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Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor

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Title: Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor  
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Subject: Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand IV, King of the Romans, Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
Collection: 1608 Births, 1657 Deaths, 17Th-Century Austrian People, 17Th-Century Classical Composers, 17Th-Century House of Habsburg, Baroque Composers, Bohemian Monarchs, Bohemian Princes, Dukes of Carinthia, Dukes of Teschen, German Kings, Holy Roman Emperors, House of Habsburg, Hungarian Princes, Kings of Croatia, Kings of Hungary, Knights of the Golden Fleece, Male Classical Composers, People from Graz, Rulers of Austria, Rulers of Styria, Rulers of the Habsburg Monarchy, Rulers of Transylvania
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Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor

Ferdinand III
Emperor Ferdinand III wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece (painting by Jan van den Hoecke, 1643)
Holy Roman Emperor
King of Germany
Reign 1637 –1657 (as senior ruler)
Coronation 30 December 1636
Predecessor Ferdinand II
Successor Leopold I
King of Hungary and Croatia
Reign 8 December 1625 – 2 April 1657
Coronation 8 December 1625, Sopron (Ödenburg)[1]
Predecessor Ferdinand II
Successor Leopold I
King of Bohemia
Reign 21 November 1627 – 2 April 1657
Coronation 21 November 1627, Prague
Predecessor Ferdinand II
Successor Leopold I
Archduke of Austria
Reign 15 February 1637 – 2 April 1657
Predecessor Ferdinand II
Successor Leopold I
Born 13 July 1608
Graz, Austria
Died 2 April 1657(1657-04-02) (aged 48)
Vienna, Austria
Burial Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria
Spouse Maria Anna of Spain
Maria Leopoldine of Austria
Eleonora Gonzaga
Issue Ferdinand IV of Hungary
Mariana, Queen of Spain
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
Archduke Charles Joseph
Eleanor, Queen of Poland
Archduchess Maria Anna Josepha
House House of Habsburg
Father Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria Anna of Bavaria
Religion Roman Catholicism

Ferdinand III (13 July 1608 – 2 April 1657) was Holy Roman Emperor from 15 February 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria.


  • Life 1
  • Marriages and children 2
  • Music 3
  • Ancestors 4
  • Titles 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Ferdinand III depicted on a 100 Ducat gold coin (1629)
Seal of Ferdinand III.

Ferdinand was born in Graz, the eldest son of Emperor Ferdinand II of Habsburg and his first wife, Maria Anna of Bavaria. Educated by the Jesuits, he became King of Hungary in 1625, King of Bohemia in 1627 and Archduke of Austria in 1621.

Engraving of Ferdinand III

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.[2]

Following the death of Wallenstein (who had previously denied him the overall military command of the Catholic side) in 1634, he was made titular head of the Imperial Army in the Thirty Years' War, and later that year joined with his cousin, the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, being nominally responsible of the capture of Donauwörth and Regensburg, and of defeat of the Swedes at the Battle of Nördlingen. Leader of the peace party at court, he helped negotiate the Peace of Prague with the Protestant states, especially Saxony in 1635.

Having been elected King of the Romans in 1636, he succeeded his father as Holy Roman Emperor in 1637. He hoped to be able to make peace soon with France and Sweden, but the war dragged on for another 11 years, finally coming to an end with the Peace of Westphalia (Treaty of Münster with France, Treaty of Osnabrück with Sweden) in 1648, both 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 to all rulers of German states the right to conduct their own foreign policy (ius belli ac pacis). This way the emperor was trying to gain more allies in the negotiations with France and Sweden. This very edict 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 Charles X of Sweden when he died on 2 April 1657.

Marriages and children

On 20 February 1631 Ferdinand III married his first wife Archduchess Maria Anna of Spain (1606–1646). She was the youngest daughter of Philip 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:

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 Charles 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 Eleonora Gonzaga (1630–1686). She was a daughter of Charles IV Gonzaga, Duke of Rethel. They were parents to four children:


Ferdinand III was a well-known patron of music and a composer. He studied music under Giovanni Valentini, who bequeathed his musical works to him, and had close ties with Johann Jakob Froberger, one of the most important keyboard composers of the 17th century. Froberger lamented the emperor's death and dedicated to him one of his most celebrated works, Lamentation faite sur la mort très douloureuse de Sa Majesté Impériale, Ferdinand le troisième; a tombeau for Ferdinand III's death was composed by the renowned violinist Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Some of Ferdinand's own compositions survive in manuscripts: masses, motets, hymns and other sacred music, as well as a few secular pieces. His Drama musicum was praised by Athanasius Kircher, and the extant works, although clearly influenced by Valentini, show a composer with an individual style and a solid technique.[3]

Recordings of Ferdinand's compositions include:

Jesu Redemptor Omnium. Deus Tuorum. Humanae Salutis. With Schmelzer: Lamento Sopra La Morte de Ferdinand III. Joseph I: Regina Coeli. Leopold I: Sonata Piena; Laudate Pueri. Wiener Akademie, dir. Martin Haselböck, CPO 1997.
Ferdinand III: Hymnus "Jesu Corona Virginum". On Musik für Gamben-Consort. Klaus Mertens, Hamburger Ratsmusik, dir. Simone Eckert CPO 2010



Ferdinand III, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Rama, Serbia, Galicia, Lodomeria, Cumania and Bulgaria, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Margrave of Moravia, Duke of Luxemburg, of the Higher and Lower Silesia, of Württemberg and Teck, Prince of Swabia, Count of Habsburg, Tyrol, Kyburg and Goritia, Marquess of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgovia, the Higher and Lower Lusace, Lord of the Marquisate of Slavonia, of Port Naon and Salines, etc. etc.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Rothenburg, G. The Army of Francis Joseph. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1976. p 3.
  3. ^ (subscription required)


  • Lothar Höbelt, Ferdinand III. (1608–1657). Friedenskaiser wider Willen (Graz: Ares Verlag. 2008), 488 S.

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
Born: 13 July 1608 Died: 2 April 1657
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ferdinand II
King of Hungary and Croatia
with Ferdinand II (1625–1637)
Ferdinand IV (1647–1654)
Succeeded by
Leopold I
King of Bohemia
with Ferdinand II (1627–1637)
Ferdinand IV (1646–1654)
Holy Roman Emperor
Archduke of Austria

King in Germany
with Ferdinand II (1636–1637)
Ferdinand IV (1653–1654)
Preceded by
Elizabeth Lucretia
Duchy of Teschen
with Ferdinand IV (1653–1654)
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