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Ferdinand, Duke of Breisgau

Austrian archduke, founder of the house of austria-este
The basics
AKA Ferdinand
Date of birth Schönbrunn Palace, Hietzing, Vienna, Austria
Date of death Dec 24, 1806 Vienna, Austria
Spouse: Maria Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Massa
Children: Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este Maria Theresa of Austria-Este, Queen of Sardinia Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este Francis IV, Duke of Modena Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph of Austria-Este Archduke Maximilian of Austria-Este Archduke Karl of Austria-Este
Father: Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Sister(s): Maria Carolina of Austria Maria Christina Duchess of Teschen Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela of Austria Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria Marie Antoinette Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria
Mother: Maria Theresa
Brother(s): Leopold II Holy Roman Emperor Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria Joseph II Archduke Maximilian Francis of Austria
Awards Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Order of the Black Eagle
Authority VIAF id
The details

Archduke Ferdinand Karl of Austria-Este (1 June 1754 – 24 December 1806) was a son of Holy Roman Emperor Franz I and Maria Theresa of Austria. He was the founder of the House of Austria-Este and Governor of the Duchy of Milan between 1765 and 1796. He was also designated as the heir to the Duchy of Modena and Reggio, but he never reigned, owing to the Napoleonic Wars.

Early life

Portrait by Liotard in 1762

Ferdinand was born at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna as the fourth son and fourteenth child of the Holy Roman Emperor Franz I and of his wife, Maria Theresa of Austria.

In 1763, the last Este Duke of Modena, Ercole III (who did not die until 1803), signed a treaty with the Empress Maria Theresa engaging the nine-year-old Ferdinand to his only daughter Maria Beatrice, making him thus his heir. There had been an earlier treaty in 1753 making Ferdinand's older brother Peter Leopold the heir to the Duchy of Modena, but in 1761, Peter Leopold became heir to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which required a change to the Modena agreement.

In 1771, the Perpetual Imperial Diet approved the eventual investiture of Ferdinand with the imperial fiefs held by Ercole III.

Marriage and family

Ferdinand and his wife Maria Beatrice d'Este

On 15 October 1771, Ferdinand married Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este (7 April 1750-14 Nov 1829), only surviving child of Duke Ercole III of Modena and Reggio (although the marriage was not a requirement of Ferdinand's eventual succession). Festivities arranged for this occasion included the operas Ascanio in Alba by Mozart and Il Ruggiero by Johann Adolph Hasse.

Ferdinand and Maria Beatrice had ten children:


Ferdinand became Governor of the Duchy of Milan on his marriage in 1771, as long as his father-in-law Ercole III d'Este still ruled the Duchy of Modena. He and his family lived in Milan.

In 1780, Ferdinand was confirmed as Governor of Lombardy by his brother, the new Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. In 1796, Napoleon's invasion of Milan forced the family to flee the French forces. Duke Ercole III also had to flee Modena, which overthrew the monarchy and joined the Cisalpine Republic.

By the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, Duke Ercole III was granted the Duchy of Breisgau, a Habsburg territory in southwest Germany. When Ercole III died in 1803, Ferdinand succeeded as Duke of Breisgau, as well as titular Duke of Modena and Reggio. By the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805, Ferdinand ceded the Duchy of Breisgau to the Grand Duchy of Baden.

Ferdinand died the following year in Vienna. He is buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.

In 1814, Ferdinand's eldest surviving son, Francis IV, was recognised as Duke of Modena by the Congress of Vienna.


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