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Ferdinand Iii, Roman Emperor

FERDINAND III, ROMAN EMPEROR. (1608-1657), Roman emperor, was the elder son of the emperor Ferdinand II., and was born at Gratz on the 13th of July 1608. Educated by the Jesuits, he was crowned king of Hungary in December 1625, and king of Bohemia two years later, and soon began to take part in imperial business. Wallenstein, however, refused to allow him to hold a command in the imperial army; and henceforward reckoned among his enemies, the young king was appointed the successor of the famous general when he was deposed in 1634; and as commander-in-chief of the imperial troops he was nominally responsible for the capture of Regensburg and Donauwörth, and the defeat of the Swedes at Nördlingen. Having been elected king of the Romans, or German king, at Regensburg in December 1636, Ferdinand became emperor on his father's death in the following February, and showed himself anxious to put an end to the Thirty Years' War. He persuaded one or two princes to assent to the terms of the treaty of Prague; but a general peace was delayed by his reluctance to grant religious liberty to the Protestants, and by his anxiety to act in unison with Spain. In 1640 he had refused to entertain the idea of a general amnesty suggested by the diet at Regensburg; but negotiations for peace were soon begun, and in 1648 the emperor assented to the treaty of Westphalia. This event belongs rather to the general history of Europe, but it is interesting to note that owing to Ferdinand's insistence the Protestants in his hereditary dominions did not obtain religious liberty at this settlement. After 1648 the emperor was engaged in carrying out the terms of the treaty and ridding Germany of the foreign soldiery. In 1656 he sent an army into Italy to assist Spain in her struggle with France, and he had just concluded an alliance with Poland to check the aggressions of Charles X, of Sweden when he died on the 2nd of April 1657. Ferdinand was a scholarly and cultured man, an excellent linguist and a composer of music. Industrious and popular in public life, his private life was blameless; and although a strong Roman Catholic he was less fanatical than his father. His first wife was Maria Anna (d. 1646), daughter of Philip III. of Spain, by whom he had three sons: Ferdinand, who was chosen king of the Romans in 1653, and who died in the following year; Leopold, who succeeded his father on the imperial throne; and Charles Joseph (d. 1664), bishop of Passau and Breslau, and grand-master of the Teutonic order. The emperor's second wife was his cousin Maria (d. 1649), daughter of the archduke Leopold; and his third wife was Eleanora of Mantua (d. 1686). His musical works, together with those of the emperors Leopold I. and Joseph I., have been published by G. Adler (Vienna, 1892-1893).

See M. Koch, Geschichte des deutschen Reiches unter der Regierung Ferdinands III. (Vienna, 1865-1866).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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