by Susan Flantzer
Elisabeth of Württemberg (Elisabeth Wilhelmine Luise) was born on April 21, 1767 in Treptow, Brandenburg (Germany). She was one of the 12 children of Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg and Sophia Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt. Elisabeth had 11 siblings:
- Frederick I (1754 – 1816), first King of Württemberg, married (1) Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; had issue (2) Charlotte, Princess Royal; no issue
- Louis (1756 – 1817), married (1) Maria Czartoryska; had issue (2) Princess Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg; had issue
- Eugene (1758 – 1822), married Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern; had issue
- Sophie Dorothea (1759 – 1828), married to Paul I, Emperor of Russia; had issue
- William Frederick Philip (1761 – 1830), married Wilhelmine von Tunderfeld-Rhodis; had issue
- Ferdinand Frederick Augustus (1763 – 1834), married Princess Kunigunde von Metternich
- Friederike (1765 – 1785), married to Peter, Duke of Oldenburg; had issue
- Friederike (born and died 1768 )
- Charles Frederick Henry (1770 – 1791)
- Alexander (1771 – 1833), married Antoinette of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; had issue
- Charles Henry (1772 – 1833), married Christianne-Caroline Alexeï
At the age of 15, Elisabeth went to Vienna to prepare to become the bride of Archduke Franz, the nephew of the then Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II. Here the Protestant princess was educated by nuns at the Church and Monastery of the Visitation and she converted to Roman Catholicism. Elisabeth married Archduke Franz (the future emperor) on January 6, 1788 when she was 20 years old.
She was very close to Emperor Joseph and his final illness in February of 1790 greatly upset the then pregnant Elisabeth. She fainted upon seeing the dying emperor and on February 18, 1790 gave premature birth to a daughter Archduchess Ludovika Elisabeth. The labor had lasted more than 24 hours and Elisabeth, age 22, died because of complications. Holy Roman Emperor Joseph died two days later. Archduchess Elisabeth was buried in the Imperial Crypt in the Franzensgruft (Franz’s Vault) where her husband and his three other wives are also buried. Elisabeth’s baby, Ludovika Elisabeth, lived only until June 24, 1791 and is buried in the Imperial Crypt in the southwest pier of Ferdinandsgruft (Ferdinand’s Vault) along with a number of other Habsburgs who died young.
Unofficial Royalty: A Visit to the Kaisergruft (Imperial Crypt) in Vienna