Ferdinand Kettler

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Ferdinand Kettler
Duke of Courland and Semigallia
Ferdinands ketlers.jpg
Reign 1730–1737
Predecessor Friedrich Wilhelm Kettler
Successor Ernst Johann Biron
Spouse(s) Johanna Magdalene of Saxe-Weissenfels
Father Jacob Kettler
Mother Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg
Born (1655-11-01)1 November 1655
Mitau, Duchy of Courland and Semigallia
Died 4 May 1737(1737-05-04) (aged 81)
Danzig, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Religion Lutheran

Ferdinand Kettler (November 1, 1655 - May 4, 1737) was the Duke of Courland and Semigallia from 1730 to 1737.

Early life[edit]

He was the son of Jacob Kettler and Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg and married Johanna Magdalene of Saxe-Weissenfels in 1730.

Ferdinand Kettler was born on November 1, 1655, in Jelgava, Latvia. He and his family, who had been held captive by the Swedes in Riga. They were moved to Ivangorod, then part of Swedish Ingermanland and held there between 1658 and 1660.

After the death of his father, Jacob Kettler, in 1682, the duchy passed to Ferdinand's older brother, Frederick Casimir Kettler. Frederick was in the Polish army, where he reached the rank of Lieutenant-General and participated in many battles against the Ottoman Empire[citation needed]. After Frederick's death in 1698, his widow and Ferdinand became guardians of the minor, Friedrich Wilhelm, and ruled the duchy in his name.


When the Great Northern War started in 1700, Ferdinand Kettler fought in battles near Riga. After his defeat in the Battle of Daugava, he fled to Danzig, where he stayed until his death. The council of the duchy (Landtag) under Swedish occupation refused to recognize Ferdinand as duke.

Meanwhile, Friedrich Wilhelm had married Anna of Russia. When Friedrich died, he left Kettler as the last heir to the throne of Courland from the House of Kettler. However, Kettler was reluctant to return and the duchy was instead ruled by Anna of Russia, who acted as regent. In 1725, the Council of the Duchy elected Maurice de Saxe as the new duke. However, he soon left Courland because of friction with the Russian imperial administration.

In 1730, Kettler, then 75 years old, married young Johanna Magdalene of Saxe-Weissenfels. That same year, Anna of Russia became tsarina of the Russian Empire. The Council of Duchy finally recognized Ferdinand as a duke. Yet, in 1736, the king of Poland, August III, in a private meeting, offered the throne of Courland to Ernst Johann Biron. Biron was Anna's lover and had a great influence on state affairs.

Ferdinand Kettler died in Danzig, Poland on May 4, 1737. He had no children. A month later, the Council of the Duchy elected Ernst Johan von Biron[1] as the new duke of Courland and Semigallia.


  1. ^ Müller, Johannes von, (1834). "An universal history : in twenty-four books". HathiTrust. Cottons and Barnard. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 


Preceded by
Frederick Wilhelm, Duke of Courland
Duke of Courland
Succeeded by
Ernst Johann von Biron