Archduke Fra’ Friedrich of Austria

Archduke Fra’ Friedrich of Austria-Teschen wearing the uniform of a professed knight of the Order of Malta.


On 2 June 1845, having obtained imperial permission, Archduke Fra’ Friedrich of Austria-Teschen pronounced his solemn vows as a knight of justice of the Order of Malta.

He was born in Vienna on 14 May 1821, the fourth son of Archduke Charles and Henriette of Nassau-Weilbourg. His father Charles (1771-1847), the third son of Leopold II, in his youth had been, for a time, Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, then he had been adopted by his uncle Prince Albert of Saxony Duke of Teschen who had left him that rich duchy and the possibility of pursuing a brilliant military career up to the rank of field marshal.

Orphaned by his mother at the age of eight, Friedrich, having shown a particular inclination for the sea, was sent to Venice to attend the Collegio di Marina, from which he left in 1837 for his first embarkation as an officer.

Promoted to captain of a vessel, after two years he obtained the first command on the corvette Carolina, then passed on the frigate Guerriera with which in 1840 he participated in the expedition to Syria. Baron Wilhelm von Lebzeltern was close to him as a military instructor and for the seafaring side the captain of the vessel Giovanni de Marinovich, who was also his second commander: both will then follow him throughout his life.

Of the three acts of arms in which he participated in this campaign, the most salient was that of Acre, where personally leading a night landing he occupied the citadel on which he raised the flag of the allies at dawn. Returning to Venice, Frederick had triumphal honors and command of this military district with the task of carrying out an investigation into some administrative irregularities of the Austrian navy, in which liberal ideas also began to be introduced.

After an educational trip to England, he was promoted to rear admiral and superior commander of the I.R. Marine in place of the elderly Marquis Amilcare Paolucci delle Roncole.

In the summer of 1846 Archduke Friedrich directed the great naval maneuvers in the waters of Dalmatia; when his father fell ill in April 1847, he ran to Vienna: Archduke Charles died on 30 April. Who would have imagined that only five months later his son would follow him to the grave?

A sudden medical bulletin of October 5 announced that Friedrich, indisposed for twelve days for a slight attack of jaundice, had suddenly worsened; two hours later a second bulletin announced that he had been given the sacraments. Shortly before midnight he was dying placidly.

As reported in the newspapers of the time, «H.R.H.  the Most Serene and Most Reverend Prince Archduke of Austria Bailiff Fra’ Federico Ferdinando Leopoldo of Austria, Knight of the Golden Fleece and of the Military Order of Maria Theresa, Knight of the Order of St. Hubert of Bavaria, of the Black Eagle of Prussia and Pour le Mérite, I.R. Vice Admiral, Commander-in-Chief of the I.R. Navy, Owner of Infantry Regiment No. 16 etc.» had died in Venice on October 5, 1847.

The Venetians, who had great sympathy for this generous and cordial young prince, flocked to the funeral on October 14 in Santo Stefano, the church in which he was temporarily buried, and on the 19th in San Biagio in the church of the Marina, where on January 17, 1848 his heart was buried under the epitaph “amans apud amantes positum”.

In 1854 the body was placed in the Priory Church of St. John the Baptist of the Order of Malta where the solemn monument that the piety of the brothers had commissioned to the sculptor Luigi Zandomenghi, the celebrated author of the Mausoleum of Titian ai Frari, and which was completed by his son Pietro, with inscription of the scholar Emanuele Antonio Cicogna.