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Karl Ludwig Count von Ficquelmont

Karl Ludwig Count von FICQUELMONT (1777-1857) Austrian military officer and statesman, born March 23, 1777 at Château Dieuze near Nancy, Lorraine; died April 7, 1857 in Venice. Scion of a Lorraine noble family displaced by the French Revolution, Ficquelmont entered the Habsburg military in 1793 and saw active service against the French from 1795-1815. Major in 1805 and colonel by 1809, he became chief of staff for Archduke Ferdinand d'Este's army and in 1811-1812 fought with Wellington's forces in Spain. By 1814 he was a Habsburg major general. His diplomatic career commenced in 1815 when at Metternich's suggestion, Francis I appointed him minister plenipotentiary to Sweden, a post he held until 1820. Named Habsburg minister to Tuscany and Lucca in 1820, Ficquelmont in 1821 accompanied the Austrian army to Naples. Accredited minister from 1821-1829, he counseled the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in a conservative fashion as prescribed by the Laibach Congress. From 1829-1839 he was Habsburg ambassador to Russia, where he won the trust and esteem of Nicholas I. In 1840 he became Staats- und Konferenzminister and Chief of the Military Section of the Foreign Office in Vienna. Promoted to General der Kavallerie in 1843, he represented Metternich during his absences from Vienna, was special envoy to Berlin in 1846 to negotiate Austria's annexation of Cracow, and in 1847 was posted to Milan as Adlatus to the Viceroy, Archduke Rainer. On March 1, 1848 he returned to Vienna to become President of the Hofkriegsrat.

At the outbrea k of revolution in Vienna, Ficquelmont, as an experienced official and diplomat, succeeded Metternich as Habsburg foreign minister on March 20, 1848. Shortly thereafter on April 4, 1848 he replaced Kolowrat as provisional minister president of the Austrian Empire's first "responsible ministry." The public distrusted him as too conservative, as a friend and colleague of Metternich, and as pro-Russian. He was especially unpopular among Poles for he had sanctioned Nicholas I's suppression of the 1830-1831 Polish revolt. Ficquelmont presided over the ministry only forty-five stressful days before a noisy demonstration 5 May 5, 1848 -- including "Katzenmusik" outside his residence -- prompted him at age seventy-one to resign his office yielding to "the force of circumstances."

Ficquelmont spent the remaining nine years of his life, first in Vienna and then in Venice, where he devoted himself to his family and to writing. He published several works, among them On the Law of Sovereignty (1849); Thoughts on the Time from 20. 3. to 4. 5. 1848 (1850); Germany, Austria, and Prussia (1851); Lord Palmerston, England, and the Continent (1852); and Russia's Policy and the Danubian Principalities (1854). His memoirs remained incomplete at his death. In recognition of his public service, in 1852 he was made a Knight of the Golden Fleece, while in 1856 he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his proprietorship of the 6th Dragoon Regiment. Although politically conservative, Ficquelmont was a cultivated and gifted diplomat. In 1821 in Naples he married Countess Dorothea von Tiesenhausen, a granddaughter of Russian Field Marshal Prince Mikhail Kutusov. They had one daughter, Elisabeth Alexandra, who subsequently married Prince Edmund von Clary and Aldringen.
Kenneth W. Rock


Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1878, VII, 1-4.

Ficquelmont, Karl Ludwig, Graf von. Aufklärungen über die Zeit von 2, März bis 4. Mai 1848. Leipzig: Barth, 1850.

Walter, Friedrich. Die Österreichische Zentralverwaltung. III. Abteilung, I. "Die Geschichte der Ministerien Kolowrat, Ficquelmont, Pillersdorf, Wessenberg-Doblhoff und Schwarzenberg." Vienna: Adolf Holzhausens Nachfolger, 1964.

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