Article

Emperor Maximilian I

Paula Fichtner

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online June 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0143
Emperor Maximilian I

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
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Ambitious and imaginative to a fault, Maximilian I (1459–1519) was the son of German Emperor Frederick III and Eleanore of Portugal. It was Emperor Frederick who arranged the son’s marriage to Duchess Mary of Burgundy I in 1477 that gave the Austrian house of Habsburg its first political footing in western Europe, thus making it a major player in European dynastic affairs. It was Maximilian, however, who in 1495 negotiated the marital unions with Spain that made the Habsburgs rulers over substantial parts of the known world. As a territorial ruler of the Habsburg Austrian patrimony and as German emperor after 1493, Maximilian aspired to reform the legal and fiscal administration of both polities. Though much of what he accomplished either did not meet his goals or failed to last, he is now thought to have created a model for the governance of the Austrian lands that his successors institutionalized. He also brought a welcome domestic peace to the German Holy Roman Empire, which territorial feuding had rent asunder throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. Maximilian spent much of his career defending his dynasty’s vast territorial presence militarily. He also tried to expand Habsburg holdings to Hungary and smaller principalities to the southeast. In the case of Hungary he failed. Nevertheless, this and many other setbacks did not discourage him from working to develop the vision of his house that guided its policies and its image of itself in European state relations until the Habsburg monarchy collapsed in 1918. As part of his program of dynastic self-representation, Maximilian took a deeply engaged interest in the arts, sciences, and practical scholarship, such as establishing a linguistic norm in his imperial and court chancellery for early modern high German. He played a crucial role in developing the reputation of his house as a generous and discerning patron of major musicians, composers, writers, and artists, especially at his favorite residence in Innsbruck. He supported luminaries of the German Renaissance such as like the authors Sebastian Brant and Ulrich von Hutten and artists such as Albrecht Altdorfer, Albrecht Dürer, and Hans Burgkmair, whom he employed as illustrators for his autobiographical texts and numerous graphic projects. Maximilian was also keen to identify experts who would study and write about artisanship and sports. Hunting, fishing, and weaponry were among his favorite topics. The following bibliography has been selected to give a researcher some guidance to approaching the dominant issues of Maximilian’s career.

Article.  10926 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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