by Scott Mehl
Friedrich August II, King of Saxony
King Friedrich August II of Saxony reigned from 1836 until 1854, having succeeded his childless uncle, King Anton. He was born in Dresden on May 18, 1797, and given the names Friedrich August Albrecht Maria Clemens Joseph Vincenz Aloys Nepomuk Johann Baptista Nikolaus Raphael Peter Xavier Franz de Paula Venantius Felix. His parents were Prince Maximilian of Saxony and Princess Carolina of Parma. He had six siblings:
- Princess Amalia of Saxony (1794) – unmarried
- Princess Maria of Saxony (1796) – married Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, no issue
- Prince Klemens of Saxony (1798) – unmarried
- Princess Anna of Saxony (1798) – married Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, had issue
- King Johann of Saxony (1801) – married Princess Amalie Auguste of Bavaria, had issue
- Princess Josepha of Saxony (1803) – married King Fernando VII of Spain, no issue
On October 7, 1819, Friedrich August married Archduchess Maria Karoline of Austria, the daughter of Emperor Franz I of Austria and Princess Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies. They had no children. Maria Karoline suffered from epilepsy and died at Pillnitz Castle on May 22, 1832.
The following year, on April 24, 1833, he married Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria. She was the daughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Princess Karoline of Baden. There were no children from this marriage either.
Friedrich August was appointed Co-Regent by his uncle, King Anton, in September 1830. While Anton had little interest in matters of politics or government, Friedrich August was an eager participant and worked to bring change to the country, bringing Free Autonomy to the cities and removing restrictions on the farmers. When King Anton died on June 6, 1836, Friedrich August succeed him as King Friedrich August II.
His reign was relatively uneventful, and the new King typically deferred to his ministers to make any decisions. During the March Revolution, he brought more liberal ministers into the government and eliminated censorship, but soon decided to reverse his decision, dissolving the Saxon Parliament. He was briefly forced to flee during the May Uprising, but returned after several days.
The King preferred to spend his time developing his collection of fossils and other items, establishing a vast natural history collection. In this quest, he traveled extensively, including a visit to The United Kingdom in 1844 where he was a guest of Queen Victoria.
On August 9, 1854, King Friedrich August II died in Karrösten, Austria, from injuries sustained in a carriage accident. The previous day while traveling in the Tyrol, the King had fallen from the carriage into the path of one of the horses which stepped on his head. He was buried the following week, in the Wettin Crypt at the Dresden Cathedral, formerly known as the Katholische Hofkirche (Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony). His widow, Dowager Queen Maria Anna, had a chapel built on the site of the King’s accident. The Königskapelle (King’s Chapel) was consecrated the following year.