Leopold III. Friedrich Franz (Anhalt-Dessau)

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Leopold Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau, portrait by Christoph Friedrich Reinhold Lisiewski , 1762
Leopold Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau
Leopold Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau
Monument in Dessau by August Kiss
Medal from 1801 on the 50th anniversary of Leopold Friedrich Franz von Loos' reign

Leopold III. Friedrich Franz, Prince and Duke of Anhalt-Dessau , called Prince Franz , also father Franz (born August 10, 1740 in Dessau ; † August 9, 1817 there ) was the ruling Prince from 1758 and from 1807 Duke of Anhalt-Dessau .


Prince Franz was the eldest son of Prince Leopold II of Anhalt-Dessau and Princess Gisela Agnes of Anhalt-Köthen . Already orphaned in 1751, he was brought up under the tutelage of his uncle Dietrich von Anhalt-Dessau . In the tradition of his grandfather and father, he first served in the Prussian army in the Anhalt regiment on foot in Halle . In 1752 he became head of the regiment there. After the outbreak of the Seven Years' War , Leopold followed his uncle Moritz . Under the influence of the Battle of Kolin , Leopold resigned from the Prussian army in 1757. Declared of legal age in 1758 with the consent of the emperor , he took office in Anhalt-Dessau . In the further course of the Seven Years' War Leopold kept his principality neutral, but had to tolerate contributions of 180,000 thalers imposed by Prussia as a punitive action . He paid this from his private assets. Leopold III. married his cousin Princess Luise von Brandenburg-Schwedt in 1767 through the mediation of Frederick II in Charlottenburg . In 1769 he appointed him Knight of the Black Eagle Order . In 1782 he tried by participating in the Prince League to influence its efforts. In 1806 Napoleon I tried to use his high reputation by inviting him to Paris. Leopold was one of the last German princes to join the Rhine Confederation by contract of April 18, 1807 . On the other hand, he offered Ferdinand von Schill an honorable reception in Dessau in 1809.

1807 took Leopold III. Friedrich Franz took on the title of Duke . As a senior of the House of Anhalt, i.e. as the eldest of the regents in the principalities of Anhalt-Dessau, Anhalt-Köthen and Anhalt-Bernburg , he felt entitled to do so, since his cousin, the Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, was shortly before the saint's dissolution in 1806 Roman Empire had acquired this title from the emperor for a lot of money , and since Anhalt-Dessau would otherwise have been the only one of the non- mediatized countries that was 'only' a principality .

Leopold III. died in 1817 as a result of a riding accident. His successor was his grandson Leopold IV Friedrich .


Together with his friend Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff , whom he had already met in 1756, he undertook several study trips to Italy , France , Switzerland , Holland and England , where he conducted extensive cultural-historical and economic studies. The cavalier tour of Prince Franz is one of the exemplary journeys of enlightened princes of the 18th century.

When he returned home, he implemented the knowledge he had gained on his travels in his country and carried out numerous reforms in the areas of education, health care, social services, road construction, agriculture, forestry and trade. They not only made Anhalt-Dessau one of the most modern small states in Germany and a model for many other reformers, but also increased its economic output considerably. His numerous buildings led to a classical redesign and expansion of his Dessau residence. The intensification of agriculture and horticulture according to the latest findings, the establishment of agricultural and technical model farms and the establishment of numerous streets lined with several rows of trees (mostly fruit trees) were part of a large-scale landscaping over an area of ​​around 200 km 2 . It was through them that the so-called Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm came into being in the 18th century . This also included the park and castle Großkühnau , Luisium and Georgium in Dessau and castle Oranienbaum as well as castle Wörlitz and the Wörlitzer park . The prince's educational intention resulted from the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau , the aesthetics of Johann Georg Sulzer and the art theory of Johann Joachim Winckelmann .

The parks were among the first landscaped parks outside England. They should not serve to entertain the court society, but rather combine the beautiful with the useful, please, improve and instruct the visitors. As a result, the parks were accessible to everyone from the start.

Leopold III. was a supporter of the Enlightenment , especially with regard to the education of the population through the study of nature and the sciences. As a result of his tolerance policy in Dessau, the first German-language Jewish newspaper Sulamith was founded and the proportion of the Jewish population in his country increased considerably. His enlightened contemporaries considered Leopold III. Friedrich Franz together with Carl August von Weimar and Karl Friedrich von Baden as an exemplary ruler.

A number of institutions were founded in Dessau that were committed to the spirit of the Enlightenment. In 1774, under Johann Bernhard Basedow, the Philanthropin was created , a school institution committed to educational reform. It was later headed by Joachim Heinrich Campe . A state school reform in the spirit of the Enlightenment was carried out in 1785 by Carl Gottfried Neuendorf . However, it did not last.

The Allgemeine Buchhandlung der Schehrten was founded in 1781 in order to make scientific authors independent from publishers. Another institution was the Chalkographische Gesellschaft , which he bought from Friedrich Moritz Freiherr von Brabeck in 1796 and which was supposed to make the works of painting accessible to a wider public through high-quality graphic reproductions . All these measures were financed not only from taxes in their own country, but also from the income from the Brandenburg and East Prussian estates, which the princes of Anhalt-Dessau had received as payment for their Prussian services and which had 66,000 more inhabitants than Anhalt-Dessau even with 53,000.

The Dessau-Wörlitz park landscape in particular is still an impressive example of the work of Leopold III. It attracts thousands of visitors and is part of the World Heritage of UNESCO . In his later years, especially after Erdmannsdorff's death, Leopold's enthusiasm for reform diminished. After his death much of these approaches was lost again.



From the marriage with Princess Luise von Brandenburg-Schwedt :

Not entitled to inheritance

  • From the premarital connection with Johanna Eleonore Hoffmeier (1746–1816; von Neitschütz married since 1765). She was the daughter of the First Preacher at the Reformed Church in Zerbst, sister of the Archdeacon at the Dessau Great Church. The intentions of Leopold III. To renounce his throne and to live with his lover as a private person in England was prevented by Frederick II of Prussia. Johanna Eleonore Hoffmeier married the head stable master Adolf Heinrich von Neitschütz (1730–1772), Leopold III in 1765 . 1767 at the urging of Frederick II, his cousin Princess Luise of Brandenburg-Schwedt. From this premarital connection with the 15-year-old Johanna Eleonore came the Counts von Waldersee :
    • Wilhelmine Eleonore Friederike (born June 14, 1762 - † September 23, 1762)
    • Count Franz Johann Georg von Waldersee (* September 5, 1763; † May 30, 1823)
    • Louise Leonore Friederike (born August 30, 1765; † 1804)
Bastard coat of arms of those von Beringer
  • From the next marriage with Luise Schoch, the daughter of the horticultural master Johann Leopold Ludwig Schoch , as ennobled by Beringer (also Baeringer ), after the mythical ancestor family Beringer of the Ascanians :
    • Wilhelmine Sidonie (born January 5, 1789 in Wörlitz; † April 20, 1860 in Halle) ∞ in Wörlitz on June 20, 1815 Wilhelm von Goerne († July 10, 1857)
    • Luise Adelheid (born October 16, 1790 in Dessau; † June 5, 1870 in Halle) ∞ in Wörlitz on August 19, 1812 Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Georg von Glafey († February 3, 1858)
    • Franz Adolf (born June 2, 1792 in Wörlitz; † February 28, 1834) ∞ Auguste Wilhelmine Roeser (born June 2, 1793; † August 25, 1855)
  • From the extramarital relationship with Johanna Magdalena Luise Jäger (* 1763):
    • Franziska (* 1789)
    • Leopoldine (1791-1847)
    • Amalie (1793-1841)
  • From the extramarital connection with Friederike Wilhelmine Schultz born. Favreau (1772-1843):
    • Ludwig Ferdinand Schultz (1800-1893)


in alphabetical order by authors / editors

  • Marco Chiriaco: The Antique Collections of the 18th Jhs. using the example of the collection of Prince Leopold Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau. Munich 2003, ISBN 3-638-77983-1
  • Heinrich Dilly, Holger Zaunstöck (ed.): Prince Franz. Contributions to his living environment in Anhalt-Dessau 1740–1817. Halle 2005, ISBN 3-89812-319-7
  • Kaevan Gazdar: Rulers in Paradise: Prince Franz and the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz . Construction Verlag , Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-351-02633-1
  • Klaus-Werner Haupt: Johann Winckelmann. Founder of classical archeology and modern art studies. Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft, 2014, ISBN 978-3-86539-718-8
  • Klaus-Werner Haupt: The two feathers of Johann Winckelmann. Or: if you recognize your luck and use it, it is worth it! Cottbus printing zone, 2012, ISBN 978-3-00-038509-4 .
  • Erhard Hirsch : The Dessau-Wörlitz Reform Movement in the Age of Enlightenment. People - structures - effects. (Hallesche's contributions to the European Enlightenment, 18). Niemeyer, Tübingen 2003, ISBN 3-484-81018-1 . (revised version of the Phil.Diss. Halle 1969)
  • Erhard HirschLeopold III. Friedrich Franz. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 14, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1985, ISBN 3-428-00195-8 , pp. 268-270 ( digitized version ).
  • Erhard Hirsch : Prince Leopold III. Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau. (DKV art guide No. 561/4). Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich / Berlin 2003.
  • Antje and Christophe Losfeld (eds.): The Grand Tour of Prince Franz von Anhalt-Dessau and Prince Johann Georg through Europe. Recorded in the travel journal of Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst 1765 to 1768. Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle (Saale) 2012, ISBN 978-3-89812-931-2 .
  • Friedrich Reil: Leopold Friedrich Franz, Duke and Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, eldest ruling Prince in Anhalt, described according to his nature and work. Aue, Dessau 1845. (digitized version) ; Reprint: Kettmann, Wörlitz 1995, ISBN 3-930696-01-0 .
  • Michael Rohrschneider: Austria and the Perpetual Reichstag: Studies on Clientel Politics and Party Formation (1745–1763). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2014, ISBN 9783525360798 , p. 291 ff., P. 295 f.
  • Anna-Franziska von Schweinitz: Prince and federalist. Diaries of a trip to Switzerland in 1783 and the Confederation as a model in the Old Kingdom. Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft , Worms 2004. ISBN 3-88462-196-3
  • Anna-Franziska von Schweinitz: Waldersee and father Franz. On the misfortune of illegitimate birth, Janos Stekovics publishing house, Wettin-Löbejün 2017, ISBN 978-3-89923-381-0
  • Ferdinand SiebigkLeopold Friedrich Franz . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 18, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1883, pp. 356-367.
  • Holger Zaunstöck (ed.): The life of the prince. Studies on the biography of Leopold III. Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau (1740–1817). Halle 2008, ISBN 978-3-89812-492-8

See also

Web links

Commons : Leopold III. Friedrich Franz (Anhalt-Dessau)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Leopold II. Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
himself as Duke of Anhalt-Dessau
predecessor Office successor
himself as Prince of Anhalt-Dessau Duke of Anhalt-Dessau
Leopold IV.

References and comments

  1. Peter Stoltzenberg: Franz the Wise. In: Der Tagesspiegel. December 28, 2012, p. 21.