Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria

Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria

Maximilian Francis von Habsburg-Lothringen (8 December 1756 at Hofburg Imperial Palace, Austria - 26 July 1801 at Schloss Hetzendorf, Austria) was the last child of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. His siblings included two Holy Roman Emperors (Joseph II and Leopold II), as well as Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Queen Maria Carolina of Two Sicilies. He was the last Elector of Cologne and an early patron of Ludwig van Beethoven.

In 1780 he succeeded his uncle Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine as Hochmeister (Grand Master) of the Teutonic Knights.

In 1784 he became Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, living in the archbishopric's seat at Bonn. He remained in that office until his death, meaning that he participated as Elector in the election of his brother Leopold II in 1790.

In conspiracy theories, such as the one promoted in "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", Maximilian Franz was alleged to be the twenty-second Grand Master of the Priory of Sion

Maximilian Franz succeeded to the title of Elector of Cologne and the related Archbishopric of Münster and maintained his noble court in Bonn. A keen patron of music, Maximilian Franz maintained a court orchestra where Ludwig van Beethoven's father was a tenor in the court chapel and played an important role in the early career of Ludwig van Beethoven. The young Beethoven was an employee in his court's musical establishment, where his grandfather, also named Ludwig van Beethoven, had been Kapellmeister.

The court organist was Christian Gottlob Neefe, who became an early mentor and teacher to Ludwig van Beethoven. Recognising his young pupil's remarkable gift both as a performer and a composer, Neefe brought Beethoven into the court, convincing Maximilian Franz to appoint him as assistant organist. Maximilian, too, recognised the extraordinary abilities of the young Beethoven. In 1787, he gave Beethoven leave to visit Vienna to study with Mozart, a visit cut short by the illness and death of Beethoven's mother. In 1792, Maximilian again agreed to let Beethoven depart for Vienna in order to pursue studies with Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri and others, where he continued to pay Beethoven's court salary. Maximilian Franz maintained an interest in Beethoven's progress, and several letters from Haydn to Maximilian detailing his student's progress remain extant. The Archduke anticipated that Beethoven would return to Bonn and continue working for him, but in fact Beethoven never returned, choosing to pursue his career in Vienna.

Maximilian Franz's political rule over the Archbishopric met with disaster in 1794, when his domains were overrun by the troops of Revolutionary France. During the Napoleonic Wars, Cologne and Bonn were both occupied by the French army, in October and November of 1794. As the French approached, Maximilian left Bonn never to return and the territories eventually passed to France under the terms of the Treaty of Lunéville (1801). The Archbishop's court was dissolved, and the Archbishopric lost its independence forever, being ruled first by France, then Prussia; and ultimately becoming part of unified Germany.Fact|date=August 2007|Unification of Germany Plagued by corpulence and ill-health, Maximilian Franz took up residence in Vienna after the loss of his territories until his death at age 45 in 1801. He was the last Elector of Cologne, since his successor, Anthony, Archduke of Austria, was never able to assume the title. (In 1803, the electorate was secularized altogether.)The dismantling of the court made Beethoven's relocation to Vienna permanent, and his stipend was terminated.

Beethoven planned to dedicate his First Symphony to his former patron, but Maximilian Franz died before it was completed.


* [ "Who Died? The Funeral March in Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony"] "The Musical Quarterly" Summer 2007. Accessed 2 October 2008.

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royal name=Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria
dipstyle=His Imperial and Royal Highness
offstyle=Your Imperial and Royal Highness
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boxstyle=padding-top: 0; padding-bottom: 0;
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1= 1. Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria
2= 2. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
3= 3. Maria Theresa of Austria
Queen of Hungary & Bohemia

4= 4. Leopold, Duke of Lorraine
5= 5. Princess Élisabeth Charlotte of Orléans
6= 6. Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
7= 7. Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
8= 8. Charles V, Duke of Lorraine
9= 9. Eleonora Maria Josefa of Austria
Queen Dowager of Poland-Lithuania
10= 10. Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
11= 11. Countess Palatine Elizabeth Charlotte of Simmern
12= 12. Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
13= 13. Eleonore-Magdalena of Neuburg
14= 14. Louis Rudolph, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
15= 15. Princess Christine Louise of Oettingen-Oettingen
16= 16. Nicholas II, Duke of Lorraine
17= 17. Princess Claude-Françoise of Lorraine
18= 18. Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
19= 19. Eleanor Gonzaga of Mantua
20= 20. Louis XIII of France
21= 21. Anne of Austria
22= 22. Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine
23= 23. Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel)
24= 24. Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor (= 18)
25= 25. Maria Anna of Spain
26= 26. Philip William, Elector Palatine
27= 27. Landgravine Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt
28= 28. Anthony Ulrich, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
29= 29. Duchess Elisabeth of Schleswig-Holstein-Sønderburg-Norburg
30= 30. Albert Ernest I, Prince of Oettingen-Oettingen
31= 31. Duchess Christine Frederica of Württemburg

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