Ennoblement and promotion within the nobility by the Austrian monarchy in the cabinet office of Emperor Franz Joseph (1849–1916)

Dissertation project at the Collegium Carolinum as part of the Der Schreibtisch des Kaisers. Ein Ort politischer Entscheidungen in der Habsburgermonarchie? (“The Emperor’s Desk. A location for political decision-making within the Habsburg Monarchy?”)


The funding for the project from the German side is provided by the DFG.

Marion Dotter

The dissertation is dedicated to the broad field of the nobility in the Habsburg monarchy. In its thematic foreground is the process of ennoblement, i.e. the granting of aristocratic titles, of re-ennoblement, i.e. the renovation and restoration of aristocratic status and of promotion within the nobility, i.e. elevating the position of nobles within the aristocratic hierarchy. For the period that takes in the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the project’s work centres on such processes within the imperial cabinet office. The question of who was to be included in the aristocracy and who was to be elevated within that social structure was a very important one for Emperor Franz Joseph. Though he had been forced to surrender many real political powers to government and parliament, he retained decision-making powers in this policy field for himself. The work employs such concepts as “loyalty” and “social capital” to tease out a picture of how the sovereign conducted policy in this area of symbolic politics.

As part of the dissertation project, changes and developments in this policy area during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph are subjected to a statistical evaluation. The project then examines the various individual processes using semantic analysis tools and reveals the networks that connected candidates with the institution. In addition to the cabinet office, the archive of the nobility of the imperial ministry of the interior provides a source for understanding the institutional interweaving and cooperation at the local and state level that resulted in candidates being successfully elevated. The case studies primarily deal with the northern Italian provinces of the Habsburg monarchy.