Tuesday, April 2, 2019

On This Day In History: The Death of Archduchess Hildegard, Duchess of Teschen (1825-1864)

On 10 June 1825, Princess Hildegard Luise Charlotte Theresia Friederike of Bavaria entered the world at Würzburg. The princess was the seventh child and fourth daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria (1786-1868) and his wife Queen Therese (1792-1854; née Saxe-Hildburghausen). Hildegard's mother had been on a short list of royal ladies to wed Emperor Napoléon I of France, but she escaped this fate when she married Ludwig of Bavaria in 1810: not that their union was particularly happy owing to Ludwig's frequent affairs.

Princess Hildegard of Bavaria

At the age of nineteen in 1844, Hildegard of Bavaria was married in Munich to Archduke Albrecht of Austria, who succeeded as Duke of Teschen upon the death of his father Archduke Karl three years later. In a diary entry on May 24, 1844, the soon-to-be Emperor Franz Joseph I penned his impression of Hildegard: "I like her well, she is pretty, has big cheeks, a very pretty figure, and is quite amiable.

Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen

Archduke Albrecht and Archduchess Hildegard had three children during the course of their marriage: Maria Theresa (1845-1927), Karl Albrecht (1847-1848) and Mathilde (1849-1867). Archduke Karl Albrecht died of smallpox as an infant. Archduchess Mathilde perished in an unfortunate incident: looking forward to a night at the theatre, she lit a cigarette, but upon noticing her father approaching, she hid the cigarette behind her gauze dress. [It should be noted that Archduke Albrecht had forbidden smoking in his presence]. Mathilde's outfit caught fire quickly, and she passed away as a result of the burns she suffered.

Archduchess Mathilde of Austria

Only the eldest child of Albrecht and Hildegard married. Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria became the wife of Duke Philipp of Württemberg in 1865. Philipp and Maria Theresa are the ancestors of the current members of the Royal House of Württemberg. 

Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria
Duke Philipp of Württemberg

Archduchess Hildegard was a close friend and trusted confidante of Empress Elisabeth, her cousin. 

In March 1864, Hildegard had traveled to Munich to attend the funeral of her brother, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. While in Bavaria, the archduchess became ill with a lung inflammation and pleurisy. Aged thirty-eight, Archduchess Hildegard, Duchess of Teschen, succumbed to her ailments on 2 April 1864. She is buried in the Kaisergruft. Archduke Albrecht never remarried.


Archduchess Hildegard, Duchess of Teschen

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