Her Royal Highness Princess Maria Anna of Austria and Suzanne Pearson will discuss the life and legacy of Charles I, or Emperor Karl, the last emperor of the Austrian Hungarian Empire at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 13, at the Allen Public Library.
Princess Maria Anna was born in Belgium in 1954 as the eldest child of Archduke Rudolf, son of Emperor Charles I. Suzanne Pearson is an established authority on the life, character, and place in history of this revered Hapsburg monarch.
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Charles became the heir apparent to the throne. In 1916, Franz Joseph died after reigning for 66 years and Charles became the new emperor. By this time World War I had been going on for two years, and Charles immediately initiated efforts to press for peace. All of his efforts were met with rigid resistance from both the Allies and the Germans.
The French novelist Anatole France stated, "Emperor Karl is the only decent man to come out of the war in a leadership position, no one listened to him. He sincerely wanted peace and therefore was despised by the whole world. It was a wonderful chance that was lost." For his efforts, Pope John Paul II beatified Charles I in 2004, and he is known to the Roman Catholic Church as Blessed Karl of Austria.
Suzanne Pearson was so impressed that a head of state in the twentieth century had achieved such a level of holiness that she began a quest to research Blessed Karl’s life. She studied primary sources, translating from several languages, and analyzed the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the complex political, historical, economic and spiritual forces that led to its disintegration. Her speeches and written materials on Blessed Karl address his holiness and his importance to the modern era from different perspectives.