Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor

Annie Lee | Mar 8, 2024

Table of Content


Ferdinand III († April 2, 1657 in Vienna), born Ferdinand Ernst, Archduke of Austria from the House of Habsburg, was Roman-German emperor from February 15, 1637, until his death in 1657; he had also been king of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia since 1625 and 1627, respectively.

Ferdinand III took over as emperor during the Thirty Years' War and had already been commander-in-chief of the army since May 2, 1634. His reign saw the decline of the imperial claim to power, which had increased under his father. He wanted to end the war early, but after military defeats and against the background of declining power, he saw himself forced to renounce previous Habsburg positions on many points. He thus cleared the long-delayed path to the Peace of Westphalia, even though imperial power was weaker after the conclusion of peace than before the war. In Bohemia, Hungary and the Austrian hereditary lands, however, Ferdinand's position as sovereign was stronger than before.

Ferdinand was the first ruler from the House of Habsburg who also emerged as a composer.

Childhood and youth

Ferdinand III was the son of Ferdinand II and Maria Anna of Bavaria. He grew up in Carinthia under the loving care of his parents. He himself developed great affection for his siblings and his father, with whom he always reached a settlement in later disagreements.

At his father's court, he received his religious and scientific education from Jesuits. The Maltese knights Johann Jacob von Dhaun and Christoph Simon von Thun also had a great influence on the archduke's education. The latter instructed him in military matters. Ferdinand is said to have spoken seven languages, besides German and Latin also Italian, Spanish, French, Czech and Hungarian. Recent authors are more cautious, but it is certain that he spoke excellent Italian; the same is probably true for Latin and Spanish. The extent of his knowledge of Hungarian and Czech is unclear. After the death of his brothers Charles (1603) and John Charles (1619), he was designated as his father's successor and systematically prepared to take over the reign. Like his father, he was a devout Catholic. He harbored a certain aversion to the influence of the Jesuits, who had dominated his father's court.

On December 8, 1625, he was crowned King of Hungary, and on November 27, 1627, King of Bohemia. His father was not able to get him elected as Roman king at the Regensburg Electors' Day of 1630. After unsuccessfully applying for the supreme command of the imperial army and participation in campaigns with Wallenstein, he joined Wallenstein's opponents at the imperial court in Vienna and since then participated in the arrangements for his second deposition at the beginning of 1634.

In 1631, after years of negotiations with Spanish relatives, he married the Spanish Infanta, his cousin Maria Anna of Spain. Although in the midst of war, this elaborate wedding was celebrated over a period of fourteen months. The marriage produced six children, including Ferdinand IV, who was originally intended to succeed him, and the future Emperor Leopold I. His loving and intelligent wife, who was two years his senior, and also her brother, the Spanish Cardinal Infante Ferdinand of Spain, had a great influence on Ferdinand III and formed the most important link between the Habsburg courts in Madrid, Brussels and Vienna during the difficult period of the Thirty Years' War for the Habsburgs after the death of Wallenstein.

Commander in Chief

After Wallenstein's death, Ferdinand III became commander-in-chief on May 2, 1634, supported by generals Gallas and Piccolomini, military advisor, Johann Kaspar von Stadion, and political advisor, Obersthofmeister Count Maximilian von und zu Trauttmansdorff. Ferdinand achieved his first major military successes in July 1634 in the battle for Regensburg by recapturing the city of Regensburg, which had been occupied by the Swedes since November 1633, and in August 1634 by recapturing the city of Donauwörth, which had been used as a garrison base by the Swedes since April 1632. The successes were crowned in September 1634 by the victory in the Battle of Nördlingen, won together with the Spanish army of Cardinal Infante Ferdinand of Spain. This victory destroyed two Swedish armies and drove the Swedes out of southern Germany. Ferdinand gained political influence, although his personal contributions to the military successes at Regensburg and Nördlingen were limited and fell more to his lieutenant general Gallas, who worked in the background. His influence at the court in Vienna increased even more after the fall of Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, who had been a very influential minister until then. At first he retained the supreme command of warfare, but later handed it over twice (September 1639 to February 1643, and May 1645 to December 1646) to his versatile brother, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. However, due to his lack of military training, the latter was dependent on the advice of experienced officers such as Piccolomini and, despite initial successes, relinquished his office on each occasion after unfortunate defeats. Ferdinand continued to deal theoretically with military questions even after relinquishing the supreme command; later Raimondo Montecuccoli dedicated one of his works to him.

In 1635, Ferdinand participated as an imperial commissioner in the final negotiations on the Peace of Prague, trying to persuade the electors to wage war together after the peace was concluded. He also tried to convince the still reluctant Protestant estates to join the planned peace treaty. Initially, his peace strategy was still based on his father's policy. First, it was necessary to restore unity between all parts of the empire and the emperor and, after the conclusion of the Peace of Prague, to seek a balance with the previous opponent, the Protestant Electorate of Saxony. In addition, military superiority was to be established through cooperation with a Spanish army commanded by his cousin, the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand of Spain, and with the Bavarian League army commanded by his uncle, Elector Maximilian. When the declarations of war from France to Spain and from France to the emperor arrived in May and September 1635, respectively, it was obvious that the war had entered a new phase in which the Habsburgs now had to realize their plans for cooperation together with Bavaria and Saxony. Of course, it was not foreseeable that the plans would not lead to the expulsion of France and Sweden from the imperial territory, but rather to the decline of the Habsburgs.

The military decline began with the failure of the attack on Paris in 1636, which Ferdinand had pre-planned with his cousin, the Spanish Cardinal Infante Ferdinand. From the north, Paris was to be attacked from the Spanish Netherlands with a Spanish army, supported by imperial and Bavarian troops under Piccolomini and Johann von Werth. From the south, Lieutenant General Matthias Gallas, who was skeptical of the plan and had already gained a foothold in Lorraine with an imperial army in 1635, was to advance north from Burgundy. The attack from the south failed even before it began due to the army of Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar standing in the way, to whom Gallas did not feel superior and refused to attack. Later, the attempt at a campaign "to the left hand" in an alternative direction also failed due to the resistance of the French-defended city of Saint-Jean-de-Losne at the beginning of November 1636. In the north, the initial successes achieved with the capture of the French border fortress of Corbie did not last. The spectacular advances on Paris led by the Bavarian cavalry under Johann von Werth brought fame to General Werth, but were politically counterproductive. The advances spread terror, but led to the solidarity and reconciliation of the population with King Louis XIII and with Richelieu. In the end, a popular French army was formed and recaptured the border fortress of Corbie, which had been lost to the Spanish, in mid-November 1636.

Thus, the plan to attack Paris had failed altogether, not least due to deficiencies in communication. The Spanish Habsburgs, as financiers of the failed campaign, had repeatedly made Ferdinand feel their distrust of the wishes of the imperial military. However, both sides also lacked the insights and military experience that Lieutenant General Gallas, for example, had. It is true that Gallas had a reputation as an always skeptical hesitator in campaigns outside the empire. But he was aware that a campaign against France would meet with the "constantia of the French wherever it affects their fatherland. Also, Gallas' experience of supplying his army in Lorraine in 1635 had shown him all the difficulties of supplying the army in France with food and ammunition. He knew that the Rhine was a difficult obstacle to overcome. The consequences of the campaign to France were also evident in the imperial territory, where in Brandenburg the Swedes under Johan Banér had taken advantage of the absence of troops and launched a new offensive. In the Battle of Wittstock in September 1636, an Imperial Saxon army had been so badly defeated that this defeat was also a reason for not undertaking a new campaign in France and for withdrawing troops into the imperial territory.

Time as a ruler

On December 22, 1636, Ferdinand had been elected Roman-German king at the Electors' Day in Regensburg. After his father's death on February 15, 1637, he succeeded him as emperor. A leading role at his court was played by Maximilian von und zu Trauttmansdorff. After his death, the Obersthofmeister Johann Weikhard von Auersperg gained influence. Unlike his father, he had no spiritual advisors.

When Ferdinand took over, large parts of Central Europe had already been devastated by the Thirty Years' War and the population was weary of war. Ferdinand was not eager to continue the fighting. But the momentum of the war, the political circumstances, and his reluctance to act prevented a quick end to the war. The goal of the Prague Peace had been to drive France and Sweden from the soil of the empire. Initially, the military situation made this strategy seem realistic, and so Ferdinand's willingness to compromise on issues such as religion was low.

The troops under Gallas, who had returned to the empire, were able to help out the Saxon ally and attack Banér with a superior force. However, in a dramatic chase to the Baltic Sea, the latter managed to save his army in the Swedish bases in Pomerania, which were almost unassailable from the land, although Gallas had reached the fortress of Landsberg on the Pomeranian border before Banér and blocked his way there. With a ruse, however, Banér feigned the politically highly risky evasion of his army across Polish territory, but in the end sent only his train across this route and moved the army westward, where he found a crossing over the Oder and reached the safe Szczecin before Gallas. Although Gallas succeeded in trapping the Swedish troops behind the Peene River, an attack on their Baltic bases such as Stralsund or Greifswald required a fleet. Therefore, the political decision was made to rely on the support of the Danes, who had become friendly to the emperor.

The imperial army, however, was difficult to supply permanently in Pomerania and Mecklenburg. Over the winter, large units of troops either had to be withdrawn to the hereditary lands or find quarters in Lower Saxony, since Brandenburg and Saxony claimed their territory for their own troops under the terms of the Peace of Prague. In early 1638, most of the cavalry of the imperial army succeeded in being accommodated in Lower Saxony, where they were, however, very unwillingly. In return for financial compensation, the Danish King Christian IV had obtained the release of Holstein from quarters, which could hardly be refused to him as a potential ally.

In the course of 1638, the enclosure of the Swedish troops in Pomerania failed due to the continuing catastrophic supply situation of the imperial army and insufficient support from the allies Brandenburg and Saxony, of which the former was militarily too weak and the latter strategically more interested in a blockade of Erfurt lasting for months. The Swedes, on the other hand, were reinforced by 14,000 fresh soldiers, with whom they gradually regained firm positions in Western Pomerania and Mecklenburg. When it became clear that the Lower Saxon Imperial District would not provide winter quarters again and Ferdinand expressly forbade his commander Gallas to move into the district on his own authority, the withdrawal of troops to the hereditary lands had to be considered. In December, Gallas was finally given permission to retreat, which would place most of the army in Silesia and Bohemia over the winter. The Swedish general Banér, however, did not stop at occupying the territories in Mecklenburg and Altmark vacated by the imperial forces, where food could not be found even for his soldiers, but sought to flee forward and moved through the Lüneburg Heath straight into Saxony, while Gallas's famished army went back to Silesia in disarray. Banér defeated Saxon and imperial troops at Chemnitz and moved on to Bohemia, bringing the war directly into the Habsburg hereditary lands.

Archbishop Anselm Casimir of Mainz had scheduled an Electors' Day in Frankfurt in 1639 to discuss obstacles to peace. Emperor Ferdinand supported the move, despite concerns that the electors might represent the empire to the outside world independently of him. Therefore, he wanted to send envoys to the Electors' Day himself. There was also already the idea of convening an Imperial Diet where the emperor could control the agenda. The Electors' Diet, which was finally held in Nuremberg instead of Frankfurt, finally began in February 1640. At the suggestion of Electorate of Bavaria, all the imperial estates were invited to attend, which alarmed Ferdinand, since it basically meant an expansion into an imperial diet without him as emperor presiding over it. Therefore, in May, Ferdinand issued a final invitation to an Imperial Diet in Regensburg, which opened in July 1640 after the envoys had moved from Nuremberg. Here the estates discussed possible peace settlements. It proved problematic that the emperor had excluded from the Diet some princes who had previously been on the opposing side, as well as the Protestant administrators of various high monasteries. Nevertheless, it was finally possible to commit all the imperial estates, with the exception of the Electoral Palatinate, Brunswick-Lüneburg and Hesse-Kassel, to the resolutions of the Diet. At the end of 1641, a preliminal peace was signed in Hamburg between Ferdinand, France and Sweden. It was decided to convene a general peace congress in Osnabrück and Münster.

From 1642 onwards, Sweden and France achieved equal success against the Habsburgs. The failure of the imperial forces began with minor defeats such as the Battle of Kempen on the Lower Rhine and a lightning campaign by the Swedes to Silesia and Moravia, in which they were able to conquer Glogau and Olmütz. While at the beginning it was possible to limit the effects of these defeats by sending General Hatzfeldt to the Rhine and driving the Swedes out of the hereditary lands into Saxony, the negative series culminated with the Swedish victory in the Battle of Breitenfeld in 1642 against the main imperial army, which weakened it decisively. In 1643, France defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Rocroi and was soon able to send additional troops to the German theater of war. Temporary relief came at the end of 1643 with the surprisingly clear victory of a united army under Bavarian leadership against the Franco-Weimar army at Tuttlingen and the withdrawal of the Swedes to attack Denmark in the Torstensson War. However, the imperial and Bavarian counteroffensives on the Rhine and Elbe in the next year failed due to insufficient resources. The Bavarians under Franz von Mercy succeeded in recapturing the important Freiburg in Anterior Austria, but the French in turn captured the left bank of the Rhine south of Coblence and the Philippsburg bridgehead. The imperial campaign in support of Denmark ended in disaster in late 1644, when the army under Gallas was forced to retreat and was subsequently encircled and cut off from supplies. Without major fighting, the army disintegrated and Gallas was only able to get a few thousand men on their way back to the hereditary lands in several breakouts, leaving them finally open to a Swedish attack.

Starting in 1644, negotiations for a peace treaty were held in Münster and Osnabrück. However, during the negotiations the war continued. After the dissolution of Gallas' army, the emperor personally went to Prague, where a new army was formed from the remnants of the army and the troops from Hungary. His advisors around Trauttmansdorff advised him to use them and the Bavarian Elector Maximilian urged a decisive battle against the Swedes. For this purpose, he had provided Bavarian troops as reinforcements until they were needed again against the French. Under these circumstances, the emperor ordered his new commander-in-chief, Hatzfeldt, against his objections, to fight a battle that was clearly lost at Jankau on March 6, 1645.

The Swedish commander-in-chief Torstensson then moved to the outskirts of Vienna, where Ferdinand himself had fled. To raise morale in the city, the emperor marched around the city in a large procession with the image of the Virgin Mary. Only when the Swedes were on the opposite bank of the Danube did Ferdinand leave the city. Archduke Leopold Wilhelm succeeded in driving away the enemies. In gratitude for the salvation of Vienna, a Marian column was erected in the square Am Hof, which under Leopold I was moved to Wernstein am Inn. Ferdinand managed to prevent a simultaneous attack on Vienna from the north and east by making concessions to Prince George I Rákóczi of Transylvania, an ally of France and Sweden. In the Peace of Linz of December 16, 1645, the emperor had to assure the Hungarians the participation rights of the estates and religious freedom for the Protestants. Counter-Reformation and absolutist rule could therefore not be enforced in Hungary in the future.

At the latest after the defeat at Jankau, it became obvious that the emperor could not defeat the Swedes militarily, and that instead of establishing a Habsburg universal monarchy in the empire, the only goal could be to assert the hereditary lands and enforce a unified confession there. One of the main reasons for this was the weakening strength of the Spanish allies. Because of domestic political difficulties, Spanish financial and military support for Ferdinand ceased altogether in 1645. Without sufficient funds, the imperial troops could hardly act offensively, which weakened Ferdinand's position in negotiations. The emperor responded to the changed situation with new instructions for Trauttmansdorff, who left for Westphalia as chief negotiator. These instructions were kept strictly secret and were not published until 1962. In them, Ferdinand abandoned numerous earlier positions and was prepared to make greater concessions than were ultimately necessary.

Moreover, in August 1645 he finally gave in to pressure from France and Sweden and admitted all the imperial states to the congress. This implicitly recognized that all imperial estates were entitled to the ius belli ac pacis. In addition to peace between the participating parties, the internal constitution of the empire was also reorganized. The imperial court received weekly reports on the negotiations. Even though the reports had been prepared by officials and the Privy Council, the period of negotiations was extraordinarily busy for the emperor as well. Despite all the advisors, he finally had to decide. In the records, Ferdinand shows himself to be a monarch with expertise, a sense of responsibility and a willingness to make even difficult decisions.

The foreign powers enforced financial and territorial compensation for their intervention on the side of the Protestant imperial estates. Sweden received Vorpommern as well as the monasteries of Bremen, Verden and the city of Wismar as imperial fiefs, in addition to a compensation sum for the disbandment of its army. France was definitively ceded the three Lorraine high bishoprics of Metz, and Toul and Verdun (Trois-Évêchés), which had been de facto French since 1552. It also received the Sundgau, the Alsatian territory of the Habsburgs, previously ruled by the Tyrolean branch of the Habsburgs, as well as the suzerainty over the counties of Lower and Upper Alsace. Since Ferdinand in no way wanted to make the French king an imperial prince with voting rights at the Imperial Diet, these territories were released from the imperial union. France thus gained sovereignty over most of Alsace without the bishopric and city of Strasbourg, but had to recognize the previous rights of the cities and feudal owners that lay below the sovereignty. France also retained Breisach and Philippsburg as bridgeheads on the right bank of the Rhine, but did not demand money to relieve its troops, who would continue to fight Spain, but paid a large indemnity to the Tyrolean sovereign Ferdinand Charles, which was partially offset against the latter's debts. Switzerland and the Netherlands were effectively recognized as independent of the empire. In addition, there were further shifts in ownership in other parts of the empire. Bavaria retained the Palatine electorate and the Upper Palatinate won at the beginning of the war, and the Electoral Palatinate was partially restituted by the return of the Rhenish Palatinate on the right and left bank of the Rhine, and another, eighth electorate was created for it. In terms of religious policy, the year 1624 was established as the normal year. Exceptions were the now Bavarian Upper Palatinate and the Austrian hereditary lands. The enforcement of the Counter-Reformation in Ferdinand's core lands was thus sanctioned. Only in some parts of Silesia were certain concessions made to the Protestants. From now on, the institutions of the empire were to be staffed equally by Catholics and Protestants. The imperial estates were able to enforce considerable rights. Among them was the right to conclude alliances with foreign powers, although these could not be directed against the emperor and the empire. The large territories benefited most from the provisions. Ferdinand III's attempt to rule the empire in the manner of absolutism thus finally failed. But the empire and the emperor remained quite important. In terms of day-to-day politics, the emperor found it particularly difficult to relinquish support for the Spanish Habsburgs in the war against France. However, the emperor and his negotiators managed to prevent some particularly difficult constitutional issues from being passed on to the next

The emperor did not see the peace agreement as a catastrophic defeat; rather, thanks to von Trautmannsdorff's negotiating skills, the worst was avoided. The fact that the consequences for the Austrian hereditary lands were comparatively favorable also contributed to this quite positive assessment. Thus, the expropriations in Bohemia and the renewed provincial order were not shaken. For Upper Austria, which had been temporarily pledged to Bavaria during the war, the emperor was forgiven the outstanding pledge sum.

"The constitutional position of the emperor in the empire after the Peace of Westphalia left, despite all the losses, the possibility of an active imperial imperial policy in cooperation with a part of the estates, and in the Habsburg monarchy the preconditions for the development of a unified absolutist general state were preserved. In this respect, one can speak of a success of imperial policy at the Peace Negotiations of Westphalia - despite the failure of so many of the original negotiating objectives."

At the Nuremberg execution day of 1649

After the death of his second wife Archduchess Maria Leopoldine, to whom he was married for only a few months, Ferdinand married Eleonora Magdalena Gonzaga of Mantua-Nevers in 1651. She was pious and, among other things, founded the Ursuline Convent in Vienna and the Order of the Star Cross for noble ladies. She was also highly educated and interested in art. She composed and wrote poetry and, together with Ferdinand, was at the center of the Italian Academy.

Ferdinand's power as sovereign of the Austrian hereditary lands and as king in Hungary and Bohemia was significantly greater than that of his predecessors before 1618. His power as prince had been strengthened, and the influence of the estates had been massively reduced. During his reign, however, there were hardly any far-reaching internal reforms in the hereditary lands, but mainly discrete personnel policy decisions for the future. In addition, the reform of the church in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation continued. Ferdinand also succeeded in building up a new standing army from the remnants of the imperial army, which was already able to demonstrate its striking power under Leopold I. Furthermore, under Ferdinand III the fortifications of the Vienna fortress were massively expanded. For this purpose, the emperor invested a total of over 80,000 fl.

Despite a considerable loss of authority in the empire, Ferdinand remained active in imperial politics and was quickly able to consolidate the imperial position again. The Peace of Westphalia had already recognized the Imperial Court of Justice, which competed with the Imperial Chamber Court. Ferdinand gave the Imperial Court a new order, which remained in force until 1806 and resulted in a high court that functioned well until the end of the empire. For the end of 1652 he summoned an Imperial Diet to Regensburg, which met until 1654. This Diet was the last old-style assembly before the Perpetual Diet became a permanent congress of envoys after 1663. At the Diet of 1652, Ferdinand remained present until the end, although most of the imperial states had sent only envoys. His councilors felt that with the controversial opinions expected, only the emperor himself had enough authority to produce results. The Diet decided that the imperial content of the peace treaties of Münster and Osnabrück should become part of the imperial constitution. Furthermore, Ferdinand tried to push through the creation of an effective imperial army, but this attempt failed. At least he managed to push through a reform of the Imperial Chamber Court and to postpone some of the constitutional issues that were potentially particularly dangerous for the emperor's power. An alliance was also concluded with Poland, which was directed against Sweden. This led to the support of Poland by the Empire in the Second Northern War. The decisions of the Imperial Diet were set down in the so-called latest imperial farewell.

The Emperor's regained strength is also evidenced by the fact that he succeeded in securing a seat and a vote in the Imperial Diet for some of the nobles who had been elevated to the rank of princes by his father. He also succeeded in securing the election of a Roman king for his son Ferdinand IV, who died in 1654. The younger son Leopold was not yet eligible as successor due to his minority, which gave oppositional imperial estates the opportunity to gather majorities for another candidate. The emperor therefore delayed the opening of the Diet of Deputation, which was due to take place after the Regensburg Diet, until September 1655, and again put the brakes on its conclusion the next year in order to gain time until a new royal election day. In the meantime, the succession was settled in the hereditary lands, where the coronation of Leopold as King of Hungary and Bohemia succeeded.

Patrons of art and culture

Ferdinand was a patron of the arts and sciences, very musical and a composer himself. He was the first of the Habsburg rulers whose own pieces have survived. Of his compositions, Wolfgang Ebner had an aria with 36 variations printed in Prague in 1648; a four-part chant with figured bass, Melothesia Caesarea, was published by the Jesuit and polymath Athanasius Kircher in the first part of his Musurgie, and a simple four-part chant on the psalm Miserere is found in the 28th volume of the Leipziger Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1826). He also created a setting of the Lauretan Litany, which was extremely popular in the 17th century. A "Drama musicum" dedicated to Athanasius Kircher was performed at court in 1649. This imitation of an Italian opera was one of the first examples in the German-speaking world. All in all, he left behind numerous and varied pieces of sacred and secular music. The emperor also wrote numerous poems in Italian. They were appreciated by contemporaries for their graceful, lively and easily singable nature. His efforts were encouraged by Giuseppe Valentini and by his third wife Eleonore Gonzaga. Ferdinand was also interested in natural sciences. Thus, in 1654, during the Imperial Diet in Regensburg, he had the physicist Otto von Guericke demonstrate his experiment with the Magdeburg hemispheres.

Death and burial place

Ferdinand died on April 2, 1657 and was buried in the Vienna Capuchin Crypt. His entrails were buried separately and are in the duke's crypt.

The full title of Ferdinand III was:

We Ferdinand the Third, by the Grace of God, elected Roman Emperor, at all times Major of the Empire, in Germania, in Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, and Sclavonia, etc., King, Duke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, of Brabant, of Steyer, of Carinthia, of Kräyn, of Lützenburg, of Württemberg, and of Styria. King, Ertzhertzog zu Oesterreich, Hertzog zu Burgund, zu Brabandt, zu Steyer, zu Kärndten, zu Kräyn, zu Lützenburg, zu Württemberg, Ober- und Nieder-Schlesien, Fürst zu Schwaben, Marggraff des H. R. Reichs, zu Burgau, zu Mähren, Ober- und Nieder-Laußnitz, Gefürsteter Graf zu Habspurg, zu Tyrol, zu Pfierd, zu Kyburg und zu Görtz, etc., etc. Landgrave in Alsace, Lord of the Windische Marck, of Portenau, and of Salins, etc.

His motto was: Pietate et iustitia - "With piety and justice".

In his first marriage Ferdinand married Maria Anna of Spain, daughter of King Philip III of Spain, in Vienna in 1631. They had the following children:

In his second marriage Ferdinand married Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Tyrol (1632-1649) in Linz in 1648. With her he had a son:

In his third marriage, Ferdinand married Eleonora Magdalena Gonzaga of Mantua-Nevers (1630-1686) in Vienna in 1651. With her he had four children:

By imperial resolution of Franz Joseph I of February 28, 1863, Ferdinand III was included in the list of "the most famous war princes and generals of Austria worthy of perpetual emulation", in whose honor and memory a life-size statue was erected in the Hall of Generals of the then newly built Imperial and Royal Court Arms Museum (today: Army History Museum Vienna). Hofwaffenmuseum (today: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Vienna) was erected. The statue was created in 1867 from Carrara marble by the Bohemian sculptor Emanuel Max Ritter von Wachstein (1810-1901), and dedicated by Emperor Ferdinand I.


  1. Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
  2. Ferdinand III. (HRR)
  3. a b c Hermann Grotefend: Taschenbuch der Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittelalters und der Neuzeit, 14. Auflage, Hannover (2007), S. 115.
  4. C. V. Wedgwood: Der 30jährige Krieg. Paul List Verlag München 1967. (S. 317–319) ISBN 3-517-09017-4
  5. a b c d Brigitte Vacha (Hrsg.): Die Habsburger. Eine europäische Familiengeschichte. Wien 1992, S. 221.
  6. Konrad Repgen: Ferdinand III. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Hrsg.): Die Kaiser der Neuzeit. 1519–1918. Heiliges Römisches Reich, Österreich, Deutschland. München 1990, S. 144.
  7. Felix Stieve: Ferdinand III. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 6, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, S. 665.
  8. ^ "Habsburg family tree". Habsburg family website. 28 October 2023. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  9. Szalay-Baróti A Magyar Nemzet Története
  10. ^ Andrew H. Weaver, Sacred Music as Public Image for Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III: Representing the Counter-Reformation Monarch at the End of the Thirty Years' War, Routledge, 8 aprile 2016, pp. 4–, ISBN 978-1-317-06028-4.
  11. ^ Gli storici moderni, analizzando la corrispondenza imperiale, sono più cauti nel descrivere gli studi del giovane Ferdinando asserendo che sicuramente eccellesse nel tedesco, nell'italiano, nel latino e nello spagnolo, mentre le sue conoscenze del ceco e dell'ungherese erano meno perfette.
  12. ^ Vacha (a cura di), Die Habsburger. Eine europäische Familiengeschichte., Wien, Styria, 1992, p. 221, ISBN 978-3222121074.
  13. ^ a b c d Mark Hengerer, Making Peace in an Age of War: Emperor Ferdinand III (1608–1657), Purdue University Press, 15 novembre 2019, ISBN 978-1-61249-592-7.
  14. ^ Gunther E. Rothenberg, The Army of Francis Joseph, Purdue University Press, 1998, ISBN 978-1-55753-145-2.

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