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Francis I
Holy Roman Emperor
King of the Romans
Reign 13 September 1745-18 August 1765
Coronation 4 October 1745, Frankfurt
Predecessor Charles VII
Successor Joseph II
Spouse Maria Theresa of Austria
Archduchess Maria Anna
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen
Archduchess Maria Elisabeth
Archduke Charles Joseph
Maria Amalia, Duchess of Parma
Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor
Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela
Archduchess Maria Josepha
Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and Sicily
Ferdinand, Duke of Modena
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and Navarre
Archduke Maximilian Francis, Archbishop-Elector of Cologne
Full name
Francis Stephen
House House of Lorraine
Father Leopold, Duke of Lorraine
Mother Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans
Born 8 December 1708(1708-12-08)
Died 18 August 1765 (aged 56)
Burial Imperial Crypt, Vienna

Francis I (Francis Stephen; 8 December 1708 – 18 August 1765)[1] was Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany, though his wife effectively executed the real power of those positions. With his wife, Maria Theresa, he was the founder of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. From 1728 until 1737 he was Duke of Lorraine, but lost this title when he was pressured into giving up his territory so France could put their own candidate in power as part of a long-term plan to annexe Lorraine.


Early life

Gold coin, commemorating Emperor Francis' coronation in 1745
Silver coin of Francis I, dated 1754. The Latin inscription reads on the obverse FRANCISCVS D[EI] G[RATIA] ROM[ANORVM] IMP[ERATOR] SEMP[ER] AVG[VUSTVS], or in English, "Francis, by the Grace of God, Emperor of the Romans, forever Augustus" and on the reverse MONETA REIP[VBLICAE] RATISBON[AE] or in English, "Mint of the Republic of Ratisbon."

He was born in Nancy, Lorraine (now in France), the oldest surviving son of Leopold Joseph, duke of Lorraine, and his wife Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, daughter of Philippe, duc d'Orléans. He was connected with the Habsburgs through his grandmother Eleonora Maria, daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III, and wife of Charles Leopold of Lorraine, his grandfather.

He was very close to his brother and sister Anne Charlotte.

Emperor Charles VI favored the family, who, besides being his cousins, had served the house of Austria with distinction. He had designed to marry his daughter Maria Theresa to Francis' older brother Leopold Clement. On Leopold Clement's death, Charles adopted the younger brother as his future son-in-law. Francis was brought up in Vienna with Maria Theresa on the understanding that they were to be married, and a real affection arose between them.

At the age of 15, when he was brought to Vienna, he was established in the Silesian Duchy of Cieszyn, which had been mediatized and granted to his father by the emperor in 1722. Francis Stefan of Lorraine succeeded his father as Duke of Lorraine in 1729. Maria Theresia of Austria had organized in 1732 that Francis became "Lord Lieutenant" (locumtenens) of Hungary. He was not excited about this position, but Maria wanted him closer to her. In June 1732 he agreed to go to Presburg.

The emperor Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, at the end of the War of the Polish Succession, agreed to compensate the French candidate Stanislaus Leszczynski, (father-in-law of Louis XV of France) for the loss of his crown in 1735.

France's prime minister, Cardinal Fleury, saw the Polish struggle as a chance to strike at Austrian power in the west without seeming to be the aggressor. While he cared little for who should become King of Poland, the cause of protecting the King's father-in-law was a sympathetic one, and he hoped to use the war as a means of humbling the Austrians, and perhaps securing the long-desired Duchy of Lorraine from its duke, Francis Stephen, who was expected to marry Emperor Charles's daughter Maria Theresa, which would bring Austrian power dangerously close to the French border.

A preliminary peace was concluded in October 1735 and ratified in the Treaty of Vienna in November 1738. Augustus was confirmed as king of Poland, Stanisław was compensated with Lorraine (which would pass on his death, through his daughter, to the French), while the former Duke of Lorraine, Francis Stephen, was made heir to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which he would inherit in 1737.

Although fighting stopped after the preliminary peace in 1735, the final peace settlement had to wait until the death of the last Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone in 1737, to allow the territorial exchanges provided for by the peace settlement to go into effect.

In March 1736 the Emperor persuaded Francis, his future son-in-law secretly (!) to exchange Lorraine for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. France had demanded that Maria Theresa's fiancé surrender his ancestral Duchy of Lorraine to accommodate the deposed King of Poland. The Emperor considered other possibilities (such as marrying her to the future Charles III of Spain) before announcing the engagement of the couple. If something would go wrong, Francis would become governor of the Austrian Netherlands.

Elisabeth of Parma had also wanted the Grand Duchy of Tuscany for her son Charles III of Spain; the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone de' Medici was childless and was related to Elisabeth via her great grandmother Margherita de' Medici. As a result Elisabeth son's could claim by right of being a descendant of Margherita.

On January 31, 1736 Francis had agreed to marry Maria Theresia. He hesitated three times (and laid down the feather before signing). Especially his mother Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans and his brother Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine were against the loss of Lorraine. On February 1, Maria Theresia send Francis a letter: she would withdraw from her future reign, when a male successor for her father would appear.

Marries and becomes Emperor

They married on February 12 in the Augustinian Church, Vienna. The wedding was held on February 14, 1736. The (secret) treaty between the Emperor and Francis was signed on May 4, 1736. In January 1737, the Spanish troops withdrew from Tuscany, and were replaced by 6,000 Austrians.[2] On January 24, 1737 Francis received Tuscany from his father-in-law.[3] Until then, Maria Theresa was Duchess of Lorraine.

Gian Gastone de' Medici, who died on 9 July 1737, was the second cousin of Francis.[citation needed] In June 1737 Francis went to Hungary again to fight against the Turks. In October 1738 he was back in Vienna. In December 17, 1738 the couple travelled south, accompanied by his brother Charles to visit Florence for three months. They arrived on January 20, 1739.

In 1744 Francis' brother Charles married a younger sister of Maria Theresia, Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1718–1744). In 1744 Charles became governor of the Austrian Netherlands, (until his death in 1780).

Maria Theresia secured in the Treaty of Füssen his election to the Empire on 13 September 1745, in succession to Charles VII, and she made him co-regent of her hereditary dominions.

Francis was well content to leave the wielding of power to his able wife. He had a natural fund of good sense and some business capacity and was a useful assistant to Maria Theresa in the laborious task of governing the complicated Austrian dominions, but his functions appear to have been primarily secretarial. He also took a great interest in the natural sciences. He was a member of the Freemasons.[4]

Francis was quite the philanderer and was known for his many indiscreet affairs, notably one with Princess Auersperg, who was thirty years his junior. This particular affair has been remarked upon the letters and journals of visitors to the court and his children.[5]

He died suddenly in his carriage while returning from the opera at Innsbruck on 18 August 1765. He is buried in tomb number 55 in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.

Maria Theresa and Francis I had sixteen children—their youngest daughter was the future queen consort of France, Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). He was officially succeeded by his eldest son Joseph II although the real power remained with his wife. Another son was the Emperor Leopold II.


Name Birth Death Notes
Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria 5 February 1737 6 June 1740 died in childhood, no issue
Archduchess Maria Anna 6 October 1738 19 November 1789 died unmarried, no issue
Archduchess Maria Karolina of Austria 12 January 1740 25 January 1741 died in childhood, no issue
Joseph II 13 March 1741 20 February 1790 married 1) Infanta Isabel of Spain (1741-1763), married 2) Princess Marie Josephe of Bavaria (1739-1767) - second cousin, had issue from his first marriage (two daughters, who died young)
Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria 13 May 1742 24 June 1798 married Prince Albert of Saxony, Duke of Teschen (1739-1822), her second cousin (1738-1822), had issue (one stillborn daughter)
Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria 13 August 1743 22 September 1808 died unmarried, no issue
Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria 1 February 1745 18 January 1761 died of smallpox, no issue
Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria 26 February 1746 9 June 1804 married Ferdinand, Duke of Parma (1751-1802), had issue.
Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II 5 May 1747 1 March 1792 married Infanta Maria Louisa of Spain (1745-1792), had issue. Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1765 (abdicated 1790), Holy Roman Emperor from 1790, Archduke of Austria, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia from 1790.
Archduchess Maria Carolina 17 September 1748 17 September 1748 stillborn
Archduchess Maria Johanna of Austria 4 February 1750 23 December 1762 died of smallpox, no issue
Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria 19 March 1751 15 October 1767 died of smallpox, no issue
Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria 13 August 1752 7 September 1814 married King Ferdinand IV of Naples and Sicily (1751-1825); had issue
Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Duke of Breisgau 1 June 1754 24 December 1806 married Maria Beatrice d'Este, heiress of Breisgau and of Modena, had issue (Austria-Este). Duke of Breisgau from 1803.
Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, born Maria Antonia 2 November 1755 16 October 1793 married Louis XVI of France (1754-1793) and became the famous Queen Marie Antoinette.
Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria (1756-1801) 8 December 1756 27 July 1801 Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, 1784.



Francis I, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King in Germany and of Jerusalem, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Lorraine, Bar, and Grand Duke of Tuscany, Duke of Calabria, in Silesia of Cieszyn, Prince of Charleville, Margrave of Pont-à-Mousson and Nomeny, Count of Provence, Vaudémont, Blâmont, Zütphen, Saarwerden, Salm, Falkenstein, etc. etc.

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Austria: Franz I
  2. ^ Hale, Florence and the Medici, Orion books, p 192. London, 1977, ISBN 1-84212-456-0.
  3. ^ Maria Theresia und ihre Zeit. Exhibition from May 13 till October 1980 in Vienna, Schloss Schönbrunn, p. 28, see also pp. 37, 38, 41, 47, 52, 53 for the other details described here.
  4. ^ "In Mozart's Vienna, Freemasonry had flourished under the Habsburgs mainly due to the influence of Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine, who, himself, was a Freemason." Wolfgang Amedeus Mozart - Master Mason.
  5. ^ Farquhar, Michael (2001). A Treasure of Royal Scandals, p.89. Penguin Books, New York. ISBN 0739420259.

External links

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Born: 8 December 1708 Died: 18 August 1765
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gian Gastone de' Medici
Grand Duke of Tuscany
Succeeded by
Leopold II
Preceded by
Léopold Clément
Hereditary Prince of Lorraine
1723 – 1729
Succeeded by
Charles Alexander
as heir presumptive
Title abandoned after loss of duchy
Preceded by
Duke of Lorraine
Succeeded by
Stanislaus Leszczynski I of Poland
Duke of Teschen
Succeeded by
Joseph II
Preceded by
Charles VII
German King
Holy Roman Emperor
Preceded by
Charles III
Archduke of Austria
21 November 1740-1765
with Maria Theresa

Simple English

File:Martin van Meytens
Holy Roman Emperor

Francis I (Francis Stephen; 8 December 1708 – 18 August 1765) was Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany, though his wife effectively executed the real power of those positions. With his wife, Maria Theresa of Austria, he was the founder of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. From 1728 until 1737 he was Duke of Lorraine, but lost Lorraine when he had to give it to France. He was the father of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France.


He married maria Theresa of Austria for love.,They had sixteen children who are named here:

  • Archduchess Maria Elisabeth (1737-1740).
  • Archduchess Maria Anna (1738-1789).
  • Archduchess Maria Caroline (1740-1741).
  • Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (1741-1790)
  • Archduchess Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen (1742-1798)
  • Archduchess Maria Elisabeth (1743-1808).
  • Archduke Charles Joseph (1745-1761).
  • Archduchess Maria Amalia (1746-1804)
  • Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II (1747-1792)
  • Archduchess Maria Caroline (stillborn 1748).
  • Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela (1750-1762).
  • Archduchess Maria Josepha (1751-1767).
  • Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily (1752-1814)
  • Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Navarre, born Maria Antonia (1755-1793)
  • Archduke Maximilian Francis (1756-1801)


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