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Maximilian Francis of Austria

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Max Francis of Austria

Maximilian Francis of Austria (German: Maximilian Franz Xaver von Österreich) (1756 - 1801) was the Archbishop of Cologne from 1784 until 1801, the Bishop of Münster from 1784 until 1801, and the Grandmaster of the Teutonic Order from 1780 until 1801.

Early lifeEdit

Maximilian Francis was the youngest son of Archduchess Maria Theresia of Austria and the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. Early in life he was selected by his parents into a religious career. On 3 October 1769 he was made the coadjutor of the Teutonic Order by his uncle, the grandmaster Charles Alexander of Lorraine. In 1774 he travelled extensively through Europe, going around Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and France, and he became acquainted with other members of the order. His mother wanted to appoint him the governor-general of Hungary, so he was sent there for vigorous military training. He led a short campaign in the War of the Bavarian Succession but soon fell sick and his army abandoned the lands they had occupied.

Following the drastic treatment he required he was again sent into a religious life, with a position created for him in the Archbishopric of Cologne by the prime minister Caspar Anthony of Belderbusch. On 7 August 1780 he was unanimously elected the coadjutor of Cologne, and on the 16th he was also elected the coadjutor of Münster. During this time he was also receiving consecrations in Vienna and more consecrations from the Pope. Although Maximilian Francis originally disliked the conditions of a religious man, he soon was interested in theology. When Charles Alexander of Lorraine died soon after, he was elected the new Grandmaster of the Teutonic Order in Mergentheim on 25 October.

Maximilian Francis soon began a rigorous campaign to improve conditions in the lands ruled by the order. He simplified the administration, reformed the judiciary and improved education amongst the local populace. He visited Pope Pius VI in Rome during the spring of 1783. In 1784 he was elected the Archbishop of Cologne and the Bishop of Münster on the 21st of April. He took up residence in Bonn on the 27th. In November he withdrew himself into three weeks of seminars with priests, and received priest consecration after they were complete, and bishop consecration on 21 December.

He took over the administration of the dioceses personally. He improved efficiency in the government and public education programs, and modernised the economy. Also as bishop he was prominent in the sacraments. He was described by contemporaries as exaggeratedly polite and kind, modest and simple. He was known for wearing old and tattered grey cloaks on the streets of Bonn and for engaging in coversation with the people. But he was also distrustful of people and was easily upset by sarcastic and snide remarks.

As the French revolutionary armies approached the archdiocese during the revolutionary wars, Maximilian Francis moved his seat several times in the archdiocese before fleeing to Vienna in 1794. He soon began suffering depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and other illnesses before succumbing to death on 26 July 1801. He was buried in the Habsburg family plot in Vienna, and was the last reigning archbishop of Cologne before secularisation occurred in 1803.



Preceded by:

Maxmilian Francis of Austria

Succeeded by:

Maximilian Frederick of Königsegg-Rothenfels Archbishop of Cologne
1784 - 1801
Anthony Victor of Austria
Ferdinand August von Spiegel
Maximilian Frederick of Königsegg-Rothenfels Bishop of Münster
1784 - 1801
Anthony Victor of Austria
Ferdinand von Lüninck
Charles Alexander of Lorraine Grandmaster of the Teutonic Order
1780 - 1801
Charles Louis of Austria

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