this suicide pact made between Mary and Rudolf, which occurs on 30 January 1889.

Yeah, there's speculation of more to the story....foreign agents....murder....etc.  But a hundred years later....still no solid proof other than two nutty lovers who committed suicide.

All of this puts Ferdinand into the number one seat.  By the time that 1914 had come around.....there was only one thing that Ferdinand had a passion for....hunting.  Yes, an odd hobby, to the extreme.

You see....Ferdinand was kinda obsessive on the hunting habit.  Generally, he was hunting seven days a week.  Based on research and comments written about the Crown Prince.....he probably had killed over 200,000 animals in life.  He had money, time and travel the globe and hunt in just about every single environment possible.

He'd hunted bears, lions, tigers, and elephants.  By the age of forty, he'd amassed a fair-sized collection of weapons, and was probably one of the most knowledgeable guys in Europe at the time....on guns.

All of this brings me to the initial grenade attack on his car....hours before the shooting that was successful.  You see....Ferdinand was fairly quick on grasping situations.  As the grenade came at the Crown Duke.....he deflected it easily.  He wasn't unnerved or lacking perception.  He also didn't back down after the initial attack and ask for more guards.

We are a hundred years past that episode.  It's an odd thing.  Three other individuals should have been number one in line, and they weren't there.  History is written in the margins...things that should occur, and don't.  People written out of a script because they were at the wrong the wrong time.  And in the end....the most prolific hunter in history....gunned down by some subversive dimwits to bring about a change in history.

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