Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma Annotated Calling Card to Jewish Banker Adolphe-Ernest Fould


Annotated calling card in French from Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma (1886-1934), to Adolphe-Ernest Fould (1824-1875), the French banker and politician, thanking him for a book on King Louis XVII.

"The Prince Sixte de Bourbon de Parme thanks very sincerely M. Lucien Laudy for his interesting work about the death of King Louis XVIII"

Prince Sixtus was a son of Robert I, the last reigning Duke of Parma. He was a prince of the Parmesan branch of the royal House of Bourbon; a Belgian officer in World War I; and the central figure in the Sixtus Affair, an attempt to negotiate a treaty to end Austria-Hungary's participation in the Great War separate from its Central Powers allies. He also wrote a number of books.

Sixtus was the eldest son of the last Duke of Parma, Robert I (1848–1907) and his second wife Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal (1862–1959), daughter of King Miguel of Portugal. His father had had twelve children from a previous marriage and Sixtus was the fourteenth of Duke Robert's twenty four children. Among the twenty four, he was the sixth son, hence he was named, Sixtus.

Sixtus' father had been deposed from the Duchy of Parma during the wars of Italian unification, but having inherited the large fortune of his childless uncle, Henri, Count of Chambord, Duke Robert was very wealthy. He raise his large family between Villa Pianore (a large property located between Pietrasanta and Viareggio) and his castle in Schwarzau, lower Austria. Prince Sixtus was educated at Stella Matutina, a Catholic boarding school for boys run by Jesuits in Feldkirch, near the Swiss border. After finishing high school, he studied law in Paris.

On the death of his father in 1907, the largest part of the family's fortune was inherited by Elias, Duke of Parma, the only healthy son among Sixtus' half-siblings. In 1910, the children of Duke Robert's first wife and those of his second wife reached an agreement dividing their father's assets. The following year, Sixtus's sister, Princess Zita, married Archduke Charles, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who had been Sixtus' childhood friend.

The outbreak of World War I further divided the family. Although their ancestors had reigned in Parma, the brothers had even stronger ties with France and Austria. Unable to fight with the French army, while Prince Sixtus and his brother Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma enlisted in the Belgian Army, their brothers Elias, Felix and René fought on the opposite side, in the Austrian Army.

In 1917, as the War was dragging on towards its fourth year, Sixtus' brother-in-law, Emperor Charles I, secretly entered into peace negotiations with France using Sixtus as intermediary. The Emperor also enlisted the help of his loyal childhood friend and aide-de-camp Tamas Erdody. Charles initiated contact with Sixtus via neutral Switzerland. Empress Zita wrote a letter inviting her brother to Vienna. Zita and Sixtus's mother, who was living in neutral Switzerland, delivered the letter personally.

Sixtus arrived with French-agreed conditions for talks: the restoration to France of Alsace-Lorraine, annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870; the restoration of the independence of Belgium; the independence of Serbia and the handover of Constantinople to Russia. Charles agreed, in principle, to the first three points and wrote a letter dated 25 March 1917, to Sixtus giving "the secret and unofficial message that I will use all means and all my personal influence" to the French President.

This attempt at 20th century dynastic diplomacy eventually failed, mainly because of the requirement for Italy to cede Tyrol. Germany also refused to negotiate over Alsace-Lorraine and, seeing a Russian collapse on the horizon, was loath to give up the war. When news of the overture leaked in April 1918, Sixtus's brother-in-law, Charles I of Austria, denied involvement until French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau published letters signed by him. Austria now became even more dependent on its German ally, and there a sharp rebuke for Charles by Wilhelm II.

The failed attempt of peace negotiations became known as the Sixtus affair.

Fould played a key role in the foundation of Banque de Paris (now part of BNP Paribas) and the Ottoman Bank. He was the son of Achille Fould, who served as French minister of finance during the Presidency of Napoleon III.

The Fould family is a family of French Jewish descent known for success in banking. It was founded by Beer Léon Fould, a wine-dealer's son from Lorraine, who moved to Paris in 1784 to establish a banking business. The name comes from the Hessian city of Fulda.

Size: 10.5 x 6 cm approx

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