Ferdinand III of Habsburg-Lorraine was Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1790 to 1799 and from 1814 to 1824. He was also Grand Duke of Salzburg from 1803 to 1806 (with the name of Ferdinand I) and Grand Duke of Würzburg from 1806 to 1814 (with the name of Ferdinand THE).
He was the second son of Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo and Maria Ludovica di Borbone-Napoli; as a cadet son he was destined to the throne of the Grand Duchy for a complicated dynastic game: having been left without sons the uncle, the emperor Joseph II of Austria, the succession would be first to his father and then to his elder brother Francesco, also given the clauses that established the impossibility of uniting the Tuscan crown with the Austrian one.
In February 1790 the emperor Giuseppe II died and Pietro Leopoldo abdicated the Tuscan throne to buy (unwillingly) the Habsburg crown; Ferdinand became so Grand Duke in a period that already appeared agitated. In internal politics, the new Grand Duke did not reject the paternal reforms that had brought Tuscany to the vanguard in Europe, preceding in some fields even the French Revolution then underway but tried to limit some excesses, especially in the religious field, which had been welcomed unwillingly by the people.
In foreign policy, Ferdinand III tried to remain neutral in the storm that succeeded the French Revolution but was forced to align himself with the anti-revolutionary coalition under strong pressure from England, which threatened to occupy Livorno and October 8, 1793 declared war on the French Republic. The declaration, however, had no practical effects and indeed, Tuscany was the first state to conclude peace and to restore relations with Paris in February 1795.
In 1796 the French armies occupied Livorno to remove it from the British influence and Napoleon himself entered Florence, well received by the sovereign and occupied the Grand Duchy, although not overthrowing the local government. Only in March 1799 Ferdinand III was forced into exile in Vienna, following the fall of the political situation on the peninsula. The French troops remained in Tuscany until July 1799, when they were expelled from a counter-offensive austrorussa to which they gave help the insurgent sanfedisti of the "Viva Maria!".
The restoration was brief; the year after, Napoleon returned to Italy and re-established his dominion over the Peninsula; in 1801 Ferdinand had to abdicate the throne of Tuscany, receiving in return first the Duchy of Salzburg, born with the secularization of the former archiepiscopal state and then (1805), the Duchy of Würzburg, another state arose with the secularization of a bishop's principality.
Ferdinando III returned to Tuscany only in September 1814, after the fall of Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna, he obtained some alterations of the territory with the annexation of the Principality of Piombino, the State of the Presidi, the imperial feuds of Vernio, Monte Santa Maria Tiberina and Montauto and the prospect of the annexation of the Duchy of Lucca, albeit in exchange of some Tuscan enclaves in Lunigiana.
The Restoration in Tuscany was, thanks to the Grand Duke, an example of meekness and common sense: there were no purges of personnel who had worked in the French period; French laws in civil and economic matters were not abrogated (except for divorce) and where restoration was carried out, the already advanced leopoldine laws were returned, as in the criminal field.
The major care of the restored Lorraine government was for public works; in these years many roads were built (like the Volterrana), aqueducts and the first serious reclamation works of the Valdichiana and the Maremma began, which saw the personal commitment of the sovereign himself. Ferdinand III paid this laudable personal commitment with the contraction of malaria, which led him to death in 1824.