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Francis I

Francis I, 1708–65, Holy Roman emperor (1745–65), duke of Lorraine (1729–37) as Francis Stephen, grand duke of Tuscany (1737–65), husband of Archduchess Maria Theresa. He succeeded his father in Lorraine, but agreed (1735) to cede his duchy to Stanislaus I of Poland to end the War of the Polish Succession (see Polish Succession, War of the); in exchange he received the right of succession to Tuscany. In 1736 he married Maria Theresa, heiress to all Hapsburg lands. Francis succeeded (1737) the last Medici ruler of Tuscany and carried out several long-needed reforms. In 1740, Maria Theresa acceded to her inheritance, which was immediately contested in the War of the Austrian Succession (see Austrian Succession, War of the; 1740–48) by an alliance under Frederick II of Prussia. The election (Sept., 1745) of Francis to succeed Charles VII as emperor was recognized by Frederick in the Treaty of Dresden (Dec., 1745) with Maria Theresa. Francis I governed little; the real rulers were Maria Theresa and chancellor Kaunitz. Founder of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, Francis was succeeded as Holy Roman emperor by his eldest son, Joseph II, and as grand duke of Tuscany by his younger son, Leopold (later Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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