Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
|Portrait by Albrecht Dürer, 1519 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). Maximilian holds his personal emblem, the pomegranate.|
|Reign||16 February 1486 – 12 January 1519|
|Coronation||9 April 1486|
|Reign||19 August 1493 – 12 January 1519|
|Reign||5 January 1477 – 27 March 1482|
|Predecessor||Mary the Rich|
|House||House of Habsburg|
|Mother||Eleanor of Portugal|
22 March 1459|
Wiener Neustadt, Austria
|Died||12 January 1519
Wels, Upper Austria
|Burial||Wiener Neustadt, Austria|
Maximilian I (22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519), the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans (also known as King of the Germans) from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky. He had ruled jointly with his father for the last ten years of his father's reign, from c. 1483. He expanded the influence of the House of Habsburg through war and his marriage in 1477 to Mary of Burgundy, the heiress to the Duchy of Burgundy, but he also lost the Austrian territories in today's Switzerland to the Swiss Confederacy.
By marrying his son Philip the Handsome to the future Queen Joanna of Castile in 1498, Maximilian established the Habsburg dynasty in Spain and allowed his grandson Charles to hold the throne of both León-Castile and Aragon, thus making him the first de jure King of Spain. Having outlived his father Philip, Charles succeeded Maximilian as Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, and thus ruled both the Holy Roman Empire and the Spanish Empire simultaneously.
Background and Childhood
Maximilian was born at Wiener Neustadt on 22 March 1459. His father, Frederick III, named him for an obscure saint whom Frederick believed had once warned him of eminent 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 would wander about the castle garrison, begging the servants and men-at-arms for bits of bread .
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 vast territories on the eastern and northern boundaries of modern-day France. The reigning duke of Burgundy, 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's 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 the evening of 16 August 1477.
Reign in Burgundy and The Netherlands
Maximilian's wife had inherited the vast 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.
The Duchy of Burgundy was also claimed by the French crown under Salic Law, with Louis XI, King 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.
The wedding contract between Maximilian and Mary stipulated that only the children of bride and groom had a right to inherit from each, not the surviving parent. 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 tragic death in a riding accident on 27 March 1482 near the Wijnendale Castle, Maximilian's aim was now to secure the inheritance to one of his and Mary's children, Philip the Handsome.
Some of the Netherland provinces were hostile to Maximilian, and they signed a treaty with Louis XI in 1482 that forced Maximilian to give up Franche-Comté and Artois to the French crown. 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.
Reign in the Holy Roman Empire
|Holy Roman Emperor|
Elected King of the Romans 16 February 1486 in Frankfurt-am-Main at his father's initiative and crowned on 9 April 1486 in Aachen, Maximilian also stood at the head of the Holy Roman Empire upon his father's death in 1493.
Italian and Swiss wars
As the treaty of Senlis had resolved French differences with the Holy Roman Empire, King Louis XII of France had his borders secured 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. 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. However, Maximilian was unable to hinder the French from taking over Milan. The prolonged Italian Wars resulted in Maximilian joining the Holy League to counter the French.
In the late 15th century the two kingdoms of Tyrol and Bavaria went to war. Bavaria demanded money back 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 the 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. It is made entirely from golden shingles. Gaining theoretical control of Tyrol for the Hapsburgs was of strategic importance because it linked the Swiss Confederacy to the Hapsburg-controlled Austrian lands, which facilitated some imperial geographic continuity.
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.
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 in order to preserve the unity of the Empire, deep reforms were needed. The reforms, which had been delayed for a long time, were launched in the 1495 Reichstag at Worms. A new organ, the Reichskammergericht was introduced, and it was to be largely independent from the Emperor. To finance it, a new tax, the Gemeine Pfennig was launched. However, its collection was never fully successful. 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 would meet in Nuremberg and consist of the deputies of the Emperor, local rulers, commoners, and the prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire. The new organ proved itself politically weak and its power returned to Maximilian again in 1502.
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.
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 families of Baumgarten, Fugger and Welser. 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 6 million gulden; this corresponded to a decade's worth of tax revenues from the their inherited lands. It took until the end of the 16th century for this debt to be repaid.
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.
Tu felix Austria nube
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2013)|
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 of France. Despite Margaret's betrothal and continued presence at the French court, Anne arranged a marriage between Charles and Anne of Brittany. The latter Anne, in turn, had been betrothed in 1483, and was actually married by proxy to Maximilian himself in 1491, but Charles and his sister wanted her inheritance for France. The final result of all of these machinations was that Charles repudiated his betrothal to Margaret when he came of age in 1491, invaded Brittany, forced Anne of Brittany to repudiate her unconsummated marriage to Maximilian, and married her. Margaret remained in France until 1493, when she was finally returned to her father.
In 1493, Maximilian contracted another marriage for himself, this time to the daughter of the Duke of Milan, whence ensued the lengthy Italian Wars with France. Thus Maximilian through his own marriages (and attempted marriage) sought to extend his sphere of influence against that of France. The marriages he arranged for both of his children more successfully fulfilled the same goal, and after the turn of the sixteenth century, his matchmaking focused on his grandchildren, for whom he looked opposite France towards the east.
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). The marriages arranged there brought Habsburg kingship over Hungary and Bohemia in 1526. Both Anne and Louis were adopted by Maximilian following the death of Ladislaus. 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."
After it became clear that Maximilian's policies in Italy had been unsuccessful, and after 1517 Venice reconquered the last pieces of their territory from Maximilian, the emperor now started 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 unprecedenced due to the massive use of bribery. The Fugger family provided Maximilian a credit of 1 million gulden, which was used to bribe the prince-electors. 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.
Death and legacy
In 1501, Maximilian fell from his horse, an accident that badly injured his leg and caused 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. 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. Although he is buried in the Castle Chapel at Wiener Neustadt, a cenotaph tomb for Maximilian is located in the Hofkirche, Innsbruck.
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. His reign saw the first flourishing of the Renaissance in Germany. 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.
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 featured a human face, with eyes, nose and a grinning mouth, and was modeled after the appearance of Maximilian himself. It also sported a pair of curled ram's horns, brass spectacles, and even etched beard stubble.
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 would last for centuries and shape much of European history.
|Ancestors of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor|
Maximilian I, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, etc. Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Limburg, Luxembourg, Gelderland, Landgrave of Alsace, Prince of Swabia, Count Palatine of Burgundy, Princely Count of Habsburg, Hainaut, Flanders, Tyrol, Gorizia, Artois, Holland, Seeland, Ferrette, Kyburg, Namur, Zutphen, Margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, the Enns, Burgau, Lord of Frisia, the Wendish March, Pordenone, Salins, Mechelen, etc. etc.
Marriages and offspring
Maximilian was married three times, of which only the first marriage produced offspring:
- Mary of Burgundy (1457–1482). They were married in Ghent on 18 August 1477, and the marriage was ended by Mary's death in a riding accident in 1482. The marriage produced three children:
- Philip the Handsome (1478–1506) who inherited his mother's domains following her death, but predeceased his father. He married Joanna of Castile, becoming King-consort of Castile upon her accession in 1504, and was the father of the Holy Roman Emperors Charles V and Ferdinand I
- Margaret of Austria, (1480–1533), who was first engaged at the age of 2 to the French Dauphin (who became Charles VIII of France a year later) to confirm peace between France and Burgundy. She was sent back to her father in 1492 after Charles repudiated their betrothal to marry Anne of Brittany. She was then married to the Crown Prince of Castile and Aragon John, Prince of Asturias, and after his death to Philibert II of Savoy, after which she undertook the guardianship of her deceased brother Philip's children, and governed Burgundy for the heir, Charles.
- Francis of Austria, who died shortly after his birth in 1481.
- Anne of Brittany (1477–1514) — they were married by proxy in Rennes on 18 December 1490, but the contract was dissolved by the Pope in early 1492, by which time Anne had already been forced by the French King, Charles VIII (the fiancé of Maximilian's daughter Margaret of Austria) to repudiate the contract and marry him instead.
- Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) — they were married in 1493, the marriage bringing Maximilian a rich dowry and allowing him to assert his rights as Imperial overlord of Milan. The marriage was unhappy, and they had no children.
- By Margareta Von Edelsheim, Maximilian is alleged to have been the father of:
- Margareta (1480–1537) wife of Count Ludwig Von Helfenstein-Wiesentheid, was killed by peasants on 16 April 1525 in the Massacre of Weinsberg during the German Peasants' War.
- George of Austria (1505–1557), Prince-Bishop of Liège.
- Leopoldo de Austria (c. 1515–1557), Bishop of Córdoba, Spain (1541–1557),with illegitimate succession.
- Anne Margerite of Austria (1517–1545) . She married François de Melun ( -1547), 2nd count of Epinoy. Lady in waiting to Queen Maria of Hungary
- Anne of Austria (1519- ). She married Louis d'Hirlemont
- Family tree of the German monarchs. He was related to every other king of Germany.
- First Congress of Vienna
- Landsknecht - mercenaries
- Maximilian I. Excerpted from Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th Ed. Vol XVII. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910. 923. Luminarium.org (2007-01-26). Retrieved on 2012-01-02.
- Janssen, Gesch. des deutschen Volkes, i. page 593
- Heinz-Dieter Heimann: Die Habsburger. Dynastie und Kaiserreiche. ISBN 3-406-44754-6. pp. 38–45
- Heinz-Dieter Heimann: Die Habsburger. Dynastie und Kaiserreiche. ISBN 3-406-44754-6. pp. 45–53
- World Book Encyclopedia, Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1976.
- Encyclopædia Britannica 1911
- Michael Erbe: Die Habsburger 1493–1918. Kohlhammer Urban 2000. ISBN 3-17-011866-8. pp. 19–30
- Whaley, Joachim Germany and the Holy Roman Empire: Volume I: Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia: 1490-1648, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 32-33, accessed 15 July 2012
- See, for example, Andrew Petegree, Europe in the Sixteenth Century (Oxford, 2002), p. 14; Gerhard Benecke, Maximilian I (London, 1982), p. 10.
- The Memorial Tomb for Maximilian I. hofkirche.at
- Top Ten Objects royalarmouries.org
- Thomas Schauerte, Die Ehrenpforte für Kaiser Maximilian I. Dürer und Altdorfer im Dienst des Herrschers (München / Berlin, 2001) (Kunstwissenschaftliche Studien, 95).
- Larry Silver, Marketing Maximilian: The Visual Ideology of a Holy Roman Emperor (Princeton / Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008).
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Maximilian I, Holy Roman EmperorBorn: 22 March 1459 Died: 12 January 1519
(formally King of the Romans)
|Holy Roman Emperor
as Emperor elect
|Archduke of Austria
|Archduke of Further Austria
Count of Tyrol
|Duke of Brabant, Limburg,
Lothier, Luxemburg and Guelders;
Margrave of Namur;
Count of Zutphen, Artois,
Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland;
Count Palatine of Burgundy
16 August 1477–27 March 1482
Philip the Fair