Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor

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Leopold II (5 May 1747 – 1 March 1792), born Peter Leopold Joseph Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard, was Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary from 1790 to 1792, archduke of Austria and Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1765 to 1790. He was a son of Emperor Francis I and his wife, Empress Maria Theresa. Leopold was a moderate proponent of enlightened absolutism.[citation needed]



Leopold was born in Vienna, the third son, and was at first educated for the priesthood, but the theological studies to which he was forced to apply himself are believed to have influenced him against the Church.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Since 1753, he had been engaged to Maria Beatrice d'Este, heiress to the Duchy of Modena; the marriage never materialised, Maria Beatrice instead marrying Leopold's brother, Archduke Ferdinand.

On the death of his elder brother, Charles, in 1761, it was decided that he should succeed to his father's grand duchy of Tuscany, which was erected into a "secundogeniture" or apanage for a second son. This settlement was the condition of his marriage on 5 August 1764 with Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain, daughter of Charles III of Spain and Maria Amalia of Saxony. On the death of his father, Francis I (18 August 1765), he succeeded to the grand duchy. Leopold was famous in Florence for his numerous extra-marital affairs. Among his lovers was Countess Cowper, wife of the 3rd Earl Cowper, who in compensation for being cuckolded was given honours by Leopold's brother, Joseph II.

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