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Ferdinand Charles (May 17, 1628 – December 30, 1662) was the Archduke of Further Austria, including the County of Tyrol, from 1646 to 1662.

The Habsburgs, like all German Royal Families, would divide thier lands amongst the sons of the sovereign. This lead to various branches of the Hapsburg family ruling different parts of Austria. Archduke Ferdinand Charles was the ruler of Further Austria.

Further Austria, also called Outer Austria or Anterior Austria, was the collective name for the early (and later) possessions of the House of Habsburg in the former Swabian stem duchy of south-western Germany, including territories in the Alsace region west of the Rhine and in Vorarlberg.

Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tyrol

While the territories of Further Austria west of the Rhine and south of Lake Constance (except Konstanz itself) were gradually lost to France and the Swiss Confederacy, those in Swabia and Vorarlberg remained under Habsburg control until the Napoleonic Era.

The various branches of the House of Habsburg, technically known as the House of Austria, was not united under one monarch until the extinction of the Tyrolean branch of the House of Habsburg in 1665, Further Austria and the County of Tyrol then came under the direct control of Emperor Leopold I. More on that below.

Archduke Ferdinand Charles was the son of Archduke Leopold V of Further Austria (1586 – 1632) and his wife Claudia de’ Medici a daughter of Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Christina of Lorraine.

Archduke Leopold V of Further Austria was the son of of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria, (younger brother of Emperor Ferdinand II) and his wife, who was also his niece, Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria, the daughter of Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria and Archduchess Anna of Austria the third of fifteen children of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I (1503–1564) from his marriage with the Jagiellonian Princess Anna of Bohemia and Hungary (1503–1547).


Anna de’ Medici

Archduke Ferdinand Charles married his double first cousin, Anna de’ Medici, a daughter of Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Archduchess Maria Magdalena of Austria († 1631) the youngest daughter of Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria, and his wife Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria. The match was negotiated by Ferdinand Charles’ formidable mother.

Previously there were plans for Anna de’ Medici to marry Gaston, Duke of Orléans, the third son of King Henri IV of France and Navarre and his second wife, Marie de’ Medici, but that plan fell through.

Instead she became engaged to Archduke Ferdinand Charles of Further Austria. In 1646, Anna left her native Florence for Innsbruck to be married on June 10.

The couple preferred the attractions of the opulent Tuscan court to the mountains of Tyrol, and consequently were more often at Florence than at Innsbruck.

Archduke Ferdinand Charles succeeded his father as Archduke of Further Austria upon the latter’s death in 1632. His mother, Claudia de’ Medici, became regent for her son. Claudia was successful in keeping Tyrol out of the Thirty Years War.

Archduke Ferdinand Charles took over his mother’s governatorial duties when he came of age in 1646. To finance his extravagant living style, he sold goods and entitlements.

For example, he wasted the exorbitant sum which France had to pay to the Tyrolean Habsburgs for the cession of their fiefs west of the Rhine (Alsace, Sundgau and Breisach). He also fixed the border to Graubünden in 1652.

Archduke Ferdinand Charles was an absolutist ruler, did not call any diet after 1648 and had his chancellor Wilhelm Biener executed illegally in 1651 after a secret trial. On the other hand, he was a lover of music: Italian opera was performed in his court.

Ferdinand Charles and Anna de’Medici had three children:

1. Archduchess Claudia Felicitas of Austria (May 30, 1653 – April 8, 1676).
2. Daughter (born and died 19 July 1654), died at birth.
3. Archduchess Maria Magdalena of Austria (August 17, 1656 – January 21, 1669).

Archduke Ferdinand Charles of Further Austria died in Kaltern at the age of 34.

Widowhood of Anna, Archduchess of Further Austria

As Archduke Ferdinand Charles and Anna de’ Medici only had two surviving daughters, his younger brother Archduke Sigismund Franz, inherited his titles as Count of Tyrol and Archduke of Further Austria.

Archduke Sigismund Franz, Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tyrol

On the eve of his marriage to another princess however, Sigismund Franz died in 1665. He was more able than his brother and could have made him a good ruler, but with his early death in 1665 the younger Tyrolean line of the Habsburg house ended.

This meant that the county reverted to direct rule from Vienna, as Emperor Leopold I, who as the heir male succeeded Sigismund Franz, took direct control over the government of Further Austria and Tyrol.

Despite the efforts of Anna to preserve some vestige of power for herself as Dowager Countess, she was unable to persuade Emperor Leopold to maintain some authority in Further Austria.

Her actions also stemmed from the fact that Anna wanted to protect the rights of her two daughters. This dispute would not be remedied until 1673, when her only surviving daughter, Archduchess Claudia Felicitas (Maria Magdalena had died in 1669) married her second cousin Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, the man responsible for the seizure of Further Austria and the County of Tyrol in the first place. Both were great-grandchildren of Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria.

Archduchess Claudia Felicitas

She was his second wife. Emperor Leopold I had been previously married to Infanta Margaret Theresa of Spain, the elder full-sister of King Carlos II, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs.

Infanta Margaret Theresa was the first child of King Felipe IV of Spain born from his second marriage with his niece Archduchess Mariana of Austria, the second daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III and Infanta Maria Anna of Spain, daughter of King Felipe III of Spain and Archduchess Margaret of Austria, herself the daughter of the daughter of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria and Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria.

Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor

Her parents had six children, of whom only Maria Anna and two brothers survived to adulthood; Ferdinand IV, King of the Romans, Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia (1633-1654), and Emperor Leopold I (1640-1705).

The Archduchess Claudia Felicitas, married the Emperor with the consent of her relatives, rejecting other suitors of her hand, including the widower James, Duke of York and future King of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Anna not only survived her husband by fourteen years but also outlived her eldest surviving daughter, who would die soon after her marriage to Emperor Leopold I. On September 11, 1676 in Vienna, Anna died aged sixty.