Thursday Apr 18, 2024

Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás

Today’s subject had a multi-hyphenate name and a multi-hyphenate resume––, in his 55 years of life, he was an adventurer, a geologist, a spy, a dinosaur scientist, one of the founders of paleobiology, the world’s first airplane hijacker, a founder of the field of Albanian studies, a cosplay artist, and a murderer. Born in 1877 in Transylvania, the Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felsö-Szilvás may have been, except perhaps as a pub quiz answer, lost to history since his death, but in his lifetime he had an outsized impact on several scientific disciplines, central European politics and nationalisms, and, unfortunately, the man who he lived with until a murder-suicide ended both of their lives.

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Gëzim Alpion, “Baron Franz Nopcsa and His Ambition for the Albanian Throne,” BESA Journal 6, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 25–32

Gareth Dyke, “The Dinosaur Baron of Transylvania,” Scientific American, October 1, 2011,

Robert Elsie, “1907 | Baron Franz Nopcsa: The Baron Held Hostage in the Mountains of Dibra,” Texts and Documents of Albanian History, accessed April 18, 2024,

Robert Elsie, “The Viennese Scholar Who Almost Became King of Albania: Baron Franz Nopcsa and His Contribution to Albanian Studies,” n.d.,

Emily Osterloff, “Franz Nopcsa: The Dashing Baron Who Discovered Dwarf Dinosaurs,” Natural History Museum, accessed April 18, 2024,

Vanessa Veselka, “History Forgot This Rogue Aristocrat Who Discovered Dinosaurs and Died Penniless,” Smithsonian Magazine, accessed April 18, 2024,

Traveler, Scholar, Political Adventurer: A Transylvanian Baron at the Birth of Albanian Independence: The Memoirs of Franz Nopcsa, NED-New edition, 1 (Central European University Press, 2014),;

"A Field Guide to the Long History of Skyjackings,” CrimeReads(blog), May 10, 2021,

Our intro music is Arpeggia Colorix by Yann Terrien, our outro music is by Dj Michaeloswell Graphicsdesigner.

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