Maximilian II

Maximilian II
1527-76, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire 1564-76.

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I
born July 31, 1527, Vienna, Austria
died Oct. 12, 1576, Regensburg

Holy Roman emperor (1564–76).

Son of the future emperor Ferdinand I, he was a humanist Christian who favoured compromise between Catholics and Protestants. He became king of Bohemia in 1562 and succeeded to the imperial throne in 1564. He extended religious tolerance and worked for reform of the Roman Catholic church. He failed to achieve his political goals; an unsuccessful campaign against the Turks ended in a truce in 1568 that compelled him to continue to pay tribute to the sultan.
II
born Nov. 28, 1811, Munich
died March 10, 1864, Munich

King of Bavaria (1848–64).

Son of King Louis I, he succeeded to the throne on his father's abdication in 1848. He proposed a league of smaller states as a "third force" in German affairs but was opposed by the dominant states of Austria and Prussia. He successfully introduced liberal reforms in Bavaria, including freedom of the press and ministerial responsibility. He made Munich a centre of culture and gave support to such scholars as Leopold von Ranke. He was succeeded by his son Louis II.

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▪ Holy Roman emperor
born July 31, 1527, Vienna, Austria
died Oct. 12, 1576, Regensburg [Germany]

      Holy Roman emperor from 1564, whose liberal religious policies permitted an interval of peace between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Germany after the first struggles of the Reformation. A humanist and patron of the arts, he largely failed to achieve his political goals, both at home and abroad.

      Maximilian, the eldest son of the future emperor Ferdinand I and the nephew of the emperor Charles V, received his education in Spain. In a dispute over the Habsburg succession order, he was at first placed behind Charles V's son Philip (the future Philip II of Spain), but, by a 1553 agreement, he displaced Philip as heir to the empire and remained hostile to the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs.

      Maximilian's sympathies for Lutheranism, formed in his youth, eventually caused sufficient scandal in Habsburg circles for his father to threaten him with exclusion from the succession in 1559. Henceforth, although he paid lip service to Roman Catholicism, he remained basically a humanist Christian who favoured compromise between the rival confessions.

      Already Bohemian king (from September 1562) and king of the Romans, or successor-designate to the empire (from November 1562), Maximilian became Hungarian king in 1563 and succeeded to the imperial throne in 1564. His refusal to invest Protestant administrators of bishoprics with their imperial fiefs disappointed the hopes of Germany's Protestant princes. Yet he proved his personal liberalism by granting freedom of worship to the Protestant nobility of Austria (1568), promising to respect religious liberty in Bohemia (1575), and working for the reform of the Roman Catholic church. His efforts to gain the right of marriage for priests failed, largely because of the opposition of Spain.

      In the Netherlands, Maximilian advised compromise between Catholics and Protestants but was again frustrated by Spanish intransigence. After fighting an unsuccessful campaign against the Turks, who remained a threat to the empire, he was compelled by a peace concluded in 1568 to continue to pay tribute to the sultan. His proposed army reform of 1570, by which the emperor would have controlled the army and would have had to grant his consent before foreign powers could recruit on German soil, was defeated by Germany's Protestant princes, who suspected an attempt to prevent them from assisting coreligionists abroad and were less willing to grant greater powers to the emperor.

      Maximilian's religious neutrality was largely a policy of political expediency in maintaining peace in the empire. Yet, although he preserved the right of his subjects to worship according to their beliefs, he succeeded in few of his political aims.

▪ king of Bavaria

born Nov. 28, 1811, Munich
died March 10, 1864, Munich
 king of Bavaria from 1848 to 1864, whose attempt to create a “third force” in German affairs by an alliance of smaller states led by Bavaria, foundered on the opposition of the two dominant states, Prussia and Austria, and of the German parliament.

      Maximilian, the eldest son of King Louis I and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, received a thorough education at Göttingen and Berlin. He inclined to intellectual pursuits for the rest of his life, surrounding himself with scholars and artists, most notable among them the historian Leopold von Ranke.

      With the abdication of his father (March 1848), Maximilian succeeded to the throne at a time of revolutionary fervour throughout Germany. His proposal of a triad, a league of smaller territories as a counterweight to the two large conservative German states, was opposed not only by Austria and Prussia, but by the Frankfurt National Assembly, whose efforts were directed toward a single, unified German state. Although Prussia aided Bavaria in the suppression of a revolt in the Palatinate (1849), Maximilian refused an alliance with the northern power. In fact, with the elevation of Ludwig von der Pfordten to the post of chief minister (1849), Bavaria assumed a pro-Austrian stance.

      On his accession, the King liberalized Bavarian life through the introduction of freedom of the press and ministerial responsibility, although he preferred to leave politics in the hands of his ministers. He made Munich a centre of Germany's intellectual and artistic life, calling many notable scholars to the Bavarian capital. Departments of the sciences, technology, and history were established at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and research projects initiated. The King kept in close personal touch with his intellectual acquaintances, the latter even occasionally serving as advisers on policy matters.

      Maximilian firmly backed the hereditary prince Frederick of Augustenburg in the long dispute over the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which again erupted in the early 1860s between Denmark and Prussia. His aggressive stand was not supported by the other European powers. He died before the German states were able to settle the issue by force.

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Universalium. 2010.


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