Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian I
Albrecht Dürer - Portrait of Maximilian I - Google Art Project.jpg
Maximilian holding his personal emblem, the pomegranate. Portrait by Albrecht Dürer, 1519
Holy Roman Emperor
Reign4 February 1508 – 12 January 1519
Proclaimed4 February 1508, Trento[1]
PredecessorFrederick III
SuccessorCharles V
King of the Romans
Reign16 February 1486 – 12 January 1519
Coronation9 April 1486
PredecessorFrederick III
SuccessorCharles V
Archduke of Austria
Reign19 August 1493 – 12 January 1519
PredecessorFrederick V
SuccessorCharles I
Born22 March 1459
Wiener Neustadt, Inner Austria
Died12 January 1519 (aged 59)
Wels, Upper Austria
Burial
Spouse
Issue
more...
HouseHabsburg
FatherFrederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherEleanor of Portugal
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Maximilian I (22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death. He was never crowned by the pope, as the journey to Rome was always too risky. He was instead proclaimed emperor elect by Pope Julius II at Trent, thus breaking the long tradition of requiring a papal coronation for the adoption of the imperial title. Maximilian was the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal. He ruled jointly with his father for the last ten years of the latter's reign, from c. 1483 to his father's death in 1493.

Maximilian 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, though he also lost the Austrian territories in today's Switzerland to the Swiss Confederacy. Through marriage of his son Philip the Handsome to eventual queen Joanna of Castile in 1498, Maximilian helped to establish the Habsburg dynasty in Spain, which allowed his grandson Charles to hold the thrones of both Castile and Aragon.[2]

Background and childhood

Frederick III and Eleanor of Portugal.

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 would wander 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 the 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'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 19 August 1477.[4]