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Frederick Ferdinand, Duke of Anhalt-Köthen

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Frederick Ferdinand, Duke of Anhalt-Köthen (b. Pless, 25 June 1769 – d. Köthen, 23 August 1830), was a German prince of the House of Ascania, ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Pless, and from 1818 ruler of the duchy of Anhalt-Köthen.

He was the second son of Frederick Erdmann, Prince of Anhalt-Pless, by his wife Louise Ferdinande, daughter of Henry Ernest, Count of Stolberg-Wernigerode.


In 1786 he joined the Prussian army, where he obtained the rank of Generalmajor. From 1792 to 1794, he fought in military campaigns on the Rhine.

After the death of his father and his older brother's renunciation of his succession rights (1797), Frederick Ferdinand inherited Pless, but in 1803 he returned to the Prussian army.

In Lindenau bei Heiligenbeil on 20 August 1803 Frederick Ferdinand married Maria Dorothea Henriette Louise (b. Lindenau, 28 September 1783 - d. Pless, 24 November 1803), daughter of Frederick Karl Louis, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, and by birth a princess of Denmark as a descendant in the male line of King Christian III. The union only lasted three months until Louise's death.

After the Battle of Jena, he commanded his own regiment at Zehdenick near the enemy lines, but was forced to withdraw to Bohemia in order to ensure the disarmament of the Austrians. Soon afterwards he retired from the military and made a trip to Holland and France before his return to Pless. During the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1813, he was Commander of the Silesian countryside.

In Berlin on 20 May 1816 Frederick Ferdinand married for a second time to Countess Julie of Brandenburg (b. Neuchâtel, 4 January 1793 - d. Vienna, 29 January 1848), illegitimate daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia.

When the young Duke Louis Augustus died without direct heirs in 1818, Frederick Ferdinand, as his closest male relative, succeeded him in the duchy. Shortly after, he ceded Anhalt-Pless to his brother Henry.

During a trip to Paris in 1825, Frederick Ferdinand and his wife converted to Catholicism. His attempts to convert Köthen to the Catholic faith encountered stiff resistance. As confessor, the duke chose the Belgian Jesuit Peter Jan Beckx.

In Grimschleben near Nienburg he brought in the classicist architect Gottfried Bandhauer to realize some remodeling of his palace. By 1828 he founded a colony in South Ukraine called "Askania-Nova," located in the steppes of Tauri, in the northern peninsula of Crimea.

Under his government, Bandhauer also built (between 1823 and 1828) the Ferdinandsbau in Schloss Köthen, the monastery and hospital of the Brothers of Mercy (German: Barmherzigen Brüder) in 1829, and the Catholic Church of St. Mary (German: Kirche St. Maria) in 1830, in whose crypt Frederick Ferdinand was buried shortly after.

On his death without issue, he was succeeded by his brother Henry.

Preceded by
Frederick Erdmann
Prince of Anhalt-Pless
1797 – 1818
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Louis Augustus
Duke of Anhalt-Köthen
1818 – 1830

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