Frederick Augustus II - Encyclopedia

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FREDERICK AUGUSTUS II. (1797-1854), king of Saxony, eldest son of Prince Maximilian and of Caroline Maria Theresa of Parma, was born on the 18th of May 1797. The unsettled times in which his youth was passed necessitated his frequent change of residence, but care was nevertheless taken that his education should not be interrupted, and he also acquired, through his journeys in foreign states (Switzerland 1818, Montenegro 1838, England and Scotland 1844) and his intercourse with men of eminence, a special taste for art and for natural science. He was himself a good landscape-painter and had a fine collection of engravings on copper. He was twice married - in 1819 (October 7) to the duchess Caroline, fourth daughter of the emperor Francis I. of Austria (d. May 22, 1832), and in 1833 (April 4) to Maria, daughter of Maximilian I. of Bavaria. There were no children of either marriage. During the government of his uncles (Frederick Augustus I. and Anthony) he took no part in the administration of the country, though he was the sole heir to the crown. In 1830 a rising in Dresden led to his being named joint regent of the kingdom along with King Anthony on the 13th of September; and in this position his popularity and his wise and liberal reforms (for instance, in arranging public audiences) speedily quelled all discontent. On the 6th of June 1836 he succeeded his uncle. Though he administered the affairs of his kingdom with enlightened liberality Saxony did not escape the political storms which broke upon Germany in 1848. He elected Liberal ministers, and he was at first in favour of the programme of German unity put forward at Frankfort, but he refused to acknowledge the democratic constitution of the German parliament. This attitude led to the insurrection at Dresden in May 1849, which was suppressed by the help of Prussian troops. From that time onward his reign was tranquil and prosperous. Later Count Beust, leader of the Austrian and feudal party in Saxony, became his principal minister and guided his policy on most occasions. His death occurred accidentally through the upsetting of his carriage near Brennbiihel, between Imst and Wenns in Tirol (August 9, 1854). Frederick Augustus devoted his leisure hours chiefly to the study of botany. He made botanical excursions into different countries, and Flora Marienbadensis, oder Pflanzen and Gebirgsarten, gesammelt and beschrieben, written by him, was published at Prague by Kedler, 1837.

See Bottiger-Flathe, History of Saxony, vol. iii.; R. Freiherr von Friesen, Erinnerungen (2 vols., Dresden, 1880; F. F. Graf von Beust, Aus drei-viertel Jahrhunderten (2 vols., 1887); Flathe, in Allg. deutsche Biogr. (J. HN.)

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