Leopold, Duke of Lorraine

Leopold the Good (11 September 1679 – 27 March 1729) was Duke of Lorraine and Bar from 1690 to his death.[1] Through his son Francis Stephen, he is the direct male ancestor of all rulers of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty, including all Emperors of Austria.

Duke of Lorraine and Bar
Reign18 April 1690 - 27 March 1729
PredecessorCharles V
SuccessorFrancis III Stephen
Born(1679-09-11)11 September 1679
Palace of Innsbruck, Tyrol, Archduchy of Austria, Holy Roman Empire (now in Austria)
Died27 March 1729(1729-03-27) (aged 49)
Château de Lunéville Lorraine, Duchy of Lorraine (now in France)
(m. 1698)
FatherCharles V, Duke of Lorraine
MotherEleanor of Austria
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureLeopold's signature

Early life edit

Leopold Joseph Charles Dominique Agapet Hyacinthe was the son of Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, and his wife Eleonora Maria Josefa of Austria, a half-sister of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor.

At the time of Leopold's birth, Lorraine and Bar had been occupied by Louis XIV of France, forcing his parents to move into exile to Austria, where they lived under the protection of the Emperor. Therefore, Leopold was born in the palace of Innsbruck and received his first name in honour of the Emperor. Leopold grew up in Innsbruck, while his father would be engaged in defending Vienna against the Turks.

In 1690, his father died and eleven-year-old Leopold inherited the still occupied Duchies. His mother, trying to fulfil her husband's last wishes of returning her children to their patrimony, appealed to the Reichstag in Regensburg to restore her son to Lorraine. Leopold was sent to Vienna to receive a military education under the supervision of the Emperor. In Vienna, he grew up with his cousins, the Archdukes Joseph and Charles, both future Emperors. Leopold was also created a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece that year.

Like his father before him, he entered the Imperial Army and, aged eighteen, took part in the Siege of Timișoara in 1694. Three years later, he received the command of the Army of the Rhine.

Duke of Lorraine edit

On 30 October 1697, the Nine Years' War (aka, War of the League of Augsburg) ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ryswick.

The treaty restored the duchies of Lorraine and Bar to the House of Lorraine, as Leopold's mother had hoped; she died four days later in Vienna. On 17 August 1698, Duke Leopold made a triumphant entry into his capital Nancy. He reconstructed and repopulated his war-stricken duchy, encouraging immigration. At the end of his reign the duchy was safe and prosperous.

Leopold's wife, Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans.

In his foreign policy, Leopold tried to further good relations with France and to appease his powerful neighbor. On 13 October 1698 at the Palace of Fontainebleau, Leopold married Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, the niece of Louis XIV, who had offered a dowry of 900,000 livres to the penniless Duke. Élisabeth Charlotte turned out to be a caring mother and gave birth to fourteen children, of whom five survived into adulthood. Three of them died within a week in May 1711 due to a smallpox outbreak at the Château de Lunéville, the country seat of the dukes of Lorraine.[2]

Despite Leopold's diplomatic attempts, his capital, Nancy, was occupied by foreign troops during the War of the Spanish Succession (1700–1713). Fearing for his family, Leopold relocated the court to the Château de Lunéville, where Leopold rebuilt the castle as the "Versailles of Lorraine". It was here that his first child Leopold was born in 1700.

In 1703, the Duke introduced the Code Léopold regulating the government of the Duchy. A number of crimes were punishable with death by burning, such as witchcraft, coin forgery, arson, and sexual acts "contrary to nature". Also, those guilty of aggravated theft of sacred objects from a church could be condemned to be burnt alive. He tried to install his eldest daughter, Élisabeth Charlotte Gabrièle of Lorraine, as Abbess of Remiremont but failed due to the opposition of Pope Clement XI.[3]

Leopold's marital life was troubled in 1706, when he took Anne-Marguerite de Lignéville, Princess of Beauvau-Craon as his mistress. Élisabeth Charlotte however, following her mother's advice, remained silent.

In 1708, Leopold had claimed the Duchy of Montferrat as the closest relative of his cousin, Charles III Gonzaga, erstwhile Duke of Mantua, who had been deposed and then died without male issue. However, the Emperor had already promised Montferrat to the Dukes of Savoy but wishing to compensate the House of Lorraine, he gave the Duchy of Teschen in Silesia to Leopold.[1]

In 1710, Leopold and his wife visited Paris to attend the marriage of Élisabeth Charlotte's niece Marie Louise Elisabeth to the Duke of Berry, and were among the guests of the lavish banquet at the Palais du Luxembourg.[4] During the visit, Leopold, as a foreign prince, received the style of Royal Highness.

In 1719, Leopold bought the County of Ligny-en-Barrois from his cousin, Charles Henry of Vaudemont. During his reign a new security system was put in place all around Lorraine.[clarification needed] He tried to abolish serfdom but the redemption payments were too high for the peasantry, even when Leopold halved it. On New Year's Eve 1719 he freed his own serfs without redemption, hoping in vain the nobility would follow his example.[5]

Coin from the reign of Léopold, 1720.
The reverse of the coin, 1720

In 1721, Leopold arranged for his son and heir, Leopold Clement, to receive an education at Vienna. He also intended to forge relations with Archduchess Maria Theresa, the heiress of Emperor Charles VI. However, Leopold Clement died shortly afterwards at Lunéville and in his stead, the younger son Francis Stephen went to Vienna, where he married Maria Theresa. Francis would become Emperor and his descendants, the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, would rule Austria until 1918.[6]

In 1725, Leopold tried to arrange his daughter Anne Charlotte to marry the young King Louis XV, but Louis Henry, Duke of Bourbon, then prime minister, prevented a union with a descendant of the rival House of Orléans. Then, Élisabeth Charlotte tried to arrange her daughter's marriage to her first cousin, the recently widowed Louis, Duke of Orléans, but Louis refused. All proposals of marriage being either ignored or declined, Anne Charlotte later became Abbess of the monasteries Remiremont and Essen.

In March 1729, Leopold caught a fever while walking at the Château at Ménil near Lunéville. He returned to Lunéville where he died on 27 March, aged 49.

Ancestry edit

Issue edit

Leopold and Élisabeth Charlotte had 14 children:

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Griffin, Stephen (December 2022). "Duke Leopold of Lorraine, Small State Diplomacy, and the Stuart Court in Exile, 1716–1729". The Historical Journal. 65 (5): 1244–1261. doi:10.1017/S0018246X2100090X. hdl:10344/11021. ISSN 0018-246X. S2CID 246347835.
  2. ^ Sarah Lebasch: Elisabeth-Charlotte d’Orléans, at siefar.org
  3. ^ Christensen, Martin K.I. "Women in Power 1700-1740". Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  4. ^ Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans Archived April 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ The End of the Old Order in Rural Europe, Jerome Blum, page 210
  6. ^ Bashor, Will (2020). Marie Antoinette's World: intrigue, infidelity, and adultery in Versailles. Lanham (Md.): Rowman & Littlefield. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-5381-3824-3.
Regnal titles
Preceded by Duke of Lorraine
Succeeded by
Preceded by Duke of Teschen