Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was a German prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and a general of cavalry in the Austrian Imperial and Royal Army during the Napoleonic Wars. Despite remaining a Lutheran, by marriage he established the Catholic branch of the family, which eventually gained the thrones of Portugal and Bulgaria.

Birth and family

Ferdinand was born at Coburg as Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the second son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and his second wife, Countess Augusta Caroline Sophie of Reuss-Ebersdorf. In 1826 his title changed from Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld to Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, when his brother Duke Ernst I made a territorial exchange with other members of the family.
Ferdinand's nephews and nieces included Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Albert, as well as Empress Carlota of Mexico, and her brother King Leopold II of Belgium.

Military career

On 10 December 1791 Ferdinand was commissioned as Unterleutnant in the Dragoon-Regiment Coburg Nr. 6. He was promoted to Oberleutnant on 1 March 1796 and to Second-Rittmeister on 18 November 1798. On 1 February 1802 he transferred to the Austrian Army serving in the Chevauxleger-Regiment Fürst Rosenberg in which he was promoted to Major on 29 September 1804. On 1 January 1805 he transferred to the Husaren-Regiment Graf Blankenstein Nr. 6 in which he was promoted to Oberstleutnant on 6 August 1805.
On 15 September 1808 Ferdinand became Oberst in the Husaren-Regiment Erzherzog Ferdinand d'Este Nr. 3. It was in this regiment that he served in the War of the Fifth Coalition under Field Marshal Prince Hohenzollern. He received the knight's cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. Before the Battle of Wagram, he was named General of the Kavallerie Fürst Liechtenstein. On 15 April 1811 he was named Generalmajor.
During the War of the Sixth Coalition, Ferdinand fought at the battles of Kulm and Leipzig.
On 8 May 1822 Ferdinand became Inhaber of the Uhlanen-Regiment Fürst Karl Schwarzenberg. On 22 November 1828 he became Inhaber of the Husaren-Regiment Nr. 8. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to the rank of General der Kavallerie.

Marriage and children

In Vienna on 30 November 1815, Ferdinand married Princess Maria Antonia Koháry de Csábrág et Szitnya, daughter and heiress of Ferenc József, Fürst Koháry de Csábrág et Szitnya, converting to Roman Catholicism in 1818. When Antonia's father died in 1826, she inherited his estates in Hungary, and Ferdinand took the title of Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry.
Ferdinand and Antonia had four children, all of whom were raised Catholic:
Ferdinand died at Vienna on 27 August 1851 at the age of 66. He is buried in the ducal mausoleum at in Coburg.

Honours and awards

He received the following awards: