Kaska, František

Dr. Chem. PhMr. František Kaska, baron, Freiherr, Apotheker 2. Classe
Dr. Chem. PhMr. František Kaska, baron, free lord, 2nd class army pharmacist

* 12. 01. (?) 1834
+ 10. 05. 1907

František Kaska, Spanish baron, free lord, scientist, diplomat and officer of the Austro-Hungarian army etc. was born into the family of a Czech burgher in Horažďovice on February 12, 1834. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Vienna in the field of chemical pharmacy. During his studies, he enters nearby St. Pöltnu to Infantry Regiment No. 49 as a student officer school. However, he continued his university studies and eventually graduated as a doctor of chemistry and master of pharmacy. In 1864, at the age of thirty, he was recruited into the Austrian Volunteer Corps, which was founded to support the Mexican emperor Maximilian, younger brother of the Austrian emperor. He becomes the chief apothecary of this expeditionary corps (the list of corps members states "Dr.chem. Franz Kaska - Apotheker 2.Classe (8th January 1865)") and is subsequently appointed personal pharmacist the Mexican emperor himself. The emperor's well-known love of natural sciences certainly played an important role here.

František Kaska underwent the entire Mexican campaign and became an officer of the Mexican Imperial "Orden de Nostra de Guadalupe" (Order of Our Lady of Guadeloupe), as one of 43 people decorated with this order and in 1866 the Knight of Austria Order of Francis Joseph I.

Whether he went through captivity after the conquest of the besieged city of Querétaro and the bitter end of Maximilian's Mexican Empire, followed by the emperor's execution at dawn on June 19, 1867, is not entirely clear. After this end of the Western Habsburg Empire, Kaska decided to remain in Republican Mexico, although he was a monarchist. Whether his scientific soul longing to know the vast amount of natural wealth of his new home or other more compelling reasons can only speculate. The amnesty of the president Juarez in the autumn of 1867 certainly helped. Republican Mexico, however, was already very good, given that it was a former enemy. He once again devotes himself to his profession as a pharmacist and to scientific and research work. At the same time, as a doctor of chemistry and pharmacist, he was interested in shamanic practices, folk medicine and the history of his new home. Together with other Austrian scientists, who also survived the bitter end and stayed in Mexico, they also try to uncover the secrets of the Mayan language. He managed to obtain several rare statues, masks and cult objects of ancient Mexican civilizations. In addition to his scientific work, however, he managed to save or collect a very valuable collection of historical objects related to the time of the empire. A large part of it consists of the former property of the emperor Maximilian, oil paintings, silver cutlery, table and decorative porcelain , jewelry and especially the monarch's orders and decorations.

During his further stay, he gained great scientific fame. He has been awarded many international awards and recognitions, such as the Gold Medal of Merit exhibition in New Orleans 1884 - 1885. He becomes a full or honorary member of various Mexican and foreign learned societies and of course a member of Society of the Museum of the Kingdom of the Czech Republic. The influx of honor and recognition for his work does not cease. In 1888 he became commander of the papacy Order of St. Gregory.He is also awarded the Meritorious Bavarian Order of St. Michael III Class, Dutch Silver Medal for Science and Art, Austrian Jubilejní medaile z roku 1898 and shortly before his death he became a commander with a star Order of Francis Joseph I. However, he received these high awards rather for further tireless work. His diplomatic skills, tactful dealings, and contacts with high-ranking Mexican politicians have enabled him to unofficially defend and defend the interests of the Austrian emperor in Mexico for more than a quarter of a century. Through his actions, he earned the respect of the Republican government and the Mexican president Porfirio Diaze, with whom he has captivity Diaze in 1866 in Oaxak by the Imperial Army, he personally knew. It was this personal friendship and Kask's diplomatic skills that made it possible in the end to make a significant contribution to the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

During his visit to his homeland in 1889, he was given a long personal audience with the emperor Francis Joseph I . Of course, we do not know what they negotiated together, and we can only speculate that it was not just memories of the emperor's younger brother and his unfortunate Mexican reign or Kask's help in creating the Maximilian monument in Queretar.
After all, already on December 11, 1889, František Kaska is decorated Order of the Iron Crown II. class and subsequently on January 25, 1890 he became commander of the Spanish Order of Isabella the Catholic, which automatically elevates him to the status of Spanish barons. Although Dr. Kaska did not apply for recognition of this title in Austria, even without his initiative he was nobilized by the imperial supreme decision of August 6, 1901 and subsequently on April 31, 1902 was issued a diploma (the original diploma is stored in the archives of the National Museum in Prague) and a very eloquent emblem. (see Annex).
We blasonize it like this:

"A shield with a blue crossbeam with seven silver stars divided by a shield with a black double-headed eagle with red armor at the top, a black eagle holding a naturally colored beak and rattlesnake claws at the bottom of the silver. Above the shield is a baron's crown is a crowned tournament helmet with blue-silver wings on the right and black-gold wings on the left, a jewel of two eagle wings in natural color ".

The interpretation of the sign is more than obvious. The black double-headed eagle is a simplified Austrian imperial eagle, in recognition of the nobility's merits for Austrian interests throughout its life, and the snake-killing eagle is derived from the Mexican Empire's coat of arms in memory of the noble merits of the new overseas power of the Habsburg dynasty. And we can get an idea of the considerable extent of this merit if we compare the high seriousness of state heraldic figures in the coat of arms with the virtually lowest aristocratic title of the higher nobility. Five years later, on May 10, 1907, Baron František Kaska dies without descendants in Mexico. From the beginning of the 1990s, he sent rare items of historical prizes or samples to the scientific collections to the Museum of the Kingdom of the Czech Republic. In his last will, he bequeathed his private collections to museums in Prague and Vienna. Twenty boxes from the estate traveled to Prague alone. They contained many objects and documents from the time of the Mexican Empire, but above all a unique and almost complete collection of imperial orders and decorations, which are now stored in Prague. Part has been exposed, the rest is in the depository. However, how this collection came about is a bit of a mystery.It is also strange that these gems were never demanded back by the Habsburg family. Some sources say that Kaska gradually bought them in Mexico at auctions and bazaars, but in my opinion this path is highly unlikely. The collection is too comprehensive and of a thesaurus nature, so there is some speculation that Kaska did not receive this part of his collection in recognition of the outcome of his private diplomatic role from the Mexican government, provided he did not fall into the hands of the Habsburg House. However, as mentioned above, this is already clear and unsubstantiated speculation.

URL : https://www.valka.cz/Kaska-Frantisek-t84994#313554 Version : 0
The nobility paragraphs of the Order of the Iron Crown and other orders, with the exception of the Military Order of Maria Theresa, were abolished in 1884. The Order of the Iron Crown on the personal coat of arms is the so-called improvement of the coat of arms, which was common in the new nobility in Austria.

The chapel in Querétar, on the site of the execution of Emperor Maximilian, becomes a symbol of reconciliation. In the years 1898-1900, Kaska figured here as a builder, but the construction was secretly financed by the Mexican government. Emperor František Josef I. dedicated a painting for the altar. It was this Kask mission that succeeded, and in 1901 diplomatic relations were restored. Mexico was also the only state to protest against Austria's "Anschluss" in 1938. Based on these facts, Kaska was placed in baronial status by the emperor's personal decision.

ŽUPANIČ, Jan: Systematované šlechtictví v podunajské monarchii
The Mexican Adventure of Maximilian of Habsburg, Prague National Museum
URL : https://www.valka.cz/Kaska-Frantisek-t84994#313559 Version : 0
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