Helena of Austria – Daughter of the Emperor

archduchess helena
(public domain)

Archduchess of Helen of Austria is one of those women of whom we know very little. She was born on 7 January 1543 as the second youngest child of Anne of Bohemia and Hungary and the future Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. She was born in Vienna or possibly in Innsbruck1 and was baptised later that evening.2

She had 13 elder siblings, of which 12 were still alive at the time of her birth. A final sibling, Joanna, was born in 1547. Tragically, this birth would cost her mother her life. Helena’s elder brother Maximilian would succeed their father as Holy Roman Emperor in 1564.

Due to her weak constitution, her father did not think she was suitable for marriage, and he even rejected the marriage proposals of two kings.3

She founded the Ladies’ Convent of Hall, together with two of her sisters, Magdalena and Margaret. The convent opened in 1568, and she entered the convent with her sister Magdalena on 5 December 1569.4 Tragically, her sister Margaret had died the year before. They moved in alongside 40 canonesses. Their aim in life was to practise devotion and charity.

She reportedly believed the lungs of foxes were good against coughing and consumption. On her order, two foxes were killed, and their lungs were prepared in the pharmacy.5

Nevertheless, Helena died at the convent on 5 March 1574 at the age of 31. Her brother, also named Ferdinand, attended the funeral in Hall. She was interred alongside her sister Margaret in the crypt of the convent church, who had been interred there five years after her death. Magdalena survived her sisters until 1590 and was eventually interred alongside them.6

  1. Die Habsburger by Brigitte Hamann p.163
  2. Der Sammler. Ein Unterhaltungsblatt Volume 34 p. 16
  3. Ferdinand I. als Kaiser. Politik und Herrscherauffassung des Nachfolgers Karls V. by Ernst Laubach p. 708
  4. Erzherzog Ferdinand II. von Tirol by Josef Hirn p. 463
  5. Gelehrte Medizin und ärztlicher Alltag in der Renaissance by Michael Stolberg
  6. Die Stadt Hall in Tirol, der Salzberg im Hallthale, die Saline und der Bezirk Hall by Peter Regalat Stolzissi p.19

About Moniek Bloks 2729 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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