Maria Leopoldine of Austria

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For the Empress of Brazil, see Maria Leopoldina of Austria.
Holy Roman Empress Maria Leopoldine by Lorenzo Lippi in 1649

Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Tyrol (6 April 1632 – 7 August 1649) was the second spouse of her first cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III. As such, she was empress of the Holy Roman Empire. She died while giving birth to the couple's only child, Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria.


Maria Leopoldine was born in Innsbruck as an archduchess of Austria. She was the third daughter and the fifth and youngest child of Leopold V, Archduke of Further Austria, and Claudia de' Medici. The archduchess was orphaned by her father's death a few months after her birth. At that point, her oldest brother, Ferdinand Charles, inherited Further Austria, but Dowager Archduchess Claudia assumed regency because of her children's minority. In a letter written to his mother, Elizabeth of England, on 8 September 1641, Charles Louis of the Palatinate (later Elector Palatine Charles I Louis) described the intentions of his uncle, King Charles I of England, and Maria Leopoldine's first cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, to arrange a marriage between the archduchess and himself; the marriage between Maria Leopoldine and Charles Louis was to end "all grudges betweene our families".[1]


Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III

The match between Charles Louis and Maria Leopoldine was never realised. On 2 July 1648 in Linz, Archduchess Maria Leopoldine married the widowed Emperor Ferdinand III himself, thereby becoming empress of the Holy Roman Empire, queen of the Germans, queen of Hungary and queen of Bohemia. The wedding ceremony was splendid.[2] The composer Andreas Rauch celebrated the marriage as "anticipating (with the help of Divine Providence) the most beautiful end of the Thirty Years' war".[3] An opera titled I Trifoni d'Amore, produced by Giovanni Felice Sances, was meant to commemorate Maria Leopoldine's marriage, but the Prague premiere was canceled at the last moment when King Vladislaus IV of Poland died within two months of the wedding; the planned Pressburg performance apparently never took place.[3] The new empress was as closely related to her husband as her cousin and predecessor, Maria Anna of Austria; both marriages were means by which the House of Habsburg, from time to time, reinforced itself.[4]

The Holy Roman Empress soon became pregnant, and was depicted as such in the 1649 painting by the Italian painter and poet Lorenzo Lippi. The imperial couple's only child, Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria, was delivered on 7 August 1649. The childbirth was extremely difficult, ending in the death of the 17-year-old Empress Maria Leopoldine.[5] Her husband remarried within two years, while their son died childless aged 15.[3] She is buried in tomb 21 in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna. The writer Wolf Helmhardt von Hohberg, then at the beginning of his career, sent Emperor Ferdinand a poem written in honour of Empress Maria Leopoldine.[6]



  1. ^ Akkerman, Nadine (2011). The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199551081. 
  2. ^ Barthold, Friedrich Wilhelm (1843). Geschichte des großen deutschen Krieges vom Tode Gustav Adolfs. Liesching. ISBN 1409421198. 
  3. ^ a b c Weaver, Andrew H. (2012). Sacred Music as Public Image for Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III: Representing the Counter-Reformation Monarch at the End of the Thirty Years' War. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 1409421198. 
  4. ^ Wedgwood, Cicely Veronica (1967). The thirty years war. Jonathan Cape. 
  5. ^ Coxe, William (1807). History of the House of Austria, from the Foundation of the Monarchy by Rhodolph of Hapsburgh, to the Death of Leopold the Second. 
  6. ^ Kunisch, Hermann (1971). Literarisches Jahrbuch. Duncker & Humblot. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gigi Beutler: Die Kaisergruft, Wien 1993
  • Richard Reifenscheid: Die Habsburger. Von Rudolf I. bis Karl I.; Verlag Styria Graz/Wien/Köln 1982, ISBN 3-85001-484-3
Royal titles
Title last held by
Maria Anna of Spain
Empress of the Holy Roman Empire
Queen consort of Germany, Bohemia and Hungary

Title next held by
Eleanor of Mantua