FERDINAND III. (1608-1657), emperor, the son of the preceding, was born at Gratz, 11th July 1608. He became king of Bohemia in 1625, king of Hungary in 1627, king of the Romans in 1636, and succeeded his father as emperor in 1637. Milder in disposition, less fanatical in his opinions, and somewhat dispirited on account of the repeated defeats inflicted on the German arms by Duke Bernhard and General Baner, be was at an early period of his reign strongly desirous of obtaining peace even at the cost of liberal concessions to the Protestants ; but the determination of France and Sweden to humiliate the imperial power prevented negotiations being entered into until 1643. Between that date and 1648 fruitless conferences continued to be held, the war meanwhile raging intermittently and with somewhat spent fury. In 1647, however, Ferdinand had guaranteed religious toleration to Hungary, and finally, on October 24, 1648, the Peace of Westphalia was signed, by which was brought to a close a war that, besides the evils inflicted by it on other countries, had desolated the whole of Germany, paralysed its trade, and destroyed more than half its population. By this treaty religious liberty was secured to Germany, although not to Bohemia ; France obtained part of Alsace and Lorraine, and the son of Frederick V. got the Upper Palatinate ; while Sweden obtained. Western Pomerania, and became a member of the German diet. The unity of Germany was at the same time so broken up by concessions granted to the independent princes that with the death of Ferdinand III. the German kingdom may be said to have ceased to exist, until re-established by William I. after the Franco-Prussian war. During the peace negotiations of Westphalia, Ferdinand IV., eldest son of Ferdinand III., was chosen king of the Romans, but he died in 1654, Ferdinand III. died, April 2, 1657, shortly after concluding a treaty with the Poles against Sweden. See Koch, Gesehichte des Deutschen Reichs aster Ferdinand III., 1865.