Countess Palatine Maria Franziska of Sulzbach

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Maria Franziska of Sulzbach
Countess Palatine of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld
Born 15 June 1724
Died 15 November 1794 (aged 70)
Spouse Frederick Michael, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld
House House of Wittelsbach
House of Palatinate-Zweibrücken
Father Joseph Karl, Count Palatine of Sulzbach
Mother Elizabeth Auguste Sophie of Neuburg

Countess Palatine Maria Francisca of Sulzbach (Maria Franziska, Pfalzgräfin von Sulzbach; 15 June 1724 – 15 November 1794), was by birth Countess Palatine of Sulzbach and member of the House of Wittelsbach, and by marriage Countess Palatine and Duchess of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld.

Born in Schwetzingen, she was the fifth child of Joseph Karl, Count Palatine of Sulzbach and Countess Palatine Elizabeth Auguste Sophie of Neuburg. From her six siblings, only she and two older sisters survive adulthood: Elisabeth Auguste and Maria Anna.


Her father was the designated successor and of his father-in-law Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine, but he never took possession of his inheritance due to his early death in 1729. Maria Franziska's older sister Elisabeth Auguste later became the wife of the next heir of the Palatinate Electorate, Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria.

After the death of Charles Theodore in February 1799 without surviving legitimate offspring, the Palatinate and Bavaria were inherited by Maria Franziska's youngest son Maximilian IV Joseph (later King Maximilian I of Bavaria); thus, Maria Franziska became the ancestor of all the Bavarian Kings until 1918 and the still living royal branch of the Wittelbachs.

On 6 February 1746, Maria Franziska married with Frederick Michael, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld. After giving birth to five children, the relationship with her husband began to fail since 1760.

According to herself she was seduced by the bad example of the court and began an affair with an actor from Mannheim. When she became pregnant, Maria Franziska was banished from the court. In Strasbourg she gave birth to a son, and was then confined to a semi-detention in a series of monasteries, firstly at the Ursuline in Metz and then to the Augustinians of Bonnevoye in the Duchy of Luxembourg. After the death of her husband in 1767, she was allowed to return to Sulzbach Castle.

Maria Franziska died in Sulzbach and was buried in the local parish church. Her heart was buried separately and since 1983 was located in the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting.


Name Portrait Birth Death Notes
Charles II August
Duke of Zweibrücken
Charlesaugustzweibruecken.jpg 29 October 1746 1 April 1795 Married in 1774 Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony, no surviving issue.
Klemens August Joseph Friedrich 18 September 1749 19 June 1750 Died in infancy.
Maria Amalia Augusta
Queen consort of Saxony
File:Brandt Maria Amalie Auguste.jpg 10 May 1752 15 November 1828 Married in 1769 Elector Frederick Augustus III, had issue.
Maria Anna
Duchess in Bavaria
File:MariaAnnaBirkenfeld 1753.jpg 18 July 1753 4 February 1824 Married in 1780 Duke Wilhelm in Bavaria, had issue.
Maximilian I
King of Bavaria
Hornöck Maximilian I von Bayern um 1810.jpg 27 May 1756 13 October 1825 Married first in 1785 Augusta of Hesse-Darmstadt, had issue;

married second in 1797 Caroline of Baden, had issue.



  • Oskar Klausner: Die Familienzweige der pfälzischen Wittelsbacher. Die ersten Wittelsbacher, die Kurlinie, die Seitenlinien. Editorial Schimper, Heidelberg 1995.
  • Karl Weich: Mannheim - das neue Jerusalem. Die Jesuiten in Mannheim 1720–1773. Palatium-Editorial, Mannheim 1997, p. 142, 151.