Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (15 July 1750, in Coburg – 9 December 1806, in Coburg), was one of the ruling Thuringian dukes of the House of Wettin. As progenitor of a line of Coburg princes who, in the 19th and 20th centuries, ascended the thrones of several European realms, he is a patrilineal ancestor of the royal houses of Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal and the United Kingdom, as well as of several queens consort.
|Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld|
|Reign||8 September 1800 – |
9 December 1806
|Born||15 July 1750|
Coburg, Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Holy Roman Empire
|Died||9 December 1806 (aged 56)|
(m. 1776; died 1776)
|Father||Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld|
|Mother||Princess Sophie Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel|
Francis received a private, careful and comprehensive education and became an art connoisseur. Francis initiated a major collection of books and illustrations for the duchy in 1775, which eventually expanded to a 300,000-picture collection of copperplate engravings currently housed in the Veste Coburg.
Francis was commissioned into the allied army in 1793 when his country was invaded by the Revolutionary armies of France. The allied forces included Hanoverians, Hessians, and the British. He fought in several actions against the French.
Francis succeeded his father as reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1800. In the discharge of his father's debts the Schloss Rosenau had passed out of the family but in 1805 he bought back the property as a summer residence for the ducal family.
Emperor Francis II dissolved the Holy Roman Empire on 6 August 1806, after its defeat by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. Duke Francis died 9 December 1806. On 15 December 1806, Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, along with the other Ernestine duchies, entered the Confederation of the Rhine as the Duke and his ministers planned.
In Hildburghausen on 6 March 1776, Francis married Princess Sophie of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a daughter of his Ernestine kinsman, Duke Ernst Friedrich II and Princess Ernestine of Saxe-Weimar. She died on 28 October 1776, only seven months after her wedding. There were no children born from this marriage.
Second marriage and childrenEdit
In Ebersdorf on 13 June 1777, Francis married Countess Augusta Reuss of Lobenstein-Ebersdorf, daughter of Heinrich XXIV, Count Reuss of Ebersdorf and his wife Countess Karoline Ernestine of Erbach-Schönberg. They had ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood:
|Name||Date of birth||Date of death||Age at death||Notes|
|Sophie Fredericka Caroline Luise||19 August 1778, in Coburg||8 July 1835, in Tušimice, Bohemia||56 years||Married on 23 February 1804 to Emmanuel von Mensdorff-Pouilly (later Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly).|
|Antoinette Ernestine Amalie||28 August 1779, in Coburg||14 March 1824, in St. Petersburg||44 years||Married on 17 November 1798 to Alexander of Württemberg.|
|Juliane Henriette Ulrike (upon her marriage, she took the name Anna Feodorovna in a Russian Orthodox baptism)||23 September 1781, in Coburg||15 August 1860, in Elfenau, near Berne, Switzerland||78 years||Married on 26 February 1796 to Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia, the younger brother of Czar Alexander I of Russia (they divorced in 1820).|
|Ernst I Anton Karl Ludwig, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha||2 January 1784, in Coburg||29 January 1844, in Gotha||60 years||Married on 31 July 1817 to Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1800–1831); father of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.|
|Ferdinand Georg August||28 March 1785, in Coburg||27 August 1851, in Vienna||66 years||Married on 30 November 1815 to Maria Antonia Koháry de Csábrág; father of Ferdinand II of Portugal and Victoria, Duchess of Nemours, and the grandfather of Ferdinand I of Bulgaria. By his marriage he became the founder of the Catholic Koháry branch of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha line.|
|Marie Luise Victoria||17 August 1786, in Coburg||16 March 1861, in Frogmore House||74 years||Married on 21 December 1803 Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Emich, Prince of Leiningen, had issue. After his death, she married on 11 July 1818 Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III of Great Britain, the mother of Queen Victoria.|
|Marianne Charlotte||7 August 1788, in Coburg||23 August 1794, in Coburg||6 years|
|Leopold Georg Christian Frederick||16 December 1790, in Coburg||10 December 1865, in Laeken||74 years||Married, firstly, on 2 May 1816 Charlotte of Wales, daughter of George IV of the United Kingdom, who died from complications of childbirth on 6 November 1817. Married, secondly, on 9 August 1830 to Louise of Orléans and his children included Leopold II of Belgium and Empress Carlota of Mexico. First king of the Belgians under the name of Leopold I.|
|Franz Maximilian Ludwig||12 December 1792, in Coburg||3 January 1793, in Coburg||22 days|
His male-line descendants established ruling houses in Belgium, United Kingdom, Portugal and Bulgaria, while retaining the duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until 1918. His son Leopold ruled as Leopold I of the Belgians. A grandson reigned jure uxoris as King Ferdinand II of Portugal while a great-grandson named Ferdinand became the first modern king of Bulgaria. One of his granddaughters was Empress Carlota of Mexico, while another was Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. The latter's son, Edward VII, a patrilineal as well as matrilineal great-grandson of Francis, inaugurated upon his accession to the British throne in 1901 the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the name of the ruling dynasty of the United Kingdom until the house name was changed to Windsor by King George V in 1917.
- Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser, Band IV. "Haus Sachsen". C.A. Starke Verlag, 1956, pp. 157-164. (German),
- Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 108.
- August Beck: Franz Friedrich Anton, Herzog von Sachsen-Koburg-Saalfeld. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) vol. VII, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, p. 296.
- Carl-Christian Dressel: Die Entwicklung von Verfassung und Verwaltung in Sachsen-Coburg 1800 - 1826 im Vergleich, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-428-12003-1.
- Christian Kruse: Franz Friedrich Anton von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld: 1750 - 1806, in: Jahrbuch der Coburger Landesstiftung, Coburg 1995.