Imperial Crypt in Wien

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The Imperial Crypt (, but usually called Kapuzinergruft, "Capuchins' Crypt") in Vienna, Austria lies below the Capuchin Church and monastery founded in 1618 and dedicated in 1632. It is on the Neuer Markt square of the Innere Stadt, near the imperial Hofburg Palace. Since 1633 it has been the principal place of entombment for members of the Habsburg dynasty.

The bodies of 145 Habsburg royalty, plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others, are deposited here, including 12 emperors and 18 empresses. The most recent entombment was in 2011. The visible 107 metal sarcophagi and 5 heart urns range in style from puritan plain to exuberant rococo. The Imperial Crypt is one of the top tourist attractions in Vienna.

To this day, some of the dozen resident Capuchin friars continue their customary role as the guardians and caretakers of the crypt along with their other pastoral work in Vienna.

History

Subscript numbers behind the names of most persons listed in this article are used to avoid confusion in cross-references due to the similarity or duplication of names over the many generations. A unique small index number appears with the name of every person buried in the Imperial Crypt. The number corresponds with that person's entry in the detailed listing of occupants of each Vault, to which it is hyperlinked. When necessary to establish continuity, a person buried elsewhere is assigned a number preceded by an x and then listed in the Selected Other Habsburgs section.

Anna of Tyrol, wife of Emperor Matthias conceived the idea of a Capuchin cloister and burial crypt for her and her husband, to be built in the neighborhood of the Hofburg castle in Vienna. She provided funds for it in the will she made on 10 November 1617, and soon made the funds available by dying just a year later. Her spouse followed a year after that.

The foundation stone was laid on 8 September 1622 in the presence of Emperor Ferdinand II and after slow progress caused by the distractions of the Thirty Years' War the church was dedicated on 25 July 1632 and at Easter of the next year, the simple sarcophagi containing the remains of Emperor Mathias and Empress Anna were transferred with great ceremony to what is now called the Founder's Vault.

Emperor Leopold I enlarged the crypt in 1657 in the area under the nave of the church and his son Emperor Joseph I extended it further westward in 1710, but awkwardly, beginning the vault that his brother Emperor Karl VI continued westward in 1720 that extends under the chancel and the apse choir above. For the first time, a well-known architect (Lukas von Hildebrandt) was involved with an enlargement of the crypt.

In 1754, his daughter Empress Maria Theresa went even further west, completely past the church above, into the monastery garden with her domed addition that admits natural light. The imposing dome and crypt is the work of architect Jean Jadot de Ville-Issey.

During the reign of her grandson Emperor Francis II architect Johann Aman turned to the north for his addition in 1824.

The monastery surrounding the church had fallen into disrepair after 200 years of constant use, so during the reign of Emperor Ferdinand in 1840 the monastery (but not the church) was torn down and rebuilt. As part of that project, architect Johann Höhne built Ferdinand’s Vault and the Tuscan Vault as part of the basement of the new structure.

As part of the jubilee celebrating his 60 years on the throne in 1908, Emperor Franz Joseph had architect Cajo Perisic build another mausoleum chamber and a chapel to the east of Franz II and Ferdinand’s vaults. At the same time, new annexes for visitors were created on either side of the church.

By 1960 it was obvious from the deteriorating condition of the tombs that the environment of changing heat and humidity needed to be controlled if the historic sarcophagi were to survive for future generations. The New Vault, north of the Tuscan, Ferdinand’s and Franz Joseph’s Vaults, was built by architect Karl Schwanzer, with metal doors by sculptor Rudolf Hoflehner. It added about 20% to the space of the crypt, and was used as part of a massive rearrangement of the tombs in the vaults.

The original small vault had held, besides the tombs of the two founders, those of a dozen children and had been called the Angel’s Vault. Those were moved to open niches newly made in the front wall of Leopold’s Vault.

Selected tombs from various other vaults were moved to the New Vault and grouped in themes such as Bishops, the direct ancestors of the last reigning emperor, and the immediate family of Archduke Charles the victor of Aspern.

Thirty seven other tombs, of some minors and minor members of the ruling family, were walled-up into four piers created in Ferdinand’s Vault.

Thus about half of all the tombs were moved out of the original vaults to more orderly places as part of that great reorganization.

In 2003 another project made the crypt accessible to the handicapped, and opened previously unused doors so that the visitor route no longer requires the 100% backtracking that was necessary before. The entire crypt was also air conditioned to prevent deterioration of the tombs.

The sarcophagi

The free-standing tombs are usually variations of either a flat-topped storage chest, or a tub with sloping sides and a convex lid of tapered decks. Ornamentation ranges from simple to elaborate.

Until far in the 18th century, the most common material for a sarcophagus here was a bronze-like alloy of tin, coated with shellac. The splendid tombs of the baroque and rococo eras are made of true bronze, a nobler and therefore more expensive material. Reforming Emperor Joseph II decreed simplified burial customs for the people, and introduced the use of lighter and cheaper copper into the Imperial Crypt, where it was then used into the 19th century. In the later 19th century a mixture of cast brass and bronze as well as silver-bronzed copper was adopted. Other metals were used only rarely, except for silver and gold plating on decorations.

Various techniques of metalworking were used: full casting for the sarcophagus; hollow casting for decorative sculpture; carving, engraving, and hammered relief for surface decoration. The parts for chests and covers are riveted together, ornaments and decorative figures are screwed on.

The sculptor responsible for the most elaborate tombs is Balthasar Ferdinand Moll.

In order to guarantee the stability of the enormous display tombs, they have iron bracings and wood lining inside. This avoids both cave-ins and a buckling of the side walls from the weight of the cover. The cover of the double tomb of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, alone weighs approximately 1700 kg (3800 lb).

Within the outer case lays a wooden coffin that is wrapped in silk (black with gold trim for rulers, red with silver trim for others). The coffin usually has two locks, the key to one is kept by the Capuchin Guardian of the crypt, the other is kept in the Schatzkammer of the Hofburg palace in Vienna.

Within the coffin, the body usually has had the organs removed as a necessary part of the embalming process for its display before the funeral. For about one-third of the bodies, the heart has been placed into a silver urn and sent elsewhere (usually the Herzgruft in the Augustinerkirche), and for some the intestines and other organs have been put into a copper urn and deposited in the Dukes Crypt in the catacombs of Vienna’s cathedral, the Stephansdom.

Conservation of the tombs

Over the centuries, constant humidity, variations in temperature, and the host of visitors had taken a great toll on the sarcophagi. Corrosion craters, holes and tears had developed. Layers of the horizontal surfaces had peeled, base plates had broken through, decorative fixtures had been broken or stolen by visitors, the cast metal absorbed too much humidity and puffed up, and heavy covers had caused some sidewalls to bend or cave.

The first major restoration effort was undertaken in 1852, but further work was needed by 1956 when the Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Kapuzinergruft (Association for Saving the Capuchin Crypt) came into being to inform the public of the problem, raise funds, and preserve and restore the tombs.

It was first necessary to create additional space and to dehumidify the crypt. After completion of the New Vault in 1960 and the transfer of 26 tombs from the overflowing Tuscan Vault, the work of dehumidification could begin. Also, a workshop was created in the south end of the Tuscan Vault where highly-skilled artisans could work on selected tombs temporarily moved there for restoration.

In 2003 remodelling of the ground-level visitor facilities took place to create a new visitor entrance and make the crypt accessible to the handicapped. The visitor route was also changed so that visitors now see the tombs in historical sequence by entering at one end and leaving at the other, instead of both entering and leaving via a single stairway that is in the middle of the route. Most importantly, the entire crypt was air conditioned so that humidity can be controlled.

The repair and conservation of the artistic work takes place in close cooperation with the monks, the Association, the Austrian Monument Office and the Vienna Old City Preservation Fund.

Persons buried here

The bodies of 145 persons (mainly members of the ruling line of the House of Habsburg and the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine), plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others, are deposited in one of the ten interconnected Vaults of the Imperial Crypt. They include 12 Emperors and 18 Empresses. The most recent entombment, that of Archduke Otto, and his wife Archduchess Regina, was on 16 July 2011.

From other families there are 32 spouses, plus four others, who have found their resting place here.

The oldest person entombed here is Archduke Otto, aged 98 years and 7 months. The next oldest is his mother, Zita of Bourbon-Parma, the last Austrian empress, at 97 years. Several died at birth and over 25% of those entombed here were five-years of age or less when they died.

Emperors buried here:

  1. Emperor Matthias
  2. Emperor Ferdinand III
  3. Emperor Leopold I
  4. Emperor Joseph I
  5. Emperor Charles VI
  6. Emperor Francis I Stephen
  7. Emperor Joseph II
  8. Emperor Leopold II
  9. Emperor Francis II
  10. Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria
  11. Archduke Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico
  12. Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria

Empresses buried here:

  1. Anna, consort of Emperor Mathias
  2. Maria Anna, consort of Emperor Ferdinand III
  3. Eleonora Magdalena, consort of Emperor Ferdinand III
  4. Maria Leopoldina, consort of Emperor Ferdinand III
  5. Margaret Theresa, consort of Emperor Leopold I
  6. Eleonora Magdalena, consort of Emperor Leopold I
  7. Elisabeth Christina, consort of Emperor Karl VI
  8. Maria Theresa, consort of Emperor Francis I
  9. Maria Josepha, consort of Emperor Joseph II
  10. Isabella Maria, consort of Emperor Joseph II
  11. Elisabeth Wilhelmine, consort of Emperor Francis II
  12. Maria Teresa Carolina consort of Emperor Franci II
  13. Maria Ludowika, consort of Emperor Francis II
  14. Karolina Augusta, consort of Emperor Francis II
  15. Archduchess Maria Louise, Empress of France
  16. Maria Anna, consort of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria
  17. Elisabeth, consort of Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria
  18. Zita, consort of Emperor Charles of Austria

(Also, the hearts of Empresses Claudia Felicitas and Amalie Wilhelmine are here, but their bodies are buried elsewhere.)

All 146 persons buried here (in whole or in part) are shown on the directory charts below, together with links to a detailed text listing. For ease of use, they show the Habsburg family buried here as family trees based upon lines of descent.

  • Go directly to family of the Founders (c. 1450 - c. 1650)
  • Go directly to descendents of Emperor Ferdinand III (c. 1600 - c. 1750)
  • Go directly to descendents of Empress Maria Theresa (c. 1725 - c. 1875)
  • Go directly to descendents of Emperor Leopold II (c. 1750 - c. 1900)
  • Go directly to descendents of Emperor Francis II (c. 1775 - end of the monarchy)
  • Go directly to descendents of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany (c. 1775 - c. 1900).

Founders' Family

This group covers the founders of the Imperial Crypt (and the first to be buried here), Empress Anna of Tyrol and her cousin and husband Emperor Mathias. They are shown with their descent from Emperor Friedrich III and their relationship to their successor, Emperor Ferdinand II.

For the tomb location and specifics on any person buried in the Imperial Crypt, find the tomb number located next to the person's name on the chart below then click on the appropriate group of tomb numbers: 1-2, 3-32, 33-40, 41-56, 57-61, 62-100 101-114, 115-141, 142-144, 147-151, (x415-x887 are buried elsewhere).

Emperor Ferdinand III's family

This group shows descendants of Emperor Ferdinand III through the extinction of the male Habsburg line with the death of Emperor Charles VI.

For the tomb location and specifics on any person buried in the Imperial Crypt, find the tomb number located next to the person's name on the chart below then click on the appropriate group of tomb numbers: 1-2, 3-32, 33-40, 41-56, 57-61, 62-100 101-114, 115-141, 142-144, 147-151, (x415-x887 are buried elsewhere).

Empress Maria Theresa's family

The male Habsburg line had become extinct upon the death of Emperor Charles VI, so Empress Maria Theresa’s marriage to the Duke of Lorraine established the House of Habsburg-Lorraine which continues through the following charts and has many living members today.

For the tomb location and specifics on any person buried in the Imperial Crypt, find the tomb number located next to the person's name on the chart below then click on the appropriate group of tomb numbers: 1-2, 3-32, 33-40, 41-56, 57-61, 62-100 101-114, 115-141, 142-144, 147-151, (x415-x887 are buried elsewhere).

Emperor Leopold II's family

This group shows offspring of Empress Maria Theresa’s second son, Emperor Leopold II and how they split into two major lines and some minor ones. All of those born Habsburg after the time of Maria Theresa who are buried here are descended from Emperor Leopold II.

For the tomb location and specifics on any person buried in the Imperial Crypt, find the tomb number located next to the person's name on the chart below then click on the appropriate group of tomb numbers: 1-2, 3-32, 33-40, 41-56, 57-61, 62-100 101-114, 115-141, 142-144, 147-151, (x415-x887 are buried elsewhere).

Emperor Francis II's family

This group covers the ruling line from the ascent of Emperor Franz II (1792) to the end of the monarchy (1918).

For the tomb location and specifics on any person buried in the Imperial Crypt, find the tomb number located next to the person's name on the chart below then click on the appropriate group of tomb numbers: 1-2, 3-32, 33-40, 41-56, 57-61, 62-100 101-114, 115-141, 142-144, 147-151, (x415-x887 are buried elsewhere).

Tuscan line

When the second son of Empress Maria Theresa was called from his post of Grand Duke of Tuscany to become Emperor, he separated the Grand Duchy from the inheritance that goes with the imperial crown, installing his second son, Ferdinand and his heirs as successors to those lands and that title. This group shows that line until the absorption of Tuscany into the Kingdom of Italy.

For the tomb location and specifics on any person buried in the Imperial Crypt, find the tomb number located next to the person's name on the chart below then click on the appropriate group of tomb numbers: 1-2, 3-32, 33-40, 41-56, 57-61, 62-100 101-114, 115-141, 142-144, 147-151, (x415-x887 are buried elsewhere).

Future entombments

A specific place remaining in the Crypt Chapel is reserved for Archduchess Yolande (1923 - ), wife (1950) of Archduke Carl Ludwig. There is room for two others along the east wall.

Any other entombments would most easily be located along the south wall in the New Vault. There is also room in the Tuscan Vault, but that would not follow the generally-chronological arrangement of the tombs.

Cremated remains can be accommodated within the piers in the corners of Ferdinand's Vault.

Since 1971 members of the family who die during the exile (e.g. Archduke Rudolf (1919–2010)) are mostly entombed in the crypt of the Loretto Chapel of the Benedictine Monastery at Muri, Switzerland, which was founded in 1027 by Count Radebot von Habsburg.

Vaults

The Imperial Crypt today consists of an interconnected series of ten subterranean vaulted rooms, built at various times as more space was needed.

  • The Founders' Vault
  • Leopold’s Vault
  • Karl's Vault
  • Maria Theresa's Vault
  • Franz's Vault
  • Ferdinand’s Vault
  • Tuscan Vault
  • New Vault
  • Franz Joseph's Vault
  • The Crypt Chapel

In 1960, with the various vaults overcrowded, a major rearrangement project began which resulted in the construction of the Children's Columbarium and the New Vault. At the same time many bodies were moved to those new areas, others were moved from the Tuscan Vault and Ferdinand’s Vault and walled up into the corner piers of Ferdinand's Vault. In 2003, the Vaults were air-conditioned, more for the preservation of the tombs than the comfort of visitors.

See also

  • Ducal Crypt (Vienna) for the traditional depository of the viscera of those entombed here.
  • Herzgruft (Vienna) for the traditional depository of the hearts of those entombed here.
  • Palatinal Crypt for the burial place of the Hungarian Habsburgs in Buda Castle.
  • Mayerling Incident

References

External links



Source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Crypt