Count Albert von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein

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Albert Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein
MensdorffbyLaszlo.jpg
Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
28 April 1904 – 13 August 1914
Preceded by Franz Count Deym von Stritez
Succeeded by None
Personal details
Born (1861-09-05)5 September 1861
Lemberg, Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine)
Died 15 June 1945(1945-06-15) (aged 83)
Vienna, Austria

Albert (Viktor Julius Joseph Michael) Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein (5 September 1861 – 15 June 1945), was an Austro-Hungarian diplomat serving as Ambassador to London at the outbreak of World War I.

Life[edit]

Born in Lemberg (now Lviv) on 5 September 1861 as the second son of Alexander von Mensdorff-Pouilly, Prince Dietrichstein von Nicolsburg, a former Austro-Hungarian politician, and his wife Alexandrine (née Countess von Dietrichstein-Proskau und Leslie), heiress of the Princes Dietrichstein. The family originated from Lorraine in France and had fled the French revolution in 1790.[1]

Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein entered the Austro-Hungarian foreign service in 1884 and was assigned as an attaché to the embassy in Paris and transferred to London in 1889. His family connections with the British court, derived through the marriage of his grandfather Count Emmanuel von Mensdorff-Pouilly with Queen Victoria's aunt, Princess Sophie of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and his father had been a godson and friend of Queen Victoria's husband, the Prince Consort. On 6 May 1904, he presented his credentials as Ambassador of the Dual Monarchy at the Court of St. James's, a promotion over the heads of many of his seniors that had come at the request of his second cousin King Edward VII.[2]

Considered both an effective and popular diplomat in London's aristocratic circles,[3] his friendship with King Edward VII and his successor George V gave him an entrée to the British court unrivalled by any other diplomat.[4] This contributed to the secure and friendly diplomatic relations between Austria-Hungary and Great Britain before the war. However, his alleged Anglophilia also brought him a certain mistrust in some circles in Vienna, including Archduke Franz Ferdinand. In the critical negotiations during the July Crisis of 1914, he supported the attempts to avert the danger and correspondence has shown that he was not kept fully informed of his capital's intentions. War against Austria-Hungary was declared by the United Kingdom on 12 August, whereafter Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein left London.

During World War I, Mensdorff-Pouilly was entrusted with several diplomatic missions directed towards the restoration of peace. The most famous one was the meeting with General Jan Smuts in Geneva in December 1917. However, these negotiations proved as fruitless as those which he conducted with the representatives of the Triple Entente in the last days of the Habsburg Monarchy.[5]

In 1917, Mensdorff-Pouilly was appointed to the Upper House (Herrenhaus)[6] and in the following year he was a favourite of the court to replace Count Ottokar Czernin as foreign minister, but he was judged too Anglophile by Berlin.

Although the count retired from active service in 1919, he was appointed the first chief delegate of the Republic of Austria to the League of Nations in 1920. In this capacity, he negotiated the Geneva Protocols in 1922 on a loan for the economic and financial reconstruction of Austria.[7]

Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein died of starvation in Vienna on 15 June 1945.

Honours[edit]

Foreign decorations

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dietrichstein & Mensdorff-Pouilly
  2. ^ 'Count von Mensdorff', New York Times, 18 June 1945.
  3. ^ 'Albert Graf von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein', Solving Problems Through Force
  4. ^ William D. Godsey, Aristocratic Redoubt: The Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office on the Eve of the First World War, West Lafayette, Purdue University Press, 1999, p.24.
  5. ^ 'Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein Albert Graf', Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815-1950, vol. 6, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1957, p. 224.
  6. ^ 'Emperor honors Dumba', op. cit., 24 May 1917.
  7. ^ 'Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein Albert Graf', op. cit.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27364. p. 6640. 11 October 1901.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Franz Count Deym von Stritez
Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to the United Kingdom
1904–1914
Succeeded by
None