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Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg

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Title: Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg  
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Subject: Julius Francis, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg, List of rulers of Saxony, Hedwig of the Palatinate-Sulzbach, Archduchess Dorothea of Austria, House of Medici
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Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg

Anna Maria Franziska
Anna Maria, while a countess palatine of Neuburg, by an unknown artist
Grand Duchess consort of Tuscany
Tenure 31 October 1723 – 9 July 1737
Born (1673-06-13)13 June 1673
Neuhaus upon Elbe, Lower Saxony, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany)
Died 15 October 1741(1741-10-15) (aged 69)
Zákupy, Bohemia, Habsburg Monarchy (now Czech Republic)
Burial Reichstadt

Philipp Wilhelm of Neuburg

Gian Gastone de' Medici
Issue Maria Anna, Duchess Ferdinand of Bavaria
Full name
Anna Maria Franziska
House House of Ascania
Father Julius Francis of Saxe-Lauenburg
Mother Hedwig of the Palatinate

Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg (13 June 1672 – 15 October 1741) was the legal Bohemia.

She was Grand Duchess of Tuscany as the wife of the last Medici Grand Duke, Gian Gastone.

Anna Maria Franziska was the elder surviving daughter of Julius Franz, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg, and Maria Hedwig of the Palatinate-Sulzbach. She married Philipp Wilhelm August of the Palatinate in 1690, with whom she had her only child, Maria Anna, in 1691. She was widowed in 1693. Four years later, she married Gian Gastone de' Medici, a Prince of Tuscany. With her brother-in-law Ferdinando de' Medici's death in 1713, her husband became Tuscany's heir-apparent. She became Grand Duchess of Tuscany upon the incumbent ruler's death in 1723. She was Grand Duchess for fourteen years before being widowed by Gian Gastone in 1737.[1]


Early life

Anna Maria Franziska (R) with her sister Sibylle (L), c. 1690 by an anonymous artist

Anna Maria Franziska was born on 13 June 1673. She was the second child of the reigning duke of Saxe-Lauenburg and Maria Hedwig of Sulzbach, who died when Anna Maria was nine years-old.

With the death of her father Duke Julius Francis on 30 September 1689 the Lauenburg line of the House of Ascania was extinct in the male line. However, female succession was possible by the Saxe-Lauenburgian laws. So the legal female heir to the throne, Duchess Anna Maria Franziska, and her sister Brunswick-Lunenburgian Principality of Lunenburg-Celle, who invaded Saxe-Lauenburg with his troops, thus inhibiting Anna Maria's ascension as Duchess regnant.

Also other monarchies claimed the succession, evoking a conflict further involving the neighbouring duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and of Danish Holstein, as well as the five Ascanian-ruled Principalities of Anhalt, the Electorate of Saxony, which had succeeded the Saxe-Wittenbergian Ascanians in 1422, Sweden and Brandenburg. The conflict was finally settled on 9 October 1693 (Hamburger Vergleich), definitely ousting the dispossessed Anna Maria and her sister. Both sisters never gave up the claim.

George II Augustus with Saxe-Lauenburg, finally legitimising the de facto takeover by his grandfather in 1689 and 1693. In 1731 George II Augustus also gained Hadeln from imperial custody.

First marriage

Philip William August, Count Palatine of Neuburg, first husband of Anna Maria. A canvas by Pieter van der Werff, 1690

Anna Maria married Philipp Willhelm August of the Palatinate-Neuburg. The wedding took place in Bohemia, at castle of Roudnice (Raudnitz) in 29 October 1690. He was the eighth son of Philip William, Elector Palatine. They had two children together, one survived to adulthood:

Philipp Wilhelm died on 5 April 1693.

Second marriage

Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, second husband of Anna Maria. A canvas by Franz Ferdinand Richter, 1737
Ploskovice Chateau, Anna Maria's Bohemian residence; she greatly renovated the house and gardens
Zákupy Castle, another Anna Maria's residence in northern Bohemia

Cosimo III de' Medici coaxed his son into marrying Anna Maria Franziska for dynastic purposes, she was very wealthy, and brought a possible claim to the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg through her father.[2] The Medici family need an heir, Gian Gastone's brother, Ferdinando, had not produced a child. They were married on 2 July 1697 by the Bishop of Osnabruck at Düsseldorf but they lived in the Kingdom of Bohemia, at chateaux of Ploskovice (Ploschkowitz) and Zákupy (Reichstadt).

The new Princess of Tuscany had sprawling estates in the region. At the time of their marriage, contemporaries described the princess as "appalling and immensely fat". Anna Maria Franziska dominated her weak husband, which drove him into the arms of alcohol. He deplored her behaviour, "capriciousness, peevish faces and sharp words". Gian Gastone stayed with his wife for a mere ten months, before fleeing to Prague.[3] The princess refused to leave Reichstadt, despite her husband's constant protestations. She believed that the Medici were in the habit of murdering their consorts.[4]

The Grand Duke attempted to force his daughter-in-law to move back to Tuscany with Gian Gastone. He asked the Pope, Clement XI, to send the Archbishop of Prague to reproach her, and convince her to fulfil her wifely obligations. She replied that there was no point because Gian Gastone was "absolutely impotent". He left without her in 1708.[5] Ferdinando, the heir to the collapsing grand duchy, died in 1713. Therefore, she became the Grand Princess of Tuscany.

Later life

Gian Gastone became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1723, and, she, the Grand Duchess. Her husband continued to live in Florence, Tuscany's capital, and never saw his wife again. Gian Gastone lived a frivolous life there,[6] staying up all night and waking up in the afternoon. As Grand Duchess, Anna Maria Franziska kept to her life of solitude at her castle, where she talked to the horses in the stables. Gian Gastone died in 1737. As the Medici had no male heir, Francis Stephen of Lorraine (later Holy Roman Emperor) ascended the grand ducal throne. She died in 1741.


See also

Notes and references

  1. ^
  2. ^ Strathern pp. 397 – 398
  3. ^
  4. ^ Strathern p 403
  5. ^ Strathern, p 404
  6. ^ Hale, p 189

Further reading

  • Strathern, Paul The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance, Vintage books, London, 2003, ISBN 978-0-09-952297-3
  • Hale, J.R. Florence and the Medici, Orion books, London, 1977, ISBN 1-84212-456-0
Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg
Born: 13 June 1673 Died: 15 October 1741
Italian royalty
Preceded by
Marguerite Louise d'Orléans
Grand Duchess consort of Tuscany
Succeeded by
Maria Theresa of Austria

See also

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