Frederick III


Frederick III
1. 1415-93, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire 1452-93; as Frederick IV, king of Germany 1440-93.
2. ("the Wise") 1463-1525, elector of Saxony 1486-1525: protector of Martin Luther.

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born Sept. 21, 1415, Innsbruck, Austria
died Aug. 19, 1493, Linz

Holy Roman emperor from 1452 and king of Germany (as Frederick IV) from 1440.

By 1439 he was the senior member of the Habsburg dynasty, and he united the Austrian holdings of two rival branches of the dynasty (partitioned in 1379), helping to lay the foundations for the greatness of the house of Habsburg in European affairs. His greatest achievement was marrying his son Maximilian (later Maximilian I) to Mary, daughter of Charles the Bold, which gave the house of Habsburg a large part of Burgundy and made the Austrians a European power. Frederick was the last emperor to be crowned in Rome by a pope.

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▪ Holy Roman emperor
born Sept. 21, 1415, Innsbruck, Austria
died Aug. 19, 1493, Linz

      Holy Roman emperor from 1452 and German king from 1440 who laid the foundations for the greatness of the House of Habsburg in European affairs.

      Frederick, the son of Duke Ernest of Austria, inherited the Habsburg possessions of Inner Austria (Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Gorizia) on his father's death in 1424. By 1439 he had become the senior member of the dynasty and the following year was elected German king; yet he was to be plagued by conflicts with his relatives and a powerful, rebellious nobility throughout his reign. As guardian of Ladislas Posthumus (Ladislas V), son of his cousin the German king Albert II, Frederick attempted to exploit his ward's claims to the Bohemian and Hungarian thrones to his own advantage; but rebellious nobles forced him to release Ladislas prematurely (1452). On the boy's death in 1457, the House of Habsburg temporarily lost possession of both domains; Bohemia elected George of Poděbrady and Hungary elected Matthias I Corvinus as kings.

      Revolts of the Austrian nobility, disputes with the German princes, and inability to carry out governmental reforms caused Frederick to withdraw almost completely from German affairs. This heightened German dissatisfaction and resulted in the rise of a number of claimants to the throne, including Frederick's own brother Albert VI. With Albert's death in 1463, however, and the cession of Tirol by Frederick's cousin Sigismund to Frederick's son Maximilian (Maximilian I), the Austrian heritage, partitioned between two rival branches of the House of Habsburg in 1379, was once again united.

      Frederick maintained somewhat better relations with the church. Travelling to Italy, he received the Lombard crown (1452) and, on March 19, 1452, became the last emperor to be crowned in Rome by a pope.

      Frederick was never able to pacify the eastern borders of his realm. The Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453 and advanced into Styria and Carinthia, unopposed by the financially and militarily weak emperor. It was from his reign onward, however, that the Habsburgs saw themselves as Christian Europe's first line of defense against Islām, a role they were to play for more than three centuries. Frederick had to suffer the humiliation of seeing Matthias I Corvinus of Hungary conquer much of Austria and enter Vienna in 1485, but Matthias' death in 1490 allowed Frederick's son Maximilian to recapture Austria (1490–91).

      Frederick's greatest achievement was marrying his son in 1477 to Mary, daughter of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, a union that gave the House of Habsburg a large part of the Burgundian domains and made the Austrians a European power.

      After 1486, when, on the insistence of the German princes, Maximilian became king of the Romans and co-regent, the Emperor assumed a less active role in affairs of state.

      Like many men in the late Middle Ages, he occupied his time with astrology, magic, and the attempted manufacture of gold from base metals; but he also travelled as far as the Holy Land (1437), associated with Humanists, and collected books and precious stones.

▪ elector Palatine of the Rhine
byname  Frederick the Pious,  German  Friedrich der Fromme  
born Feb. 14, 1515, Simmern, Ger.
died Oct. 26, 1576, Heidelberg, Rhenish Palatinate
 elector Palatine of the Rhine (1559–76) and a leader of the German Protestant princes who worked for a Protestant victory in Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

      Frederick adopted Lutheranism in 1546 and Calvinism somewhat later. His Calvinism and his opposition to the Habsburg emperors made his electoral position insecure, because the Peace of Augsburg (1555) covered relations only between Catholics and Lutherans, and the German Protestant princes were unwilling to venture an attack on the emperor. Frustrated in Germany, Frederick sent his sons to aid foreign Protestants, John Casimir to the French Huguenots and Christopher to Holland. By the time Frederick died, the Palatinate had become the centre of German Calvinism.

▪ elector of Saxony
byname  Frederick the Wise,  German  Friedrich der Weise  
born Jan. 17, 1463, Torgau, Saxony
died May 5, 1525, Lochau, near Torgau

      elector of Saxony who worked for constitutional reform of the Holy Roman Empire and protected Martin Luther (Luther, Martin) after Luther was placed under the imperial ban in 1521.

      Succeeding his father, the elector Ernest, in 1486, Frederick allied himself with Berthold, archbishop of Henneberg, to promote imperial reforms that would increase the power of the nobles at the expense of the Holy Roman emperor. In 1500 he became president of the Reichsregiment (Imperial Governing Council), which, however, because of lack of funds was soon disbanded. He was instrumental in securing the election of the emperor Charles V in 1519 after refusing the crown himself.

      Frederick appointed Luther and his colleague Philipp Melanchthon to the University of Wittenberg and refused to carry out a papal bull against Luther in 1520. After the ban was imposed on Luther the next year, Frederick welcomed him to the Wartburg, where Luther translated the Bible into German.

      A patron of the artists Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder and a friend of the Humanist Georg Spalatin, Frederick also collected a large number of religious relics and founded the University of Wittenberg in 1502. Never having married, he died without legitimate heirs.

▪ king of Denmark and Norway

born March 18, 1609, Haderslev, Den.
died Feb. 9, 1670, Copenhagen
 king of Denmark and Norway (1648–70) whose reign saw the establishment of an absolute monarchy, maintained in Denmark until 1848.

      In his youth Frederick served successively as bishop coadjutor (i.e., assistant bishop with the right of succession) of the German dioceses of Bremen, Verden, and Halberstadt. He commanded Danish forces in Schleswig-Holstein during Denmark's disastrous war with Sweden (1643–45) and succeeded to the throne shortly after the death (1648) of his father, Christian IV, agreeing to a charter that reduced the royal prerogatives.

      In 1655 the Swedish king Charles X Gustav went to war with Poland, and in 1657 Frederick launched an invasion of Sweden. His plans for regaining the Danish territories lost in 1645 were shattered when Charles suddenly seized the Danish province of Jutland and invaded the Danish island of Zealand. Shortly afterward Frederick signed the Treaty of Roskilde (Feb. 26, 1658), by which Denmark ceded to Sweden the provinces of Skåne, Blekinge, and Halland, the island of Bornholm, and the Norwegian province of Trondheim.

      Within six months Charles again invaded Denmark. The tide of the war turned in favour of Denmark when the inhabitants of Copenhagen resisted a Swedish siege. Assisted by a Dutch squadron, the Danish fleet was then able to drive the Swedes away from The Sound (Øresund), and by the Treaty of Copenhagen (1660) Denmark recovered Bornholm and Trondheim.

      Frederick called a meeting of the Estates in September 1660 to meet the debts incurred in the war. The clergy and the townsmen forced the Rigsråd (Council of the Realm) and nobility to give up their fiscal privileges, to negotiate with the King for a new constitution, and to recognize Frederick as hereditary sovereign, nullifying his royal charter. In January 1661 the government issued a decree conferring absolute power on the king. The new constitution was signed in November 1665, but the King's Law, or Kongeloven, written by Peder Schumacher, later Count Griffenfeld, confirming the king's absolute authority, was not made public until 1709.

      With the aid of his adviser Hannibal Sehested, Frederick introduced sweeping reforms of the state administration. These included a reorganization of the government into five departments, or “colleges,” with policy recommendations being made by the Privy Council, the members of which were usually selected from the heads of the colleges. The bourgeoisie gained greatly in power, buying the major part of the royal estates and, for the first time, holding important government positions.

▪ king of Prussia and emperor of Germany
also called (until 1888)  Crown Prince Frederick William ,  German Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm , in full  Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl 
born Oct. 18, 1831, Potsdam, Prussia
died June 15, 1888, Potsdam
 king of Prussia and German emperor for 99 days in 1888, during which time he was a voiceless invalid, dying of throat cancer. Although influenced by liberal, constitutional, and middle-class ideas, he retained a strong sense of the Hohenzollern royal and imperial dignity.

      The son of the future king and emperor William I and Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, he was the first Prussian prince to attend a university; he received a thorough military education as well. In 1858 he married the British princess royal, Victoria (1840–1901; from 1888 called the “empress Frederick”). Despite the influence of his wife's liberal ideas, he favoured a strong central government and at times exceeded the prime minister and chancellor, Otto von Bismarck (Bismarck, Otto von), in willingness to exert pressure on the allied German princes.

      As crown prince from 1861, Frederick spent 27 years chiefly in waiting to do something. Thanks to his chief of staff, Leonhard von Blumenthal, he was a successful commander in the Danish War of 1864, the Seven Weeks' War of 1866, and the Franco-German War of 1870–71. Although Frederick supported Bismarck in the war of 1866, in general the “blood and iron” aspects of Bismarck's domestic and international policies were alien to him.

      In 1887 Frederick showed symptoms of cancer of the throat. Although the disease was correctly diagnosed as such by German doctors, the British specialist Sir Morell Mackenzie advised against an operation (scheduled for May 21, 1887, and cancelled). A tracheotomy in February 1888 was too late. The Crown Prince, who became emperor on March 9, by this time was able to do little. His only significant official act was to dismiss the minister of the interior, Robert von Puttkamer, an extreme conservative.

      Frederick was succeeded by his son and heir, William II.

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Universalium. 2010.

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