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The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Austria

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This page contains a list of the greatest Austrian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,577 Politicians, 236 of which were born in Austria. This makes Austria the birth place of the 14th most number of Politicians behind India and Poland.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Austrian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Austrian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Austrian Politicians.

Photo of Adolf Hitler

1. Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

With an HPI of 94.10, Adolf Hitler is the most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 219 different languages on wikipedia.

Adolf Hitler (German: [ˈadoːlf ˈhɪt.lɐ] (listen); 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was dictator of Germany from 1933 until his death in 1945. He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming the chancellor in 1933 and then taking the title of Führer und Reichskanzler in 1934. During his dictatorship, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland on 1 September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust, the genocide of about six million Jews and millions of other victims. Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn in Austria-Hungary and was raised near Linz. He lived in Vienna later in the first decade of the 1900s and moved to Germany in 1913. He was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party (DAP), the precursor of the Nazi Party, and was appointed leader of the Nazi Party in 1921. In 1923, he attempted to seize governmental power in a failed coup in Munich and was imprisoned with a sentence of five years. In jail, he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). After his early release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. He frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as part of a Jewish conspiracy. By November 1932, the Nazi Party held the most seats in the German Reichstag, but did not have a majority. As a result, no party was able to form a majority parliamentary coalition in support of a candidate for chancellor. The former chancellor Franz von Papen and other conservative leaders persuaded President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor on 30 January 1933. Shortly after, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933 which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism. On 2 August 1934, Hindenburg died and Hitler replaced him as the head of state and government. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France. His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the abrogation of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I, and the annexation of territories inhabited by millions of ethnic Germans, which initially gave him significant popular support. Hitler sought Lebensraum (lit. 'living space') for the German people in Eastern Europe, and his aggressive foreign policy is considered the primary cause of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and, on 1 September 1939, invaded Poland, resulting in Britain and France declaring war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. In December 1941, he declared war on the United States. By the end of 1941, German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were gradually reversed after 1941, and in 1945 the Allied armies defeated the German army. On 29 April 1945, he married his longtime lover, Eva Braun, in the Führerbunker in Berlin. Less than two days later, the couple committed suicide to avoid capture by the Soviet Red Army. Their corpses were burned. The historian and biographer Ian Kershaw describes Hitler as "the embodiment of modern political evil". Under Hitler's leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of about six million Jews and millions of other victims, whom he and his followers deemed Untermenschen (subhumans) or socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 28.7 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European theatre. The number of civilians killed during World War II was unprecedented in warfare, and the casualties constitute the deadliest conflict in history.

Photo of Franz Joseph I of Austria

2. Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830 - 1916)

With an HPI of 84.70, Franz Joseph I of Austria is the 2nd most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I (German: Franz Joseph Karl, Hungarian: Ferenc József Károly, 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916) was Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, and the other states of the Habsburg monarchy from 2 December 1848 until his death on 21 November 1916. In the early part of his reign, his realms and territories were referred to as the Austrian Empire, but were reconstituted as the dual monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867. From 1 May 1850 to 24 August 1866, Franz Joseph was also President of the German Confederation. In December 1848, Franz Joseph's uncle Emperor Ferdinand abdicated the throne at Olomouc, as part of Minister President Felix zu Schwarzenberg's plan to end the Revolutions of 1848 in Hungary. Franz Joseph then acceded to the throne. Largely considered to be a reactionary, he spent his early reign resisting constitutionalism in his domains. The Austrian Empire was forced to cede its influence over Tuscany and most of its claim to Lombardy–Venetia to the Kingdom of Sardinia, following the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. Although Franz Joseph ceded no territory to the Kingdom of Prussia after the Austrian defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the Peace of Prague (23 August 1866) settled the German Question in favour of Prussia, which prevented the unification of Germany from occurring under the House of Habsburg.Franz Joseph was troubled by nationalism during his entire reign. He concluded the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which granted greater autonomy to Hungary and created the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. He ruled peacefully for the next 45 years, but personally suffered the tragedies of the execution of his brother Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico in 1867, the suicide of his son Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889, the assassination of his wife Empress Elisabeth ("Sisi") in 1898, and the assassination of his nephew and heir-presumptive, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in 1914. After the Austro-Prussian War, Austria-Hungary turned its attention to the Balkans, which was a hotspot of international tension because of conflicting interests of Austria with not only the Ottoman but also the Russian Empire. The Bosnian Crisis was a result of Franz Joseph's annexation in 1908 of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had already been occupied by his troops since the Congress of Berlin (1878). On 28 June 1914, the assassination of his nephew Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo resulted in Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against the Kingdom of Serbia, which was an ally of the Russian Empire. That activated a system of alliances declaring war on each other, which resulted in World War I. The Emperor died in 1916, after ruling his domains for almost 68 years. He was succeeded by his grandnephew Charles I & IV.

Photo of Maria Theresa

3. Maria Theresa (1717 - 1780)

With an HPI of 84.31, Maria Theresa is the 3rd most famous Austrian Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 82 different languages.

Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (German: Maria Theresia; 13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780) was ruler of the Habsburg dominions from 1740 until her death in 1780, and the only woman to hold the position suo jure (in her own right). She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands, and Parma. By marriage, she was Duchess of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Holy Roman Empress. Maria Theresa started her 40-year reign when her father, Emperor Charles VI, died on 20 October 1740. Charles VI paved the way for her accession with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 and spent his entire reign securing it. He neglected the advice of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who believed that a strong military and a rich treasury were more important than mere signatures. Eventually, Charles VI left behind a weakened and impoverished state, particularly due to the War of the Polish Succession and the Russo-Turkish War (1735–1739). Moreover, upon his death, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria, and France all repudiated the sanction they had recognised during his lifetime. Frederick II of Prussia (who became Maria Theresa's greatest rival for most of her reign) promptly invaded and took the affluent Habsburg province of Silesia in the seven-year conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession. In defiance of the grave situation, she managed to secure the vital support of the Hungarians for the war effort. During the course of the war, Maria Theresa successfully defended her rule over most of the Habsburg monarchy, apart from the loss of Silesia and a few minor territories in Italy. Maria Theresa later unsuccessfully tried to recover Silesia during the Seven Years' War. Though she was expected to cede power to her husband, Emperor Francis I, and her eldest son, Emperor Joseph II, who were officially her co-rulers in Austria and Bohemia, Maria Theresa was the absolute sovereign who ruled with the counsel of her advisers. Maria Theresa promulgated institutional, financial, medical and educational reforms, with the assistance of Wenzel Anton of Kaunitz-Rietberg, Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz and Gerard van Swieten. She also promoted commerce and the development of agriculture, and reorganised Austria's ramshackle military, all of which strengthened Austria's international standing. However, she despised Jews and Protestants, and on certain occasions she ordered their expulsion to remote parts of the realm. She also advocated for the state church.

Photo of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor

4. Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor (1685 - 1740)

With an HPI of 78.70, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor is the 4th most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 69 different languages.

Charles VI (German: Karl; Latin: Carolus; 1 October 1685 – 20 October 1740) was Holy Roman Emperor and ruler of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy from 1711 until his death, succeeding his elder brother, Joseph I. He unsuccessfully claimed the throne of Spain following the death of his relative, Charles II. In 1708, he married Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, by whom he had his four children: Leopold Johann (who died in infancy), Maria Theresa (the last direct Habsburg sovereign), Maria Anna (Governess of the Austrian Netherlands), and Maria Amalia (who also died in infancy). Four years before the birth of Maria Theresa, faced with his lack of male heirs, Charles provided for a male-line succession failure with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713. The Emperor favoured his own daughters over those of his elder brother and predecessor, Joseph I, in the succession, ignoring the decree he had signed during the reign of his father, Leopold I. Charles sought the other European powers' approval. They demanded significant terms, among which were that Austria close the Ostend Company. In total, Great Britain, France, Saxony-Poland, the Dutch Republic, Spain, Venice, States of the Church, Prussia, Russia, Denmark, Savoy-Sardinia, Bavaria, and the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire recognised the sanction. France, Spain, Saxony-Poland, Bavaria and Prussia later reneged. Charles died in 1740, sparking the War of the Austrian Succession, which plagued his successor, Maria Theresa, for eight years.

Photo of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor

5. Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1459 - 1519)

With an HPI of 78.25, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor is the 5th most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 71 different languages.

Maximilian I (22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519) was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death. He was never crowned by the pope, as the journey to Rome was blocked by the Venetians. He proclaimed himself Elected Emperor in 1508 (Pope Julius II later recognized this) at Trent, thus breaking the long tradition of requiring a Papal coronation for the adoption of the Imperial title. Maximilian was the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal. Since his coronation as King of the Romans in 1486, he ran a double government, or Doppelregierung (with a separate court), with his father until Frederick's death in 1493.Maximilian expanded the influence of the House of Habsburg through war and his marriage in 1477 to Mary of Burgundy, the ruler of the Burgundian State, heir of Charles the Bold, though he also lost his family's original lands in today's Switzerland to the Swiss Confederacy. Through marriage of his son Philip the Handsome to eventual queen Joanna of Castile in 1498, Maximilian helped to establish the Habsburg dynasty in Spain, which allowed his grandson Charles to hold the thrones of both Castile and Aragon. The historian Thomas A. Brady Jr. describes him as "the first Holy Roman Emperor in 250 years who ruled as well as reigned" and also, the "ablest royal warlord of his generation."Nicknamed "Coeur d’acier" (“Heart of steel”) by Olivier de la Marche and later historians (either as praise for his courage and martial qualities or reproach for his ruthlessness as a warlike ruler), Maximilian has entered the public consciousness as "the last knight" (der letzte Ritter), especially since the eponymous poem by Anastasius Grün was published (although the nickname likely existed even in Maximilian's lifetime). Scholarly debates still discuss whether he was truly the last knight (either as an idealized medieval ruler leading people on horseback, or a Don Quixote-type dreamer and misadventurer), or the first Renaissance prince — an amoral Machiavellian politician who carried his family "to the European pinnacle of dynastic power" largely on the back of loans. Historians of the second half of the nineteenth century like Leopold von Ranke tended to criticize Maximilian for putting the interest of his dynasty above that of Germany, hampering the nation's unification process. Ever since Hermann Wiesflecker's Kaiser Maximilian I. Das Reich, Österreich und Europa an der Wende zur Neuzeit (1971-1986) became the standard work, a much more positive image of the emperor has emerged. He is seen as an essentially modern, innovative ruler who carried out important reforms and promoted significant cultural achievements, even if the financial price weighed hard on the Austrians and his military expansion caused the deaths and sufferings of tens of thousands of people.Through an "unprecedented" image-building program, with the help of many notable scholars and artists, in his lifetime, the emperor – "the promoter, coordinator, and prime mover, an artistic impresario and entrepreneur with seemingly limitless energy and enthusiasm and an unfailing eye for detail" – had built for himself "a virtual royal self" of a quality that historians call "unmatched" or "hitherto unimagined". To this image, new layers have been added by the works of later artists in the centuries following his death, both as continuation of deliberately crafted images developed by his program as well as development of spontaneous sources and exploration of actual historical events, creating what Elaine Tennant dubs the "Maximilian industry".

Photo of Charles I of Austria

6. Charles I of Austria (1887 - 1922)

With an HPI of 78.24, Charles I of Austria is the 6th most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Charles I or Karl I (German: Karl Franz Josef Ludwig Hubert Georg Otto Maria, Hungarian: Károly Ferenc József Lajos Hubert György Ottó Mária; 17 August 1887 – 1 April 1922) was Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary (as Charles IV, Hungarian: IV. Károly), King of Croatia, King of Bohemia (as Charles III, Czech: Karel III.), and the last of the monarchs belonging to the House of Habsburg-Lorraine to rule over Austria-Hungary. The son of Archduke Otto of Austria and Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony, Charles became heir presumptive of Emperor Franz Joseph when his uncle Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in 1914. In 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. He is venerated in the Catholic Church, having been beatified by Pope John Paul II on 3 October 2004, and is known to the Catholic Church as Blessed Karl of Austria.Charles succeeded to the thrones in November 1916 following the death of his grand-uncle, Franz Joseph. He began secret negotiations with the Allies, hoping to peacefully end the First World War but was unsuccessful. Despite Charles's efforts to preserve the empire by returning it to federalism and by championing Austro-Slavism, Austria-Hungary hurtled into disintegration: Czechoslovakia and the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs were proclaimed, and Hungary broke monarchic ties to Austria by the end of October 1918. Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Charles "renounced participation" in state affairs, but did not abdicate. The Republic of German-Austria was proclaimed the following day, and in April 1919 the Austrian Parliament formally dethroned the Habsburgs and banished Charles from the German-Austrian Republic for life. Charles spent the early part of his exile in Switzerland. He spent the remaining years of his life attempting to restore the monarchy. He made two attempts to reclaim the Hungarian throne in 1921; but failed due to the opposition of Hungary's Calvinist regent Admiral Miklós Horthy. Charles was exiled for a second time to the Portuguese island of Madeira, where he soon fell ill and died of respiratory failure in 1922.

Photo of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor

7. Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (1741 - 1790)

With an HPI of 78.15, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor is the 7th most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 69 different languages.

Joseph II (German: Josef Benedikt Anton Michael Adam; English: Joseph Benedict Anthony Michael Adam; 13 March 1741 – 20 February 1790) was Holy Roman Emperor from August 1765 and sole ruler of the Habsburg lands from November 29, 1780 until his death. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Francis I, and the brother of Marie Antoinette, Maria Carolina of Austria and Maria Amalia, Duchess of Parma. He was thus the first ruler in the Austrian dominions of the union of the Houses of Habsburg and Lorraine, styled Habsburg-Lorraine. Joseph was a proponent of enlightened absolutism; however, his commitment to secularizing, liberalizing and modernizing reforms resulted in significant opposition, which resulted in failure to fully implement his programs. Meanwhile, despite making some territorial gains, his reckless foreign policy badly isolated Austria. He has been ranked with Catherine the Great of Russia and Frederick the Great of Prussia as one of the three great Enlightenment monarchs. False but influential letters depict him as a somewhat more radical philosophe than he probably was. His policies are now known as Josephinism. He was a supporter of the arts, and most importantly of composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. He died with no surviving children and was succeeded by his younger brother Leopold II.

Photo of Ferdinand I of Austria

8. Ferdinand I of Austria (1793 - 1875)

With an HPI of 77.62, Ferdinand I of Austria is the 8th most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.

Ferdinand I (German: Ferdinand I. 19 April 1793 – 29 June 1875) was the Emperor of Austria from March 1835 until his abdication in December 1848. He was also King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia (as Ferdinand V), King of Lombardy–Venetia and holder of many other lesser titles (see grand title of the Emperor of Austria). Due to his passive but well-intentioned character, he gained the sobriquet The Benign (German: Der Gütige) or The Benevolent (Czech: Ferdinand Dobrotivý, Polish: Ferdynand Dobrotliwy).Ferdinand succeeded his father Francis II upon his death on 2 March 1835. He was incapable of ruling the empire because of a mental deficiency, so his father, before he died, made a will promulgating that Ferdinand should consult his uncle Archduke Louis on all aspects of internal policy and urged him to be influenced by Prince Metternich, Austria's Foreign Minister.Following the Revolutions of 1848, Ferdinand abdicated on 2 December 1848. He was succeeded by his nephew, Franz Joseph. Following his abdication, he lived in Hradčany Palace, Prague, until his death in 1875.Ferdinand married Maria Anna of Savoy, the sixth child of Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia. They had no children.

Photo of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor

9. Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (1747 - 1792)

With an HPI of 77.26, Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor is the 9th most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Leopold II (Peter Leopold Josef Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard; 5 May 1747 – 1 March 1792) was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia, and Archduke of Austria from 1790 to 1792, and Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1765 to 1790. He was a son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Francis I, and the brother of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples, Maria Amalia, Duchess of Parma, and Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. Leopold was a moderate proponent of enlightened absolutism. He granted the Academy of Georgofili his protection. Unusually for his time, he opposed capital punishment and abolished it in Tuscany in 1786 during his rule there, making it the first nation in modern history to do so. Despite his brief reign, he is highly regarded. The historian Paul W. Schroeder called him "one of the most shrewd and sensible monarchs ever to wear a crown".

Photo of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor

10. Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (1640 - 1705)

With an HPI of 76.92, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor is the 10th most famous Austrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 67 different languages.

Leopold I (Leopold Ignaz Joseph Balthasar Franz Felician; Hungarian: I. Lipót; 9 June 1640 – 5 May 1705) was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia. The second son of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, by his first wife, Maria Anna of Spain, Leopold became heir apparent in 1654 by the death of his elder brother Ferdinand IV. Elected in 1658, Leopold ruled the Holy Roman Empire until his death in 1705, becoming the second longest-ruling Habsburg emperor (46 years and 9 months). He was both a composer and considerable patron of music. Leopold's reign is known for conflicts with the Ottoman Empire in the Great Turkish War (1683-1699) and rivalry with Louis XIV, a contemporary and first cousin (on the maternal side; fourth cousin on the paternal side), in the west. After more than a decade of warfare, Leopold emerged victorious in the east thanks to the military talents of Prince Eugene of Savoy. By the Treaty of Karlowitz, Leopold recovered almost all of the Kingdom of Hungary, which had fallen under Turkish power in the years after the 1526 Battle of Mohács. Leopold fought three wars against France: the Franco-Dutch War, the Nine Years' War, and the War of the Spanish Succession. In this last, Leopold sought to give his younger son Charles the entire Spanish inheritance, disregarding the will of the late Charles II. Leopold started a war that soon engulfed much of Europe. The early years of the war went fairly well for Austria, with victories at Schellenberg and Blenheim, but the war would drag on until 1714, nine years after Leopold's death, which barely had an effect on the warring nations. When peace returned with the Treaty of Rastatt, Austria could not be said to have emerged as triumphant as it had from the war against the Turks.

Pantheon has 236 people classified as politicians born between 454 and 1993. Of these 236, 35 (14.83%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Heinz Fischer, Brigitte Bierlein, and Franz Vranitzky. The most famous deceased politicians include Adolf Hitler, Franz Joseph I of Austria, and Maria Theresa. As of April 2022, 34 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Princess Marie Louise of Hanover, and Archduchess Gregoria Maximiliana of Austria.

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.