Monday, August 17, 2009

Hedwig of Austria's marriage a mesalliance?

August 17, 1917

The Marquise de Fontenoy writes that "it is a mistake to describe the impending marriage of Archduchess Hedwig of Austria and the American-born Count Bernhard zu Stolberg-Stolberg as a mesalliance." The Stolbergs are a mediatized house, "who in the days of the Holy Roman Empire, that is to say, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, exercised petty sovereign away in Germany, and which have retained a number of sovereign prerogatives, among others that of mating on a footing of perfect with members of the now reigning Austrians."
Archduchess Hedwig is a granddaughter of the late Emperor Franz Joseph. She is one of eight children of the emperor's youngest and favorite child, Archduchess Valerie, who is married to Archduke Franz Salvator, a member of the Tuscan branch of the Habsburg family.
Count Bernhard, who was born in Mankato, Minnesota, has served as a chamberlain to the Dowager Grand Duchess Luxembourg, and he holds a commissions in the Austrian and Saxon armies. His mother, Mary Eddington, is an Irish woman, who had been a governess in the Stolberg family. She and Count Leopold zu Stolberg-Stolberg fell in love, but his family opposed the marriage on the grounds that Mary was a commoner. This opposition led Count Leopold and his wife to emigrate in 1875 to the United States. They settled in Mankato, Minnesota, where all five of their children were born.
Count and Countess Leopold returned to Germany in 1890, where they resided at Linsen in Westphalia.
The family, especially Mary, are devout Catholics. Two of the daughters are nuns at the Ursuline convent at Breslau, while one son, Count Aloys, is a monk at the Benedictine monastery at Cottonwood, Idaho, where he is known as Father Martin.
The marriage will be considered equal, despite Bernhard's mother's commoner birth.

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