Beust - 19th Century Encyclopedia Entries



Nordisk Familjebok 1904-1926, Meyer 1902-1909,


Nordisk Familjebok 1904-1926, Article : Beust (1905)
Beust, Friedrich Ferdinand, Count von Beust, at first Saxon, later Austrian statesman, born in 1809 in Dresden, raised as a Protestant. From 1826-1830 he studies diplomacy in Göttingen and Leipzig, then he joined the Saxon ministry of foreign affairs, served in Berlin and Paris and in 1841 became ambassador in München, where in the name of his government he signed an important railroad treaty. In 1846 he took on the post as ambassador in London. There he was known as a moderate conservative, interested in reforms. In March 1848 he was recalled to take the helm of the Saxon ministry of foreign affairs. While on his way home, in Saxony the liberal party won, so that Beust did not become minister of foreign affairs, but was sent to Berlin as ambassador. This post he held until February 24th 1849, when he became Saxon minister of foreign affairs. As such he advised the king not to recognize constitution for the German Empire drafted by the federal parliament in Frankfurt, as energetically demanded by parliament and people. As his advice was followed, an uproar broke out in the capital (the Dresden May Days). Beust called in Prussian troops and persuaded the king to seek refuge in Königstein. After the revolutionary movement was defeated, Beust actively participated in the negociations concerning the organization of the German constitution. He strove for maintaining the independence of the smaller states against Prussia's growing influence, and when he, in the name of Saxony, signed the Three-Kings-Alliance with Prussia and Hannover, this was done under the expressed reservation that Saxony maintained the right to leave the alliance, if the other medium-size states would not join. As, among others, Bavaria refused to join, this Prussian attempt to create a union constitution failed. Beust instead approached Austria, and on its side worked for the restoration of the old German Federation. Beust liked to see in fall 1850 an open breach between Austria, militarily ready, and the unprepared Prussia, by which the dangerous power of the latter for a while could be balanced. Beust, as Saxony's most important minister, in the following years pursued a policy of reaction (especially he limited freedom of the press and of assembly), and he appeared as a spokesperson for the interests of the German medium-size states. Especially during the Crimean War he pushed through, that these states formed a separate union of neutrality, more benevolent to Russia than Austria's and Prussia's armed neutrality. His hope to be allowed to participate in the Paris Congress as a representative of the medium-size states, however, did not materialize. At the Würzburg Conferences 1859-1860 he worked against Prussia's plans. When the contrast between Austria and Prussia intensified, Beust together with King Johann of Saxony in 1861 proposed a revision of the constitution of the German Federation (Prussia and Austria should alternate as the presidial powers). But this well-meant proposal was rejected by both powers. Beust's sympathies brought him more and more to Austria's side, but when Austria in 1862 wanted to join the Zollverein and at the same time demanded that the Zollverein should reject the trade treaty with France (too much pro free trade), did he push through the rejection of this demand, and thus succeeded in preventing a split of the Zollverein. In the interest of the medium-size states in 1863-1864 Beust attempted to solve the Schleswig-Holstein conflict in such a way that the Augustenburgers would be appointed as ruling dukes, and would strengthen the smaller German states against Austria and Prussia. Bismarck destroyed his plan, but could not prevent that Beust, as a representative of the German Federation, participated in the fruitless London Conferences of 1864. When the breach between Prussia and Austria occurred in 1866, Beust, true to his old sympathies, joined the latter and moved with his king and army into Bohemia, where the Saxons shared in the Austrian defeat. In August 1866 Beust was compelled to leave the Saxon government, as Bismarck refused to let him participate in the peace negotiations. This resulted in Beust being appointed Austrian minister of foreign affairs on October 30th that year, an appointment which was almost interpreted as a threat against Prussia. Beust energetically took measures in order to save Austria, which was threatened by ruin. His main focus was to end Hungary's dissatisfaction. After several months of negotiation with the leaders of the Hungarian diet he pushed through reconciliation, which was confirmed by Emperor Franz-Josef's coronation as King of Hungary in Pest on June 8th 1867. In consequence now also Austria's constitutional constitution could take force. Simultaneously, Beust was appointed chancellor, and in 1868 he was elevated to Count.
Since the reconciliation between both halves [of the Empire] had been achieved, Beust either drove through or supported a number of reforms in liberal spirit. The Jews were granted civil rights, a concordat with Rome was signed, the equality of all confessions in front of the law recognized, civil marriage was introduced, a new military organization introduced, which considerably increased the military force, and measures were undertaken to address the financial misery of the Austrian state.
When the conflict between Germany and France broke out in 1870, Beust was not unaware of the wish of the Austrians to take revenge for the defeat of 1866. But the war broke out at a time when Austria was not prepared, and the quick victories of the German army forced it to observe strict neutrality. After the end of the war Beust attempted to approach his former opponent Bismarck and thus prepared reconciliation between Austria and the new German Empire. He could not implement this, as on November 6th 1871 he was asked to leave his post by Emperor Franz Josef. Beust, who fought for the interests of the German population against the Czech drive for independence, only a few days earlier had toppled the cabinet Hohenwart. Possibly he himself too much argued that the inner peace in Austria's crown lands had to be maintained; the motif for his toppling remains unclear. From 1871 to 1872 he served as Austria's ambassador, first in London, later in Paris, without exercising political influence. His last years he spent on Castle Altenberg near Vienna, occupied with defending and glorifying his life's work in his memoirs. Before these memoirs, which were published in 1887 under the title : Aus drei vierteljahrhunderten 1887, he died on October 24th 1886. Beust had great talent, thorough knowledge and diplomatic talent, but his position in the little Saxon state long prevented him from gaining influence, and therefore he spent much time with intrigues and speeches. In Austria he was given the opportunity to show his practical ability. Certainly he lacked original ideas, but with great flexilibity he understood to adapt to the demands of the time.
See : B. Erdmannsdörffers essay on Beust in "Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie", vol. 46.

source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg

Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1902-1909, Article : Beust
Beust, Friedrich Ferdinand Count von, Saxon and Austrian statesman, brother of the former, born on January 13th 1809 in Dresden, died on October 24th 1886 on his castle Altenberg near Vienna, studied diplomacy in Göttingen and Leipzig, entered state service in 1831, from 1836 to 1840 served as legation secretary in Berlin and Paris, at the end of 1841 was sent to München as ambassador, in 1846 as minister resident to London. After having served as ambassador in Berlin since May 1848, on February 24th 1849 in the cabinet Held he took on the portfolio of foreign affairs. He declared against the acceptance of the Imperial constitution, causing the May Rebellion in Dresden, to the suppression of which Beust called for help from Prussia. In the cabinet Zschinsky he also took on the munistry of culture, and in 1853 exchanged it for the portfolio of the interior. Since, his influence was dominant for Saxony's policy. He did sign the Three-Kings-Alliance with Prussia, but because of a secret "reservation" he left it soon after and now began pursuing an anti-Prussian policy, leaning on Austria. In domestic policy he was a protagonist of the reaction, which he implemented by limiting freedom of the press and of assembly, a pro-church educational policy, by bureaucracy and police supervising all free movement. In 1854 in the Bamberg Conference he agreed with the representatives of the other medium-size states on a special position separate from Austria's anti-Russian policy of neutrality. When the national and liberal movement in Germany and Saxony gained in vitality in 1859, Beust tried to appear as if he were its most eager supporter, and on October 15th 1861 proposed a reform of the German Federation, which would maintain the loose union of the German states, but which would simultaneously permit representatives of the German nation to partake in decisions over German matters. Later the Schleswig-Holstein Question provided him with the opportunity to gain popularity. In 1864 Beust was charged by the Federal Diet to participate, together with the emissaries of Austria and Prussia, in the Londin Conferences as representative of the German Federation. Rejecting any arbitrary partition of Schleswig, he held up the right of the population to determine their own future. Also in later phases of the conflict over Schleswig-Holstein he upheld the cause of the Federation, when he wanted the decision of the matter to be left to the latter. When finally also Austria took this position, while Prussia protested, Beust was regarded the main cause of growing discord between the two great powers, and of the alliance which the medium-size states concluded with Austria in 1866. When the course of the war made his position [in Saxony] intenable, he was called to serve as minister of foreign affairs and of the Imperial court to Vienna (October 1866), after having been sent to Paris immediately after Königgrätz by Franz Joseph, in vain, in order to ask Napoleon to come to Austria's aid. The cause for his appointment was the expectation that he would be able to organize strong opposition in Germany against Prussia. Without consulting Austria's parliament, Beust pushed through the Ausgleich with Hungary (February 1867), which brought with it significant concessions on the side of Cisleithania. In Austria the constitutional interim began, with Beust as prime minister, which after the convocation of the Reichsrat on May 20th 1867 had to approve the Ausgleich with Hungary and the December Constitution. Appointed chancellor on June 23rd, at first he leant on the liberal Germans, from representants of which the "burgher cabinet" was formed after the termination of the interim (December 30th; Prince Auersperg and Count Taaffe). In the cabinet (which governed both Austria and Hungary simultaneously) chancellor Beust (on December 5th 1868 elevated to Count) held the ministry for foreign affairs. On Austria's internal affairs he had great influence, although the scope of the latter is difficult to determine. Especially the energetic action of the monarch in regard to the concordat is ascribed to his influence. His plans in regard to Austria's foreign policy shipwrecked in 1870. As he realized early on that Austria's Germans could not be won for a war against Germany, he soon caused the German "burgher cabinet" to be dismissed. But when the position of Austria in the Franco-German War, which just had broken out, was discussed, the view of the Hungarian prime minister Count Julius Andrassy prevailed, and the monarchy maintained neutrality, although Beust is said to have promised an Austrian alliance to French ambassador Gramont. When in Austria the Era Hohenwart began, Beust in a memorandum to the Emperor declared the fundamental articles as contradicting the Hungarian Ausgleich, and with the support of Andrassy, toppled the cabinet (October 30th 1871). As after the war of 1870-1871 the thought of "Revenge for Sadowa" utterly silenced in Austria, on November 6th 1871 as chancellor Beust was replaced by Andrassy. Beust first went as ambassador to London, in 1878 to Paris, but in 1882 was caused to resign, because his openly displayed sympathy for the French.
After his death his memoirs were published : "Aus drei Vierteljahrhunderten" (Stuttgart 1887), which are of little historical value. See also Ebeling, Friedrich Ferdinand, Graf von Beust, sein Leben und Wirken (Leipzig 1870, 2 vols.); Graf Beust und Österreichs Nationalitätspolitik", (Pest 1871); "Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie und die Politik des Grafen Beust 1866-1870, von einem Engländer" (Baron Worms, Leipzig 1870, apologetic).

source in German, posted by Zeno





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DOCUMENTS Memoirs of Friedrich Ferdinand Count von Beust, Pt.1, 1887, Pt.2, 1887, posted on Internet Archive
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First posted on August 2nd 2009

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