Brandenburg-Bayreuth, Christian Ernst, Margrave of

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Personalities >> Brandenburg-Bayreuth, Christian Ernst, Margrave of

Brandenburg-Bayreuth, Culm und Onolzbach, Christian Ernst, Margrave of

Imperial Field-Marshal (1691-1703)

born 27 July 1644, Bayreuth, Franconia, Holy Roman Empire

died 10 May 1712, Erlangen, Franconia, Holy Roman Empire


Portrait of Christian Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth circa 1685 – Source: Wikimedia Commons

Christian Ernst was born on 27 July 1644 in Bayreuth. His parents were Erdmann August and Sophie Princess von Anspach. His mother died in 1646, soon followed by his father in 1651. Thus, at seven years old, Christian Ernst was orphan. In his first years, he was educated by the Court Archdeacon Samuel Hain.

After the death of Christian, his grandfather, Christian Ernst studied in Halberstadt, Berlin and Strasbourg. After his studies, he made the usual “Grand Tour” and visited Geneva, Lyon, Orange and Marseille. In Rome, he learned Italian.

In 1660, the young Christian Ernst attended the marriage of French King Louis XIV with the Infanta Maria Theresia of Spain. On 25 September, 1661, he took over the government of Bayreuth from his regent.

On 19 October 1662, Christian Ernst married Erdmutha Sophia, Princess of Saxony.

On 12 February 1664, Christian Ernst was appointed colonel in the Franconian military and proprietor of a Franconian cuirassier regiment.

In 1670, Christian Ernst’s wife, Erdmutha Sophia, died. The margrave then married Sophia Louise, Princess of Württemberg.

In 1673, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), Christian Ernst led the Franconian contingent in the war against France. As part of the Imperialist army led by Montecuccoli, he took part in the expulsion of Maréchal Turenne from the region of the Main. In 1676, Christian Ernst, acting as Reichs-Feldmarschall-Lieutenant, led the troops of the Hereditary Lands (Reichstruppen) during the siege of Philippsburg.

In 1683, during the Great Turkish War (1683-1699), Christian Ernst, together with the Duke of Waldeck, led the troops of Franconia and Swabia during the relief of Vienna and was promoted Imperial general. In 1691, he was promoted to Imperial field marshal.

At the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, Christian Ernst was a loyal ally of Emperor Leopold I. In 1701, the margrave raised the Bayreuth Dragoons and, in the same year, the Brandenburg-Bayreuth Infantry.

From June to September 1702, during the Siege of Landau, Christian Ernst commanded the right wing of the Imperialist army. The same year, his second wife Sophia Louise, died. His only children were born from this second marriage.

On 30 March 1703, the margrave married Elisabeth Sophie, daughter of the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg. The same year, Christian Ernst occupied Neumark and led the “Reichstruppen” defending the Lines of Stollhofen. Unfortunately, he was unable to hold these lines and retreated to Aalen and Ellwangen. The French Maréchal Villars seized this opportunity to occupy Swabia and part of Bavaria. Christian Ernst’s mistake led to his renunciation of his function and he returned to Erlangen.

Christian Ernst died at Erlangen on 10 May 1712 and was buried in the margrave tomb in the city church of Bayreuth.

He was succeeded by Georg Christian (1678-1726), son of Sophie Louise. Princess of Württemberg.



Harald Skala for the initial version of this article