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Archduchess Anna of Austria (July 7, 1528 – October 16, 1590), a member of the Imperial House of Habsburg, was Duchess of Bavaria from 1550 until 1579, by her marriage with Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria.

Born at the Bohemian court in Prague, Anna was the third of fifteen children of Holy Roman Ferdinand I (1503–1564) from his marriage with the Jagiellonian princess Anna of Bohemia and Hungary (1503–1547).

Her siblings included: Elizabeth, Queen of Poland, Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria, Catherine, Queen of Poland, Eleanor, Duchess of Mantua, Barbara, Duchess of Ferrara, Charles II, Archduke of Austria and Johanna, Duchess of Tuscany.

Anna’s paternal grandparents were King Felipe I of Castile (of the House of Habsburg and father of Emperor Charles V) and his wife Queen Joanna I. Her maternal grandparents were King Vladislaus II of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia and his third wife Anne of Foix-Candale.


Young Archduchess Anna was engaged several times as a child, first to Prince Theodor of Bavaria (1526–1534), the eldest son of Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria and Marie Jakobaea of Baden-Sponheim. Duke Wilhelm IV was the son of Duke Albrecht IV and Archduchess Kunigunde of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Friedrich III.

Archduchess Anna was then engaged to Charles d’Orléans (1522–1545), the third son of King François I and Claude of France. However, both died at a young age.

Anna finally married on July 4, 1546 in Regensburg at the age of 17, Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria, the younger brother of her first fiancé. The wedding gift was 50,000 Guilder. This marriage was part of a web of alliances in which her uncle Emperor Charles V hoped to secure Duke Wilhelm’s support before embarking on the Schmalkaldic Wars. Indeed, Duke Wilhelm, though he remained formally neutral, granted the passage of Imperial troops to march against the forces of the Schmalkaldic League which besieged the Ingolstadt fortress.

After their marriage, the young couple lived at the Trausnitz Castle in Landshut, until Albrecht became duke upon his father’s death on March 7, 1550. At the Munich Residenz, Anna and Albrecht had great influence on the spiritual life in the Duchy of Bavaria, and enhanced the reputation of Munich as a city of art, by founding several museums and laying the foundations for the Bavarian State Library.

Anna and Albrecht were also patrons to the painter Hans Muelich and the Franco-Flemish composer Orlande de Lassus. In 1552, the duke commissioned an inventory of the jewelry in the couple’s possession. The resulting manuscript, still held by the Bavarian State Library, was the Jewel Book of the Duchess Anna of Bavaria (“Kleinodienbuch der Herzogin Anna von Bayern”), and contains 110 drawings by Hans Muelich.

A religious woman, Anna made extensive donations to the Catholic abbey of Vadstena in Sweden and generously supported the Franciscan Order. She also provided a strict education of her grandson, the later Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria.

When her husband died on October 24, 1579 and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Wilhelm V, Anna as duchess dowager maintained her own court at the Munich Residenz. 150 years after her death in 1590, her descendant Elector Charles I of Bavaria used her marriage treaty with Albrecht as a pretext to claim the Austrian and Bohemian crown lands of the Habsburg monarchy.