Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor: Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany (1708 - 1765) | Biography
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Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany

Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor

Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany
A.K.A. imperatore del Sacro romano impero Franz I, Holy Roman Emperor Franz I...
Was Noble Aristocrat
From France
Field Royals
Gender male
Birth 8 December 1708, Nancy
Death 18 August 1765, Innsbruck (aged 56 years)
Star sign Sagittarius
Mother: Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans
Father: LeopoldDuke of Lorraine
Siblings: Prince Charles Alexander of LorraineLéopold Clément of LorraineLouis of LorraineElisabeth Therese of LorraineÉlisabeth Charlotte of LorrainePrincess Anne Charlotte of Lorraine
Spouse: Maria Theresa of Austria
Children: Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of AustriaArchduchess Maria Anna of AustriaArchduchess Maria Carolina of AustriaJoseph IIMaria ChristinaDuchess of TeschenArchduchess Maria Elisabeth of AustriaArchduke Charles Joseph of AustriaArchduchess Maria Amalia of AustriaLeopold IIHoly Roman EmperorArchduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela of AustriaArchduchess Maria Josepha of AustriaMaria Carolina of AustriaFerdinandDuke of BreisgauMarie AntoinetteArchduke Maximilian Francis of AustriaArchduchess Maria Carolina of Austria
Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
The details (from wikipedia)


Francis I (German: Franz Stefan, French: François Étienne; 8 December 1708 – 18 August 1765) was Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany, though his wife effectively executed the real powers 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. In 1737, Lorraine became managed by France under terms resulting from the War of the Polish Succession. Francis and the House of Lorraine received the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the peace treaty that ended that war. After taking the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, the return of the ancestral duchy of Lorraine went nominally to his brother Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine (who was however engaged in ruling the Austrian Netherlands), until succession under derivate house alliances resulted in Lorraine's annexation to France in 1766.

Early life

Francis was born in Nancy, Lorraine (now in France), the oldest surviving son of Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, and his wife Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans. He was connected with the Habsburgs through his grandmother Eleonor, daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III. He was very close to his brother and sister Anne Charlotte.

Francis at the age of 15 in his hunting attire.

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 with 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 Teschen, which had been mediatized and granted to his father by the emperor in 1722. Francis succeeded his father as Duke of Lorraine in 1729. In 1731 he was initiated into freemasonry (Grand Lodge of England) at a specially convened lodge in The Hague at the house of the British Ambassador, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. During a subsequent visit to England, Francis was made a Master Mason at another specially convened lodge at Houghton Hall, the Norfolk estate of British Prime Minister Robert Walpole.

Maria Theresa arranged for Francis to become "Lord Lieutenant" (locumtenens) of Hungary in 1732. He was not excited about this position, but Maria Theresa wanted him closer to her. In June 1732 he agreed to go to Pressburg.

When the War of the Polish Succession broke out in 1733, France used it as an opportunity to seize Lorraine, since France's prime minister, Cardinal Fleury, was concerned that, as a Habsburg possession, it would bring Austrian power too close to France.

A preliminary peace was concluded in October 1735 and ratified in the Treaty of Vienna in November 1738. Under its terms, Stanisław I, the father-in-law of King Louis XV and the losing claimant to the Polish throne, received Lorraine, while Francis, in compensation for his loss, was made heir to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which he would inherit in 1737.

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

Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor

In March 1736 the Emperor persuaded Francis, his future son-in-law, to secretly 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 were to 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; 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 Theresa. 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 Theresa sent Francis a letter: she would withdraw from her future reign, when a male successor for her father appeared.


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

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

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."
Coat of arms of Francis I

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


Maria Theresa 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 brilliant business capacity and was a useful assistant to Maria Theresa in the laborious task of governing the complicated Austrian dominions, but he was not active in politics. However, his wife left him in charge of the financial affairs, which he managed well until his death. Heavily indebted and on the verge of bankruptcy at the end of the Seven Years War, the Austrian Empire was in a better financial condition than France or England in the 1780s. He also took a great interest in the natural sciences. He was a member of the Freemasons.

Francis was a serial adulterer, many of his affairs well-known and indiscreet, notably one with Maria Wilhelmina, Princess of Auersperg, who was thirty years his junior. This particular affair was remarked upon in the letters and journals of visitors to the court and in those of his children.

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, amongst them the last prerevolutionary queen consort of France, their youngest daughter, Marie Antoinette (1755–1793). Francis 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
1 Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria 5 February 1737 6 June 1740 died in childhood, no issue
2 Archduchess Maria Anna 6 October 1738 19 November 1789 died unmarried, no issue
3 Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria 12 January 1740 25 January 1741 died in childhood likely from smallpox, no issue
4 Holy Roman Emperor 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)
5 Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria 13 May 1742 24 June 1798 married Prince Albert of Saxony, Duke of Teschen (1738–1822), her second cousin, had issue (one stillborn daughter)
6 Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria 13 August 1743 22 September 1808 died unmarried, no issue
7 Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria 1 February 1745 18 January 1761 died of smallpox, no issue
8 Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria 26 February 1746 9 June 1804 married Ferdinand, Duke of Parma (1751–1802), had issue.
9 Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II 5 May 1747 1 March 1792 married Infanta Maria Luisa 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.
10 Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria 17 September 1748 17 September 1748 died hours after baptism
11 Archduchess Maria Johanna of Austria 4 February 1750 23 December 1762 died of smallpox, no issue
12 Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria 19 March 1751 15 October 1767 died of smallpox, no issue
13 Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria 13 August 1752 7 September 1814 married King Ferdinand IV of Naples and Sicily (1751–1825); had issue
14 Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Duke of Breisgau 1 June 1754 24 December 1806 married Maria Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Massa, heiress of Breisgau and of Modena, had issue (Austria-Este). Duke of Breisgau from 1803.
15 Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria 2 November 1755 16 October 1793 married Louis XVI of France (1754–1793) and became Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
16 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 Teschen, Prince of Charleville, Margrave of Pont-à-Mousson and Nomeny, Count of Provence, Vaudémont, Blâmont, Zütphen, Saarwerden, Salm, Falkenstein, etc. etc.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 8 December 1708 – 4 June 1723 His Highness Prince Francis Stephan of Lorraine
  • 4 June 1723 – 27 March 1729 His Highness The Hereditary Prince of Lorraine
  • 27 March 1729 – 12 July 1737 His Highness The Duke of Lorraine
  • 12 July 1737 – 20 January 1745 His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Tuscany
  • 20 January 1745 – 18 August 1765 His Imperial Majesty The Holy Roman Emperor

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