erdinand II, Archduke of Austria

born on June 14, 1529 in Linz, Austria
died on January 24, 1595 at Ruhelust Palace, Innsbruck

He came from the House of Habsburg and was sovereign of Tyrol from 1564.

Reference to the Goldener Adler

Our commemorative plaque mentions a visit from Archduke Ferdinand II. and his wife Philippine Welser in 1554. But unfortunately there are no further recordings of their visit.


xcursion tip

Our today’s excursion tip leads you to the last resting place of Archduke Ferdinand II., the Silver Chapel in the Innsbruck Court Church.

In 1578 he let built the silver chapel for himself and his first wife Philippine Welser as an annex to the to the Court Church.

The name derives from an altar made of black wood with silver embossed reliefs, in the middle of which stands the Silver Madonna.

In the Court Church, besides the Silver Chapel, there is also the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I., which is surrounded by 28 larger-than-life bronze figures, as well as the tombs of the Tyrolean freedom fighters of 1809. The Ebert organ is the largest almost intact preserved Renaissance organ in Austria.

Life and facts

Ferdinand of Austria was the second son of Emperor Ferdinand I. and brother of the Roman-German Emperor Maximilian II.

Ferdinand was an educated and artistic man, fluent in several foreign languages. In 1547, his father placed him at the head of the administration of the Kingdom of Bohemia and he served as governor in Prague for 20 years.

He led a campaign against the Turks in Hungary in 1556.

As the king’s permanent deputy, he saw to it that the rights of the Bohemian estates were restricted and that higher tax revenues were collected to pay off the Habsburgs’ debts to the Fugger family.

Since 1557 he was secretly married to Philippine Welser.

She was the daughter of a patrician from Augsburg and bore him several children. The marriage was approved by Emperor Ferdinand I. in 1561 on the condition that no one should know about it.

In 1576 it was confirmed by Pope Gregory XIII in connection with the appointment of Philippines and Ferdinand’s son Andrew as cardinal, and he released the couple from the vow of secrecy. The children were given the surname “of Austria”, but were to be eligible for succession only if the male line of the reigning Habsburgs died out.

After the death of his father Emperor Ferdinand I. in 1564, Ferdinand II. became ruler of Tyrol and the Vorlande in accordance with his father’s will.

However, at the request of Emperor Maximilian II, he remained in Prague as Bohemian governor until 1567.

After the death of his wife Philippine in 1580, he married Anna Caterina Gonzaga in Mantua on May 1, 1582, after an appropriate period of mourning. (She and her daughter Maria are buried in the Servite Church in Innsbruck).

Archduke Ferdinand died on January 24, 1595. Because of the negotiated succession, his sons from his first marriage and his daughters from his second marriage were not entitled to inherit, and thus Tyrol fell to the other two Habsburg lines after his death.

Ferdinand II achieved great renown as a friend and patron of the arts. As a humanistically educated man, he laid the foundation for the famous Ambras collection during his time as governor of Bohemia. The important collection of armor, the exhibits of the Kunst- und Wunderkammer, the paintings of the Portrait Gallery and the library are of great value, which was one of the reasons for the high indebtedness of the archduke.

Today, his collections are incorporated into the Kunsthistorisches Museum and are located at Ambras Castle in Innsbruck (armory, Kunst- und Wunderkammer, collection of Gothic sculptures, Habsburg portrait gallery) and

in Vienna at the Haus am Ring (Kunstkammer, Gemäldegalerie, Münzkabinett) and at the Neue Burg (Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Weltmuseum Wien, collection of old musical instruments).

In terms of art history, Ferdinand II. can be considered the founder of systematic collecting. The museum he built especially for his collections (Lower Castle of Ambras Palace) is the only surviving Renaissance Museum building in which parts of the collection have been preserved in their original place of destination and are still on display today:

Ambras Castle Innsbruck is in this respect the oldest museum in the world.

In addition, its Chamber of Art and Curiosities is the only Renaissance art chamber still preserved on site. Ferdinand II. also has special cultural-historical significance as the organizer of large representative tournaments and courtly festivities.

Finally, he was the first Renaissance prince to afford the costly luxury of his own court glassworks. The manuscript collection of his library was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2018.



Schloss Ruhelust | AustriaWiki im Austria-Forum

Hofkirche und Silberne Kapelle (antonprock.at)

Hofkirche (Innsbruck) – Wikipedia

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