Portrait by Jan van den Hoecke, c. 1643
| Holy Roman Emperor |
King of Germany
|Reign||18 November 1637 – 2 April 1657|
|Coronation||18 November 1637|
|Archduke of Lower and Inner Austria|
|Reign||15 February 1637 – 2 April 1657|
|King of Bohemia|
|Reign||21 November 1627 – 2 April 1657|
|Coronation||21 November 1627, Prague|
|King of Hungary and Croatia|
|Reign||8 December 1625 – 2 April 1657|
|Coronation||8 December 1625, Sopron|
|Born||13 July 1608|
Graz, Duchy of Styria, Holy Roman Empire
|Died||2 April 1657 48) (aged|
Vienna, Archduchy of Austria
Maria Anna of Spain
(m. 1631;died 1646)
Maria Leopoldine of Austria
(m. 1648;died 1649)
Eleonora Gonzaga (m. 1651)
|Issue|| Ferdinand IV of Hungary |
Mariana, Queen of Spain
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
Archduke Charles Joseph
Eleanor, Queen of Poland
Maria Anna Josepha, Electoral Princess of the Palatinate
|Father||Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Mother||Maria Anna of Bavaria|
Ferdinand III (* July 13, 1608 in Graz, † April 2, 1657 in Vienna), born as Ferdinand Ernest of the House of Habsburg was from 1621 Archduke of Austria, King of Hungary from 1625, King of Croatia and Bohemia from 1627 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1637 until his death in 1657.
Ferdinand ascended the throne at the beginning of the last decade of the Thirty Years' War and introduced lenient policies to depart from old ideas of divine rights under his father, as he had wished to end the war quickly. As the numerous battles had not resulted in sufficient military containment of the Protestant enemies and confronted with decaying imperial power Ferdinand was compelled to abandon the political stances of his Habsburg predecessors in many respects in order to open the long road towards the much delayed peace treaty. Although his authority among the princes would weaken after the war, in Bohemia, Hungary and the Austrias, however, Ferdinand's position as sovereign was uncontested.
Ferdinand was the first Habsburg monarch to be recognized as a musical composer.
Ferdinand was born in Graz, the eldest son of Emperor Ferdinand II of Habsburg and his first wife, Maria Anna of Bavaria, and was baptised as Ferdinand Ernst. He grew up in Carinthia with loving care from his parents and he developed great affection for his siblings and his father, with whom he always found a consensus in future disagreements. At his father's court he received religious and scholarly training from Jesuits. The Maltese knights Johann Jacob von Dhaun (member of the Lower Austrian estate, a union of the local nobility) and Christoph Simon von Thun (Head of Ferdinands imperial court and household) had greatly influenced the education of the young Archduke.Simon von Thun instructed Ferdinand in military matters. Ferdinand is said to have spoken several languages, although how many and to which degree is unclear. After the deaths of his brothers Karl (1603) and Johann Karl (1619), he was designated as his father's successor and systematically prepared to take over the reign. Like his father, he was a devout Catholic, yet he had a certain aversion to the influence of the Jesuits who had ruled his father's court.
Ferdinand became Archduke of Austria in 1621. On December 8, 1625 he was crowned King of Hungary, on November 27, 1627 King of Bohemia. His father was unable to secure him the election as Roman king at the Regensburg diet of 1630. After he had unsuccessfully applied for the supreme command of the imperial army and participation in campaigns of Wallenstein, he joined Wallenstein's opponents at the imperial court in Vienna and had been involved in the arrangements on his second deposition in the beginning of 1634.
In 1627 Ferdinand enhanced his authority and set an important legal and military precedent by issuing a Revised Land Ordinance that deprived the Bohemian estates of their right to raise soldiers, reserving this power solely for the monarch.
In 1631, after years of negotiations with Spanish relatives, he married the Spanish Infante, his cousin Maria Anna of Spain. Although in the middle of the war, this elaborate wedding was celebrated over a period of fourteen months. The marriage produced six children, including his successors, Ferdinand IV of Hungary and Emperor Leopold I. His loving and intelligent wife and her brother, the Spanish Cardinal Infant Ferdinand, had great influence on Ferdinand and formed the most important link between the Habsburg courts in Madrid, Brussels and Vienna in the difficult period of the 30-year war for Habsburg after the death of Wallenstein.
After Wallenstein's assassination, Ferdinand III took command of the imperial army on May 2, 1634 supported by the generals Gallas and Piccolomini, the military adviser, Johann Kaspar von Stadion and the political adviser Obersthofmeister Imperial Count Maximilian von und zu Trauttmansdorff. He achieved his first major military successes in July 1634 during the Actions for Regensburg by regaining the city of Regensburg, which had been captured and occupied by the Swedes since November 1633. In August 1634 the city of Donauwörth was recaptured, which had been occupied by Sweden since April 1632. In September 1634 these successes were surpassed by the decisive victory in the Battle of Nördlingen (1634), a joint effort with the help of the Spanish forces under Cardinal Infant Ferdinand.
As a consequence, the Swedes lost control over Southern Germany and retreated to the North and Ferdinand gained wider political influence, even if his personal contribution in Nördlingen was rather limited. His influence increased further after the fall of the powerful imperial minister Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, who had domineered the politics of Ferdinand II. Ferdinand III later appointed his brother Archduke Leopold Wilhelm as supreme commander, which proved to be a mistake, with regards to the many defeats that followed. Even after the resignation of the supreme command, Ferdinand continued to occupy himself with theoretical military issues. Raimondo Montecuccoli later dedicated one of his works to him. In 1635 Ferdinand worked as imperial commissioner in the negotiations for the Peace of Prague (1635), as he tried to persuade the prince electors to adopt the idea of concerted warfare. He also advocated the inclusion of the still reluctant Protestant estates into the peace process.
Ferdinand III was elected King of the Romans at the Diet of Regensburg on December 22, 1636. Upon the death of his father on February 15, 1637, Ferdinand became emperor. His political adviser Obersthofmeister (Lord Chamberlain) Maximilian von und zu Trauttmansdorff advanced to the position of Prime Minister of Austria and Chief diplomat, but was replaced by Johann Ludwig von Nassau-Hadamar in 1647 as his health had begun to deteriorate. Obersthofmeister (Lord Chamberlain) and Prime Minister of Austria (1665-1669) Johann Weikhard of Auersperg and former teacher of the royal heir Ferdinand IV received the fief of the Duchy of Münsterberg for his former services. Unlike his father, Ferdinand III employed no spiritual counsellor.
By the time Ferdinand became emperor, vast sections of the imperial territories had been absolutely devastated by two decades of war. The population was completely exhausted and massively diminished, countless people were impoverished, disabled, sick, homeless, many had lost their families and had abandoned all moral standards. Ferdinand did not endeavour to continue the war. But the momentum of the war, the political circumstances and his reluctance to act prevented a quick end to the war.Any hope to make early peace with France and Sweden did not materialize.
When the war flared up again after the intervention of France in 1635, the military situation of the emperor became increasingly precarious. In 1638, 1643 and 1645, the city of Vienna was threatened by Swedish troops. After the devastating defeat at the Battle of Jankau on March 6, 1645, it became apparent that the emperor was practically defenseless. The Habsburgs could no longer win the war without the support of the Spanish allies. Due to domestic difficulties, financial and military Spanish support for Ferdinand was completely stopped in 1645. Without foreign military funds, the imperial troops were incapable of progressive operation, which weakened Ferdinand's position in negotiations.
An Imperial Diet was arranged for 1641 in Regensburg, where the estates discussed possible peace arrangements. It turned out to be problematic that the emperor had excluded princes, who had previously been on the opposing side, as well as the Protestant administrators of various princes of the Imperial Diet. After all, it finally succeeded in agreeing all imperial estates with the exception of the Electoral Palatinate, the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Hesse-Kassel to the resolutions of the Diet. In 1641, a preliminary peace was signed in Hamburg between Ferdinand, Spain, France and Sweden and a final peace congress was to convene in Osnabrück and Münster. An alliance between Sweden and France was fully effective since 1642. The Swedes won the Battle of Breitenfeld in 1642. One year later Ferdinand was forced to conclude an armistice with Sweden, while France advanced into the Spanish Netherlands.
Negotiations for a peace agreement began in 1644 in Münster and Osnabrück and lasted until 1648. Warfare continued during these four years and the empire suffered even greater devastations than in the previous 26 years of the war.
The negotiations in Westphalia turned out to be difficult, beginning with a dispute over the rules of procedure. The emperor had to give in to pressure from France and Sweden and admit all imperial estates to the congress and receive the ius belli ac pacis. In addition to peace between the parties involved, the internal constitution of the empire was also newly regulated. The Imperial Court received weekly reports on the negotiations. Even though the reports had been produced by officials, the process also proved to be an extremely busy time for the emperor, as despite all the advisers, he had to make the decisions. The study of the documents suggests, that Ferdinand was a monarch with expertise with a sense of responsibility and the willingness to make difficult decisions. In the course of the negotiations, Ferdinand had to reconsider his original goals according to the deteriorating military situation. His advisor Maximilian von und zu Trauttmansdorff suggested a great battle to end the war favourably.
The emperor personally took part in the campaign against the Swedes, that ended with a defeat at the Battle of Jankau on March 6, 1645. The Swedish army under Lennart Torstensson then advanced to Vienna. To raise morale in the city, the emperor circled the city in a large procession with an image of the Virgin Mary. As the Swedish army drew closer, Ferdinand left the city. Archduke Leopold Wilhelm managed to drive off the opponents. At times Ferdinand managed to get Prince George I Rákóczi of Transylvania, an ally of France and Sweden, on his side. In the 1645 Peace of Linz the Emperor had to guarantee the Hungarian estates the right of imperial representation and freedom of religion for the Protestants, which prevented the Counter-reformation and future Absolutist rule in Hungary.
The emperor reissued the instructions for the peace talks for Trautmannsdorf, who left for Westphalia as chief negotiator. These documents were kept strictly secret and were only published in 1962. Reviews revealed, that Ferdinand surrendered numerous previous claims and was ready for greater concessions than were ultimately necessary.
After 1648 the emperor was engaged in carrying out the terms of the treaty and ridding Germany of the foreign soldiery. In 1656 he sent an army into Italy to assist Spain in her struggle with France, and he had just concluded an alliance with Poland to check the aggressions of Charles X of Sweden when he died on 2 April 1657.
The empire suffered considerable territorial losses. Among several estates, various Hochstifts (territory ruled by a princely bishop) on the left bank of the Rhine and other areas were finally lost to France. Sweden received Rügen and Pomerania as well as the bishoprics of Bremen, Verden and Wismar. The Netherlands and Switzerland gained complete independence from the empire. The Habsburg hereditary lands themselves were also affected, as the Lausitz was lost to Saxony and Upper Rhine areas such as the Sundgau and Breisach to France. Further transfers of property took place in various regions of the empire. Bavaria retained its electoral dignity it had at the beginning of the war, a further - eighth - electoral estate was created in the Palatinate.
The implementation of the Counter-Reformation in the core countries of Ferdinand was sanctioned. Only in some parts of Silesia were certain concessions made to the Protestants. From now on, the institutions of the empire should be equally occupied by Catholics and Protestants. The imperial estates were able to enforce considerable rights. This included the right to form alliances with foreign powers, even if they were not allowed to be directed against the emperor and the empire. The largest territories benefited most from these regulations. Ferdinand's attempt to absolutist rule of the Reich failed, although the empire and the imperial office remained significant.
The emperor considered the peace agreement to be no catastrophic defeat and thanks to Trautmannsdorff's negotiating skills worse could be prevented. As a matter of fact the consequences for the Austrian hereditary countries were comparatively favorable. So the expropriations in Bohemia and the Verneuerte Landesordnung (Renewed Regional Order) of 1627 remained untouched. Upper Austria, formerly attached to Bavaria, was returned to Habsburg house rule.
Despite many losses, the constitutional position of the emperor after the Peace of Westphalia permitted an active imperial policy in cooperation with parts of the estates. In the Habsburg monarchy the prerequisites for the development of a uniform absolutist state remained intact. Thus, imperial policies of the peace negotiations succeeded in this respect - despite the failure to meet some of the original negotiation goals.
At the Nuremberg Peace congress of 1649/1650, the final withdrawal of foreign troops and the political settlement of the relationship with Sweden and France were settled during which hostilities nearly started again.
The Empress Maria Anna of Spain had died giving birth to her last child on May 13, 1646. Ferdinand remarried to another first cousin, Maria Leopoldine of Austria (1632-1649) on July 2, 1648. The wedding ceremony, held in Linz, was notably splendid.This marriage however lasted little more than a year, ending with Maria Leopoldine's own premature death in childbirth.
Ferdinand's last marriage was to Eleonora Magdalena Gonzaga of Mantua-Nevers in 1651. Empress Eleonora was very pious and donated, among other things, for the Ursuline monastery in Vienna and the Order of the Starry Cross for noble women. She was also well educated and interested in art. She also composed music and wrote poetry and together with Ferdinand was the centre of the Italian academy.
Ferdinand's sovereign power in the Austrian hereditary lands, as well his royal power in Hungary and Bohemia was significantly greater than that of his predecessor before 1618. Princely power was strengthened, while the influence of the estates was massively reduced. The church reform towards the Counter-reformation continued. Ferdinand was able to form a standing army from the remains of the imperial army, that was soon to show great effectiveness under Ferdinand's successor Leopold I. Under Ferdinand the fortifications of Vienna were massively expanded and updated as the emperor invested a total sum of over 80,000 fl.
Despite a considerable loss of authority in the empire, Ferdinand remained active in imperial politics. He would also re-establish his positions in the empire's institutions. Ferdinand had the Aulic Council restructured, which competed with the Imperial Chamber Court and had already been recognized in the Peace of Westphalia. It remained in effect until 1806. In late 1652 he summoned a Reichstag in Regensburg, which lasted until 1654. The event was the last traditional imperial diet and was replaced by the future Perpetual Reichstag with its permanent congress of emissaries. The Reichstag decided that the content of the peace treaties in Münster and Osnabrück under Reich law should become part of the Reich constitution.
The emperor managed to postpone some of the constitutional questions that were particularly dangerous for his power. The fact that some of the nobles raised by his father to the rank of prince gained a seat and vote in the Reichstag also speaks for his growing strength. At this Reichstag he also made an alliance with Poland against Sweden. The empire came to Poland's support during the Second Northern War. Ferdinand also brought about the royal election of his son Ferdinand IV, who, however died in 1654. He unsuccessfully attempted to enforce the election of Leopold as King of the Romans. After all, Leopold was crowned King of Hungary and Bohemia.
Ferdinand died on April 2, 1657 and rests in the Capuchin Crypt in Vienna. His interior organs were separately buried in the Ducal Crypt.
On 20 February 1631, Ferdinand III married his first wife, Maria Anna of Spain (1606–1646). She was the youngest daughter of Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria. They were first cousins, as Maria Anna's mother was a sister of Ferdinand's father. They were parents to six children:
On 2 July 1648 in Linz, Ferdinand III married his second wife, Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria (1632–1649). She was a daughter of Leopold V, Archduke of Austria, and Claudia de' Medici. They were first cousins as male-line grandchildren of Charles II, Archduke of Austria, and Maria Anna of Bavaria. They had a single son:
On 30 April 1651, Ferdinand III married Eleonora Gonzaga. She was a daughter of Charles IV Gonzaga, Duke of Rethel. They were parents to four children:
Ferdinand III was a well-known patron of music and a composer. He studied music under Giovanni Valentini, who bequeathed his musical works to him, and had close ties with Johann Jakob Froberger, one of the most important keyboard composers of the 17th century. Froberger lamented the emperor's death and dedicated to him one of his most celebrated works, Lamentation faite sur la mort très douloureuse de Sa Majesté Impériale, Ferdinand le troisième; a tombeau for Ferdinand III's death was composed by the renowned violinist Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Some of Ferdinand's own compositions survive in manuscripts: masses, motets, hymns and other sacred music, as well as a few secular pieces. His Drama musicum was praised by Athanasius Kircher, and the extant works, although clearly influenced by Valentini, show a composer with an individual style and a solid technique.
Recordings of Ferdinand's compositions include:
|Ancestors of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor|
Ferdinand III, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Rama, Serbia, Galicia, Lodomeria, Cumania and Bulgaria, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Margrave of Moravia, Duke of Luxemburg, of the Higher and Lower Silesia, of Württemberg and Teck, Prince of Swabia, Count of Habsburg, Tyrol, Kyburg and Goritia, Marquess of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgovia, the Higher and Lower Lusace, Lord of the Marquisate of Slavonia, of Port Naon and Salines, etc. etc.
Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire after the decisive defeat at the hands of the First French Empire led by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804, he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I, the first Emperor of Austria, ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the first Doppelkaiser in history. For the two years between 1804 and 1806, Francis used the title and style by the Grace of God elected Roman Emperor, ever Augustus, hereditary Emperor of Austria and he was called the Emperor of both the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. He was also Apostolic King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia as Francis I. He also served as the first president of the German Confederation following its establishment in 1815.
The House of Habsburg, also officially called the House of Austria, is one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs from 1440 until their extinction in the male line in 1740 and after the death of Francis I from 1765 until its dissolution in 1806.
Maximilian II, a member of the Austrian House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor from 1564 until his death. He was crowned King of Bohemia in Prague on 14 May 1562 and elected King of Germany on 24 November 1562. On 8 September 1563 he was crowned King of Hungary and Croatia in the Hungarian capital Pressburg. On 25 July 1564 he succeeded his father Ferdinand I as ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.
Maximilian II, also known as Max Emanuel or Maximilian Emanuel, was a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. He was also the last governor of the Spanish Netherlands and duke of Luxembourg. An able soldier, his ambition led to conflicts that limited his ultimate dynastic achievements.
Joseph I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1705 until his death in 1711. He was the eldest son of Emperor Leopold I from his third wife, Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg. Joseph was crowned King of Hungary at the age of nine in 1687 and King in Germany at the age of eleven in 1690. He succeeded to the thrones of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire when his father died.
Leopold I was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia. The second son of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, by his first wife, Maria Anna of Spain, Leopold became heir apparent in 1654 by the death of his elder brother Ferdinand IV. Elected in 1658, Leopold ruled the Holy Roman Empire until his death in 1705, becoming the longest-ruling Habsburg emperor.
Matthias of Austria, a member of the House of Habsburg was Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria, king of Hungary and Croatia since 1608 and king of Bohemia since 1611. His personal motto was Concordia lumine maior.
Ferdinand II, a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor (1619–1637), King of Bohemia, and King of Hungary and Croatia (1618–1637). He was the son of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria, and Maria of Bavaria. His parents were devout Catholics, and in 1590, they sent him to study at the Jesuits' college in Ingolstadt, because they wanted to isolate him from the Lutheran nobles. In July that same year (1590), when Ferdinand was 12 years old, his father died, and he inherited Inner Austria—Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and smaller provinces. His cousin, the childless Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, who was the head of the Habsburg family, appointed regents to administer these lands.
Ferdinand IV was made and crowned King of Bohemia in 1646, King of Hungary and Croatia in 1647, and King of the Romans on 31 May 1653. He also served as Duke of Cieszyn.
Archduke was the title borne from 1358 by the Habsburg rulers of the Archduchy of Austria, and later by all senior members of that dynasty. It denotes a rank within the former Holy Roman Empire (962–1806), which was below that of Emperor, King, and (debatably) a Grand Duke and above that of Duke and Prince.
Habsburg Monarchy is an umbrella term used by historians for the numerous lands and kingdoms of the Habsburg dynasty, especially for those of the Austrian line. Although from 1438 until 1806 a member of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the Empire itself is not considered a part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, was a German regent, Electress of Bavaria by marriage to Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, and co-regent of the Electorate of Bavaria during the minority of her son Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria from 1651 to 1654.
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand was Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Cardinal of the Holy Catholic Church, Infante of Spain, Infante of Portugal, Archduke of Austria, Archbishop of Toledo (1619–41), and military commander during the Thirty Years' War.
Archduke Ferdinand Karl of Austria-Este was a son of Holy Roman Emperor Franz I and Maria Theresa of Austria. He was the founder of the House of Austria-Este and Governor of the Duchy of Milan between 1765 and 1796. He was also designated as the heir to the Duchy of Modena and Reggio, but he never reigned, owing to the Napoleonic Wars.
Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, younger brother of Emperor Ferdinand III, was an Austrian soldier, administrator and patron of the arts.
InfantaMaria Anna of Spain was a Holy Roman Empress and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia by marriage to Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor. She acted as regent on several occasions during the absences of her spouse.
Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Tyrol, was by birth Archduchess of Austria and member of the Tyrolese branch of the House of Habsburg and by marriage the second spouse of her first cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III. As such, she was Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, German Queen and Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia. She died in childbirth.
Eggenberg was the name of an Austrian noble family from Styria, who achieved princely rank in the 17th century. The family's last male heir died in 1717, bringing an end to the House of Eggenberg.
Maximilian, Prince of Dietrichstein, was a German prince member of the House of Dietrichstein, Imperial Count (Reichsgraf) of Dietrichstein and owner of the Lordship of Nikolsburg in Moravia; since 1629 2nd Prince (Fürst) of Dietrichstein zu Nikolsburg, Baron (Freiherr) of Hollenburg, Finkenstein and Thalberg, was a diplomat and minister in the service of the House of Habsburg. He was a Kämmerer, Lord Chamberlain (Obersthofmeister), Conference Minister (Konferenzminister) and Privy Councillor of Emperors Ferdinand II and Ferdinand III, Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece since and ruler over Nikolsburg, Polná, Kanitz, Leipnik, Weisskirch and Saar.
Ferdinand III, Holy Roman EmperorBorn: 13 July 1608 Died: 2 April 1657
| King of Hungary and Croatia |
with Ferdinand II (1625–1637)
Ferdinand IV (1647–1654)
| King of Bohemia |
with Ferdinand II (1627–1637)
Ferdinand IV (1646–1654)
| Holy Roman Emperor |
Archduke of Lower and Inner Austria
| King in Germany |
with Ferdinand II (1636–1637)
Ferdinand IV (1653–1654)
| Duke of Teschen |
with Ferdinand IV (1653–1654)