Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor

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MAXIMILIAN II (HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE) (1527 – 1576 ruled 1564 – 1576)

MAXIMILIAN II (HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE) (1527 – 1576 ruled 1564 – 1576), Holy Roman emperor. Maximilian II, who was born on 31 July 1527 in Vienna and died on 12 October 1576 in Regensburg, was king of Bohemia (ruled 1562 – 1576), king of the Romans (1562), and king of Hungary (ruled 1563 – 1576). He became Holy Roman emperor in 1564. In 1548 he married Mar í a of Habsburg (1528 – 1603), coregent of Spain (1548 – 1550). Maximilian is buried in Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Son of the new king and queen of Bohemia and Hungary, Ferdinand I (ruled 1558 – 1564) of Habsburg and Anna of Jagiellon (died 1547), Maximilian grew up as a rival to his cousin Philip of Spain, the future King Philip II (ruled 1556 – 1598). Ultimately Maximilian gained the imperial title and fathered two Holy Roman emperors, Rudolf II (ruled 1576 – 1612) and Matthias (ruled 1612 – 1619). Philip gained the Iberian lands, the Low Countries, parts of Italy, and the Habsburg overseas empire in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Maximilian is often portrayed as having had — much to the dismay of his more orthodox father — a lively curiosity when it came to religious matters. This curiosity led many of his time (and later) to speculate that he may have believed some of the theological points presented by the followers of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546). Some scholars believe that, to restrain the young archduke, some of his inheritance was given away to his brothers Ferdinand and Charles, and Maximilian was sent to Spain to act as coregent with his bride Mar í a, the sister of the later Spanish king Philip II.

Nonetheless Maximilian's father eventually entrusted the newly acquired kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary, together with some of the Habsburg hereditary lands, to Maximilian and Mar í a. At the death of Ferdinand in 1564, Maximilian assumed the title of elected emperor and proceeded to organize the defense of Christendom against new Hungarian campaigns undertaken by the Ottomans in the 1560s. The defense, however, was less than spectacular. Maximilian, apparently shaken by the experience, retreated to a more intellectual and legally circumscribed sphere of cultural pursuits and limited political engagement.

Keeping an eye on the possibilities in Iberia (his cousin Philip was having difficulties producing a viable heir), Maximilian and Mar í a produced numerous children, including Anna, the future wife of Philip. A second daughter, Elizabeth, became Queen of France as the wife of King Charles IX (ruled 1560 – 1574).

Intelligent and open-minded, Maximilian supported research on historical and botanical subjects, and he continued to import styles and ideas from Italy, a process his father had actively supported. Outside of his residence city of Vienna, Maximilian oversaw the building of an impressive garden residence known simply as the "New Construction" (Neugeb ä ude). Situated on a rise overlooking the Danube River, this construction provided an orderly alternative to an oft-chaotic political landscape over which the emperor had little clear control.

Maximilian lost influence in imperial Italy over such matters as what title was to be granted to the Medici in Florence. Nevertheless he transferred the crowns of Bohemia and Hungary as well as the imperial title to his son Rudolf, partly by allowing an ill-defined amount of religious toleration to the important nobles in various of his lands.

In lands distant from the Ottoman front in Hungary, Maximilian's policies were marked by a clear respect for the provisions of the religious peace set at Augsburg in 1555 by his father. Maximilian staked much on the support of the Saxon electors newly tied to the imperial constitution. He also reached out to the usually inimical Valois in France, as representatives of that dynasty struggled with religious and civil chaos in their kingdom. Maximilian even entertained cordial relations with the Tudor queen of England, Elizabeth I (ruled 1558 – 1603). His wife Mar í a and Elizabeth of England shared godparental responsibilities for Maximilian and Mar í a's granddaughter Marie-Isabelle, the daughter of Charles IX and Elizabeth.

Maximilian II was plagued with health problems. His heart and constitution failed him, and he died at the age of forty-nine. Various stories of his deathbed behavior circulated around Europe, and all tried to divine what his demeanor meant for the cloudy future of the (Christian) religious settlement of 1555. His sons Rudolf and Matthias took the imperial office, but their successive reigns did not continue their father's conciliatory project.

See also Austria Bohemia Elizabeth I (England) Ferdinand I (Holy Roman Empire) Florence Habsburg Dynasty: Austria Holy Roman Empire Hungary Matthias (Holy Roman Empire) Ottoman Empire Philip II (Spain) Rudolf II (Holy Roman Empire) Vienna .


Maximilian was born at Wiener Neustadt on 22 March 1459. His father, Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, named him for an obscure saint, Maximilian of Tebessa, who Frederick believed had once warned him of imminent peril in a dream. In his infancy, he and his parents were besieged in Vienna by Albert of Austria. One source relates that, during the siege's bleakest days, the young prince wandered about the castle garrison, begging the servants and men-at-arms for bits of bread. [3] The young prince was an excellent hunter, his favorite hobby was hunting for birds as a horse archer.

At the time, the dukes of Burgundy, a cadet branch of the French royal family, with their sophisticated nobility and court culture, were the rulers of substantial territories on the eastern and northern boundaries of France. The reigning duke, Charles the Bold, was the chief political opponent of Maximilian's father Frederick III. Frederick was concerned about Burgundy's expansive tendencies on the western border of his Holy Roman Empire, and, to forestall military conflict, he attempted to secure the marriage of Charles' only daughter, Mary of Burgundy, to his son Maximilian. After the Siege of Neuss (1474–75), he was successful. The wedding between Maximilian and Mary took place on 19 August 1477. [4]

Maximilian's wife had inherited the large Burgundian domains in France and the Low Countries upon her father's death in the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477. Already before his coronation as the King of the Romans in 1486, Maximilian decided to secure this distant and extensive Burgundian inheritance to his family, the House of Habsburg, at all costs. [5]

The Duchy of Burgundy was also claimed by the French crown under Salic Law, [6] with Louis XI of France vigorously contesting the Habsburg claim to the Burgundian inheritance by means of military force. Maximilian undertook the defence of his wife's dominions from an attack by Louis XI and defeated the French forces at Guinegate, the modern Enguinegatte, on 7 August 1479. [7]

Maximilian and Mary's wedding contract stipulated that their children would succeed them but that the couple could not be each other's heirs. Mary tried to bypass this rule with a promise to transfer territories as a gift in case of her death, but her plans were confounded. After Mary's death in a riding accident on 27 March 1482 near the Wijnendale Castle, Maximilian's aim was now to secure the inheritance to his and Mary's son, Philip the Handsome. [5]

Some of the Netherlander provinces were hostile to Maximilian, and, in 1482, they signed a treaty with Louis XI in Arras that forced Maximilian to give up Franche-Comté and Artois to the French crown. [6] They openly rebelled twice in the period 1482–1492, attempting to regain the autonomy they had enjoyed under Mary. Flemish rebels managed to capture Philip and even Maximilian himself, but they were defeated when Frederick III intervened. [8] [9] Maximilian continued to govern Mary's remaining inheritance in the name of Philip the Handsome. After the regency ended, Maximilian and Charles VIII of France exchanged these two territories for Burgundy and Picardy in the Treaty of Senlis (1493). Thus a large part of the Netherlands (known as the Seventeen Provinces) stayed in the Habsburg patrimony. [6]

Peaceful Recapture of Austria Edit

Maximilian was elected King of the Romans on 16 February 1486 in Frankfurt-am-Main at his father's initiative and crowned on 9 April 1486 in Aachen. Much of Austria was under Hungarian rule, as a result of the Austrian-Hungarian War (1477-1488). After the death of king Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, the Habsburgs were able to occupy the Austrian territories without military conflict. Maximilian entered Vienna without siege in 1490. The peaceful Habsburg annexation of Austrian territories was possible after Maximilian and the newly elected Hungarian King Vladislaus II signed the peace treaty of Pressburg. Maximilian became ruler of the Holy Roman Empire upon the death of his father in 1493.

Italian and Swiss wars Edit

As the Treaty of Senlis had resolved French differences with the Holy Roman Empire, King Louis XII of France had secured borders in the north and turned his attention to Italy, where he made claims for the Duchy of Milan. In 1499/1500 he conquered it and drove the Sforza regent Lodovico il Moro into exile. [10] This brought him into a potential conflict with Maximilian, who on 16 March 1494 had married Bianca Maria Sforza, a daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, duke of Milan. [6] [10] However, Maximilian was unable to hinder the French from taking over Milan. [10] The prolonged Italian Wars resulted [6] in Maximilian joining the Holy League to counter the French. In 1513, with Henry VIII of England, Maximilian won an important victory at the battle of the Spurs against the French, stopping their advance in northern France. His campaigns in Italy were not as successful, and his progress there was quickly checked.

The situation in Italy was not the only problem Maximilian had at the time. The Swiss won a decisive victory against the Empire in the Battle of Dornach on 22 July 1499. Maximilian had no choice but to agree to a peace treaty signed on 22 September 1499 in Basel that granted the Swiss Confederacy independence from the Holy Roman Empire.

In addition, the County of Tyrol and Duchy of Bavaria went to war in the late 15th century. Bavaria demanded money from Tyrol that had been loaned on the collateral of Tyrolean lands. In 1490, the two nations demanded that Maximilian I step in to mediate the dispute. In response, he assumed control of Tyrol and its debt. Because Tyrol had no law code at this time, the nobility freely expropriated money from the populace, which caused the royal palace in Innsbruck to fester with corruption. After taking control, Maximilian instituted immediate financial reform. In order to symbolize his new wealth and power, he built the Golden Roof, a canopy overlooking the town center of Innsbruck, from which to watch the festivities celebrating his assumption of rule over Tyrol. The canopy is made entirely from golden shingles. Gaining theoretical control of Tyrol for the Habsburgs was of strategic importance because it linked the Swiss Confederacy to the Habsburg-controlled Austrian lands, which facilitated some imperial geographic continuity.

Banning of Jewish literature and expulsion of Jews Edit

In 1496, Maximilian issued a decree which expelled all Jews from Styria and Wiener Neustadt. [11] Similarly, in 1509 he passed the "Imperial Confiscation Mandate" which ordered the destruction of all Jewish literature apart from the Bible. [12] However he still conducted financial business with Jews like Abraham of Bohemia.

Reforms Edit

Within the Holy Roman Empire, Maximilian faced pressure from local rulers who believed that the King's continued wars with the French to increase the power of his own house were not in their best interests. There was also a consensus that deep reforms were needed to preserve the unity of the Empire. [13] The reforms, which had been delayed for a long time, were launched in the 1495 Reichstag at Worms. A new organ was introduced, the Reichskammergericht, that was to be largely independent from the Emperor. A new tax was launched to finance it, the Gemeine Pfennig, though its collection was never fully successful. [13] The local rulers wanted more independence from the Emperor and a strengthening of their own territorial rule. This led to Maximilian agreeing to establish an organ called the Reichsregiment, which met in Nuremberg and consisted of the deputies of the Emperor, local rulers, commoners, and the prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire. The new organ proved politically weak, and its power returned to Maximilian in 1502. [10]

Due to the difficult external and internal situation he faced, Maximilian also felt it necessary to introduce reforms in the historic territories of the House of Habsburg in order to finance his army. Using Burgundian institutions as a model, he attempted to create a unified state. This was not very successful, but one of the lasting results was the creation of three different subdivisions of the Austrian lands: Lower Austria, Upper Austria, and Vorderösterreich. [10]

Maximilian was always troubled by financial shortcomings his income never seemed to be enough to sustain his large-scale goals and policies. For this reason he was forced to take substantial credits from Upper German banker families, especially from the Baumgarten, Fugger and Welser families. Jörg Baumgarten even served as Maximilian's financial advisor. The Fuggers, who dominated the copper and silver mining business in Tyrol, provided a credit of almost 1 million gulden for the purpose of bribing the prince-electors to choose Maximilian's grandson Charles V as the new Emperor. At the end of Maximilian's rule, the Habsburgs' mountain of debt totalled six million gulden, corresponding to a decade's worth of tax revenues from their inherited lands. It took until the end of the 16th century to repay this debt.

In 1508, Maximilian, with the assent of Pope Julius II, took the title Erwählter Römischer Kaiser ("Elected Roman Emperor"), thus ending the centuries-old custom that the Holy Roman Emperor had to be crowned by the Pope.

As part of the Treaty of Arras, Maximilian betrothed his three-year-old daughter Margaret to the Dauphin of France (later Charles VIII), son of his adversary Louis XI. Under the terms of Margaret's betrothal, she was sent to Louis to be brought up under his guardianship. Despite Louis's death in 1483, shortly after Margaret arrived in France, she remained at the French court. The Dauphin, now Charles VIII, was still a minor, and his regent until 1491 was his sister Anne. [14] [15]

Dying shortly after signing the Treaty of Le Verger, Francis II, Duke of Brittany, left his realm to his daughter Anne. In her search of alliances to protect her domain from neighboring interests, she betrothed Maximilian I in 1490. About a year later, they married by proxy. [16] [17] [18]

However, Charles and his sister wanted her inheritance for France. So, when the former came of age in 1491, and taking advantage of Maximilian and his father's interest in the succession of their adversary Mathias Corvinus, King of Hungary, [19] Charles repudiated his betrothal to Margaret, invaded Brittany, forced Anne of Brittany to repudiate her unconsummated marriage to Maximilian, and married Anne of Brittany himself. [20] [21] [22]

Margaret then remained in France as a hostage of sorts until 1493, when she was finally returned to her father with the signing of the Treaty of Senlis. [23] [24]

In the same year, as the hostilities of the lengthy Italian Wars with France were in preparation, [25] Maximilian contracted another marriage for himself, this time to Bianca Maria Sforza, daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, with the intercession of his brother, Ludovico Sforza, [26] [27] [28] [29] then regent of the duchy after the former's death. [30]

Years later, in order to reduce the growing pressures on the Empire brought about by treaties between the rulers of France, Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, and Russia, as well as to secure Bohemia and Hungary for the Habsburgs, Maximilian met with the Jagiellonian kings Ladislaus II of Hungary and Bohemia and Sigismund I of Poland at the First Congress of Vienna in 1515. There they arranged for Maximilian's granddaughter Mary to marry Louis, the son of Ladislaus, and for Anne (the sister of Louis) to marry Maximilian's grandson Ferdinand (both grandchildren being the children of Philip the Handsome, Maximilian's son, and Joanna of Castile). [31] [32] The marriages arranged there brought Habsburg kingship over Hungary and Bohemia in 1526. [33] [34] Both Anne and Louis were adopted by Maximilian following the death of Ladislaus. [ citation needed ]

Thus Maximilian through his own marriages and those of his descendants (attempted unsuccessfully and successfully alike) sought, as was current practice for dynastic states at the time, to extend his sphere of influence. [34] The marriages he arranged for both of his children more successfully fulfilled the specific goal of thwarting French interests, and after the turn of the sixteenth century, his matchmaking focused on his grandchildren, for whom he looked away from France towards the east. [34] [35] These political marriages were summed up in the following Latin elegiac couplet: Bella gerant aliī, tū fēlix Austria nūbe/ Nam quae Mars aliīs, dat tibi regna Venus, "Let others wage war, but thou, O happy Austria, marry for those kingdoms which Mars gives to others, Venus gives to thee." [36]

Maximilian's policies in Italy had been unsuccessful, and after 1517 Venice reconquered the last pieces of their territory. Maximilian began to focus entirely on the question of his succession. His goal was to secure the throne for a member of his house and prevent Francis I of France from gaining the throne the resulting "election campaign" was unprecedented due to the massive use of bribery. [37] The Fugger family provided Maximilian a credit of one million gulden, which was used to bribe the prince-electors. [38] However, the bribery claims have been challenged. [39] At first, this policy seemed successful, and Maximilian managed to secure the votes from Mainz, Cologne, Brandenburg and Bohemia for his grandson Charles V. The death of Maximilian in 1519 seemed to put the succession at risk, but in a few months the election of Charles V was secured. [10]

In 1501, Maximilian fell from his horse and badly injured his leg, causing him pain for the rest of his life. Some historians have suggested that Maximilian was "morbidly" depressed: from 1514, he travelled everywhere with his coffin. [40] Maximilian died in Wels, Upper Austria, and was succeeded as Emperor by his grandson Charles V, his son Philip the Handsome having died in 1506. For penitential reasons, Maximilian gave very specific instructions for the treatment of his body after death. He wanted his hair to be cut off and his teeth knocked out, and the body was to be whipped and covered with lime and ash, wrapped in linen, and "publicly displayed to show the perishableness of all earthly glory". [41] Although he is buried in the Castle Chapel at Wiener Neustadt, an extremely elaborate cenotaph tomb for Maximilian is in the Hofkirche, Innsbruck, where the tomb is surrounded by statues of heroes from the past. [42] Much of the work was done in his lifetime, but it was not completed until decades later. [ citation needed ]

Maximilian was a keen supporter of the arts and sciences, and he surrounded himself with scholars such as Joachim Vadian and Andreas Stoberl (Stiborius), promoting them to important court posts. Many of them were commissioned to assist him complete a series of projects, in different art forms, intended to glorify for posterity his life and deeds and those of his Habsburg ancestors. [43] [44] He referred to these projects as Gedechtnus ("memorial"), [44] [45] which included a series of stylised autobiographical works: the epic poems Theuerdank and Freydal, and the chivalric novel Weisskunig, both published in editions lavishly illustrated with woodcuts. [43] In this vein, he commissioned a series of three monumental woodblock prints: The Triumphal Arch (1512–18, 192 woodcut panels, 295 cm wide and 357 cm high – approximately 9'8" by 11'8½") and a Triumphal Procession (1516–18, 137 woodcut panels, 54 m long), which is led by a Large Triumphal Carriage (1522, 8 woodcut panels, 1½' high and 8' long), created by artists including Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Altdorfer and Hans Burgkmair. [46] [47]

Maximilian had a great passion for armour, not only as equipment for battle or tournaments, but as an art form. The style of armour that became popular during the second half of his reign featured elaborate fluting and metalworking, and became known as Maximilian armour. It emphasized the details in the shaping of the metal itself, rather than the etched or gilded designs popular in the Milanese style. Maximilian also gave a bizarre jousting helmet as a gift to King Henry VIII – the helmet's visor features a human face, with eyes, nose and a grinning mouth, and was modelled after the appearance of Maximilian himself. [48] It also sports a pair of curled ram's horns, brass spectacles, and even etched beard stubble. [48]

Maximilian had appointed his daughter Margaret as both Regent of the Netherlands and the guardian and educator of his grandsons Charles and Ferdinand (their father, Philip, having predeceased Maximilian), and she fulfilled this task well. Through wars and marriages he extended the Habsburg influence in every direction: to the Netherlands, Spain, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, and Italy. This influence lasted for centuries and shaped much of European history. The Habsburg Empire survived as the Austro-Hungarian Empire until it was dissolved 3 November 1918 – 399 years 11 months and 9 days after the passing of Maximilian.

Maximilian's life is still commemorated in Central Europe centuries later. The Order of St. George, which he sponsored, still exists. [49] In 2011, for example, a monument was erected for him in Cortina d’Ampezzo. [50] Also in 1981 in Cormons on the Piazza Liberta a statue of Maximilian, which was there until the First World War, was put up again. [51] On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his death there were numerous commemorative events in 2019 at which Karl von Habsburg, the current head of the House of Habsburg, represented the imperial dynasty. [52] [53] [54]

Consolidation of power

On the death of Frederick III in 1493, Maximilian became sole ruler over the German kingdom and head of the house of Habsburg. He then drove the Turks from his southeastern borders, married Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan (1494), and handed over the Low Countries to his son Philip (1494), reserving, however, the right of joint rule. The flourishing culture of the Low Countries influenced literature, art, government, politics, and military methods in all the other Habsburg possessions.

Charles VIII’s invasion of Italy (1494) upset the European balance of power. Maximilian allied himself with the pope, Spain, Venice, and Milan in the so-called Holy League (1495) to drive out the French, who were conquering Naples. He campaigned in Italy in 1496, but, although the French were expelled, he achieved little benefit. More important were the marriages of his son Philip to the Spanish infanta Joan (the Mad), in the same year, and of his daughter Margaret to the Spanish crown prince, in 1497. These marriages assured him of the succession in Spain and the control of the Spanish colonies.

At a meeting of the Reichstag (Imperial Diet) at Worms in 1495, Maximilian sought to strengthen the empire. Laws were projected to reform the Reichskammergericht (Imperial Chamber of Justice) and taxation and to give permanency to the public peace however, no solution was forthcoming for many military and administrative problems. The princes would permit no strengthening of the central authority, and this limitation of power neutralized imperial policies. To thwart the opposition, which was led primarily by the lord chancellor Berthold, archbishop of Mainz, Maximilian set up his own extra-constitutional judicial and financial commissions.

In 1499 Maximilian fought an unsuccessful war against the Swiss Confederation and was forced to recognize its virtual independence by the Peace of Basel (September 22). At the same time, the French moved back into Italy, in cooperation with Spain, and occupied the imperial fief of Milan.

In 1500 the imperial princes at the Reichstag in Augsburg withdrew considerable power from Maximilian and invested it in the Reichsregiment, a supreme council of 21 electors, princes, and others. They even considered deposing him, but the plan miscarried because of their own apathy and Maximilian’s effective countermeasures. He strengthened his European position by an agreement with France, and he regained prestige within the empire by victories in a dynastic war between Bavaria and the Rhenish Palatinate (1504). At the same time, the death of Berthold of Mainz rid him of one of his main opponents. Credit arrangements with southern German business firms, such as the Fuggers, assured Maximilian of funds for foreign and domestic needs, and a campaign against Hungary in 1506 strengthened the Habsburg claim to the Hungarian throne. Though he was the German king, he had not been crowned emperor by the pope, as was customary. Excluded from Italy by the hostile Venetians, he was unable to go to Rome for his coronation and had to content himself with the title of Roman emperor-elect that was bestowed on him with the consent of Pope Julius II on February 4, 1508.

To oppose Venice, Maximilian entered into the League of Cambrai with France, Spain, and the pope in 1508. Their aim was to partition the Republic of Venice. In the war that followed, Maximilian was labelled an unreliable partner because of his lack of funds and troops. Pope Julius’s severe illness prompted Maximilian to consider accepting the office of pope, which the schismatic Council of Pisa offered him. At times pious, at other times antipapal, he thought he might win financial help from the German church if he were a rival pope, but in the end he let himself be dissuaded from this by Ferdinand II (the Catholic) of Aragon. Turning away from his French alliance, he entered into a new Holy League (1511) with the pope, Spain, England, and their allies. With the help of England, he scored a victory against the French in the Battle of the Spurs (1513) while his allies concentrated on regaining Milan and Lombardy. The French were victorious in Italy at the Battle of Marignano in 1515, and Maximilian’s efforts to re-win Milan failed miserably. The Treaty of Brussels granted Milan to the French and Verona to the Venetians, leaving Maximilian with only the territorial boundaries of Tirol.

In the east, by making overtures to Russia, he was able to put pressure on Poland, Bohemia, and Hungary to acquiesce in his expansionist plans. In 1515 advantageous marriages were arranged between members of the Habsburg family and the Hungarian royal house, thus strengthening the Habsburg position in Hungary and also in Bohemia, which was under the same dynasty. His intricate system of alliances, embracing both central Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, made Maximilian a potent force in European affairs.

On January 12, 1519, having spent the previous year trying to have his grandson Charles elected emperor and to raise a European coalition against the Turks, he died at Wels in Upper Austria. He was buried in Georgskirche at Wiener Neustadt. (His magnificent tomb at the Hofkirche in Innsbruck was completed later.) His plans did come to fruition when his grandson, already king of Spain, became emperor as Charles V later the same year.

Elizabeth of York marries Maximilian, Holy Roman Emperor

That's definitely going to be interesting. I take it then that Maximilian would keep Philip as Duke of Burgundy and then perhaps look to have his son by Elizabeth crowned Holy Roman Emperor, with a look toward securing an alliance with Hungary later on down the line.


That's definitely going to be interesting. I take it then that Maximilian would keep Philip as Duke of Burgundy and then perhaps look to have his son by Elizabeth crowned Holy Roman Emperor, with a look toward securing an alliance with Hungary later on down the line.


Austria will most likely go to Elizabeth’s eldest son (united with the Imperial succession after Philip’s death) who will be married either to Catherine of Aragon or to a Jaggiellon princess (either Elizabeth of Poland (born 1482) or her nieces Margaret (born 1482), Sophia (born 1485), Anna (born 1487), Elizabeth (born 1494) or Barbara (born 1495) of Brandeburg-Ansbach or Anna (born 1492) or Sophia (born 1498) of Pomerania).
Maximilian will also marry his daughters by Elizabeth to both Vladislaus (as third wife) and Sigismund (as first wife) Jagiellon.

Well the point is who here Philip will not marry Juana as he will marry his original betrothed Anne of York. Juana here will most likely marry either Manuel I of Portugal (after he will become King) or Edward V of England if the wedding to Anne of Brittany go to his younger brother Richard (for keeping the two countries always separated). Naturally if Anne of Brittany is unavailable for Charles VIII then he will marry Margaret of Burgundy as planned and Juan will most likely marry Catherine of York at this point


Primary Sources

Burgkmair, Hans. The Triumph of Maximilian I: 137 Woodcuts by Hans Burgkmair and Others. Edited and translated by Stanley Appelbaum. New York, 1964.

Freydal: Des Kaisers Maximilian I: Turniere und Mummereien (Freydal: The tournaments and costumes of Emperor Maximilian I). Edited by Franz, Graf Folliot de Crenneville. 2 vols. Vienna, 1880 – 1882. Attributed to Maximilian.

Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank. 2 vols. Facsimile. Plochingen, 1968. Attributed to Maximilian originally published 1517.

Maximilian I, Holy Roman emperor. Kaiser Maximilians I Weisskunig. Edited by H. T. Musper. 2 vols. Stuttgart, 1956.

Secondary Sources

Benecke, Gerhard. Maximilian I (1459 – 1519): An Analytical Biography. Boston, 1982.

Scholz-Williams, Gerhild. The Literary World of Maximilian I: An Annotated Bibliography. Sixteenth Century Bibliography, vol. 21. St. Louis, 1982.

Wiesflecker, Hermann. Kaiser Maximilian I: Das Reich, Ö sterreich und Europa an der Wende zur Neuzeit (Emperor Maximilian I: The empire, Austria, and Europe on the eve of modernity). 5 vols. Munich, 1971 – 1986. The standard biography.

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Charles I of Spain elected Holy Roman emperor

Charles I of Spain, who by birth already held sway over much of Europe and Spanish America, is elected the successor of his late grandfather, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Charles, who was also the grandson of Ferdinand II and Isabella of Spain, had bribed the princes of Germany to vote for him, defeating such formidable candidates as King Henry VIII of England, King Francis I of France, and Frederick the Wise, the duke of Saxony.

Crowned as Emperor Charles V, the new Holy Roman emperor sought to unite the many kingdoms under his rule in the hope of creating a vast, universal empire. However, his hopes were thwarted by the Protestant Reformation in Germany, a lifelong dynastic struggle with King Francis, and the advance of the Ottoman Turks into Europe. In 1558, after nearly four decades as Holy Roman emperor, Charles abdicated the throne in favor of his brother, Ferdinand. He had already granted much of the other European territory under his rule to his son Philip.

Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian II (31 July 1527 – 12 October 1576), a member of the Austrian House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor from 1564 until his death. He was crowned King of Bohemia in Prague on 14 May 1562 and elected King of Germany (King of the Romans) on 24 November 1562. On 8 September 1563 he was crowned King of Hungary and Croatia in the Hungarian capital Pressburg (Pozsony in Hungarian now Bratislava, Slovakia). On 25 July 1564 he succeeded his father Ferdinand I as ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. [1] [2]

Maximilian's rule was shaped by the confessionalization process after the 1555 Peace of Augsburg. Though a Habsburg and a Catholic, he approached the Lutheran Imperial estates with a view to overcome the denominational schism, [ further explanation needed ] which ultimately failed. He also was faced with the ongoing Ottoman–Habsburg wars and rising conflicts with his Habsburg Spain cousins.

According to Fichtner, Maximilian failed to achieve his three major aims: rationalizing the government structure, unifying Christianity, and evicting the Turks from Hungary. [3]

Maximilian was born in Vienna, Austria, the eldest son of the Habsburg archduke Ferdinand I, younger brother of Emperor Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and the Jagiellonian princess Anne of Bohemia and Hungary (1503–1547). He was named after his great-grandfather, Emperor Maximilian I. At the time of his birth, his father Ferdinand succeeded his brother-in-law King Louis II in the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Kingdom of Hungary, laying the grounds for the global Habsburg Monarchy.

Having spent his childhood years at his father's court in Innsbruck, Tyrol, Maximilian was educated principally in Italy. Among his teachers were humanist scholars like Kaspar Ursinus Velius and Georg Tannstetter. He also came in contact with the Lutheran teaching and early on corresponded with the Protestant prince Augustus of Saxony, suspiciously eyed by his Habsburg relatives. From the age of 17, he gained some experience of warfare during the Italian War campaign of his uncle Charles V against King Francis I of France in 1544, and also during the Schmalkaldic War. Upon Charles' victory in the 1547 Battle of Mühlberg, Maximilian put in a good word for the Schmalkaldic leaders, Elector John Frederick I of Saxony and Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, and soon began to take part in Imperial business.

Heir apparent

On 13 September 1548 Emperor Charles V married Maximilian to Charles's daughter (Maximilian's cousin) Maria of Spain in the Castile residence of Valladolid. By the marriage his uncle intended to strengthen the ties with the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs, but also to consolidate his nephew's Catholic faith. Maximilian temporarily acted as the emperor's representative in Spain, however not as stadtholder of the Habsburg Netherlands as he had hoped for. To his indignation, King Ferdinand appointed his younger brother Ferdinand II administrator in the Kingdom of Bohemia, nevertheless Maximilian's right of succession as the future king was recognised in 1549. He returned to Germany in December 1550 in order to take part in the discussion over the Imperial succession.

Maximilian's relations with his uncle worsened, as Charles V, again embattled by rebellious Protestant princes led by Elector Maurice of Saxony, wished his son Philip II of Spain to succeed him as emperor. However, Charles' brother Ferdinand, who had already been designated as the next occupant of the imperial throne, and his son Maximilian objected to this proposal. Maximilian sought the support of the German princes such as Duke Albert V of Bavaria and even contacted Protestant leaders like Maurice of Saxony and Duke Christoph of Württemberg. At length a compromise was reached: Philip was to succeed Ferdinand, but during the former's reign Maximilian, as King of the Romans, was to govern Germany. This arrangement was not carried out, and is only important because the insistence of the emperor seriously disturbed the harmonious relations that had hitherto existed between the two branches of the Habsburg family an illness that befell Maximilian in 1552 was attributed to poison given to him in the interests of his cousin and brother-in-law, Philip II of Spain.

The relationship between the two cousins was uneasy. While Philip had been raised a Spaniard and barely travelled out of the kingdom during his life, Maximilian identified himself as the quintessential German prince and often displayed a strong dislike of Spaniards, whom he considered as intolerant and arrogant. [4] While his cousin was reserved and shy, Maximilian was outgoing and charismatic. His adherence to humanism and religious tolerance put him at odds with Philip who was more committed to the defence of the Catholic faith. [5] Also, he was considered a promising commander, while Philip disliked war and only once personally commanded an army. Nonetheless, the two remained committed to the unity of their dynasty.

In 1551 Maximilian attended the Council of Trent and the next year took up his residence at Hofburg Palace in Vienna, celebrated by a triumphal return into the city with a large entourage including the elephant Suleiman. While his father Ferdinand concluded the 1552 Treaty of Passau with the Protestant estates and finally reached the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, Maximilian was engaged mainly in the government of the Austrian hereditary lands and in defending them against Ottoman incursions. In Vienna, he had his Hofburg residence extended with the Renaissance Stallburg wing, the site of the later Spanish Riding School, and also ordered the construction of Neugebäude Palace in Simmering. The court held close ties to the University of Vienna and employed scholars like the botanist Carolus Clusius and the diplomat Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. Maximilian's library curated by Hugo Blotius later became the nucleus of the Austrian National Library. He implemented the Roman School of composition with his court orchestra, however, his plans to win Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina as Kapellmeister foundered on financial reasons. In the 1550s, Vienna had more than 50,000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in Central Europe with Prague and before Nuremberg (40,000 inhabitants).

The religious views of the future King of Bohemia had always been somewhat uncertain, and he had probably learned something of Lutheranism in his youth but his amicable relations with several Protestant princes, which began about the time of the discussion over the succession, were probably due more to political than to religious considerations. However, in Vienna he became very intimate with Sebastian Pfauser [de] , a court preacher influenced by Heinrich Bullinger with strong leanings towards Lutheranism, and his religious attitude caused some uneasiness to his father. Fears were freely expressed that he would definitely leave the Catholic Church, and when his father Ferdinand became emperor in 1558 he was prepared to assure Pope Paul IV that his son should not succeed him if he took this step. Eventually Maximilian remained nominally an adherent of the older faith, although his views were tinged with Lutheranism until the end of his life. After several refusals he consented in 1560 to the banishment of Pfauser, and began again to attend the Masses of the Catholic Church.


In November 1562 Maximilian was chosen King of the Romans, or German king, by the electoral college at Frankfurt, where he was crowned a few days later, after assuring the Catholic electors of his fidelity to their faith, and promising the Protestant electors that he would publicly accept the confession of Augsburg when he became emperor. He also took the usual oath to protect the Church, and his election was afterwards confirmed by the papacy. He was the first King of the Romans not to be crowned in Aachen. In September 1563 he was crowned King of Hungary by the Archbishop of Esztergom, Nicolaus Olahus, and on his father's death, in July 1564, he succeeded to the empire and to the kingdoms of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia.

The new emperor had already shown that he believed in the necessity for a thorough reform of the Church. He was unable, however, to obtain the consent of Pope Pius IV to the marriage of the clergy, and in 1568 the concession of communion in both kinds to the laity was withdrawn. On his part Maximilian granted religious liberty to the Lutheran nobles and knights in Austria, and refused to allow the publication of the decrees of the council of Trent. Amidst general expectations on the part of the Protestants he met his first summoned Diet of Augsburg in March 1566. He refused to accede to the demands of the Lutheran princes on the other hand, although the increase of sectarianism was discussed, no decisive steps were taken to suppress it, and the only result of the meeting was a grant of assistance for the war with the Turks, which had just been renewed. Maximilian would gather a large army and march to fight the Ottomans, but neither the Habsburgs nor the Ottomans would achieve much of anything from this conflict. The Ottomans would besiege and conquer Szigetvár in 1566, but their sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, would die of old age during the siege. With neither side winning a decisive engagement, Maximilian's ambassadors Antun Vrančić and Christoph Teuffenbach would meet with the Ottoman Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha in Adrianople to negotiate a truce in 1568. The terms of the Treaty of Adrianople required the Emperor to recognise Ottoman suzerainty over Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia.

Meanwhile, the relations between Maximilian and Philip of Spain had improved, and the emperor's increasingly cautious and moderate attitude in religious matters was doubtless because the death of Philip's son, Don Carlos, had opened the way for the succession of Maximilian, or of one of his sons, to the Spanish throne. Evidence of this friendly feeling was given in 1570, when the emperor's daughter, Anna, became the fourth wife of Philip but Maximilian was unable to moderate the harsh proceedings of the Spanish king against the revolting inhabitants of the Netherlands. In 1570 the emperor met the diet of Speyer and asked for aid to place his eastern borders in a state of defence, and also for power to repress the disorder caused by troops in the service of foreign powers passing through Germany. He proposed that his consent should be necessary before any soldiers for foreign service were recruited in the empire but the estates were unwilling to strengthen the imperial authority, the Protestant princes regarded the suggestion as an attempt to prevent them from assisting their co-religionists in France and the Netherlands, and nothing was done in this direction, although some assistance was voted for the defense of Austria. The religious demands of the Protestants were still unsatisfied, while the policy of toleration had failed to give peace to Austria. Maximilian's power was very limited it was inability rather than unwillingness that prevented him from yielding to the entreaties of Pope Pius V to join in an attack on the Turks both before and after the victory of Lepanto in 1571 and he remained inert while the authority of the empire in north-eastern Europe was threatened.

In 1575, Maximilian was elected by the part of Polish and Lithuanian magnates to be the King of Poland in opposition to Stephan IV Bathory, but he did not manage to become widely accepted there and was forced to leave Poland.

Maximilian died on 12 October 1576 in Regensburg while preparing to invade Poland. On his deathbed he refused to receive the last sacraments of the Church. He is buried in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

By his wife Maria he had a family of ten sons and six daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Rudolf, who had been chosen king of the Romans in October 1575. Another of his sons, Matthias, also became emperor three others, Ernest, Albert and Maximilian, took some part in the government of the Habsburg territories or of the Netherlands, and a daughter, Elizabeth, married Charles IX of France.

Maximilian's policies of religious neutrality and peace in the Empire afforded its Roman Catholics and Protestants a breathing space after the first struggles of the Reformation. His reign also saw the high point of Protestantism in Austria and Bohemia and unlike his successors, Maximilian did not try to suppress it.

He disappointed the German Protestant princes by his refusal to invest Lutheran administrators of prince-bishoprics with their imperial fiefs. Yet on a personal basis he granted freedom of worship to the Protestant nobility and worked for reform in the Roman Catholic Church, including the right of priests to marry. This failed because of Spanish opposition.

Maximilian II was a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

On 13 September 1548, Maximilian married his first cousin Maria of Spain, daughter of Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. Despite Maria's commitment to Habsburg Spain and her strong Catholic manners, the marriage was a happy one. The couple had sixteen children:

    (1 November 1549 – 26 October 1580). Married Philip II of Spain, her uncle. She was the mother of Philip III of Spain.
  • Archduke Ferdinand of Austria (28 March 1551 – 25 June 1552). (18 July 1552 – 20 January 1612). , (15 July 1553 – 12 February 1595). He served as Governor of the Low Countries. (5 July 1554 – 22 January 1592). Married Charles IX of France.
  • Archduchess Marie of Austria (27 July 1555 – 25 June 1556). (24 February 1557 – 20 March 1619).
  • A stillborn son (20 October 1557). (12 October 1558 – 2 November 1618). Elected king of Poland, but never crowned. He served as grandmaster of the Teutonic Order and Administrator of Prussia. (15 November 1559 – 13 July 1621). He served as Governor of the Low Countries. (9 March 1561 – 22 September 1578).
  • Archduke Frederick of Austria (21 June 1562 – 16 January 1563).
  • Archduchess Marie of Austria (19 February 1564 – 26 March 1564). Named after her deceased older sister.
  • Archduke Charles of Austria (26 September 1565 – 23 May 1566). (25 January 1567 – 5 July 1633). A nun.
  • Archduchess Eleanor of Austria (4 November 1568 – 12 March 1580).

Maximilian II, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King in Germany, of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, etc. Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Luxemburg, Württemberg, the Upper and Lower Silesia, Prince of Swabia, Margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgau, Moravia, the Upper and Lower Lusatia, Princely Count of Habsburg, Tyrol, Ferrette, Kyburg, Gorizia, Landgrave of Alsace, Lord of the Wendish March, Pordenone and Salins, etc. etc.

The Habsburg Imperial Plan of Emperor Maximilian I

Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire (1459–1519) was the first great Habsburg emperor. The son of Emperor Frederick III and Eleanor of Portugal, Maximilian succeeded his father in 1495 and was a gifted warrior and an ambitious politician who wanted as much power and international influence as he could get for himself and his royal dynasty. His own marriage to Duchess Mary of Burgundy made him rich. His son Duke Philip of Burgundy’s marriage to Princess Juana of Castile linked Austria to Spain, which were then joined under one ruler in the person of Philip and Juana’s son Emperor Charles V. Maximilian’s other grandson, the future Emperor Ferdinand I, also became king of Hungary and Bohemia due to his grandfather’s ambitions.

The Marriage of Emperor Maximilian I and Duchess Mary of Burgundy

Duchess Mary of Burgundy was the sole heir of the richest and most powerful state in Europe. After much negotiation, Maximilian and Mary were married in 1477 when he was eighteen and she nineteen. They got along very well and had a happy marriage, living mostly in Ghent in her territory and pursuing their interests in art and literature. They only had two surviving children, Philip of Burgundy and Margaret, and after Mary died in 1482, Maximilian deeply grieved for her. Although he married twice more, to Anne of Brittany and the rich Bianca Sforza, he never had any more children.

The Children of Emperor Maximilian I and Duchess Mary of Burgundy

Maximilian used his children’s marriages to help him in diplomatic negotiations and increase Habsburg power and influence. His daughter Margaret had three such diplomatic marriages. In 1482, Maximilian had been forced to sign the Treaty of Arras, in which he agreed to allow France to keep all the Burgundian land it had invaded and also gave the young Princess Margaret to the French dauphin. Years later, however, the French rejected her for a better diplomatic marriage and she was sent home.

She was next involved in a 1495 double betrothal, in which she and her brother Philip were promised to Juan and Juana, the children of the great Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. Margaret’s marriage ended soon with the early death of her husband, but Philip and Juana’s marriage produced many children and introduced the Habsburg dynasty to Spain.

Margaret was thirdly given to Prince Philibert of Savoy, but he soon left her a widow again. She spent the rest of her life in the Burgundian territory of Flanders where she was regent of the Netherlands.

The Habsburg Grandchildren of Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire

The marriage of Philip of Burgundy and Princess Juana of Castile (also known as Juana la Loca) introduced the Habsburg dynasty to Spain. Philip died young and Juana went crazy, so Maximilian was essential in the upbringing of his grandchildren.

Emperor Maximilian I wanted his eldest grandson Charles to succeed him as Holy Roman Emperor, and spent the last years of his reign campaigning to get him elected. Charles eventually became both Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and King Carlos I of Spain, ruling a vast empire that spanned the globe.

Emperor Maximilian was also interested in peace with neighboring Hungary, and used his grandchildren Ferdinand and Mary for that. In a 1491 peace treaty, Maximilian and King Ladislaus II of Hungary agreed that if Ladislaus had no surviving male heir then the Habsburgs would inherit his land. Maximilian then arranged a double marriage in 1515 between Ferdinand and Mary and Ladislaus’s children Louis and Anna. After Ladislaus’s early death, Maximilian adopted Louis, and when Louis died with no heirs, Ferdinand inherited Hungary and Bohemia.

The Legacy of Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire

Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire was one of the most ambitious and influential Austrian rulers. He strengthened the power of the Habsburg dynasty mostly through marriage alliances. His own marriage to Duchess Mary of Burgundy gave the Habsburgs wealth and land. His son Philip of Burgundy’s marriage to Princess Juana of Castile established the Habsburgs in Spain, and their son Charles inherited both lands as Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and King Carlos I of Spain. Maximilian’s grandchildren’s marriages to Hungarian royals linked Austria with the neighboring land, and his grandson Ferdinand eventually ascended as King Ferdinand of Hungary and Bohemia and later became Emperor Ferdinand I of the Holy Roman Empire. Because of Emperor Maximilian I’s ambition and strategic alliances, the Habsburgs began to grow in international power and eventually became one of the most powerful royal familes in Europe.

Official style

Maximilian II, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King in Germany, of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, etc. Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Luxemburg, Württemberg, the Upper and Lower Silesia, Prince of Swabia, Margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgau, Moravia, the Upper and Lower Lusatia, Princely Count of Habsburg, Tyrol, Ferrette, Kyburg, Gorizia, Landgrave of Alsace, Lord of the Wendish March, Pordenone and Salins, etc. etc.

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