Biography of emperador del Sacro Imperio Fernando III (1608-1657)

Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1637-1657), King of Hungary (1625-1655) and Bohemia (1627-1657) and Archduke of Austria, born July 13, 1608 in Graz and died April 2, 1657.

Belonging to the Habsburg dynasty, was son of Fernando II and María Ana de Baviera. Lived a simple, happy childhood in the provincial court of Styria and soon showed great intelligence. During his early years his health was quite precarious and when in 1619 his older brother, Carlos, died, nobody believed that Fernando would survive long. However his health improved and during their adolescence became a perfect gentleman and a prominent rider. The crowns of Hungary and Bohemia he followed in his father's life. He received the Crown of St. Stephen in 1625, during a break of the campaigns of Fernando II against Bethlen Gabor; in 1627 he was crowned King of Bohemia in Prague, becoming the first hereditary King of the country after the promulgation by Fernando II of a new Constitution for the Kingdom. Since Fernando was also part of the imperial Council, demonstrating a great intelligence and independence of judgement, particularly in their criticism of the financial policy of his father, the emperor. Thus formed an own Court to his around, although relations with his family were very cordial and existed between him and his father antagonism, fate in general a spirit of collaboration.

Following the assassination of general Wallenstein (1634) the King of Hungary received the command of the Austrian forces, aided by a triumvirate of official Veterans: Piccolomini, Gallas and Aldringen, the last of them on behalf of the forces of the Catholic League. In July 1634 Protestants have diversified the scenario of the war: the Saxons, led by Arnim tried to penetrate in Silesia; the Swedes and their allies of the Heilbronn League, under the shared leadership of Gustav Horn and Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, tried to conquer South-East of Germany. Arnim invaded Bohemia and soon arrived from Prague, while the Heilbronn League forces besieging Landshutm in Bavaria. But Protestant successes were offset by the recapture of Ratisbon and Donauwörth by the imperial troops commanded by Fernando of Hungary, which thus re-established contact between Bavaria and Habsburg lands. Fernando then laid siege to the Protestant city of Nördlingen and waited for the arrival of his cousin, the cardenal-infante Fernando, who came with an army of 15,000 men recruited in Spain and his Italian possessions. The Habsburgs counselors as well an army of 33,000 men against the forces of Gustav Horn 25,000. The battle took place on 6 September 1634 with a total victory of Fernando of Hungary. In the words of the count-Duke of Olivares , Nördlingen was for Catholics "the biggest win of our time". It meant the withdrawal to Alsace of Bernard of Saxony-Weimar and the recoil of the Swedish forces in the South of the Main.

To succeed his father as Emperor (1637) and assuming the head of State must make a crucial decision: he must choose between being a German or Austrian sovereign and chose the latter, centering their empire into the Confederation of the States of Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, Silesia, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Tyrol. Fernando gave a new impetus to the war and forced the Swedes to evacuate Saxony, but in 1638 began to lose advantage, due primarily to the Alliance between France and Sweden. In 1640 the victories of his enemies, general demoralization in Germany and efforts at its allies attain peace separately, led to Emperor to propose the Imperial diet meeting for the first time since 1613, in order to pave the way for a comprehensive peace. The opening of the diet was held in Regensburg in September of 1640. The most important decision endorsed at this Assembly was the revocation of the edict of restitution, as we will see later.

Conversations of peace which did not prosper, and in 1642 the war recommenced with redoubled vigour. The Imperial continuiaron backwards and the Swedish general Torstensson seized several squares of Moravia, and Silesia after conquering Saxony. In 1645 an Austrian army was destroyed by the same general at Gankowitz, at the same time Rakoczy penetrating to the East. Torstensson resignation precipitated the end of the war, which continued, however, unfavorable for the Imperials, who were snatching numerous squares by the French. To emepeorar the situation, the Duke of Bavaria, ally of the Austrians, signed peace separately and concluded shortly after the general peace in Westphalia.

Hungary Fernando III had to fight almost since its advent with Rakoczy and later with his son, but in 1655 managed to prevail and secured the Crown of St. Stephen for his son Leopold.

In the plane religious Fernando III continued the contrarreformista policy of his father, but without violence, since its decisions were accepted with docility. However the search for a general at the beginning of his reign peace was going through reinstatement in the imperial diet Protestants managers affected by the edict of restitution and the Princes who were in arms against him. So the Emperor gave way and despite the Papal protest, in 1641, Fernando III abandoned the edict: the secular power would retain properties ecleisasticas possessing the 1 of January of 1627. Personally he was a pious and patriotic, loving monarch arts and above all music, which he himself came to grow successfully. In 1648 the organist of the Court, Wolfgang Ebner, published a series of compositions of this monarch, and that were reprinted in 1892 by G. Adler.


EVANS, R. Felix Austria: l'ascesa della monarchia absburgica, 1550-1700. Bologna, 1981.

HANTSCH, H. Die Entwicklung Österreich-Ungarns zur Gro_macht. Freiburg: Herder, 1933.

INGRAO, C. W. The Habsburg Monarchy. London, 1995.