Prince Francis Joseph of Braganza

Prince Francis Joseph
Francis Joseph of Braganza.jpg
Born (1879-09-07)7 September 1879
Meran, Austria-Hungary
Died 15 June 1919(1919-06-15) (aged 39)
Ischia, Italy
Full name
Francisco José Gerardo Maria Jorge Humberto Antonio Henrique Miguel Rafael Gabriel de Bragança
House House of Braganza
Father Miguel, Duke of Braganza
Mother Princess Elisabeth of Thurn and Taxis

Prince Francis Joseph of Braganza (Portuguese: Príncipe Francisco José de Bragança; 7 September 1879 – 15 June 1919) was a member of the exiled branch of House of Braganza and an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. During his life he was involved in a number incidents ranging from sex scandals to swindles. His full given names were Francis Joseph Gerard Maria George Humbert Anthony Henry Michael Rafael Gabriel (Portuguese: Francisco José Gerardo Maria Jorge Humberto António Henrique Miguel Rafael Gabriel).[1]

Early life

Prince Francis Joseph (left) with his father, brother Miguel and sister Maria Theresia

Francis Joseph was born in Meran, Austria (now in Italy), the second son of the Miguelist pretender to the Portuguese throne Miguel, Duke of Braganza and his first wife Princess Elisabeth of Thurn and Taxis.[2] He was the namesake of his godfather Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria.[3] Francis Joseph's father was the head of the non reigning branch of the Portuguese Royal House that had been exiled from Portugal. The exile was the result of the Portuguese law of banishment of 1834 and the constitution of 1838 which was brought about because his grandfather Miguel I of Portugal had in 1828 usurped the throne of Portugal from Queen Maria II. His grandfather reigned as king until 1834 when Maria II was restored. Those Portuguese who recognised Francis Joseph's father as rightful king of Portugal acknowledged Francis Joseph as an Infante of Portugal.

Like his father, Francis Joseph pursued a career in the Austro-Hungarian Army. In October 1900, while a lieutenant in the Hussars he was disciplined by his godfather the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph, after he issued a challenge to an old colonel who called him to account for a breach of Army regulations. As a result, he was removed from the Hussars and transferred to a regiment of Dragoons and sent to carry out policing duties in the barren, poverty stricken villages along the Austrian-Russian frontier.[4]

Sexual indiscretions

In August 1902 Prince Francis Joseph was in London to attend the coronation of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. On 11 September he was indicted in the Central Criminal Court on a charge that he had committed an act of gross indecency with a fifteen-year-old boy.[5] A 24-year-old man and a seventeen-year-old boy were also charged with conspiring together to procure the commission of an act of gross indecency. A witness falsely claimed that he had made a hole in a bedroom door and that through the hole he had seen Francis Joseph and the fifteen-year-old boy engaged in sexual activity in a house in Lambeth. The witness's lies were undone by the police investigation. The police found that only nine inches of the bed were visible hrough the hole and therefore the witness could not have seen the matters as to which he had testified. The prosecutors therefore moved for a verdict of no guilt declaring that there was no evidence of guilt and the jury indeed pronounced Prince Francis Joseph not guilty.

After the acquittal his lawyer stated that the Prince had gone to the house "under the impression that it was a brothel and that a woman would be waiting for him there. It was not uncommon on the Continent for men and boys to go about touting to take men to brothels." The other man and the two boys were found guilty of conspiring together to procure the commission of an act of gross indecency. The man was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and the boys to ten and eight months each.[6]

As a result of this indiscretion Francis Joseph was forced to resign his commission as a Lieutenant in the Seventh Hussars of the Austro-Hungarian Army. The prince was adjudgd by an Austrian court to be of unsound mind and for His protection placed His affairs in the hands of a trustee, His brother-in-law Prince Charles Louis of Thurn und Taxis.[7]

Victim of a swindle

Francis Joseph of Braganza

In November 1909 Prince Francis Joseph had £325,000 swindled from him after purchasing what he believed to be valuable emeralds and shares in an English mining company, by an impostor passing himself of as Frederick Vanderbilt of the famous Vanderbilt family. The impostor, a jew whose real name was William Lackerstein Joachim,[8] first met the Prince in Paris in April 1909 and a month later Joachim traveled to Vienna where he threw a dinner forHim.[9] Joachim managed to convince Francis Joseph of his credentials as an astute financier.[10] As Prince Francis Joseph's affairs had been placed in the hands of a trustee and he was only given an allowance, He saw a friendship with supposed millionaire member of the Vanderbilt family as a good way to boost his finances. In October after HRH returned from a trip abroad,[9] he received a number of business proposals where Joachim told Him that he had recently acquired a large number of emeralds and that because he would allow Him to purchase the emeralds for a good price, whereby He could then sell them for a substantial profit.[10]

The deal was held up after Prince Francis Joseph did not show up for an arranged meeting at a banquet. After an emissary informed Joachim that Francis Joseph's father, King Michael II of Portugal, had summoned him to his castle in Seebenstein, Joachim feared that he had been tricked. However, the next day he received a letter from the Prince in which He revealed his annoyance at being unable to attend.[10]

Joachim and Prince Francis Joseph next met in Berlin a week later to conclude the emerald deal.[10] However, during the delay Joachim had come up with a way to swindle more money out of the Prince. While in Berlin, he introduced HRH to two supposed mining engineers.[9] The two engineers made a good impression on the Prince,[9] so Joachim managed to get Him to part with more money by acquiring shares in the mining company that he said he was the majority shareholder of. A total of £325,000,[10] £125,000 for the emeralds and £200,000 for the shares.[8]

As the emeralds and shares turned out to be worthless Prince Francis Joseph decided to prosecute criminally through the Austrian embassy in London.[9] The majority of his money was recovered.[11]

Royalist fighter

In 1911–12 Francis Joseph participated in the monarchist uprisings in northern Portugal led by Henrique Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro, in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the First Portuguese Republic.[12] After his father and older brother offered to waive their rights to the Portuguese throne in an attempt to unite the monarchist support behind their cousin D. Manuel II, subject to the latter accepting HRH Prince Duarte, the younger son of D. Miguel II, as His heir should he have no issue, Prince Francis Joseph also relinquished His rights in favour of D. Duarte.


During World War I Francis Joseph fought in the Austro-Hungarian Army and was captured. He was imprisoned on the island of Ischia near Naples where he died of heart failure.[13]

Titles and styles



  1. ^ da Silveira Pinto, Albano (1991). Resenha das familías titulares e grandes de Portugal. pp. xlii.
  2. ^ a b Almanach de Gotha (150th ed.). Justus Perthes. 1913. pp. 29, 30.
  3. ^ Graham, Evelyn (2003). Albert: King of the Belgians. Kessinger Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 0-7661-6194-3.
  4. ^ "Discipline for Princes". Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette. 1900-10-04. p. 4.
  5. ^ The Times ( 12 September 1902), p. 10, and ( 13 September 1902), p. 4.
  6. ^ The Times ( 13 September 1902), p. 4.
  7. ^ A Veteran Diplomat (1909-07-18). "Where Americans Lose Caste". New York Times. p. SM2.
  8. ^ a b "Bogus Vanderbilt to Jail". New York Times. 1915-09-11. p. 9.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Prince of Braganza Tells of Swindle". New York Times. 1910-01-20. p. 3.
  10. ^ a b c d e "A Huge Coup" (254). NZ Truth. 7 May 1910. p. 6. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  11. ^ "Jail for Bogus Vanderbilt". New York Times. 16 February 1911. p. 4.
  12. ^ de Saisseval, Guy Coutant (1966). Les Maisons Impériales et Royales d'Europe. Éditions du Palais-Royal. p. 428.
  13. ^ The Times ( 19 June 1919), p. 11.