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Ernst von Körber
Ernst von Körber was born at Triest on 6 November 1850.  He began his career as a bureaucrat and was elevated to Austrian Trade Minister in 1897.  On 19 January 1900, Ernst von Körber replaced Heinrich Ritter von Wittek as Chancellor.

Körber relied heavily on Article XIV of the Constitution to pass legislation.  This "dictatorship clause" allowed the Chancellor to bypass a deadlocked parliament and bring laws directly to the Kaiser.  Körber used Article XIV more than 30 times, an excessive number for peacetime.  He resigned 1 January 1905, following severe obstruction by the Hungarians over the latest customs negotiations in the Delegations.  Körber was in turn replaced by Paul Freiherr Gautsch von Frankenthurn.  His career was by no means over, though.  

Körber remained aloof from higher office for more than a decade, but returned in February 1915 to replace
Leon Bilinski as the Imperial Finance Minister.  Following the murder of Chancellor Stürgkh in October 1916, the Kaiser appointed Körber the new Chancellor.  As Hungarian Premier Tisza was then the strongest personality in the Empire, it was hoped by many in Vienna that the strong-willed Körber could prove Tisza's match. 

Tisza was not pleased by the appointment, as he and Stürgkh had an alliance of sorts during the last few years.  In fact, Stürgkh had told Körber that he intended to avoid all difficulties for the duration of the war; that is, he would follow Tisza's lead.  Körber decided to delay ratifying the economic compromise that was developed during Stürgkh's tenure, on grounds that it was too favourable to Hungary.  Considering how long and drawn out the previous negotiations had been with the compliant Stürgkh, Tisza was not about to go through a new round of discussions with the more determined Körber.  Therefore, Tisza threatened Körber with charges of treason if he refused to ratify the compromise as had been agreed to by Stürgkh. 

This issue had pushed Körber's ability to govern right to the edge, and the ascension of
Kaiser Karl pushed him over it.  The decision of the Kaiser to be immediately crowned King in Budapest drew Körber's protest, because he had hoped to use the coronation as leverage against the Magyars to gain new negotiations for the economic compromise. 

Karl would have nothing to do with it, and this put the new Kaiser at odds with his much older Chancellor; Bilinski was among those who believed Körber unable to identify with Kaiser Karl owing to age differences.  Furthermore, Körber refused to convoke parliament, and this threatened civil unrest, especially since volatile personalities such as
Karl Kramar had been released from prison and were agitating for sweeping reforms.  There were even threats of assassination.  Körber resigned from his office in mid-December 1916. 

To replace him, Kaiser Karl first tapped
Alexander von Spitzmüller-Harmersbach, who was the chief negotiator for Austria during the economic compromise discussions.  This fell through, and Karl settled on Graf Heinrich Clam-Martinic as Chancellor on 20 December 1916. 

Körber retired from public service and died at Baden on 5 March 1919.

GWS, 3/01