“As long as one’s conscience is at peace, one can not truly fail”

The Otto von Habsburg Foundation has published two lavishly illustrated volumes to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Charles IV.

“As long as one’s conscience is at peace, one can not truly fail”

The Otto von Habsburg Foundation has published two lavishly illustrated volumes to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Charles IV.

For history enthusiasts and those interested in the Habsburg family, the new book Goodwill and Misfortune, published by the Otto von Habsburg Foundation, and the other, Exiled in Madeira, would make an excellent Christmas present. The two publications contain a rich collection of largely unpublished photographs, readable essays and previously unreleased sources on the life of the last Hungarian king, Austrian emperor, and his son, Otto von Habsburg.

The Goodwill and Misfortune and Exiled in Madeira, which approach the life of the former monarch from different perspectives, were presented on 28 November at the Royal Palace in Gödöllő.

Goodwill and Misfortune is a selection of essays from the conferences held in Vienna and Gödöllő in spring 2022 to mark the centenary of the death of Charles IV. It is intended to dispel misconceptions, legends and myths about Charles IV and to provide readers with an accurate picture of historical reality.

The publication recalls various scenes and aspects of the life of the last Hungarian king, from his youth and journey to the throne, through his two-year reign and into his final days, and also describes the daily life of the ruling family. The images are based on photographs from the Habsburg Otto Foundation’s memorial exhibition Charles Habsburg – Life and Memory, which includes some never-before-seen items from the collection.

“When my father died, I was nine years old. I had a profound bond with him since childhood, and it was in his last weeks in Madeira that he told me many things. This gave me insight, at least at the level of a child, into a life that was so full of defeats and disappointments as few others; and which, from a human point of view, can be considered a clear failure.” – said Otto von Habsburg, the last heir to the Hungarian throne, in praising his father, Charles IV. – “He wanted peace and had to wage war. He strove for unity and had to watch the destruction of a multi-ethnic empire in a position of authority. Many of his friends turned their backs on him, even betrayed him. (…) His death showed me that as long as one’s conscience is clear, one cannot truly fail. And that, after all, is the only true secret of happiness – here on earth too.”


The archival sourcebook, Exiled in Madeira, covers the events of the last months of Charles IV, mainly from the perspective of Otto von Habsburg and his family, using several unpublished sources. ‘Beato Carlos d’Austria’, or ‘Blessed Charles of Austria’, as he is still known in Madeira, is portrayed primarily as a private man, father and husband. The first time the monarch, who had been extremely overworked and had reigned in a very turbulent period, was finally able to spend time with his family on the island of Madeira.

The documents in this publication include excerpts from Charles IV’s diary and daily notes from the governesses of the royal children. The written sources used are supplemented by photographs, most of which are still unknown to the public, taken in the family’s immediate surroundings or by local master photographers. The selection of images draws mainly on the unique collection of the Madeira Photography Museum and pieces from international public collections, offering readers a very rich material.

According to Gergely Prőhle, Director of the Otto von Habsburg Foundation, the two books are not only useful for historians but also for students and adults interested in the subject, as they are designed to be readable and comprehensible.

The collection of essays entitled Goodwill and Misfortune was edited by Dr Dávid Ligeti, Senior Research Fellow at the VERITAS Research Institute for History and Archives, while the sourcebook entitled Exiled in Madeira was edited by Gergely Fejérdy, Deputy Scientific Director, István Gergely Szűts, Chief Archivist and Ferenc Vasbányai, Librarian of the Otto von Habsburg Foundation.

Helikon Publishing released the volumes, which are available for purchase at the Libri bookshops and at



On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the birth of Otto von Habsburg, our Foundation, which manages the legacy and intellectual heritage of Otto von Habsburg, organised a series of events in the second half of 2022. It includes a series of conferences at home and abroad, as well as an exhibition on Charles IV’s years in Madeira, which can be visited free of charge at the Royal Palace in Gödöllő until 1 April 2023.

More information about the exhibition is available by clicking here.