Of his four surviving children, the oldest son, Anton Maria Friedrich, joined the church. The second oldest, Prosper Ferdinand Philipp Maria Karl Franz zu Fürstenberg-Stühlingen (1662–1704) became, at the age of nineteen, the designated successor to the Fürstenberg-Stühlingen dominion; however, it would take another four years before he was actually handed the reins. Despite his many virtues, glowingly described in the family historiography,11 he seemed to have had difficulties in obtaining a military position appropriate to his station.12 His mother, the widow Magdalena von Bernhausen Fürstenberg, travelled to the elector of Bavaria to plead on behalf of her son.13 Eventually, a “dignified” military post was found for him.
In 1690 Prosper Ferdinand married the sixteen-year-old countess Anna Sophia Eusebia von Königsegg und Rothenfels (1674–1727). Military career, gambling, and marriage severely taxed the already strained wealth of the Fürstenberg-Stühlingen family – and therefore loaded another financial burden on their subjects.14 Prosper Ferdinand served valiantly in a variety of wars and thus had little time to look after the affairs of his county. While commanding a Swabian regiment during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14)15 in the second siege of Landau, he was killed16 on November 21, 1704 by a twenty-four pound French cannonball that hit his coach.17
The unfortunate widow Anna Sophie was left with eight children to raise; the youngest, Ludwig August Egon Johann Maria, was born almost three months after his father’s passing. Six children survived childhood, and one, Maria Josepha, died in her late teens.18 As the eldest son, Joseph Wilhelm Ernst (1699–1762) was Prosper Ferdinand’s designated successor. His father’s only surviving brother, Anton Maria Friedrich, an official in the Catholic Church, and Froben Ferdinand, a distant uncle from the Messkirch branch and a high functionary in the imperial administration, joined Anna Sophia as his guardians. This guardianship arrangement and the educational plans for young Joseph Wilhelm Ernst were soon challenged by Prince Anton Egon of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg,19 from the third branch of the Fürstenberg clan. The young count Joseph Wilhelm Ernst started his education in the Jesuit college of St. Hieronymi in the Bavarian town of Dillingen.20 He was supported by a personal tutor and a few personal servants. After some travel, he studied philosophy in Strasbourg and law in Utrecht. Having completed his formal studies, he returned to Stühlingen through Belgium. Another extended trip through Italy concluded his education at age twenty.21
12Mauerer, “Südwestdeutscher Reichsadel,” 195.
13Münch, Geschichte des Hauses Fürstenberg, 54.
14Mauerer, “Südwestdeutscher Reichsadel,” 199, 200, 214.
15Schnettger, “Der spanische Erbfolgekrieg.”
16Mauerer, “Südwestdeutscher Reichsadel Im 17. Und 18. Jahrhunder: Geld, Reputation, Karriere: Das Haus Fürstenberg.” 339
17Münch, “Geschichte des Hauses Fürstenberg.” 62.
18Stoyan, “Eine WWW-Personendatenbank,” Pid= 31000297.
19Mauerer, “Südwestdeutscher Reichsadel,”” 343.
21Münch, “Geschichte des Hauses Fürstenberg,” 237–40.