Franz, Count of Meran
Franz was the only child of the morganatic marriage of Archduke Johann of Austria-Tuscany and Anna Maria Plochl, and a grandson of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II. On 8 July 1862 at Ottenstein, Germany, he married Countess Theresia von Lamberg, the second child and only daughter of Franz Philipp, Count von Lamberg and Countess Caroline Hoyos.
His father having eloped with his mother (daughter of a postmaster at Bad Aussee) in defiance of Archduke Johann's brother the Emperor, Franz was entitled to inherit none of his father's positions or entailed possessions. However the esteem in which his father was held by both emperor and nation as a general and patron of the arts shielded Franz from some of the scandal and consequences of the circumstances of his birth. Born legitimate but a commoner, unable to bear the Habsburg-Lorraine surname of his father's dynasty, when his mother was ennobled by the Emperor seven years after her marriage to the archduke, Franz shared in her new title, becoming Baron von Brandhofen 4 July 1834. He was raised to comital rank as Count von Meran 29 April 1844 (letters patent issuing 30 December 1845, Vienna).
While still a child he had been designated a Landmann in Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Tyrol and Austria, and was accorded a seat in the Austrian House of Lords on 24 November 1842. After his father's death at Palais Meran in Graz in 1859, the manors of Schenna, Steinz and Gut Brandhof were combined into a fideicommis for him and his future descendants.
Seven children were born to his marriage to Countess Theresia von Lamberg (1836–1913), who bore the titles Count/Countess von Meran, Baron/Baroness von Brandhofen and inter-married with prominent families of the Austro-Hungarian nobility:
- Countess Anna Maria (1864−1935)
- Countess Maria Johanna (1865−1935)
- Johann Stephan, Count von Meran (1867−1947), who wed in 1891 his cousin, Countess Ladislaja von Lamberg with whom he had nine children; their grandchildren include conductor Count Nikolaus de la Fontaine und d'Harnoncourt-Unverzagt and politician Karl-Theodor, Baron von und zu Guttenberg
- Franz Peter (1868−1949), who in 1902 wed Princess Marie Johanna Franziska, daughter of Prince Louis and Princess Mary of Liechtenstein
- Countess Karoline Johanna (1870−1944)
- Count Rudolf Johann (1872−1959), who in 1917 wed Princess Johanna von Auersperg, granddaughter of Prince Adolf of Auersperg
- Count Albrecht Johann (1874−1928)
- Renate Basch-Ritter, Anna Plochl - Die Frau an der Seite Erzherzog Johanns, Advea Verlag 2005