The Stiff Habsburg’s – 17th Century

Carrying on from my introduction to the Spanish, its time for the Austrian’s. The reigning Holy Roman Emperors during the seventeenth century were;

  1. Rudolf II 1576 – 1612
  2. Matthias 1612 – 1619
  3. Ferdinand II 1619 – 1637
  4. Ferdinand III 1637 – 1657
  5. Leopold I 1658 – 1705

And their Queen’s (whom there are rather a lot of).

  1. Unmarried
  2. Anna of Tyrol 1611 – 1618
  3. Maria Anna of Bavaria 1600 – 1616 and Eleanor Gonzaga 1622 – 1637
  4. Maria Anna of Spain 1631 – 1646 and Maria Leopoldine of Austria 1648 – 1649 and Eleonora Gonzaga 1651 – 1657
  5. Margaret Theresa of Spain 1666 – 1673 and Claudia Felicita of Austria 1673 – 1676 and Eleanor Magdalene of Neuburg 1676 – 1705

beginning with Rudolf at the start of the century, though nearing the end of his reign; Rudolf, like Elizabeth I of England was able to successfully dodge married life, though unlike Elizabeth there were persistent rumours that he was gay and that had male lovers at court, some being highly disliked by those at court because of their influence over him. At the end of his reign, ill-health made him an incompetent ruler, or so was suggested and his brother Matthias took over in all but name.


Matthias was elected not long after and had been married for several years to Anna of Tyrol, who was previously courted by his brother Rudolf (though perhaps for appearance sake) yet the marriage remained childless at her death in 1618.

Ferdinand was elected not long after, being the eldest male in the Habsburg line of his grandfather Ferdinand I. He had married Maria Anna of Bavaria in 1600 and had seven children together, including the future Ferdinand III, Maria Anna who married her uncle the Elector of Bavaria and Cecillia Renata who became Queen of Poland. Maria Anna died before he was elected as Emperor and after his accession he married again to Eleonore of Gonzaga, the union remained childless and Eleonore outlived her husband.

Ferdinand was succeeded by his son, also Ferdinand. He was married firstly to Maria Anna of Spain, the Daughter of Philip III. They had six children together, one being the future Emperor Leopold I, Maria Anna who would go on to marry her mother’s bother and Ferdinand IV who held the prestigious sounding title of King of the Romans before he died young. Maria would die suddenly during the pregnancy of her sixth child, who being born alive, followed her a few hours later.

Two years later Ferdinand married a very young Maria Leopoldine, but the young Empress was to die one year later at just seventeen giving birth to her only child, a son, Archduke Charles Joseph.

maria leopoldine

Ferdinand would marry one more time to Eleonora Gonzaga whom he would have four children, though only two girls living to adulthood, one becoming Queen of Poland and the other becoming Electoral Princess of the Palatinate. Eleonora would outlive her husband who was succeeded by his son Leopold from his first marriage.

Frans_Luycx_-_Eleonora_Gonzaga_as_Diana,_Holy_Empress,_3rd_wife_of_Ferdinand_III 1651 3.2

Leopold was also married three times, firstly to little Margaret Theresa of Spain who he had four children with, though only Maria Antonia survived to adulthood before Margaret died at twenty-one (Maria Antonia was to echo her tragic mother and also die young).

He would marry, only six months later, Claudia Felicitas of Austria, having two daughters who died in infancy before Claudia also died extremely young at twenty-two.

Claudia_Felicitas 1671

Again only months after his wife died he began looking for a third wife, though spurned on by the need for a male heir and married the reluctant bride (who had hoped to become a nun) Eleonore Magdalene of Neuburg and had ten children together, including the future Joseph I, Charles VI, Maria Elizabeth Governor of the Austrian Netherlands and Maria Theresa who become Queen of Portugal, before dying in 1705.

Eleonore__Neuburg 1680 3.2



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