Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg

Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg (13 June 1672 – 15 October 1741) was the legal Duchess of Saxe-Lauenburg in the eyes of the Holy Roman Emperor, the overlord of Saxe-Lauenburg, from 1689 until 1728; however, because her distant cousin George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, conquered the duchy by force in 1689, she exercised no control over the territory, instead living in her manors in Bohemia.

Anna Maria Franziska
Gabbiani, Giovanni Gaetano (attr.) - Official portrait of Anna Maria Franziska von Sachsen-Lauenburg as Grand Duchess of Tuscany.jpg
Giovanni Gaetano Gabbiani, official portrait of Anna Maria as Grand Duchess of Tuscany
Grand Duchess consort of Tuscany
Tenure31 October 1723 – 9 July 1737
Born(1673-06-13)13 June 1673
Neuhaus upon Elbe, Lower Saxony, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany)
Died15 October 1741(1741-10-15) (aged 69)
Zákupy, Bohemia, Habsburg Monarchy (now Czech Republic)
SpousePhilipp Wilhelm of Neuburg
Gian Gastone de' Medici
Maria Anna, Duchess Ferdinand of Bavaria
Anna Maria Franziska
HouseHouse of Ascania
FatherJulius Francis of Saxe-Lauenburg
MotherHedwig of the Palatinate

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 again in 1737.[1]


Early lifeEdit

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 Sibylle of Saxe-Lauenburg fought for the succession of the former, the elder of them. Also Julius Francis' cousin, Eleonore Charlotte of Saxe-Lauenburg-Franzhagen, claimed the succession. Their weakness was abused by Duke George William of the neighbouring 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.

Emperor Leopold I rejected Celle's succession and thus retained the Saxe-Lauenburgian exclave of Hadeln, which was out of Celle's reach, in his custody. Only in 1728 his son Emperor Charles VI enfeoffed George II of Great Britain with Saxe-Lauenburg, finally legitimising the de facto takeover by his grandfather in 1689 and 1693. In 1731 George II also gained Hadeln from imperial custody.

First marriageEdit

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 the castle of Roudnice (Raudnitz) on 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 marriageEdit

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 lifeEdit

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 alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ "Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg". - Geocities. Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
  2. ^ Strathern pp. 397 – 398
  3. ^ "Gian Gastone". - Geocities. Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
  4. ^ Strathern p 403
  5. ^ Strathern, p 404
  6. ^ Hale, p 189

Further readingEdit

  • 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
Grand Duchess consort of Tuscany
Succeeded by