The Birth of Archduke Maximilian Francis

(public domain)

On 8 December 1756, Maria Theresa gave birth to her 16th and final child, a son who was named Maximilian Francis. Maria Theresa was 39 years old, and after the birth, she suffered from postnatal depression. 1 As her fifth son, he was not expected to inherit any of the Habsburg lands.

In 1780, he succeeded his paternal uncle Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine as the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights.  2

In 1784, he became Archbishop and Elector of Cologne and bishop of Münster. In this capacity, he lived in the Electoral residence in Bonne. As he was the Pope’s deputy, he personally crowned his brother Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor in 1790 and his nephew Francis II in 1792. He also married Francis II and his first wife Elisabeth of Württemberg in the Capuchin Church. 3

Music played an important part in Maximilian Francis’s court. Johann van Beethoven (father of the famous Ludwig van Beethoven) was a tenor at his court. The court organist was the younger van Beethoven’s teacher, and Maximilian Francis’s maintained an interest in younger van Beethoven’s progress.

The French Revolutionary wars ended Maximilian Francis’s reign when both Bonn and Cologne were overrun with French troops. His court essentially ceased to exist, and although he still had land in other parts of Germany, he returned to Vienna and remained there until his death.

He became increasingly obese and plagued by ill-health and died at the Hetzendorf Palace on 26 July 1801.


  1. Robert Pick – Empress Maria Theresa p. 283
  2. Edward Crankshaw – Maria Theresa p. 321
  3. Justin C. Vovk – In Destiny’s Hands p.214

About Moniek Bloks 2666 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.

1 Comment

  1. How horrible for this poor woman to have 16 children by the age of 29, she was just a child herself when this started and had no say in her life I bet. Just a baby making machine till she was used up and left for dead I believe. How very sad!

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