Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este

Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este
Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este
Electress of Bavaria
Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este as Countess of Arco, with her sons Aloys and Maximilian
Spouse Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria
Count Ludwig Arco
Count Aloys Nikolaus
Count Maximilian Joseph
Countess Caroline
House House of Austria-Este
House of Wittelsbach
Father Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este
Mother Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este
Born 10 December 1776(1776-12-10)
Died 23 June 1848(1848-06-23) (aged 71)

Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este (December 10, 1776 – June 23, 1848) was the second wife of Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria.



Early life

Maria Leopoldine was born in Milan, the second eldest daughter of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este and of his wife, Princess Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este.

Marriages and issue

Against her will, Maria Leopoldine was forced in August 1795 to marry Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, who was 52 years older than Maria Leopoldine. The marriage was arranged with the hope that it would result in a son and heir for the senior line of the House of Wittelsbach, but Maria Leopoldine rejected sexual contact with her husband. Instead, she started to take lovers, among them Maximilian of Palatinate-Zweibrücken and Maximilian von Montgelas. She was described as terrorizing her spouse in front of the Bavarian court. She chose herself to make an alliance with the House of Palatinate-Zweibrücken in opposition to the alliance her husband had forged with her own Habsburg family. When her spouse was dying in 1799, she helped his heir Maximilian of Palatinate-Zweibrücken arrange for his succession and retired to the Castle of Berg at Lake Starnberg, where she was soon became known for a libertine lifestyle with permissive parties. She became pregnant and was exiled to Laibach for some time. Later she became very wealthy through the management of her Bavarian manor in Stepperg.

On 14 November 14 1804 in Munich, Maria Leopoldine married Count Ludwig Arco. They had three children:

  • Count Aloys Nikolaus Ambros von Arco (December 6, 1808 – September 10, 1891)
  • Count Maximilian Joseph Bernhard von Arco-Zinneberg (December 13, 1811 – November 13, 1885)
  • Countess Caroline von Arco (December 26, 1814 – January 18, 1815)

In 1848, Maria Leopoldine was traveling by carriage from Munich to Vienna. Her carriage overturned near Wasserburg am Inn and she was killed. She left a fortune of 15 million florins to her two sons.[1]



  1. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine (1848): 334.


  • Krauss-Meyl, Sylvia. Das "Enfant terrible" des Königshauses: Maria Leopoldine, Bayerns letzte Kurfürstin (1776-1848). Regensburg: Pustet, 1997. ISBN 3791715585.

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