The last king of Hungary & last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Charles IV spent a little time on the throne. Charles (in Hungarian: Károly IV) took over the estate of Emperor and King Ferenc József in November 1916. Just two years later, he needed to relinquish his sovereign rights. Károly IV. died in exile, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, on April 1, 1922, by the Spanish flu. One of the most infamous and most devastating epidemics in modern history.
Difficult years to be on the throne
After the death of Francis Joseph (in Hungarian: Ferenc József), they crowned Charles IV first in Vienna and then on 30th December 1916 in the Matthias Church (in Hungarian: Mátyás Templom) in Budapest.
After WWI, the Habsburg dynasty was deprived of its rights both in Austria and Hungary. Therefore, Charles, his wife, Zita, and their children had to leave both countries and go to exile first in Switzerland. Since Charles did not renounce the throne of Hungary, later he and his family were exiled to Madeira, Portugal, while the Hungarian parliament enacted the law of dethroning the Habsburg House. Although Hungary officially remained a “kingdom without a king”.
About his death
Charles died of Spanish fever on 1st April 1922. He never renounced the throne of Hungary as did his widow, Zita and her son, Otto. They buried the last king of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Madeira.
Since the 16th century, he was the first and still the only Habsburg not to rest in the family crypt. Between the two world wars, bringing his body back was not possible due to political reasons. His son, Otto Habsburg, decided that it is better to let him rest there. He did not want to take his remains home, as his father had been lovingly received in Madeira. It would be dishonourable to take his remains from there.
Where to find his remains on Madeira?
During the time in which he lived on Madeira, he lived in Quinta do Monte. Today this district bears the name of Quinta Jardins do Imperador. There, in the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Mount) his mortal remains are laid to rest. In front of the church we find his statue. And just next door – in Casa dos Romeiros (Pilgrim’s House), there is a permanent exhibition of the life of the former Emperor of Austria and former King of Hungary.
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