Archduke of Austria, Austria, Carl X Gustav of Sweden, Ferdinand III, France, Holy Roman Emperor, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, Holy Roman Empire, House of Habsburg, Sweden
Ferdinand III (July 13, 1608 – April 2, 1657) was Holy Roman Emperor from February 15, 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria. He was the last emperor to have real power over the Holy Roman Empire.
Ferdinand was born in Graz, the eldest son of Emperor Ferdinand II of the House of Habsburg and his first wife, Maria Anna of Bavaria. Educated by the Jesuits, he became Archduke of Austria in 1621, King of Hungary in 1625, and King of Bohemia in 1627.
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.
Having been elected King of the Romans in 1636, he succeeded his father as Holy Roman Emperor in 1637. He hoped to make peace soon with France and Sweden, but the war dragged on, finally ending in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia (Treaty of Münster with France, Treaty of Osnabrück with Sweden), negotiated by his envoy Maximilian von und zu Trauttmansdorff, a diplomat who had been made a count in 1623 by his father Ferdinand II.
During the last period of the war, in 1644 Ferdinand III gave all rulers of German states the right to conduct their own foreign policy (ius belli ac pacis) – the emperor hoped to gain more allies in the negotiations with France and Sweden. This edict, however, contributed to the gradual erosion of the imperial authority in the Holy Roman Empire.
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 Carl X Gustav of Sweden when he died on April 2, 1657. He was succeeded as Holy Roman Emperor by his second surviving son, Leopold I (1640-1705).
Marriages and children
On February 20, 1631 Ferdinand III married his first wife Archduchess Maria Anna of Spain (1606–1646). She was the youngest daughter of Felipe 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:
* Ferdinand IV, King of the Romans (8 September 1633 – 9 July 1654)
* Maria Anna “Mariana”, Archduchess of Austria (22 December 1634 – 16 May 1696). Married her maternal uncle Felipe IV of Spain.
* Philip August, Archduke of Austria (15 July 1637 – 22 June 1639)
* Maximilian Thomas, Archduke of Austria (21 December 1638 – 29 June 1639)
* Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (9 June 1640 – 5 May 1705)
* Maria, Archduchess of Austria (13 May 1646)
In 1648, 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 Karl II, Archduke of Austria, and Maria Anna of Bavaria. They had a single son:
* Karl Josef, Archduke of Austria (7 August 1649 – 27 January 1664). He was Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights from 1662 to his death.
In 1651, Ferdinand III married his 3rd wife Eleonora Gonzaga (1630–1686). She was a daughter of Charles IV Gonzaga, Duke of Rethel. They were parents to four children:
* Theresia Maria Josefa, Archduchess of Austria (27 March 1652 – 26 July 1653)
* Eleonora Maria of Austria (21 May 1653 – 17 December 1697), who married first Michael Korybut Wiśniowiecki, King of Poland, and then Charles Léopold, Duke of Lorraine.
* Maria Anna Josepha of Austria (30 December 1654 – 4 April 1689), who married Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine.
* Ferdinand Josef Alois, Archduke of Austria (11 February 1657 – 16 June 1658)