Leopold III, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau

Leopold III, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau

Leopold III Frederick Franz, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau (b. Dessau, 10 August 1740 - d. Schloss Luisium near Dessau, 9 August 1817), called "Prince Franz" or "Father Franz", was a German prince member of the House of Ascania, ruler of the Principality of Anhalt-Dessau and since 1807, the first Duke of Anhalt-Dessau.

He was the eldest son of Leopold II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau by his wife Gisela Agnes, daughter of Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen.


After having lost both parents in 1751 (his mother on 20 April and his father on 16 December), the eleven-years-old Leopold inherited Anhalt-Dessau under the regency of his uncle, Prince Dietrich until 1758, when he was declared an adult and asumed the government of his lands.

Following the steps of his grandfather and father, Leopold joined to the Prussian army. After the Battle of Kolín (18 June 1757), his impression was so negative that he resigned from the army shortly after and declared the neutrality of Anhalt-Dessau.

An anglophile and strong supporter of the Age of Enlightenment, Leopold took special interest in the matter of education to the population in science and nature. His numerous reforms in the areas of education, health care, social services, roads, agriculture, forestry and industry made Anhalt-Dessau in one of the most moderns and prosper small states of Germany.

He also engaged Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff to build the Schloss Wörlitz (1769-1773), the first Neoclassical building in Germany. In 1774 Leopold ordened to von Erdmannsdorff the construction of an small residence with a little English park as a gift to his wife; in her honor, the castle took the name of Schloss Luisium.

Also, he amplied and reform the old gardens of Oranienbaum with the Dutch style in the first and most largest English parks of his time, renamed as the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm. Johann Friedrich Eyserbeck, a garden architect who designed the English Park for Leopold, was obviously indebted to such British antecedents as Claremont, Stourhead, and Stowe.

In 1782 he was tried by the Fürstenbund for his opposition to the Prussian hegemony. In 1806 was invited to Paris by Napoleon, who became impressed by his high reputation. Leopold was one of the last princes who joined to the Confederation of the Rhine on 18 April 1807. By the other hand, and despite his differences with the Prussian crown, he offered the Official Ferdinand von Schill in 1809 an honorable reception in Dessau.

Leopold was elevated to the rank of Duke in 1807. As the head of the senior of all Anhalt branches, he couldn't accept his kinsmans, the Princes of Anhalt-Köthen and Anhalt-Bernburg were raised to that rank before him. For this, and after the Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg pay a considerable sum to the Emperor shortly before the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 in order to obtain that title, he did the same.

In 1812 he became in the regent of the Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen during the minority of the Duke Louis Augustus Karl Frederick Emil.

On his death after a fall from his horse, was succeeded by his eldest grandson Leopold IV, because his son, the Hereditary Prince Frederick, predeceased him.

Marriage and Issue

In Charlottenburg on 25 July 1767 Leopold married with his cousin Louise Henriette Wilhelmine (b. Stolzenberg, Berlin, 24 September 1750 - d. Dessau, 21 December 1811), daughter of Henry Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt by his wife Leopoldine Marie of Anhalt-Dessau, a sister of his father. They had two children:
#A daughter (b. and d. Dessau, 11 February 1768).
#Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (b. Dessau, 27 December 1769 - d. Dessau, 27 May 1814).

Also, he had several illegitimate children: [ [http://genealogy.euweb.cz/ascania/ascan7.html Complete Genealogy of the House of Ascania] ] [de]

*"With Johanna Eleonore Hoffmeyer (b. 12 November 1739 - d. 3 May 1816), by marriage von Neitschütz since 1765":

#"Wilhelmine Eleonore Fredericka (b. Dessau, 14 June 1762 - d. Dessau, 23 September 1762)."
#"Count Franz John George of Waldersee (b. Dessau, 5 September 1763 - d. Dessau, 30 May 1823), married in Dessau on 20 May 1787 to Countess Louise of Anhalt (morganatic granddaughter of the Hereditary Prince William Gustav, eldest son and heir of Prince Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau). They had six children, three sons (Franz Henry, Eduard and Frederick Gustav) and three daughters (Louise, Amalie Agnes and Marie). Their descendants through the eldest son Franz Henry still alive."
#"Louise Eleonore Fredericka (b. Dessau, 30 August 1765 - d. 1804)."

*"With Leopoldine Luise Schoch, daughter of his Master Gardener, who was ennobled with the surname "von Beringer":

#"Wilhelmine Sidonie von Beringer (b. Wörlitz, 5 January 1789 - d. Halle, 20 April 1860), married in Wörlitz on 20 June 1815 to Wilhelm von Goerne."
#"Louise Adelheid von Beringer (b. Dessau, 16 October 1790 - d. Halle, 5 June 1870), married in Wörlitz on 19 August 1812 to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Georg von Glafey."
#"Franz Adolf von Beringer (b. Wörlitz, 2 June 1792 - d. 28 February 1834), married with Auguste Wilhelmine Roeser (b. 2 June 1793 - d. 25 August 1855). They had one son Wilhelm, and one grandaughter, Magda, with the line apparently became extinct."

*"With Johanna Magdalena Luise Jäger (b. 1763 - d. ?)":
#"Franziska (b. 1789 - d. young?)."
#"Leopoldine (b. 1791 - d. 1847)."
#"Amalie (b. 1793 - d. 1841)."

*"With Fredricka Wilhelmine Schulz (b. 1772 - d. 1843), by marriage Favreau:"
#"Louis Ferdinand Schulz (b. 1800 – d. 1893)."


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