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social sciences

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Nopcsa, Baron Franz (1877-1933)  
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Nopcsa attended the congress as an interested party and took an active role. At one point, he wrote in his memoirs, he "mounted the podium and held a spontaneous speech in Albanian," adding--undoubtedly correctly--"I don't think that many a central European would be in a position to repeat that feat."

Once the congress was underway and no clear favorite for the throne had emerged, Nopcsa declared himself willing to become King of Albania. In addition to speaking the language, he had strong ties to the Gheg people of the north, although this was a double-edged sword since they were the historical rivals of the southern Tosks.

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Nopcsa proposed an unusual solution to Albania's economic crisis, namely marriage to the daughter of an American millionaire who would presumably be generous in augmenting the Albanian treasury. "Once a reigning European monarch," he wrote, "I would have no difficulty coming up with an American heiress aspiring to royalty, a step which under other circumstances I would have been loath to take."

He did not seem to have any particular candidate in mind for Queen of Albania, but, in any event, he was not required to make the sacrifice. He "grew disgusted a few weeks later and withdrew" his bid for the monarchy, at which he never truly had a realistic chance. The European powers installed a minor German prince, Wilhelm von Weid, who was deposed and expelled from the country after about six months.

Despite his disappointment, Nopcsa remained devoted to Albania. During World War I he was the leader of a military company of Albanian volunteers. He also went undercover as a spy for Austria-Hungary.

At the war's conclusion Transylvania was ceded to Rumania, costing Nopcsa his castle and its lands. When he attempted to return to his family estate to reclaim it, he was accosted by thugs and left for dead. He survived the attack and continued his scientific pursuits in spite of his declining fortunes.

The Hungarian government made Nopcsa the head of its Geological Survey in 1925. He came to the job with many creative ideas but was temperamentally unsuited to the strictures of life in a bureaucratic organization and quit in frustration in 1929.

A motorcycle enthusiast, Nopcsa embarked on a journey through Italy. In his sidecar was his longtime lover and secretary, an Albanian man named Bayazid Doda. The pair covered some 3,500 miles before falling short of money and returning to Vienna, where they lived together until 1933.

On April twenty-fifth of that year Nopcsa drugged Doda's tea and fatally shot him, after which he took his own life.

In a letter left for the police, he explained that his decision to commit suicide was the result of a nervous breakdown. He also stated, "The reason that I shot my longtime friend and secretary, Mr. Bayazid Elmas Doda, in his sleep without his suspecting at all is that I did not wish to leave him behind sick, in misery, and without a penny because he would have suffered too much."

Nopcsa left the Albanological portion of his papers to fellow scholar Norbert Jokl, asking that he call upon Austrian Count Paul Teleki to arrange for their publication. Teleki was unable to finance the project, and when Jokl was murdered by the Nazis in 1942, the documents went to the Manuscript Division of the Austrian National Library in Vienna. Nopsca's paleontological manuscripts went to the British Museum.

Ignored for decades, Nopcsa's writings have been the subject of renewed interest in recent years.

Popularizing books about paleontology generally give scant attention to Nopcsa and concentrate on portraying him as one of the most colorful of the "dinosaur hunters."

Weishampel and Reif, however, offer a more sober and objective view of his important contributions to science: "Nopcsa's studies in tectonic geology, evolutionary biology, paleobiogeography, and sexual dimorphism prove his ability to intelligently discover problems and solve them in remarkable ways."

They add: "Nopcsa was one of the first great theorists in vertebrate paleontology and made many noteworthy theoretical contributions in geology and evolutionary biology . . . . Nopcsa is perhaps the best remembered for campaigning for a new eclectic and synthetic intellectual behavior."

Linda Rapp

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Bakker, Robert T. The Dinosaur Heresies. New York: William Morrow, 1986.

Desmond, Adrian J. The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs. New York: Warner Books, 1975.

Elsie, Robert. "The Viennese Scholar Who Almost Became King of Albania: Baron Franz Nopcsa and His Contribution of Albanian Studies." East European Quarterly 33.3 (Fall 1999): 327-37.

Farlow, James O., and M. K. Brett-Surman. The Complete Dinosaur. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

Pain, Stephanie. "King of the Duck-Billed Dinosaurs." New Scientist 186.2493 (April 2-8, 2005): 50-51.

Perlman, David. "Studies Reveal Pygmy Dinosaur Species; 'Tiny' Cousins of Giants about 20 Feet Long." San Francisco Chronicle (June 8, 2006): A7.

Weishampel, David B., and Wolf-Ernst Reif. "The Work of Franz Baron Nopcsa (1877-1993): Dinosaurs, Evolution and Theoretical Tectonics." Jahrbuch der Geologische Bundesanstalt 127 (1984): 187-203.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Nopcsa, Baron Franz  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated May 10, 2013  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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