Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma

Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma

Francesco Farnese (May 19 1678 - May 26 1727) was Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1694 until his death.

He was the second son of Ranuccio II Farnese.

He became the heir to the throne after the death of his brother Odoardo II Farnese in 1693, and became duke in 1694. He married his brothers widow Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg in 1696.

His stepdaughter and half-niece, Isabella Farnese, became Queen of Spain in 1714.

He was succeeded by his brother Antonio in 1727.
Because neither Francesco nor Antonio had offspring, the Duchy went in 1731 to Charles III of Spain, son of Isabella Farnese and heir to the throne of Spain.


Francesco was a timid but intelligent child. As a ruler he limited the festivals and expensive parties to improve the bad financial situation of the Duchy.
The marriage with his half-brother's widow had financial and political reasons.

In the War of the Spanish Succession, Francesco maintained good relationships with both parties. Austria was a traditional ally and Dorothea's sister was Empress of Austria, and Francesco had sent Giulio Alberoni to render service to Louis Joseph de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme, commander of the French forces in Italy.

This able diplomacy enabled Parma to survive the war, in contrast to the neighbouring Duchies of Milan and Mantua, which were annexed by Austria.

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