Ferdinand II (HRR)

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Emperor Ferdinand II.

. Ferdinand II (* 9. July 1578 in Graz ; † 15. February 1637 in Vienna ) was from 1619 until his death Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire . Archduke of Inner Austria since 1590 , he gradually united the territories of the Habsburg monarchy under his rule. In 1617 he became King of Bohemia , but temporarily deposed in 1619/20 by the uprising of the estates in Bohemia (1618) . In 1618 he became King of Hungary and Croatia and in 1619 Archduke of Austria .

As sovereign of Inner Austria from 1596 onwards, he advocated a course of absolutism and the counter-reformation . He followed this course as King of Hungary and Bohemia. The Bohemian classes rose up against him, which triggered the Thirty Years' War . After the victory over the rebels, he used draconian measures to enforce the primacy of royal power and Catholicism as the only permitted denomination in the immediate sphere of influence of the Habsburgs. In the following phase of the Thirty Years' War (Danish-Lower Saxon War), the emperor's general, Wallenstein , was victorious. Ferdinand then tried to enforce counter-reformation and imperial power in the empire. He failed because of the resistance of the electors . In the Peace of Prague of 1635 he sought a compromise with the imperial estates, but was unable to end the war because it failed to prevent the foreign powers from pursuing their own interests in the German theater of war.

Childhood and youth

Ferdinand II was the son of Archduke Karl II of Inner Austria (1540–1590) and Maria of Bavaria (1551–1608), a daughter of Albrecht V , Duke of Bavaria. He came from a branch of the Habsburgs in Inner Austria ( Styria , Carinthia and Carniola ).

The grandfather was Ferdinand I , one uncle was Maximilian II , cousins ​​were Rudolf II and Matthias and Maximilian von Bayern .

His strict Catholic mother handed over the boy's education to the Jesuits in Ingolstadt in 1590 . There he attended high school and, until 1595, the university . The official head of the education was held by the court master Balthasar Ferdinand von Schrattenbach . Ferdinand lived according to his status and had a court of 30 people. His cousin, who later became Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria, studied with him . Their personal relationship was rather distant. The Jesuit upbringing was largely responsible for Ferdinand's resolute rejection of Protestantism . Ferdinand was personally very pious and attended mass at least once a day. He was prudish and, as emperor, had paintings from the collection of Rudolf II burned with naked images.

Prince in Inner Austria

Archduke Ferdinand 1614, here in the armor of Emperor Ferdinand I.

With the death of his father in 1590, Ferdinand succeeded him as ruler of the inner Austrian states. However, the government was officially led by Archduke Ernst (at the time regent in Lower Austria), from 1593 Maximilian the German master , but practically by his mother until he took over the government himself. In 1595 he came back to Graz, in December 1596, immediately after he had come of age, the estates of Styria paid homage to him and a year later those of Carinthia and Carniola .

His religiosity meant that he gave the Catholic religion the highest importance for political action. Already at the beginning of his reign he set an example for his Catholic and Counter-Reformation sentiments. He traveled to the pilgrimage site of Loreto in Marche and made valuable foundations. In front of the altar of the Mother of God he voluntarily made the solemn vow to make Catholicism the only religion in his states again at any cost. During the trip he also met Pope Clement VIII . Back in his countries, he expanded the Graz Residence .

From the princely point of view, the central political problem was the participation of the mostly Protestant nobility and the constant threat from the Ottomans . Ferdinand's father had been forced to make religious concessions to the estates against the backdrop of Ottoman attacks. In the inner Austrian provinces, the Counter-Reformation and the re-Catholicization were carried out with determination. Important sponsors were the Jesuits in Graz, who also directed the university there. Ferdinand is credited with the saying: Better to rule a desert than a land full of heretics .

Supported above all by Martin Brenner , the Prince-Bishop of Seckau , he went further than his predecessors in his counter-Reformation measures. Before that, they were primarily directed against the residents of towns and market towns. Ferdinand now demanded a commitment to Catholicism from the nobility. He gave their Protestant relatives the choice to either convert to Catholicism or to leave the country. The nobles could only live their faith in their homes. The creation of a homogeneous Catholic nobility had the desired side effect that the farmers of the landlords were also forced to change their faith. Numerous truckloads of Evangelical writings were burned in Graz. Evangelical churches in the country were destroyed. Protestant preachers and scholars like the mathematician Johannes Kepler were expelled from the country. The country's economy was badly damaged by the emigration of numerous wealthy Protestant families.

He also pursued re-Catholicization by promoting religious life. He founded a number of Capuchin monasteries in his domain . Ferdinand tried in vain to establish his own diocese of Graz. Within just a few years, he effectively eliminated Protestantism in his territory.

The struggle against Protestantism went hand in hand with the aim of enforcing monarchical rule against the estates' right to participate. He once told the Styrian estates that he did not want to be a princeps modificatus, but a princeps absolutus . However, his counter-Reformation measures meant that the nobility showed little inclination to approve the necessary funds for the Turkish struggle. This led to the important fortress Kaniza being conquered by the Ottomans in 1600 .

In the brotherly dispute between Rudolf II and Matthias Ferdinand remained undecided. He changed his position several times. At times he tried to mediate because he believed that the dispute would primarily benefit the evangelical aristocratic party. After Rudolf had been deposed as King of Bohemia in favor of Matthias in 1611, Ferdinand swung over completely to Matthias's camp. One reason was probably that he hoped to become the heir of childless Matthias.

King of Bohemia and Hungary

Coronation as the Bohemian King

Emperor Matthias had hesitated since 1612 to arrange his successor. It was only under pressure that he proposed his cousin Ferdinand as his successor as King in Bohemia in 1617, after the Archdukes Maximilian III. and Albrecht VII had renounced their claims to Bohemia and Hungary. They later renounced the Austrian hereditary lands. The Spanish King Philip III was also a possible competitor for Bohemia and Hungary . remained, who had filed his claims since 1613. The Austrian House of Habsburg had signed the Oñate Treaty with Philip, which led to the Spanish Habsburgs not applying for the imperial crown. As compensation, Spain had received the bailiffs of Hagenau and Ortenburg and imperial fiefs in northern Italy. The contract also stipulated the priority of a male heir from the Spanish line over a female heir from Austria. Therefore, Ferdinand became King of Bohemia in 1617, even before the death of Matthias, with the support of the highest chancellor Zdeněk Vojtěch von Lobkowicz . In view of the counter-Reformation fervor in his traditional territory, this met with criticism from the Bohemian estates. In Hungary he was elected king in 1618 after negotiations. On July 1, In 1618, he was in St. Martin to Bratislava for Apostolic King of Hungary crowned. In both countries, on Ferdinand's orders, a counter-Reformation policy began immediately.

Beginning of the Bohemian uprising and election of the emperor

Ferdinand II with court dwarf

Some of the reasons for the rebellion of the Bohemian estates stemmed from the reign of Matthias, but were reinforced by Ferdinand's counter-Reformation policy. The lintel in Prague on May 23, 1618 was a revolutionary event of unimaginable proportions that affected Ferdinand's high-ranking officials. Ferdinand was only remotely involved in the events in Prague. At times the Bohemian rebels were so successful that they were able to threaten Vienna. But the displeasure of the estates and the criticism of the counter-Reformation measures affected not only Bohemia, but also Austria itself. On June 5, 1619, the so-called storm petition , a deputation of Protestant nobles in the Hofburg, took place . They tried in vain to get Ferdinand to protect his class and denominational rights and had to give way to imperial soldiers under the command of Gilbert de Saint-Hilaire .

Elector Friedrich von der Pfalz tried to win the Protestant Union for the support of his election as anti-king of Bohemia and to prevent Ferdinand's election as Roman emperor. Ferdinand, for his part, sought military support from Spain, financial help from the Pope and the renewal of the Catholic League . The inclusion of the Union and League indicated that the conflict would have an impact beyond the narrower Habsburg sphere of influence. The Bohemian Estates had Ferdinand declared (as an "enemy of the Czech Freedom") deposed and the crown on August 27, 1619 the reformed Elector Palatine Frederick V awarded.

After Matthias' death on March 20, 1619, winning the imperial crown became very important for Ferdinand. His motto reflects his claim: “Legitimate certantibus corona” (for example: the fighter for the just cause deserves the crown). The election of the emperor was to take place on August 28 in Frankfurt. Because the day before, on August 27, 1619, Elector Friedrich V of the Palatinate had been elected as the new Bohemian King, there were ominous omens for the election, because Ferdinand intended, despite the successful election of a new Bohemian King, in the election to exercise his previous right to elect the Bohemian cure as emperor. In fact, he proceeded in this way and the subsequent protest of a specially traveled Bohemian delegation was rejected by the assembled electoral college. Thereupon the ambassadors of the Electoral Palatinate, who had decided to elect the Bavarian Duke Maximilian I as the new emperor, withdrew the vote they had already given, because the duke had announced that he would forego the vote in favor of Ferdinand. In a further ballot, Ferdinand was elected unanimously - a remarkable process considering the events in Prague. Ferdinand's coronation as emperor took place on September 9th.

As emperor, Ferdinand also succeeded him in the parts of the Austrian hereditary lands ruled by Matthias. Only Tyrol and the foothills remained under the rule of a branch line.

The election of Emperor not only brought Ferdinand the prestige and the remaining rights of the Emperor, but also gave him the right to take action against Friedrich von der Pfalz.

Bohemian-Palatinate War

Battle of the White Mountain (painting by Pieter Snayers )

On the return journey from Frankfurt to Vienna, Ferdinand stopped in Munich. There an alliance of Maximilian I and the Catholic League was prepared, which improved his position against the rebellious Bohemian classes. In the contract Maximilian was granted unlimited supreme power over the Catholic League. The emperor could no longer give the duke any instructions in this function. In addition, Upper Austria , which had joined Bohemia, was pledged to Bavaria. The transfer of the electoral dignity from Friedrich von der Pfalz to Maximilian has already been secretly agreed. As a result, Ferdinand also succeeded in gaining support from Spain and the Protestant Electoral Saxony in return for substantial territorial concessions. The Protestant Union was neutral. Saxon troops marched into Lusatia . In order to enforce the eight against Friedrich, Ferdinand had Spanish and Ligist troops march into the Rhine Palatinate and violently suppress Protestantism in the occupied territories, which brought the religious war to Germany.

League troops under the command of Tilly penetrated Upper Austria and broke the resistance. The Counter Reformation began there immediately. In 1626 the Upper Austrian Peasants' War broke out against the Bavarian pledge rule and the action against the Protestants, which was violently suppressed. It was not until 1628 that the area returned to Ferdinand in exchange for the Upper Palatinate and parts of the Rhine Palatinate.

Ferdinand was confronted not only with the class unrest in his Austrian hereditary lands and the uprising in Bohemia, but also with a revolt in Hungary. On August 27, 1620, Ferdinand Gábor Bethlen was elected King of Hungary.

The decision in this crisis was made in Bohemia. League troops marched into the country. In the Battle of the White Mountain on November 8, 1620, Friedrich was defeated by Maximilian von Bayern's troops. Friedrich had to flee and the uprising collapsed. In 1621 the Hungarian insurgents also gave up.

In the empire, the Catholic armies defeated Friedrich V von Baden-Durlach or Christian von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and advanced as far as Westphalia and Lower Saxony .

Reorganization under the sign of absolutism and the Counter-Reformation

Execution of supporters of the Bohemian Uprising in the Old Town Square in Prague
Document by Ferdinand II of February 25, 1623 on the enfeoffment of Maximilian I of Bavaria with the Palatinate electoral dignity. Munich, Bavarian Main State Archives, Kurbayern Urk. 22118
Ferdinand II's Reformation patent, with which he ordered the expulsion of all Protestant preachers and schoolmasters in 1624

The estate forces - in many cases also connected with Protestantism - were decisively weakened in the entire Habsburg sphere of influence. Ferdinand was now not only able to pursue his counter-Reformation goals more intensely, but also to take an absolutist course.

As agreed, Ferdinand gave Duke Maximilian the dignity of Elector along with the Upper Palatinate for his help after he had ostracized Friedrich and declared that he had lost his dignity and land.

After the victory, an example was set on June 21, 1621 by the execution of 21 people, some of whom were important, such as the rector of the university in Prague . As a result, the evangelical preachers were expelled. In 1624, Catholicism was proclaimed the only legal denomination in Bohemia. Only in Silesia was the Counter Reformation carried out less strictly. Their property was taken from the noble supporters of the uprising. About half of the property changed hands after 1620. The value of the confiscated land was 40 million guilders. There has been considerable emigration of Protestant or class-oriented people. How high the number was, however, is unclear. First of all, local Catholic nobles benefited from the redistribution of property. This is especially true for Wallenstein. He acquired goods worth 15 million guilders. About a quarter of the land went to noble families who had not previously been settled in Bohemia. Among them were such well-known families as the Metternichs or the Trautmannsdorff . After Wallenstein's death, his property was also divided. Mostly foreign families benefited from this. These now owned a total of 40% of the goods. A large part of the Protestant nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie emigrated against this background, the so-called exiles . After all, a quarter of the nobility left the country.

A certain conclusion of the reorganization measures in Bohemia in the sense of absolutism was brought about by the Renewed Land Order of 1627 and a pedant for Moravia. After that, Bohemia was hereditary property of the Habsburgs. The king now occupied the highest offices, the state parliament lost its legislative powers, the king decreed to be included in the list of the nobility (incolate) and the prelates returned to the state parliament.

There were comparable coercive measures against the Protestants in the other territories of the Habsburgs. The Counter-Reformation was weakest in Hungary. There were no coercive measures there. In the long term, it was significant that the Catholic Church internally renewed itself based on the resolutions of the Council of Trent . As in his original domain, Ferdinand promoted the settlement of new orders everywhere. The higher education system and the universities were often controlled by the Jesuits. A splendid baroque Catholicism developed .

Government style

Ferdinand turned out to be a ruler who often used his advisors to make political decisions, not infrequently listening to the last advice. He was happy to have expert opinions prepared. He is portrayed as wavering and often indecisive, comfortable and not particularly gifted, but with a shrewd instinct for his power, for the interests of the Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs as a whole, dignified, always insisting on law, tenacious and fanatical in religious matters, otherwise but rather good-natured and indulgent, also generous, a connoisseur, especially indulging in his passion for hunting, happy and enterprising in his youth, obese and ailing in recent years.

Ferdinand II (around 1624)

The most important advisory body was the Secret Council , which at that time was still quite small and comprised about twelve councils. He met every fourth or fifth day at the imperial court. Of particular importance was Privy Councilor Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg , in fact the first minister who, due to his skills, acted as a diplomat and close advisor. Also important were Gundaker von Liechtenstein and his brothers Karl and Maximilian , Maximilian Graf Trautmannsdorff , the Archbishop of Olmütz Franz Xaver von Dietrichstein , the Court War Councilor Gerhard von Questenberg , the secret council and Austrian court chancellor Johann Baptist Verda von Verdenberg , the Hungarian magnate Nikolaus Esterházy and the Chancellor of Bohemia Wilhelm Slavata . The warfare was in the hands of the powerful Generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein , who set up the majority of the imperial army as general contractor on his own account and reserved all decisions.

The Spanish ambassador Oñate was also central . This succeeded in forming a very influential Spanish-oriented court party. In addition to Slavata, this also included Martinitz and Lobkowitz . In addition, clergy played an important role, also in political questions. Among them, the emperor's confessor, Jesuit Father Wilhelm Lamormaini , had great influence on the devout emperor. Ferdinand II is said to have trusted him "to the point of blind obedience". The court speaker, Jesuit Father Johannes Weingartner, also played a role. While the Jesuits and the “Spaniards” were considered the “war party” at court, who tried to encourage the emperor in his pious excesses and in his intransigence in pursuing political war aims, Eggenberg, Trautmannsdorff, Liechtenstein, the Imperial Vice Chancellor Stralendorf , Questenberg and the Viennese Bishop Anton Wolfradt for a more moderate influence, as did Wallenstein.

In making his decisions, Ferdinand was concerned with the question of whether his actions were legally permissible. Numerous expert opinions were obtained for this purpose. He wanted to know from his spiritual advisors whether his actions would be in accordance with divine law or natural law.

Advisor to Ferdinand

Danish-Lower Saxon War

After the defeat of Bohemia and the occupation of the Palatinate, Ferdinand seemed to have triumphed all along the line. The fact that the war continued anyway had reasons in which Ferdinand was not uninvolved. First of all, there was the merciless approach in Bohemia, which caused displeasure in the Protestant camp. In addition, the transfer of the electoral dignity from the Palatinate to Bavaria was not sufficiently coordinated with the Protestant electors. This threatened to tip the political balance in the direction of Catholicism. The occupation of parts of the Palatinate threatened Ferdinand and the Reich in international conflicts, for example with France.

Against this background, the war was rekindled when Christian IV of Denmark , who as Duke of Holstein was also imperial prince and colonel of the Lower Saxon imperial circle, took action against Ferdinand and his allies together with the estates of the Lower Saxon imperial circle. Neither the emperor nor the league's power was sufficient to fight these new opponents. Out of necessity, the emperor accepted Wallenstein's offer to equip an army and make Ferdinand available.

The imperial army of Wallenstein soon became the strongest in the empire, and the troops of the Bavarian-run Catholic League played only a minor role. In this respect, thanks to Wallenstein, Ferdinand was able to free himself from his dependence on the league from the first years of the war. Wallenstein's army, together with Tilly's troops, was able to defeat the enemy and occupy almost all of northern Germany. In particular, the destruction of Magdeburg was seen as an attack on Protestantism as a whole. In the year 1629 the Danish king had to renounce any interference in German affairs in the Peace of Lübeck .

The dukes of Mecklenburg , who had helped King Christian IV of Denmark against Tilly and Wallenstein, horrified Ferdinand of their lands and enfeoffed Wallenstein. However, the plan to take control of the sea on the Baltic Sea failed because of the bitter resistance that Stralsund put up against the siege by Wallenstein, with the support of Sweden.

Overstretching the imperial claim to power

Egidius Sadeler: Emperor Ferdinand II triumphs over his enemies, copper engraving, 1629

After Ferdinand had subjected all of Germany to his power, he saw the opportunity to transfer his counter-Reformation goals to the whole empire. To this end, he issued the edict of restitution on March 6, 1629 , with which the status quo of the spiritual possessions in the empire was to be brought back to the status of 1552 before the peace of religion in Augsburg without the consent of the evangelical imperial estates . With its implementation, the edict would have had enormous consequences for property relations in the empire, because the result would have been extensive expropriations and transfers of formerly Catholic property to the Roman Church.

The restitution intentions, issued at the height of imperial power, met with criticism from Wallenstein because they gave rise to fears that the war would continue for a long time and then actually resulted in the long-term effects of the Protestants' fears that they triggered. The issuing of the edict was a serious political mistake, because it not only threatened Protestantism, but also disregarded the rights of the imperial estates. For the imperial princes this seemed to be the first step towards an absolutist system in the empire and this danger was also viewed critically by the Catholic imperial estates, although the electors Maximilian I of Bavaria and his brother Ferdinand of Cologne were staunch supporters of the edict and belonged to the strengthening of the Catholic Church in the empire.

In addition, the imperial princes mistrusted Wallenstein, whom the emperor had made an equal prince with the elevation to Duke of Mecklenburg, after ostracizing the previous dukes. They rightly feared that other warlords would strive for the same and ultimately wanted to take over the leadership of the empire as a “proto-Napoleonic” military aristocracy; therefore, in 1627, Elector Maximilian resolutely prevented the plan by Tilly and Pappenheim , advocated by Wallenstein, to divide the occupied Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel among himself; The elector also repeatedly expressed the fear that Wallenstein himself would sooner or later seek the imperial crown.

In 1629, the emperor, as feudal lord of imperial Italy, intervened militarily in the question of the succession in the Duchy of Mantua against the French in the War of the Mantuan Succession . He acted under the pressure of the Spanish family branch of the Habsburgs, who wanted to enforce their own successor candidate against the French. This intensified criticism in the empire, since Ferdinand was waging a foreign war here without the approval of the electoral college.

In 1630 the criticism of the Protestant and Catholic electors culminated on the Regensburg Electoral Congress . Ferdinand was concerned with the election of his son Ferdinand as Roman king and with financial support in the war over Mantua. The situation was exacerbated when it became known that Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden had landed in Pomerania . The leader of the anti-imperial opposition was now Maximilian of Bavaria, of all people, the emperor's cousin and brother-in-law and founder of the Catholic League. The electors demanded a downsizing of the imperial army, which they perceived as threatening, and the dismissal of Wallenstein, who had long appeared to them as the real ruler of the empire. The emperor was forced to largely give in to the demands. Wallenstein was dismissed as commander in chief of the imperial troops . Tilly took over this post. The imperial army was downsized despite the Swedish threat. In the dispute over Mantua, Ferdinand had to make peace. The election of Ferdinand III. was refused and the execution of the edict of restitution was suspended. The emperor, who had previously appeared to be overwhelming, had lost a lot of power. His goal of re-Catholicization and the establishment of absolutism in the empire had failed.

Swedish war

The landing of the Swedish King Gustav Adolf was the beginning of a new phase of the war. First he was victorious in a few smaller battles in Brandenburg and then forced the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony to conclude alliance agreements with him. Together with a small Saxon army, the Swedish army defeated the army of the Catholic League near Breitenfeld so decisively that the Swedes then had access to southern Germany.

Ferdinand had thus lost all previously achieved successes and, with the consent of the Bavarian Elector Maximilian, felt compelled to transfer the generalate back to Wallenstein in order to protect Bavaria and its Austrian hereditary lands. In the Treaty of Göllersdorf of April 14, 1632, Wallenstein was again appointed " Generalissimo ", with the right to command the imperial army alone. The emperor also had to grant him other extraordinary rights. So Wallenstein got the right to negotiate independently with the war opponents without the participation of the emperor. In fact, in the course of 1632, Wallenstein achieved important successes near Nuremberg and Lützen, and in the battle of Lützen, which ended in a draw, the King of Sweden Gustav Adolf fell. With him the Protestant side had lost the admired military leader. However, he found a determined political successor in the Swedish Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna , who immediately began to restructure the Swedish army.

In 1633 the Counter-Reformation screw was tightened again, so tight that foreign ambassadors in Vienna, even if they were serving Protestant princes, either had to be Catholics themselves or had to leave the country within three days. Wallenstein, who had previously never bothered about the denomination of his officers and soldiers, was forbidden to accept Protestants from the Habsburg hereditary lands into the imperial army in future, against which he protested angrily because the advertising business had become difficult anyway. As with the Edict of Restitution, however, the emperor remained adamant, which led Wallenstein to doubt Ferdinand's will and ability to conclude a long-awaited peace more than ever.

However, in the course of 1633 Wallenstein's position at the imperial court in Vienna was increasingly undermined by opponents, in particular the Spanish ambassador, the court war council president Heinrich Graf Schlick and Bohemian aristocrats. The emperor was informed by reports from Piccolomini about the secret negotiations of the generalissimo with Saxony, Sweden and the French, mediated by the emigrant Count Kinsky and by the Saxon field marshal Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenburg . There were also warnings and complaints from the Bavarian Elector Maximilian about the imminent conquest of the city of Regensburg by the Swedes, which took place in November 1633 and had not been prevented by Wallenstein.

At the beginning of 1634 the emperor, prompted by the so-called Pilsener Revers (an address of allegiance from his colonels to Wallenstein), came to the conclusion that Wallenstein was planning a military coup. A downright judgment was now held over Wallenstein, who was found guilty, ostracized and finally killed. It is unclear to what extent Ferdinand knew about the killing intentions, approved them or even commissioned them. However, after the crime, the court tried to prove high treason Wallenstein and to justify the murder.

Prague Peace and Death

Death portrait of Emperor Ferdinand II

Wallenstein's successor as Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army was the son of Ferdinand II, the Hungarian King and later Emperor Ferdinand III. Under his leadership and with the help of Bavarian troops under Elector Maximilian I, the city of Regensburg was first recaptured from the Swedes in July 1634 and then the Swedish army was defeated in the Battle of Nördlingen in early September 1634 . As a result, all of southern Germany was occupied by imperial troops. Ferdinand II tried to put an end to the war by making concessions to the Protestant princes and for this purpose concluded the Prague Peace with Saxony in 1635 , in which he renounced the implementation of the Edict of Restitution and which most Protestant princes joined.

Emperor Ferdinand II's grave in the mausoleum in Graz

For Ferdinand, the contract was ambivalent. On the one hand, he now officially had to renounce the edict of restitution under imperial law. On the other hand, the signing by most of the imperial estates was a success. This ended the fundamental opposition of the Protestant estates and the Swedes lost their support in the empire. The estates waived their right to maintain troops and enter into alliances. All alliances such as the league were canceled and the establishment of an imperial army was assured. In the end, however, these resolutions were not very effective.

When France entered the war in 1635, the war continued. On the Regensburg Electoral Congress , Ferdinand was able to choose his son Ferdinand III. to the king on December 22, 1636, then returned to Vienna, where he died on February 15, 1637. His grave is in the mausoleum in Graz that was built for him and his family . His heart and entrails were buried separately and were originally in the same urn, which was initially also kept in the mausoleum in Graz . The container was later transferred to Vienna, where it was buried in the royal monastery. At the end of the 18th century, Joseph II had the entrails of Ferdinand II buried in the ducal crypt of St. Stephen's Cathedral and the heart in a new cup in the heart crypt of the Habsburgs in the Loreto chapel of the Augustinian church in Vienna.


Ferdinand II was of a short, compact figure with a pronounced Habsburg lower lip . He might have a hump, or at least he had a serious back problem. Still, he was a passionate hunter and only physically limited in his later years.

He is said to have been cheerful and friendly towards those around him; but his good-naturedness often degenerated into weakness, especially towards selfish officials. In spite of his personal modesty, his excessive generosity shattered his finances. He was diligent and conscientious in the fulfillment of his regent duties, but dependent in his opinions and entirely dependent on his counsels and confessors, between whose factions he wavered.

In addition to the numerous exercises in piety, he was a friend of music. He was fluent in Italian and had a reasonable command of Latin.

The drawing of the personality of the emperor in the novel Wallenstein of Alfred Doblin away at some point completely from the historical truth.


Ferdinand II and his second wife Eleonora
Ferdinand III. and his first wife Maria Anna
Maria Anna and Cäcilia Renata
Leopold Wilhelm

In his first marriage, Ferdinand married his cousin Maria Anna von Bayern (1574–1616) , daughter of Duke Wilhelm V and his wife Princess Renata of Lorraine on April 23, 1600 in Graz . This close relationship was criticized even by Ferdinand's confessor.

The marriage had seven children:

  • Christine (25 May 1601 - 12 June 1601)
  • Karl (* / † May 25, 1603)
  • Johann Karl (born November 1, 1605 in Graz, † December 26, 1619 in Graz)
  • Ferdinand III. (1608–1657), Holy Roman Emperor
  1. ⚭ 1631 Maria Anna, Infanta of Spain, daughter of King Philip III. , King of Spain and his wife Archduchess Margarethe von Habsburg-Innerösterreich .
  2. ⚭ 1648 Maria Leopoldine of Tyrol , daughter of Leopold V , Count of Tyrol (from the Tyrolean line of the Habsburgs) and his wife Claudia de 'Medici , Princess of Tuscany.
  3. ⚭ 1651 Eleanor from the Gonzaga family , daughter of Carlo II , Duke of Mantua and his wife Maria.

In his second marriage on February 2, 1622 in Innsbruck , he married Princess Eleonora of Mantua (1598–1655) , daughter of Duke Vincent I of Mantua and his second wife Princess Eleonora de '  Medici . Hopes for the inheritance of Mantua were connected with the marriage, which led to military intervention during the Thirty Years' War . The marriage remained childless.

Both marriages that Ferdinand entered into are said to have been happy.


  • Karl Eder:  Ferdinand II. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1961, ISBN 3-428-00186-9 , pp. 83-85 ( digitized version ).
  • Johann Franzl: Ferdinand II. Kaiser in the conflict of time. Styria, Graz a. a. 1989, ISBN 3-222-11960-0 .
  • Dieter Albrecht : Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling , Walter Ziegler (ed.): The emperors of modern times. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, ISBN 3-406-34395-3 , pp. 125-141.
  • Thomas Winkelbauer : Freedom of Classes and Princely Power. Countries and subjects of the House of Habsburg in the denominational age. Part 1. In: Herwig Wolfram (Ed.): Austrian History 1522–1699. Verlag Carl Ueberreuther, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-8000-3532-4 .
  • Štěpán Vácha: The ruler in the sacred image during the Counter Reformation and the Baroque. An iconological study of the ruling representation of Emperor Ferdinand II in Bohemia. Artefactum, Prague 2009, ISBN 978-80-86890-23-4 .
  • Thomas Brockmann: Dynasty, Imperial Office and Denomination. Politics and ideas of order in the Thirty Years' War of Ferdinand II. Schöningh, Paderborn 2011, ISBN 978-3-506-76727-1 .
  • Robert Bireley: Ferdinand II. Counter-Reformation Emperor. 1578-1637. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2014, ISBN 978-1-107-06715-8 .

Web links

Commons : Ferdinand II.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Ferdinand II.  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. a b Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): The emperors of the modern times. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 127.
  2. a b c d Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (ed.): The emperors of the modern times. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 128.
  3. a b Brigitte Vacha (Ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, p. 197f.
  4. Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): Die Kaiser der Neuzeit. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Beck, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-406-34395-3 , pp. 125-141, here: p. 128.
  5. a b c d Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (ed.): The emperors of the modern times. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 125.
  6. ^ Ferdinand II. (ZDF series Die Deutschen II)
  7. a b c d e Brigitte Vacha (Ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, p. 198.
  8. a b Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): The emperors of the modern times. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 126.
  9. Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): Die Kaiser der Neuzeit. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 129.
  10. Brigitte Vacha (ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, p. 199.
  11. a b c Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (ed.): The emperors of the modern times. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 131.
  12. CV Wedgewood: The 30 Years War . Cormoran Verlag, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-517-09017-4 , p. 86f.
  13. Illustrations by Frans Hogenberg from 1619: After Keizerlich received Mayestat, Die Wahl and Kron, Von eim roasted ox good, ... ( digitized ) and actual Contrafactur, like their Kon. Mtt. In Hung. and Böhm ... was crowned a Roman Keizer in Francfort am Mayn. ( Digitized version )
  14. ^ Gerhard Taddey : Munich Treaty. In the S. (Ed.): Lexicon of German history . People, events, institutions. From the turn of the times to the end of the 2nd World War. 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-520-81302-5 , pp. 852f.
  15. a b Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): The emperors of the modern times. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 132.
  16. Brigitte Vacha (ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, p. 215.
  17. a b Brigitte Vacha (Ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, pp. 206-209.
  18. Brigitte Vacha (ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1993, pp. 212-215.
  19. Golo Mann : Wallenstein. His life , Frankfurt am Main 2016 (first 1971), pp. 492, 521, 704, 803, 838
  20. Golo Mann, Wallenstein , pp. 884f.
  21. Golo Mann, Wallenstein, p. 887
  22. Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): Die Kaiser der Neuzeit. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 134.
  23. ^ A b Dieter Albrecht: The Regensburger Kurfürstentag 1630 and the dismissal of Wallenstein. In: Dieter Albrecht (Ed.): Regensburg - City of the Reichstag. From the Middle Ages to the Modern Age. (= Series of publications of the University of Regensburg. Volume 21). 1994, ISBN 3-9803470-9-5 , pp. 88-108.
  24. Golo Mann, Wallenstein , 2016, p. 590 ff.
  25. Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): Die Kaiser der Neuzeit. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 135.
  26. ^ Gerhard Taddey: Regensburger Kurfürstentag. In: Ders .: Lexicon of German History. People, events, institutions. From the turn of the times to the end of the 2nd World War. 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-520-81302-5 , p. 1017.
  27. Brigitte Vacha (ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, p. 217.
  28. Golo Mann, Wallenstein, p. 875
  29. Golo Mann, ibid.
  30. Brigitte Vacha (ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, p. 220.
  31. Dieter Albrecht: Ferdinand II. In: Anton Schindling, Walter Ziegler (Ed.): Die Kaiser der Neuzeit. 1519-1918. Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Germany. Munich 1990, p. 140.
  32. Dieter Albrecht: Maximilian I of Bavaria 1573-1651. Munich 1998, pp. 957 and 960.
  33. See external link kaisergruft.at .
  34. Brigitte Vacha (ed.): The Habsburgs. A European family story. Vienna 1992, p. 196.
predecessor Office successor
Charles II Archduke of Inner Austria
Ferdinand III.
Matthias King of Bohemia , etc.
contested by Friedrich von der Pfalz
Ferdinand III.
Matthias King of Hungary and Croatia , etc.
Ferdinand III.
Matthias Archduke of Austria , etc.
Ferdinand III.
Matthias Roman-German Emperor
Ferdinand III.