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Ferdinand III (July 13, 1608 – April 2, 1657), was born in Graz, the eldest son of Emperor Ferdinand II of Habsburg and his first wife, Maria Anna of Bavaria, the fourth child and second (but eldest surviving) daughter of Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria and Renata of Lorraine. He 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.


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.

Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II (Father)

Maria-Anna of Bavaria (Mother)

Ferdinand was finally 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 Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III..

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.

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.

Infanta Maria-Anna of Spain

On February 20, 1631, Ferdinand III married his first wife, Infanta Maria-Anna of Spain (1606–1646). She was the youngest daughter of Felipe III of Spain and Margaret of Austria, the daughter of Archduke Charles II of Austria and Maria-Anna of Bavaria, the daughter of Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria and Anna of Austria, and thus the paternal granddaughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. Her elder brother was the Archduke Ferdinand, who succeeded as Emperor in 1619.

Maria-Anna of Bavaria

They were first cousins, as Maria-Anna’s mother was a sister of Ferdinand’s father. They were parents to six children: among them were

* Ferdinand IV, King of the Romans (September 8, 1633 – July 9, 1654)
* Maria Anna “Mariana”, Archduchess of Austria (December 22, 1634 – May 16, 1696). At the age of 14, she was married to her maternal uncle Philip IV of Spain. Their daughter Margaret Theresa of Spain married Mariana’s brother Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor.
* Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (June 9, 1640 – May 5, 1705)

On July 2, 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:

Archduchess Maria-Leopoldine of Austria

* Charles Josef, Archduke of Austria (August 7, 1649 – January 27, 1664). He was Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights from 1662 to his death.

On April 27, 1651, Ferdinand III married Eleonora Gonzaga. She was a daughter of Charles IV Gonzaga, Duke of Rethel and his wife and cousin Maria Gonzaga (heiress to the Duchy of Montferrat).

Eleonora Gonzaga

Emperor Ferdinand III died on April 2, 1657 and rests in the Capuchin Crypt in Vienna. His interior organs were separately buried in the Ducal Crypt.