FERDINAND III. (1769-1824), grand duke of Tuscany, and archduke of Austria, second son of the emperor Leopold II., was born on the 6th of May 1769. On his father becoming emperor in 1790, he succeeded him as grand duke of Tuscany. Ferdinand was one of the first sovereigns to enter into diplomatic relations with the French republic (1793); and although, a few months later, he was compelled by England and Russia to join the coalition against France, he concluded peace with that power in 1795, and by observing a strict neutrality saved his dominions from invasion by the French, except for a temporary occupation of Livorno, till 1799, when he was compelled to vacate his throne, and a provisional Republican government was established at Florence. Shortly afterwards the French arms suffered severe reverses in Italy, and Ferdinand was restored to his territories; but in 1801, by the peace of Lunéville, Tuscany was converted into the kingdom of Etruria, and he was again compelled to return to Vienna. In lieu of the sovereignty of Tuscany, he obtained in 1802 the electorship of Salzburg, which he exchanged by the peace of Pressburg in 1805 for that of Würzburg. In 1806 he was admitted as grand duke of Würzburg to the confederation of the Rhine. He was restored to the throne of Tuscany after the abdication of Napoleon in 1814 and was received with enthusiasm by the people, but had again to vacate his capital for a short time in 1815, when Murat proclaimed war against Austria. The final overthrow of the French supremacy at the battle of Waterloo secured him, however, in the undisturbed possession of his grand duchy during the remainder of his life. The restoration in Tuscany was not accompanied by the reactionary excesses which characterized it elsewhere, and a large part of the French legislation was retained. His prime minister was Count V. Fossombroni (q.v.). The mild rule of Ferdinand, his solicitude for the welfare of his subjects, his enlightened patronage of art and science, his encouragement of commerce, and his toleration render him an honourable exception to the generality of Italian princes. At the same time his paternal despotism tended to emasculate the Tuscan character. He died in June 1824, and was succeeded by his son Leopold II. (q.v.).
Bibliography. - A. von Reumont, Geschichte Toscanas (Gotha, 1877); and "Federico Manfredini e la politica Toscana nei primi anni di Ferdinando III." (in the Archivio Storico Italiano, 1877); Emmer, Erzherzog Ferdinand III., Grossherzog von Toskana (Salzburg, 1871); C. Tivaroni, L' Italia durante il dominio francese, ii. 1-44 (Turin, 1889), and L' Italia durante il dominio austriaco, ii. 1-18 (Turin, 1893). See also under Fossombroni; Vittorio; and Capponi, Gino.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)