Eduard Taaffe, 11th Viscount Taaffe

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Hochgeboren
Eduard Franz Joseph
Graf von Taaffe, Viscount Taaffe
EduardTaaffe.jpg
Count Eduard Taaffe, Viscount Taaffe
2nd Minister-President of Cisleithania
In office
24 September 1868 – 15 January 1870
Monarch Francis Joseph I
Preceded by Karl Fürst von Auersperg
Succeeded by Ignaz Feirherr von Plener
10th Minister-President of Cisleithania
In office
12 August 1879 – 11 November 1893
Monarch Francis Joseph I
Preceded by Karl Ritter von Stremayr
Succeeded by Alfred Fürst zu Windisch-Grätz
Interior Minister of Cisleithania
In office
14 April 1870 – 6 February 1871
Monarch Francis Joseph I
Prime Minister Alfred Józef Graf Potocki
Preceded by Carl Giskra
Succeeded by Karl Sigmund Graf von Hohenwart
Interior Minister of the Austrian Empire
In office
7 March 1867 – 30 December 1867
Monarch Francis Joseph I
Prime Minister Friedrich Ferdinand Graf von Beust
Preceded by Friedrich Ferdinand Graf von Beust
Succeeded by Carl Giskra
Personal details
Born (1833-02-24)24 February 1833
Vienna, Austrian Empire
Died 29 November 1895(1895-11-29) (aged 62)
Ellischau (Nalžovy), Bohemia, Austria-Hungary

Eduard Franz Joseph Graf von Taaffe, 11th Viscount Taaffe (24 February 1833 – 29 November 1895) was an Austrian statesman, who served for two terms as Minister-President of Cisleithania, leading cabinets from 1868 to 1870 and 1879 to 1893. He was a scion of the Irish Taaffe noble dynasty, who held hereditary titles from two different countries: Imperial Counts (Reichsgrafen) of the Holy Roman Empire and viscounts in the Peerage of Ireland (in the United Kingdom).

Family background and early years[edit]

Taaffe Coat of Arms

Taaffe was the second son of Count Louis Taaffe, 9th Viscount Taaffe (1791–1855), Austrian Minister of Justice during the Revolutions of 1848 and president of the court of appeal. His ancestor Francis Taaffe, 3rd Earl of Carlingford (1639–1704) had entered the service of the Habsburg Monarchy in the 17th century; the family held large estates in Bohemia.

As a child, Eduard Taaffe was one of the chosen companions of the young Archduke Francis Joseph, who in 1848 was crowned Emperor of Austria, which opened him a distinguished political career in the service of the Habsburgs. He studied law at the University of Vienna and entered public service in 1852.[citation needed] From 1861 he served at the Bohemian crown land government in Prague and in 1863 was appointed Landespräsident (stadtholder) in the Duchy of Salzburg. He backed the implementation of the February Patent constitution under State Minister Anton von Schmerling and in 1864 became a member of the Bohemian Diet (Landtag), where he did however not excel. In 1867 the Chairmen of the Ministers' Conference Count Richard Belcredi appointed him Upper Austrian stadtholder at Linz.

By the death of his elder brother Charles (1823–1873), colonel in the Austro-Hungarian Army, Eduard Graf von Taaffe succeeded to the Irish titles. He had married Countess Irma Tsaky in 1862, by whom he left four daughters and one son, Henry.

Political life[edit]

Minister-President (first term)[edit]

During the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Emperor Francis Joseph offered him the post of Minister of the Interior in Count Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust's cabinet. In June he became vice-president of the ministry, and at the end of the year he entered the first ministry (Bürgerministerium) of the newly organized Austrian portion of the monarchy. For the next three years he took a notable part in the confused political changes, and probably more than any other politician represented the wishes of the emperor.

Taaffe had entered the ministry as a German Liberal, but he soon took an intermediate position between the Liberal majority of the Bürgerministerium ("Citizen's Ministry" because it was mainly commoners) and the party which desired a federal constitution and which was strongly supported at court. From September 1868 to January 1870, after the retirement of Auersperg, he was president of the cabinet. In 1870, the government fell on the question of the revision of the constitution: Taaffe with Potocki and Johann Nepomuk Berger wished to make some concessions to the Federalists; the Liberal majority wished to preserve undiminished the authority of the Imperial Council. The two parties presented memoranda to the emperor, each defending their view and offering their resignation: after some hesitation the emperor accepted the policy of the majority, and Taaffe with his friends resigned. [1]

Second term[edit]

Count Eduard Taaffe

The Liberals, however, failed to form a new government, as the representatives of most of the territories refused to appear in the Imperial Council: they resigned, and in the month of April Potocki and Taaffe returned to office. The latter failed, however, in an attempt to come to an understanding with the Czechs, and in their turn they had to make way for the Clerical and Federalist cabinet of Hohenwart. Taaffe now became governor of Tyrol, but in 1879, on the collapse of the Liberal government, he was recalled to high office. At first, he attempted to carry on the government without a change of principles, but he soon found it necessary to come to an understanding with the Feudal and Federal parties and was responsible for the conduct of the negotiations which in the elections of the same year gave a majority to the different groups of the National and Clerical opposition. In July he became minister president: at first he still continued to govern with the Liberals, but this was soon made impossible, and he was obliged to turn for support to the Conservatives.

Election reform of 1882[edit]

Count Taaffe is mostly remembered for his election reform of 1882, which reduced to 5 guilders the minimum tax base required for men over the age of 24 to vote. Before this reform, the tax base was set locally, but was usually at a considerably higher level, so that only 6% of the male population of Cisleithania had been entitled to vote. However, even after this reform, there were still four classes of voters whose vote counted differently, depending on how much tax an individual was paying.

The next election reform was enacted in 1896 by Kasimir Felix Graf Badeni, who succeeded in bringing about more radical reforms than Taaffe had achieved.

Policies on nationalities[edit]

It was Taaffe's great achievement that he persuaded the Czechs to abandon the policy of abstention and to take part in the parliament. It was on the support of them, the Poles, and the Clericals that his majority depended. His avowed intention was to unite the nationalities of Austria: Germans and Slavs were, as he said, equally integral parts of Austria; neither must be oppressed; both must unite to form an Austrian parliament. Notwithstanding the growing opposition of the German Liberals, who refused to accept the equality of the nationalities, he kept his position for thirteen years.

Late years[edit]

In 1893 he was defeated on a proposal for the revision of the franchise, and resigned. He retired into private life, and died two years later at his country residence, Ellischau, in Bohemia.

Notes[edit]

Regarding personal names: Graf is a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. The female form is Gräfin.

Political offices
Preceded by
Count Beust
Interior Minister of the Austrian Empire
1867
Succeeded by
Carl Giskra
Preceded by
Karl von Auersperg
Minister-President of Cisleithania
1868–1870
Succeeded by
Ignaz von Plener
Preceded by
Carl Giskra
Interior Minister of Cisleithania
1870–1871
Succeeded by
Count von Hohenwart
Preceded by
Karl von Stremayr
Minister-President of Cisleithania
1879–1893
Succeeded by
Alfred III. zu Windisch-Grätz
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Charles Taaffe
Viscount Taaffe Succeeded by
Count Henry von Taaffe


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.