Ladislaus Hengelmüller von Hengervár

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Ladislaus Freiherr Hengelmüller von Hengervár
Ladislaus Hengelmuller.jpg
Austro-Hungarian Minister to Serbia
In office
21 February 1887 – 30 July 1889
Preceded byRudolf Graf von Khevenhüller-Metsch
Succeeded byGustav Freiherr von Thömmel
Austro-Hungarian Minister to Brazil
In office
4 March 1891 – 7 May 1893
Preceded byRudolf Graf von Welsersheimb
Succeeded byErnst Ritter Schmit von Tavera
Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to the United States
In office
11 October 1894 – 7 January 1913
Preceded byErnst Ritter Schmit von Tavera
Succeeded byKonstantin Dumba
Personal details
Born(1845-05-02)2 May 1845
Pest, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary)
Died22 April 1917(1917-04-22) (aged 71)
Abbazia, Austria-Hungary (now Croatia)
Spouse(s)Marie, née Gräfin Dunin-Borkowska (1859–?)

Ladislaus (from 1906, Freiherr) Hengelmüller von Hengervár (Hungarian: hengervári báró Hengelmüller László) (2 May 1845 – 22 April 1917), was an Austro-Hungarian diplomat of Hungarian origin who was a long-term Ambassador at Washington D.C., throughout many Presidential administrations including those of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft.


Born in Pest (now Budapest) on 2 May 1845 into an ethnic German family in Hungary.[1] His father Michael Hengelmüller was an Austrian court official. On 3 April 1893, he married Marie née Countess Dunin-Borkowska (1859–?), a widow and daughter of Count Alfred Dunin-Borkowski (1834–1895), in Dresden.[2]

After having served in the Chancellery of the Royal Hungarian Court and the Ministry of Finance, Hengelmüller began his diplomatic career. In 1868, he was appointed as Chancellor of the General consulate for China and Japan, and then served briefly in the Foreign Ministry in Vienna. Following a stint at the Consulate in Budapest, he was stationed in Washington D.C. and Berlin from 1870 to 1874. In 1875, he was responsible for the preparations of a commercial treaty with Germany and was thereafter dispatched to Paris in 1876 and to London in 1879.[3] It was in this latter posting, where he remained for almost a decade, where he distinguished himself and acquired a reputation for shrewdness. One of his achievements during this time was to obtain a public apology by Britain's Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was well known for his stubbornness.[4]

In 1887, Hengelmüller was appointed to serve as minister at Belgrade in the wake of the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885-1886 and had to exercise a restraining influence on Serbian King Milan I, whose throne depended on Austro-Hungarian support.[5] In 1889, he was ennobled as Hengelmüller von Hengervár and appointed a Privy Counsellor (Geheimrat). In 1891, he became minister at Rio de Janeiro before being appointed to serve as minister at Washington D.C. in 1894.

Described as clever and experienced, Hengelmüller von Hengervár became greatly popular and well-respected during his long period of service in Washington D.C.[6]

In late 1902, he was informed that his legation would be upgraded to an embassy and that he would be promoted to the rank of ambassador.[7] Already in 1896 had he lobbied Emperor Franz Joseph I and Foreign Minister Goluchowski to raise the status of his mission.[8] On 27 December, he presented his credentials to President Roosevelt and became the first ambassador of Austria-Hungary to the United States.[9]

In the autumn of 1906, his name was one of those advanced as a successor to Count Goluchowski as Imperial Foreign Minister, but the post eventually went to an old friend Count Lexa von Aehrenthal.[10] On 13 December 1906, he was elevated to the rank of Baron, one of the few products of the nineteenth century nobility among senior Austro-Hungarian diplomats.[11]

Countess Marie Hengelmüller von Hengervár, née Dunin-Borkowska

Baron Hengelmüller von Hengervár was present on 10 January 1908 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City when the American Priory of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem was officially incorporated.[12] In 1909, he signed an arbitration treaty between the United States and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which provided for a Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.[13]

On 23 February 1910, he became dean of the diplomatic corps in Washington D.C.[14]

When former President Roosevelt, with whom he had become a good friend, visited Austria-Hungary in 1910, he was one of the hosts[15] and Roosevelt also wrote the preface of the Baron's book on Prince Rákóczi, a Hungarian leader of an uprising against the Habsburgs in the eighteenth century, in 1913. It could be noted though that the Baron's own Hungarian skills were considered rather weak although he was considered an eminent linguist in diplomatic circles.[16]

On a more anecdotal level, Baron Hengelmüller von Hengervár was subject to a quote by the then President Taft: "Let him wait", Taft told Captain Butt regarding the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador's impatience over a delayed appointment. "A man with the name of Hengelmuller should not want me to leave my lunch".[17]

In the autumn of 1912, he formally announced his retirement and that he would return to Vienna after close to twenty years in Washington D.C.[18] His long years of service, along with the fact that his friend Count Lexa von Aehrenthal had died earlier that year, likely contributed to this end.[19] He was succeeded as US Ambassador by Konstantin Dumba, who held the post until 1915 when he was declared persona non grata and expelled from the country by President Wilson.

Baron Hengelmüller von Hengelvár, who had been appointed a lifetime member of the Hungarian House of Magnates in 1910, died on 22 April 1917 at Abbazia (now Opatija), one of the leading health resorts of the Habsburg Empire located in Istria.

His summer residence in Maine from his years in the United States today[vague] operates as a bed and breakfast.[20]


Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron). In Germany since 1919, it forms part of family names. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin.


  • Franz Rákóczi und sein Kampf für Ungarns Freiheit 1703-1711, Berlin, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1913 (translation as Hungary's fight for national existence, or the history of the great uprising led by Francis Rakoczi II. 1703-1711, London, Macmillan, 1913).
  • Austria-Hungary and the War (together with Albert Graf Apponyi von Nagy-Appony, Konstantin Dumba and Alexander Nuber von Pereked), New York, Austro-Hungarian Consulate-general, 1915.


  1. ^ 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. 155.
  2. ^ Dunin-Borkowski
  3. ^ 'Hengelmüller von Hengervár Ladislaus Baron', Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815-1950, vol. 2, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1957, p. 272.
  4. ^ 'Von Hengemuller, ex-diplomat, dead', New York Times, 27 April 1917.
  5. ^ 'The new dean of the diplomatic corps at Washington', New York Times, 26 June 1910.
  6. ^ 'The new dean of the diplomatic corps at Washington', op. cit..
  7. ^ 'Austria's envoy promoted', New York Times, 9 December 1902.
  8. ^ 'An Austrian ambassador', New York Times, 13 June 1896.
  9. ^ 'New ambassador received', New York Times, 28 December 1902.
  10. ^ 'The new dean of the diplomatic corps at Washington', op. cit..
  11. ^ Godsey, op. cit., p. 20.
  12. ^ Knights of Malta Archived 2005-01-02 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Arbitration Convention between the United States and Austria-Hungary Archived 2006-05-07 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Diplomatic Representation for Republic of Austria
  15. ^ See for example 'Big Vienna programme', New York Times, 14 April 1910; Roosevelt's day in Vienna', op. cit., 16 April 1910; 'Roosevelt royally welcomed in Vienna', op. cit., 16 April 1910; 'Dinner with the Emperor', op. cit., 17 April 1910; 'A busy day in Budapest', op. cit., 19 April 1910.
  16. ^ Godsey, op. cit., p. 144.
  17. ^ William Howard Taft humour Archived 2006-01-26 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ 'Austrian envoy quitting', New York Times, 24 August 1912.
  19. ^ 'Hengelmueller may resign', New York Times, 21 December 1910.
  20. ^ Castle Maine Inn

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Rudolf Graf von Khevenhüller-Metsch
Austro-Hungarian Minister to Serbia
Succeeded by
Gustav Freiherr von Thömmel
Preceded by
Rudolf Graf von Welsersheimb
Austro-Hungarian Minister to Brazil
Succeeded by
Ernst Ritter Schmit von Tavera
Preceded by
Ernst Ritter Schmit von Tavera
Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Konstantin Dumba