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June 19, 2023

Portraits of Archduke Ludwig Viktor, an Openly Homosexual Younger Brother of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria

Archduke Ludwig Viktor Joseph Anton of Austria (1842–1919) was the youngest child of Archduke Franz Karl of Austria and his wife Princess Sophie of Bavaria, and as such was the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I. He had a military career, as was usual for archdukes, but did not take part in politics. He was openly homosexual and declined to marry princesses who were sought for him. He is well-known for his art collection and patronage as well as philanthropy.

Ludwig Viktor was born in Vienna. He was the youngest son born to Archduke Franz Karl of Austria and Princess Sophie of Bavaria. His elder siblings included Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico and Archduke Karl Ludwig. His family called him by the nickname “Luziwuzi”.

Ludwig Viktor’s mother attempted to arrange a marriage for him with Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria, youngest sister of Empress Elisabeth, but he declined. He likewise rejected plans to marry him to Isabel, daughter and heir presumptive of Emperor Pedro II of Brazil. In 1863, Ludwig Viktor’s brother Maximilian had tried to persuade him to marry her because “such a marriage might found yet another Habsburg dynasty in Latin America... Maximilian wrote to Franz Joseph that Ludwig Viktor was ‘anything but pleased with the idea’” and asked Franz Joseph to order Ludwig Viktor to marry her. Franz Joseph refused.

Ludwig Viktor was “a homosexual and cross-dresser with a reputation as a libertine...” After a scandalous incident at the Central Bathhouse Vienna in which he was publicly slapped, his brother Emperor Franz Joseph finally forbade him to stay in Vienna and joked that he should be given a ballerina as adjutant to keep him out of trouble.

Ludwig Viktor retired to Klessheim Palace near Salzburg where he became known as a philanthropist and patron of the arts. He died in 1919, at the age of 76, and is buried at the Siezenheim cemetery.


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