Which of these three rulers would you have preferred to be?

Which of these three rulers would you have preferred to be?

  • German Kaiser Wilhelm II

  • Austro-Hungarian Kaiser Franz Joseph (or, alternatively, his nephew Franz Ferdinand)

  • Russian Tsar Nicholas II


Results are only viewable after voting.

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,731
SoCal
Nicholas II lived for 50 years, though he died violently and a time traveler in his place might reasonably expect to live for 10 or 20 more years if he had genes for average longevity .

Wilhelm II lived for 82 years.

Franz Joseph lived for 86 years.

Thus they probably had genes for somewhat superior longevity, as well as good luck.

So unless the time traveler had a plan to advance geriatric medicine it would be safer for him to become possess Wilhem I or Franz Joseph than Nicholas II.
Nicholas's sister Xenia lived into her 80s--as did their mother. Meanwhile, Nicholas's sister Olga lived into her late 70s. Thus, it's not out of the question for Nicholas to live into his 80s or even his 90s--though I do agree that him dying at age 80-something is much more likely than him dying at age 90-something.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,731
SoCal
Concerning Franz Ferdinand and his trialist project, I will try to summarize his plans. One thing to note: Ferdinand's trialism project wasn't meant to stop Slav ambitions, no, trialism was meant to stop the ambitions of another influential people group: the Hungarians. Ferdinand considered the Compromise of 1867 a big mistake. In 1897, Hungary received some concessions regarding financial matters, but their main request was that the Hungarian language be given the status of an official language in the army in all military units stationed in Hungary. Certain Austrian officers serving in Hungary, including Franz Ferdinand himself, bitterly opposed this. In 1902 there was a proposal in the Hungarian Parliament. What was proposed? The formation of a separate Hungarian army and the introduction of the Hungarian language in the military. Franz Ferdinand advised Franz Joseph to use military force against the Parliament. The emperor accepted and on February 19 1906 a Honved battalion entered the Parliament and chased the delegates away. However, Franz Joseph wasn't willing to go any further, much to the disappointment of Franz Ferdinand. In 1907 relationship between Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand deteriorated. The emperor ordered Ferdinand to go to Budapest to celebrate the 40th anniversaty of the Compromise. The archduke protested. In a July 1907 letter to the emperor, Ferdinand claimed that Hungary was ruled by anti-Habsburgs. That same year, the archduke finally started preparing for his eventual ascent to the throne. Back then, the archduke and the Foreign Minister Aehrental were allies and their main concern was Hungary. However, the very next year, the pair drifted apart and Aehrental started supporting the policy of Franz Joseph i.e. giving concessions to the Hungarians. The Archduke wrote to the emperor on August 17 1909 saying that he cannot agree with Aehrental's plan to give Hungarians more power.
Interestingly enough, the smart move for Austria would have probably been to impose universal suffrage on Hungary in 1907. Russia would have been incapable of militarily intervening and thus Austria could have easily crushed Hungary--with or without German help.

1917 would have been different from 1907 due to the fact that Russia would have had a decade of recovery in the intervening ten years had WWI not broken out in 1914. Thus, while it's possible (though certainly not guaranteed!) that Russia would have militarily assisted the Hungarians in 1917, this was much, much less likely in 1907 when Russia was still recovering from the shock of both the Russo-Japanese War and the Revolution of 1905.

Ferdinand's support was in the military. One thing to note: Franz Ferdinand and Conrad von Hotzendorf WERE ALLIES, CLOSE ALLIES. Conrad only became the Chief of Staff in 1906 because the Archduke pushed for his appointment. This is how Alexander von Brosch-Aarenau described the relationship between Conrad and Ferdinand: „The Archduke found in Conrad a right man with whom he can cooperate in the matters regarding the creation of a single army. It was to the Archduke's credit that this able general was given a position that suits him.“ Conrad also sent a memorandum to the emperor in 1907 opposing any further concession to Hungary. In 1911, Conrad went too far and suggested a preventive war against Italy. The emperor dismissed him, but Franz Ferdinand bitterly opposed Conrad's dismissal and wrote a letter to the emperor begging the emperor not to dismiss Conrad. In this letter, the Archduke listed 4 main enemies of the Empire in his opinion: the Hungarians, Jews, Freemasons and socialists. Conrad was dismissed, but was reinstated the next year, once again because Franz Ferdinand intervened. Ferdinand's thoughts about Hungary are perhaps best shown in his letter to the emperor from December 18 1908: „Hungarian spirit, the entire Hungarian body, has always been the same as the latent opposition to the crown. Teacher „History“ as well as military history best proves that the Hungarian nation, whether under the Arpads, the Angevins or the Habsburgs, has always fought against the rights of the Crown and even struck deals with directly with the Crown's enemies.“ In August 1909 Ferdinand went further and said that all anti-Habsburg movements, in Bohemia, South Slavic parts of the Monarchy, Trieste etc. can be traced back to Hungary. Ferdinand's main supporter, apart from the military circles, was Ottokar Czernin. He was constantly advising the Archduke, telling him that if the Monarchy wanted to survive, a single, unified army must be created. Czernin believed that Hungary must lose its 1867 privileges and be reduced to the status of an ordinary province.
Interesting information. For what it's worth, Czernin wrote in his 1919 memoir (In the World War) that FF didn't yet have a fixed plan on how to transform the A-H monarchy. In other words, he wanted to tame the Hungarians, but he didn't yet decide what to do afterwards at the time that he was murdered in Sarajevo in 1914.

The Archduke also had supporters from other people groups of the Empire. There were Romanians and even Slovaks. Milan Hodža was in contact with the Archduke's Belvedere Circle (so called because the Archduke's main residence was Belvedere). Ferdinand was also a staunch absolutionist and always preferred to solve disputed by force. When in 1906 Franz Joseph sent the Hungarian Minister of Interior Gyula Andrassi to meet Ferdinand, Ferdinand told Andrassy that if his reform plans were not accepted, he would march into Hungary with the military. Ferdinand was also a huge anti-Semite. He despised Jews and this is what he had to say about the Jews of Hungary: „A Jew is always on the side of the strong: if it can bring him profit, he is even an anti-Semite.“ Ferdinand wanted to limit the freedom of the press in order to suppress liberal and socialist ideas. In 1913, the Archduke prepared for conflict with Hungary. He started withdrawing units made of Hungarians from Hungary and put units made up of Croatians in their place. That same year, Karl Tersztyánszky von Nádas became the head of the Budapest Corps. He was the Archduke's man.
Interestingly enough, had FF lived and been able to crush Hungary (due to a lack of Russian militarily intervention), it's entirely possible that his absolutism and efforts to support freedom of the press and the like could have eventually triggered a revolution in A-H. I'm serious.

So, what was the purpose of trialism? Weakening Hungary. Ferdinand knew that in 1848/49 the court in Vienna used non-Hungarians to fight the Hungarians and he wanted to repeat that. Ferdinand relied on the people groups: Romanians, Slovaks and Croats. Ferdinand started supporting trialism in 1903 and that same year he said as much to Nicholas II of Russia. Why Russia? Well, who was Austria's main ally in the fight against the Hungarians in 1848/49? Oh right, Russia. Ferdinand knew that there were many supporters of trialism, especially in Croatia. In Croatia the Party of Rights supported the idea, especially the supporters of Josip Frank. The Frankists were extremely anti-Serb so Ferdinand decided to use them in order to divide Serbs and Croats, while at the same time weakening Hungary. However, his plans for Croatia suffered a serious setback in 1905/06 after the publishing of the Resolution of Rijeka and the creation of Croat-Serb Coallition. The Resolution put forward a plan of Slavic-Hungarian cooperation against the hegemony of Vienna. This went against all of Ferdinand's plans. Soon after, in Dubrovnik and Herzegovina, there were protests against the Archduke. Frano Supilo was suspected of organizing the protests, but he claimed that the reactions of the people were spontaneous. After this, FERDINAND SECRETLY ABANDONED TRIALISM. But, he never denounced it in public. This is an excerpt from a letter sent by von Brosch-Aarenau to Ferdinand in 1910: „Who could guarantee that this new unit, consisting of Croatia, Bosnia, Dalmatia and Styria, which would cut Austria off from the sea, would really be loyal to the Emperor and support Austria and the interests of the dynasty? A new Rijeka Resolution could come overnight and the Croats are still in the hands of the Hungarian government.“ Theodor von Sosnosky, who was politically close to Ferdinand, said that Ferdinand only flirted with trialism and that his true dream was Greater Austria. Sosnosky said this: „The Archduke abandoned the idea of trialism because South Slavic resistance increased. He lost faith in Croatia.“
That makes sense. Of course, even without trialism, FF could have pushed for universal suffrage in Hungary to curb the power of the Magyars. Of course, this would have necessitated the non-Magyar peoples of Hungary to actually work together afterwards; else, the Magyars could have still played divide and rule.
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
I'd like to be Wilhelm, although I fear I really wouldn't. He sounds a bit like a swine from what I've read of him.

What makes him interesting is this room to maneuver that he has. I'd like to prevent World War I if I can, and I believe he is the only one with the ability to do that of the three.


Also, Germany is a serious country. The Austrian Hungarian court was arguably less of an operetta show in style than Germany but probably more so in substance, and Russia is too absurd to live in. Would you like to begin your reign as an almost absolute monarch, in a state where large parts of the traditional peasantry still look up to you as an almost divine figure? No thank you, I'd rather not, I guess I'm just not adventurous enough for that.

So, Wilhelm it is - hopefully I can do something useful of him. If not, then at least I will have had the lead role in the most dramatic period in history, with all that implies. What can I say, I'm a sucker for tragedy.
 
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Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
Are you going to fund and support decolonization movements as Kaiser Bill?
My first urge was to say "Only if they're blonde enough and speak a strange more guttural form of German", but then I figured that no.... I probably shouldn't. That didn't turn out too well last time. (Shoo! Down boy! Control yourself! - I guess I am in character already.. no wait, he's trying to take over! SEVER THE ARMMMM ! IT'S ALL IN THE ARM!!!! .... [....] ... It's too late!!! o_Oo_Oo_O)

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On slightly more serious note, no - I don't think I would. It probably would just antagonize France and the UK for very little gain. Looked at through the very long lense of history I can see the logic of Germany wanting its main rivals to get rid of their overseas holdings, as that would shift the European balance of power in Germany's favour... but that is not the kind of objective a statesman can realistically hope to accomplish in a lifetime, so better to focus on the things I can influence - like domestic policy.
 
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Feb 2018
34
Texas
Franz Joseph led a long life and died before his empire collapsed totally, neither did he have a withered arm that he was morbidly fixated on.
 
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