Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz – Passport 1814
Passport to travel from Venice to Bologna, for Anna Maria Bugratti. Venice, 28 November 1814. 34 x 42 cm. In Italian. Red wax seal. The passport description states: Age 27, blonde hair, blue eyes, of beautiful face color. She must have been a beautiful woman. But more important is the issuer and signer of the passport, a most significant figure.
Prince Heinrich XV of Reuss-Plauen, Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia (22 February 1751 – 30 August 1825) was the fourth of six sons born into a high-ranking noble family. At the age of fifteen he joined the army of Habsburg Austria and later fought against Ottoman Turkey. During the French Revolutionary Wars he became a general officer and saw extensive service. He commanded a corps during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1801 until his death, he was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment.
Prince Reuss came to the attention of the Austrian emperor in his thirties. After distinguishing himself in battle against the Turks, the emperor promoted him to command an infantry regiment. He served against the French First Republic in the Flanders Campaign and received promotion to general. The year 1796 found him leading Austrian troops against the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. In the following year he commanded a division.
In 1799 Prince Reuss fought against France in Germany and Switzerland. He led a division in northern Italy during the 1805 war. In the Danube campaign of 1809, he started out leading a division and ended the war in command of a corps. In 1813, he led a successful diplomatic effort to cause the Kingdom of Bavaria to change sides and join the Allies against Napoleon. Into his seventies he served Austria in various military and civil positions.
Heinrich XV was born into the House of Reuss at Greiz Castle on 22 February 1751. His parents Graf (later Prince) Heinrich XI Reuss von Ober-Greiz (1722–1800) and Grafin Konradine Reuss zu Köstritz (1719–1770) carried on the family tradition of naming all their male children Heinrich and numbering them consecutively. They duly named their six sons Heinrich XII through Heinrich XVII, while their five daughters were christened Amalie, Frederike, Isabella, Marie, and Ernestine. Belonging to the Reuss Elder Line, Heinrich XV was entitled to be called Prince (Fürst), but he was not the reigning prince. That dignity was held by his surviving elder brother Heinrich XIII from 1800 to 1817.
Heinrich XV enlisted in the Austrian Macquire Infantry Regiment # 35 in 1766. He, his father, and brothers became princes in 1778. When Maria Theresa died in 1780, and Joseph II of Austria became emperor in fact as well as name, Joseph favored the young prince, promoting him to Major in 1784. During the Austro-Turkish War (1787–91), the emperor appointed Reuss to his staff. For notable service at the storming of Šabac in 1788, the emperor promoted the prince to Oberst (Colonel) of the Wenzel Colloredo Infantry Regiment # 56. Reuss fought at the Siege of Belgrade in the fall of 1789. Read more about his impressive military career – French Revolutionary Wars or here (in German)
In 1813, he commanded the Army of the Danube, a corps of observation on the Bavarian frontier. On 8 October, he signed the Treaty of Ried with Karl Philipp von Wrede, which resulted in the Kingdom of Bavaria switching sides and joining the allies against Napoleon. This act earned him the Order of Leopold from Austria and the Military Order of Max Joseph from Bavaria. Russia honored him with the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. He was Governor of the Duchy of Milan and Viceroy of Lombardy–Venetia in 1814–15, earning the Gold Medal for civilian service and the Order of the Iron Crown. Later he served as Governor of Galicia. He was promoted Feldmarschall when he retired from the army on 10 September 1824. He died on 30 August 1825 at Greiz Castle, having never married.
Prince Heinrich XV. Reuss zu Greiz Passport 1814