Friedrich Franz I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1756-1837)
Friedrich Franz (1756-1837) was the son of Ludwig, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1725-1778) and Charlotte Sophie, Duchess of Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld (d.1810). He married Luise, Princess of Sachsen-Gotha-Roda (d.1808) on 31 May 1775. Friedrich Franz I succeeded his uncle Friedrich der Fromme to the throne after his death in 1785. One of his first political acts was to close down Friedrichs-Universität, the University that his uncle had built in 1760 in Bützow. He also bought back Wredenhagen, Marnitz, Eldena and Plau, the municipalities which had been pawned to Prussia in 1734. Though Schwerin suffered a great deal from the Napoleonic occupation, with Friedrich Franz I being forced into exile in Altona near Hamburg, for a short time in 1807, cultural life at the court continued, and after the peace-treaty of 1815 the artefacts that Napoleon had seized were brought back from Paris. It was Gebhard Leberecht von Blüchner, a military commander from Schwerin, who came to the Duke of Wellington's aid at Waterloo in June 1815, thus bringing about the defeat of Napoleon. In the same year, Friedrich Franz I received the title of Grand-Duke. Acknowledged as a liberal, peacefully inclined ruler, Friedrich Franz I was, among many things, responsible for the abolition of corporal punishment.