Ferdinand Karl, Archduke of Austria-Este

Archduke Ferdinand Karl of Austria-Este (Ferdinand Karl Anton Joseph Johann Stanislaus; 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.

Archduke Ferdinand
Duke of Breisgau
Archduke of Austria-Este
Portrait by August Friedrich Oelenhainz, 1790
Born(1754-06-01)1 June 1754
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria, Holy Roman Empire
Died24 December 1806(1806-12-24) (aged 52)
Vienna, Austrian Empire
IssueArchduke Josef Franz
Maria Theresa, Queen of Sardinia
Archduchess Josepha
Maria Leopoldine, Electress of Bavaria
Francis IV, Duke of Modena
Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph
Maximilian, Grand Master of Teutonic Knights
Archduchess Maria Antonia
Karl, Archbishop of Esztergom
Maria Ludovika, Empress of Austria
Full name
English: Ferdinand Charles Anthony Joseph John Stanislas of Austria-Este
German: Ferdinand Karl Anton Josef Johann Stanislaus von Österreich-Este
HouseHabsburg-Lorraine (birth)
Habsburg-Este (founder)
FatherFrancis I, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherMaria Theresa of Austria
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early life

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

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.



  1. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 1.

Further reading

  • Weissensteiner, Friedrich. Die Söhne Maria Theresias. Wien: Kremayer & Scheriau, 1991.
  • Wurzbach, Constantin von. "Habsburg, Ferdinand Karl Anton von Este". In Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich. 6. Theil. Kaiserlich-königliche Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Wien 1860, S. 204 f.
Ferdinand Karl, Archduke of Austria-Este
Cadet branch of the House of Habsburg
Born: 1 June 1754 Died: 24 December 1806
Government offices
Preceded by
Francesco III d'Este
Governors of the Duchy of Milan
Succeeded by
Transpadane Republic
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.