Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

Hübner, Joseph Alexander von

Hübner, Joseph Alexander von (1811-1892), Austrian diplomat who rose from humble circumstances to become one of the leading members of the Austrian foreign service in the 1850s and 1860s, Alexander Hübner served as minister (later ambassador ) to France (1849-59) and as minister to the Vatican (1865-67). He began his career in 1833 as a subaltern in the Staatskanzlei, where he served Prince Clemens von Metternich in a variety of office and household chores. His only significant diplomatic experience prior to 1848 was as consul general in Leipzig after 1844. The turning point in Hübner 's career came at the beginning of 1848 when Metternich sent him to Italy as his personal emissary to the government in Lombardy-Venetia. Because of the outbreak of revolution in Milan a few days after his arrival, Hübner accomplished nothing; but his capture by the provisional government and his 106 days of captivity subsequently made him a hero to conservatives in Vienna. After the suppression of the Viennese revolution at the end of October, Hübner became secretary to the new Minister-President, Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg. In the following months Hübner drafted important state papers for Schwarzenberg, including the documents surrounding the accession of the eighteen-year-old Francis Joseph to the throne; and he also acted as Schwarzenberg's liaison with the imperial court during its sojourn in Olmütz. Schwarzenberg sent Hübner to Paris as a special emissary to Louis Napoleon in March 1849, where he would remain until 1859.

Shortly before his death, Hübner published Ein Jahr meines Lebens, 1848-1849 (1891), a work that he described as a literal transcription of his daily journal. Given his personal experiences during the legendary "Five Glorious Days" of Milan as well as his insider's view of the counter-revolution in Austria, the book became a standard source on the revolution of 1848 in Italy and Austria. However, a comparison of the published text with Hü'bner's recently-rediscovered original diary reveals that much of the material in the published version is not in the handwritten journal. Moreover, the additional text appears to relate more to Austria's political agenda of the 1880s than to a young man's account of his experiences in the 1848 revolutions. A similar two-volume edition of his journal from his years in Paris, Neun Jahre der Erinnerungen eines österreichischen Botschafters in Paris unter dem zweiten Kaiserreich 1851-1859 (1904), appeared after Hübner's death.

When the Emperor Francis Joseph raised Hübner to the rank of hereditary count in 1889, the London Daily Telegraph reported the event and referred to him as "the most distinguished Austrian alive." The fame he enjoyed in his later years was primarily the result of a series of travel books that he published in the 1870s and 1880s. Following his retirement from the diplomatic corps in 1871, Hübner became an international celebrity. Indeed, so great was his stature as a traveler and lecturer that the Royal Geographic Society of London invited him to give the welcoming address for a dinner honoring Henry Morton Stanley in 1890.

Roy Austensen


Austensen, Roy A. "Alexander von Hübner and the Revolution of 1848: A Reassessment." Consortium on Revolutionary Europe,Proceedings (1985): 283-301.

Engel-Janosi, Friedrich Der Freiherr von Hübner, 1811-1892: Eine Gestalt aus dem Österreich Kaiser Franz Josephs Innsbruck: Universitäts-Verlag Wagner, 1933.

Hübner, Joseph Alexander von Ein Jahr meines Lebens, 1848-1849 Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1891.

Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

JGC revised this file ( on Ocotober 20, 2004.

Please E-mail comments or suggestions to

© 1998, 2004 James Chastain.