Did French ever have any special status in Austria or the Austrian empire, akin to it being the language of royalty in England (and possibly Russia, I'm not sure) (as opposed to it being just another foreign language)?

  • 3
    French replaced latin as the official diplomatic language in Europe (from England to Russia) in the 17th Century and this lasted at least until the end of the 19th century. The only exception as far as I know was Spain (to be confirmed).
    – radouxju
    May 3, 2016 at 5:51
  • It depends whether you would call English today "another foreign language" in all the places where it has no special status...
    – Relaxed
    May 5, 2016 at 8:16

1 Answer 1


France and various Habsburg lands including Austria were political and diplomatic enemies and often at war during almost 300 years from about 1477 to about 1750, and again for most of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

During that period French became the most prestigious living language in western Europe and was a second language to most members of the social elites. But Austria seems like the realm whose government had the least motive to decree any sort of special favorable legal status for the French language. So I doubt that anyone will find much evidence of a special legal (as opposed to social) status for French in Austria, however Austria is defined.

  • Prussia did not have any reason to love french either. But it is my understanding that French did serve as language of court and elite there. e.g. King Frederick the great of Prussia spoke fluent French. One of highest Prussian and eventually German medals, the Blue Max was actually called "Pour Le Merite"
    – NSNoob
    May 5, 2016 at 9:28
  • 2
    Just like today there are many countries who detest English but still use it as language of international commerce and business. Many have it as official language despite having bad relations/wars with UK historically.
    – NSNoob
    May 5, 2016 at 9:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.