Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff

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Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff.jpeg
Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff
Seckendorff memorial at the castle of Konigsberg. Seckendorff-Tafel2.JPG
Seckendorff memorial at the castle of Königsberg.

Friedrich Heinrich Reichsgraf von Seckendorff (5 July 1673 23 November 1763) was a Franconian field marshal and diplomat, in the service of the imperial Habsburg monarchy of Austria. Later he served as commander of the Bavarian army and fought Austria.

Franconia Cultural region of Germany

Franconia is a region in Germany, characterised by its culture and language, and may be roughly associated with the areas in which the East Franconian dialect group, colloquially referred to as "Franconian", is spoken. There are several other Franconian dialects, but only the East Franconian ones are colloquially referred to as "Franconian".

Field marshal is a very senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army, and when it is, few persons are appointed to it. It is considered as a five-star rank (OF-10) in modern-day armed forces in many countries. Promotion to the rank of field marshal in many countries historically required extraordinary military achievement by a general. However, the rank has also been used as a divisional command rank and also as a brigade command rank. Examples of the different uses of the rank include Austria-Hungary, Prussia, Germany, India and Sri Lanka for an extraordinary achievement; Spain and Mexico for a divisional command ; and France, Portugal and Brazil for a brigade command.

Diplomat person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization

A diplomat is a person appointed by a State or an intergovernamental institution such as the United Nations or the European Union to conduct diplomacy with one or more other States or international organizations. The main functions of diplomats are: representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending State; initiation and facilitation of strategic agreements; treaties and conventions; promotion of information; trade and commerce; technology; and friendly relations. Seasoned diplomats of international repute are used in international organizations as well as multinational companies for their experience in management and negotiating skills. Diplomats are members of foreign services and diplomatic corps of various nations of the world.



Seckendorff was born in Königsberg, Franconia, into the Seckendorff family of nobility. His father was an official of Saxe-Gotha and his nephew was Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff. He studied law in Jena, Leipzig, and Leyden.

Königsberg, Bavaria Place in Bavaria, Germany

Königsberg in Bayern is a town in the Haßberge district, in Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany. It is situated 7 km northeast of Haßfurt, and 31 km northwest of Bamberg.


Saxe-Gotha was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in the former Landgraviate of Thuringia. The ducal residence was erected at Gotha.

Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff German politician

Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff or von Seckendorf, German statesman and scholar, was a member of the Seckendorff family, which took its name from the village of Seckendorf between Nuremberg and Langenzenn. The family was divided into eleven distinct lines, widely distributed throughout Prussia, Württemberg and Bavaria. Seckendorf, son of Joachim Ludwig von Seckendorf, was born at Herzogenaurach, near Erlangen.

Early military career

In 1693, Seckendorff served in the allied army commanded by William III of England, and in 1694 became a cornet in a Gotha cavalry regiment in Austrian pay. Leaving the cavalry, he became an infantry officer in the service of Venice, and in 1697 in that of the Margrave of Ansbach, who in 1698 transferred the regiment in which Seckendorff was serving to the Imperial army. [1] He served under Prince Eugene of Savoy in the Great Turkish War.

William III of England 17th-century Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known as "King Billy" in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where his victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is still commemorated by Unionists and Ulster loyalists.

Cornet musical instrument

The cornet is a brass instrument similar to the trumpet but distinguished from it by its conical bore, more compact shape, and mellower tone quality. The most common cornet is a transposing instrument in B, though there is also a soprano cornet in E and a cornet in C. All are unrelated to the Renaissance and early Baroque cornett.

Republic of Venice Former state in Northeastern Italy

The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic, traditionally known as La Serenissima was a sovereign state and maritime republic in what is now northeastern Italy, which existed for over a millennium between the 7th century and the 18th century from 697 AD until 1797 AD. It was based in the lagoon communities of the historically prosperous city of Venice, and was a leading European economic and trading power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Citizens spoke primarily the still-surviving Venetian language, although publishing in (Florentine) Italian language became the norm during the Renaissance and after.

In 1699, Seckendorff married and returned to Ansbach as a court officer, but the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession called him into the field again as lieutenant-colonel of an Ansbach regiment, which was taken into the Dutch service. During the War of the Spanish Succession, Seckendorff led Ansbach's regiment and, at the head of his dragoons, conquered 16 standards in the Battle of Blenheim. Promoted to Oberst , Seckendorff participated in the battles of Ramillies and Oudenaarde and the siege of Ryssel. [1]

War of the Spanish Succession 18th-century conflict in Europe

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was a European conflict of the early 18th century between two dynastic claimants and their respective allies for the throne of Spain: the Habsburg Dynasty, originating in Austria, and the Bourbon Dynasty, originating in France. The thirteen year war was triggered by the death of the childless Charles II of Spain in November 1700, and eventually evolved into a global conflict due to overseas colonies and allies. The closest heirs to the throne were members of the Austrian Habsburg and French Bourbon families; acquisition of an undivided Spanish Empire by either of these dynasties threatened the European balance of power.

Dutch Republic Republican predecessor state of the Netherlands from 1581 to 1795

The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or simply United Provinces, and commonly referred to historiographically as the Dutch Republic, was a confederal republic formally established from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution of 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first fully independent Dutch nation state.

Dragoon mounted infantry soldiers

Dragoons originally were a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 18th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry, trained for combat with swords from horseback.

Disappointed with his lack of promotion in the Netherlands and Austria, Seckendorff entered the service of King Augustus II of Poland as a Generalmajor and commanded the king's auxiliary Saxon troops in Flanders, fighting in the siege of Tournai and the battle of Malplaquet. As the Polish envoy to the Hague, he participated in the negotiations of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; in the same year he suppressed an insurrection in Poland. As a lieutenant general, Seckendorff commanded Saxon troops in the 1715 siege of Stralsund against King Charles XII of Sweden. [1]

General Major, short GenMaj, is a general officer rank in many countries, and is identical to and translated as major general.

Electorate of Saxony State of the Holy Roman Empire, established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate 1356

The Electorate of Saxony was a state of the Holy Roman Empire established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356. Upon the extinction of the House of Ascania, it was feoffed to the Margraves of Meissen from the Wettin dynasty in 1423, who moved the ducal residence up the river Elbe to Dresden. After the Empire's dissolution in 1806, the Wettin Electors raised Saxony to a territorially reduced kingdom.

Flanders Community and region of Belgium

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although the Brussels Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels such as (Flemish) culture and education.

Seckendorff reentered imperial service as a Feldmarschallleutnant in 1717. Under the command of Eugene of Savoy, Seckendorff led two Ansbach regiments against the Ottoman Turks at Belgrade. In 1718 he successfully fought against Spain in Sicily. Granted the title of Reichsgraf in 1719, Seckendorff was named Feldzeugmeister two years later. [1]

The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı, from the house of Osman I, the founder of the dynasty that ruled the Ottoman Empire for its entire 624 years. After the expansion from its home in Bithynia, the Ottoman principality began incorporating other Turkish-speaking Muslims and non-Turkish Christians. The Ottoman Turks blocked all land routes to Europe by conquering the city of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, and Europeans had to find other ways to trade with Eastern countries.

Belgrade City in Serbia

Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain and the Balkan Peninsula. The urban area of Belgrade has a population of 1.23 million, while within administrative limits of the City of Belgrade live nearly 1.7 million people, a quarter of total population of Serbia.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.


In 1726, at the instance of Eugene of Savoy, Seckendorff became the imperial ambassador at the Prussian court in Berlin. He gained the trust of King Frederick William I of Prussia; king and diplomat had fought alongside one another in the War of the Spanish Succession. Seckendorff also bribed the minister of state, the influential Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow, with an Austrian pension. [2] In order to avoid a potential marriage between Crown Prince Frederick and a princess of the House of Hanover that would have allied Prussia and Great Britain, Seckendorff manipulated Frederick William and his son so that the crown prince instead married Elizabeth Christina of Brunswick-Bevern, a marriage more favorable to Austria.

Seckendorff's diplomatic skill also led to recognition of the Pragmatic Sanction by the courts of numerous German principalities, Denmark, and the Dutch Republic.

Later military career

In 1734, Seckendorff returned to the imperial army and became Governor of Mainz. As imperial general of cavalry during the War of the Polish Succession, he led 30,000 troops against the French at Clausen on 20 October 1735. In 1737, Emperor Charles VI made Seckendorff commander-in-chief in Hungary, at the same time giving him the baton of Feldmarschall. Although initially successful in the Austrian-Russian campaign against the Ottomans, he was eventually forced to retreat across the Save River. His numerous enemies in Vienna brought about his recall, trial and imprisonment at Graz as punishment for the unsuccessful war. [1]

Empress Maria Theresa released Seckendorff from prison in 1740, but, denied his arrears of pay, he laid down all his Austrian and imperial offices and accepted from the new Holy Roman emperor, Bavarian Charles VII, the rank of field marshal in the Bavarian service. As commander of the Bavarian army, Seckendorff relieved Munich in the War of the Austrian Succession and, by a series of battles in 1743 and 1744, forced the Austrians back into Bohemia, after which he resigned.

Following the death of Charles VII, Seckendorff negotiated a reconciliation between Austria and Bavaria in the Treaty of Füssen on 22 April 1745. Emperor Francis I reaffirmed all of Seckendorff's honors, and the diplomat retired to his estate at Meuselwitz in Thuringia. In 1757 the death of his wife, for whom, harsh and unamiable as he was, he had a deep and abiding affection, broke down his already failing health. Frederick the Great directed Prussian hussars to abduct Seckendorff from Meuselwitz in December 1758 during the Seven Years' War. After spending half a year in detention in Magdeburg, he was exchanged for Moritz of Anhalt-Dessau, who had been captured by Austrians at Hochkirch. Returning to Meuselwitz, Seckendorff died at his estate in 1763.


Frederick the Great despised Seckendorff, resenting the military diplomat for gaining the trust of Frederick William I and his involvement in the Prussian wedding plans. Regarding Seckendorff, Frederick wrote, "He was sordidly scheming; his manners were crude and rustic; lying had become so much second nature to him that he had lost the use of the truth. He was a usurer who sometimes appeared in the guise of a soldier, and sometimes in that of a diplomat". [3]


Regarding personal names: Reichsgraf was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Count of the Empire. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine form is Reichsgräfin. Titles using the prefix Reichs- were those created before the fall of the Holy Roman Empire.

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Chisholm 1911.
  2. Ritter, p. 34
  3. MacDonogh, p. 45

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Seckendorf, Friedrich Heinrich". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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