Maximilian I. (HRR)

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Maximilian I was 1508-1519 Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire , Sacrum Romanum Imperium , painted by Albrecht Dürer , 1519
Imperial coat of arms of Maximilian I (On the haloed German double-headed eagle , black on gold, a breast plate , front in red a silver bar , the shield , which is Austria , gold and blue back three times diagonally right divided in red board is that Burgundy )

Maximilian I (native Archduke Maximilian of Austria ; * 22. March 1459 at the castle in Wiener Neustadt , Lower Austria , † 12. January 1519 in Burg Wels , Upper Austria ) from the House of Habsburg was by marriage from 1477 Duke of Burgundy , from 1486 Roman-German king , from 1493 lord of the Habsburg hereditary lands and from 4 February 1508 to 12 January 1519 Roman-German emperor .

Maximilian was nicknamed "the last knight"; his motto was Per tot discrimina rerum ("Through so many dangers").



Friedrich III. and Eleonore Helena of Portugal ( Hans Burgkmair the Elder after 1468)

Maximilian of Austria was born on March 22nd, 1459 at the castle in Wiener Neustadt and three days later he was baptized by the Archbishop of Salzburg in St. George's Cathedral . He was the son of the Roman-German Emperor Friedrich III. from the House of Habsburg and his wife Eleonore Helena of Portugal . The father was sovereign of the Austrian hereditary lands and the newborn was born with the title of Archduke of Austria . Since four siblings did not survive early childhood, Maximilian had only one younger sister, Kunigunde (1465–1520).

Due to a chronic lack of money and inheritance disputes within the Austrian states, Friedrich III. unable to pursue a consistent policy of the Reich. The internal family opposition of his brother Albrecht VI. ("Brotherly dispute" ) reached its climax in 1462 with the siege of the emperor in the Vienna Hofburg (October 16/17 to December 4). Albrecht's supporters and the outraged Viennese city ​​population shot the trapped with stone cans. The persistent state of siege, the hunger, the threat to life and limb were a humiliating situation for the imperial family and an early - probably also traumatic - childhood experience for the three-year-old Maximilian.

Maximilian spent his youth at the barren and simple courtyards in Wiener Neustadt and Graz Castle . There he grew up in a casual, free atmosphere and developed into a lively boy who was sometimes stubborn. The misalignment of the lower jaw led to a strong development of the " Habsburg lower lip ", which is why Maximilian temporarily suffered from a speech impediment. At first, the father even feared that his son might be considered dull or even mute due to the incorrect pronunciation. As a child, Maximilian moved in the field of tension between the unequal parents: the closed, lethargic Friedrich was considered an eternal procrastinator. With extremely pragmatic views, he suspiciously avoided any political risk. Eleanor, on the other hand, was an energetic and spirited woman who at times made the emperor feel her open rejection. All of her care was for the children, which is why Maximilian felt more drawn to her. She laid the foundation for the pronounced monarchical consciousness of her son and sharpened his sense of representation. For eight-year-old Maximilian, the early death of his beloved mother on September 3, 1467 meant a huge turning point. From now on, the teachers appointed by the father (e.g. Thomas Berlower , Jakob von Fladnitz ) determined the upbringing and training of the boy. The learning content was shaped by the influences of early humanism . In addition, the emperor placed great emphasis on physical hardening and the acquisition of practical knowledge, which is why he taught Maximilian the "seven knightly dexterities" (riding, climbing, shooting, swimming, wrestling, dancing & courting, tournament fighting). In the tournament in particular , Maximilian regularly demonstrated extraordinary skill and earned the reputation of a daring, excellent fighter. In addition, he showed great interest in the art of arms forging and pickling .

Marriage candidate

The participation of Frederick III. on Regensburg Christian Day (June - August 1471) marked the return of the emperor on the stage of imperial politics. He ceremoniously entered the city on June 16, 1471 with the twelve-year-old Maximilian. The emperor used the major political event to present his son to the representatives of the imperial estates and the foreign envoys. As the only guarantor of dynastic continuity, Maximilian gained increasing importance for the House of Habsburg and, as the emperor's son, assumed a special position among the European princes.

As early as 1463, Pope Pius II , who was previously an advisor to Frederick III as Enea Silvio Piccolomini . had been proposed a marriage between Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy . The aspiring Duke of Burgundy , Charles the Bold , took up the idea and saw in Maximilian a potential candidate for marriage for his only daughter Maria. The heterogeneous duchy was considered the most desirable country in Europe at this time, because it was not only praised its fabulous wealth, brought about by the skillful trade of the Flemish cities, but it was also considered the last refuge of chivalric life and the increasingly disappearing chivalric culture. Despite the medieval cultural traditions, the extensive and economically important holdings of the House of Burgundy (a branch of the French royal family) had developed into a modern administrative state. Finally, Charles the Bold and Emperor Friedrich met in September 1473 on the occasion of a court day in Trier . As part of the marriage negotiations, Karl demanded, among other things, that he be made king. The hint from France that Louis XI. would perceive such a gesture as an unfriendly act, the negative attitude of the electors and the increasingly stringent demands of the Duke of Burgundy led to the failure of the talks. After two months of negotiations, Friedrich III. and Maximilian quietly left Trier on November 25, 1473, leaving Karl angry.

Duke of Burgundy and Roman-German King

Maximilian I and his wife Maria of Burgundy. Anonymous, 2nd half of the 15th century

On August 19, 1477, Maximilian married the Hereditary Duchess Maria of Burgundy , daughter of Duke Charles the Bold , who had recently fallen in the battle of Nancy , at Ten Walle Castle in Ghent , and became iure uxoris Duke of Burgundy . The marriage of the two, which Maximilian himself glorified as a love affair after the early death of his wife, had already been agreed between their families in the autumn of 1476, after negotiations in this regard had been ongoing since 1463. On April 21, 1477 it was procurationem , d. H. without personal presence, closed.

A few months after his marriage, Maximilian was knighted in Bruges on April 30, 1478 and then appointed sovereign (Grand Master) of the Order of the Golden Fleece . Maximilian had three children with Maria: Philipp (1478–1506) and Margarete (* 1480); a second son, Franz, died in 1481 after giving birth.

The dynastic connection with Burgundy became the starting point of the centuries-long Habsburg-French conflict . Because the legacy of Charles the Bold was not undisputed. France did not want to recognize the succession of Mary and occupied the actual duchy of Burgundy , which was part of the French fiefdom . In this situation the estates of the Netherlands made the recognition of Mary dependent on political concessions and wrested the great privilege from her. France's attempts to recapture further former French territories from the Burgundian inheritance in the Burgundian War of Succession were prevented by Maximilian's victory in the Battle of Guinegate in 1479 . However, soon afterwards he engaged his little daughter to the young French King Charles VIII , to whom she was supposed to bring those territories as a dowry. But that did not happen (see below).

The early death of Maria after a hunting accident in 1482 affected Maximilian both personally and politically: The Burgundian inheritance now fell to Maximilian and Maria's son, Philipp . Maximilian could now only exercise his sovereign rights as the guardian of his four-year-old son, but was not recognized as such by the Dutch estates. In the protracted war against the French, Maximilian was on the verge of defeat several times. In Bruges , Flanders , his discontented subjects even threw him into prison from January to May 1488. His father Friedrich put together an army, liberated him and managed to stabilize the situation in Burgundy to some extent.

Two years earlier, on February 16, 1486, Friedrich had managed to get Maximilian to be elected Roman-German King in the Imperial Cathedral of Frankfurt am Main during his lifetime . On April 9, 1486 he was coronated in the Imperial Cathedral in Aachen .

On March 19, 1490, Sigmund von Tirol renounced the regency in Upper Austria in favor of Maximilian , which at that time comprised Tyrol , the Austrian foothills and the remaining ancestral lands on Swiss territory.

From October to December 1490 Maximilian undertook a campaign against Hungary and won back Vienna, Wiener Neustadt and Bruck for the Habsburgs. While he was still in Hungary, he married on December 19, 1490 - again by procurationem - Anne , the young duchess and heiress of Brittany . But he had to experience that his daughter Margarete's unfulfilled marriage with Charles VIII (the marriage in 1483 was only symbolically performed) was dissolved in 1491 and he married Anne instead, which was a double humiliation for Maximilian. Karl sent Margarete, who had spent a large part of her childhood at the French court, back to Maximilian. On March 16, 1494, Maximilian married Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) in Hall in Tirol for the second time .

Lord of the Habsburg hereditary lands, ruling king and emperor

Maximilian accepts the homage of the secular and clerical classes and the recognition of the Pope. From Petrus Almaire: Liber missarum of Margaret of Austria , around 1515.

After the death of his father, Emperor Friedrich III., In 1493, Maximilian succeeded him as the ruling Roman-German king and as lord of the Habsburg hereditary lands . In 1497 he exchanged the rule of Haigerloch for the rule of Rhäzün

When in 1495 Charles VIII conquered the Kingdom of Naples in a coup d'état , on whose crown he asserted claims, Maximilian and the Duke of Milan formed the Republic of Venice , Pope Alexander VI. and King Ferdinand II of Aragon the Holy League . On this occasion he engaged his daughter Margaret to Ferdinand's son John of Aragon and Castile , the probable heir to the crowns of Aragon and Castile . In 1496 Maximilian married his son Philipp to Ferdinand's daughter Johanna . The Spanish heir to the throne John died just a few months after his marriage to Maximilian's daughter Margarete in 1497. Isabella of Aragon and Castile who was married to King Manuel of Portugal was the new heir to the throne of the kingdoms of the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile . After her death on August 23, 1498, the prerogatives to the throne passed to her son Miguel da Paz . When he died on July 20, 1500, Johanna, the wife of Philip the Fair, succeeded him as the Aragonese-Castilian heir to the throne. Through Maximilian's alliance with Ferdinand, France felt threatened from the east and south-west, which further intensified the Habsburg-French rivalry that would shape the history of Europe for the next 250 years.

The major signature of Maximilian I's signature on a document dated March 10, 1497: Maxi (milianus) R (ex) s (ub) s (cripsit) . For letters he usually used the sigle p (er) reg (em) p (er) s (e) instead of the signature .

In 1495 Maximilian initiated a comprehensive reform of the empire at the Reichstag in Worms ( Maximilian administrative reform ) . Of the institutions that emerged from it, the newly formed imperial circles and the imperial chamber court continued .

He was unable to realize his intention to decide on a Turkish war at the Reichstag . As a result, the conflict with France had priority, so that in 1498 the first peace agreement was reached with the Ottoman Empire . Secret negotiations in 1510 with the aim of forming an alliance against Venice failed.

With the last Meinhardin prince, Count Leonhard von Görz , Maximilian negotiated an inheritance contract from 1497/98, which was supposed to bring the county of Gorizia to the Habsburgs . But only after finally gained dispute with the Republic of Venice was able to obtained with high honors for görzischen Regent Virgil of digging to realize this agreement final.

Maximilian's efforts to acquire Bohemia and Hungary were even more important for the future of the House of Austria . As early as 1491 Maximilian had succeeded in signing an inheritance contract with King Vladislav II of Bohemia and Hungary in Pressburg . This provided that the crowns of Bohemia and Hungary would fall to the House of Austria if Vladislav were to remain without an heir. However, since he had children from his marriage to Anne de Foix-Candale , the daughter Anna born in 1503 and the son Ludwig II born in 1506, the agreement of Pressburg in Vienna was concluded at Maximilian's instigation in 1506 through the plan of reciprocal marriages between the two Heirs to the throne expanded.

At the Reichstag in Cologne in 1505 Maximilian decided the Landshut War of Succession essentially in favor of Albrecht IV of Bavaria (so-called Cologne Spruch ), but established the new Duchy of Palatinate-Neuburg and in the course of mediation also brought the formerly Bavarian districts of Kufstein , Kitzbühel and Rattenberg itself.

From the Weißkunig of Emperor Maximilian I.

On August 8, 1507, King Maximilian appointed the Elector Friedrich III. of Saxony at the Reichstag in Constance as his imperial vicar for the time of his absence in the empire because of the planned Rome move and his imperial coronation. (This temporary award of the imperial vicar title is immortalized on the coins , the Locumtenenstalern of the Elector of Saxony.)

On February 4, 1508, with the consent of Pope Julius II , Maximilian accepted the title of Elected Roman Emperor in the Cathedral of Trento after his move to Rome had failed due to the resistance of the Republic of Venice .

Maximilian met the Jagiellonian kings Vladislav II of Hungary in 1515 in order to alleviate the growing pressure that the rulers of France , Poland , Hungary , Bohemia and Russia put under pressure on the empire, but also to secure Bohemia and Hungary for Habsburg and Bohemia and Sigismund I of Poland in Vienna . He also put the Radziwill family in the imperial princehood. The double wedding arranged there between Maximilian's grandchildren - Archduke Ferdinand I (alternatively Charles V was also in discussion) and Archduchess Maria - with the children of King Vladislav II, Anna of Bohemia and Hungary and Ludwig II. King of Bohemia and Hungary (1506–1526), ​​which was carried out in 1521, brought the House of Habsburg in 1526 the crowns of Hungary and Bohemia. On July 22nd, 1515, the Emperor made a promise next to Anna of Bohemia and Hungary in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna that she would marry the princess and make her empress if one of his grandchildren - Ferdinand or Karl - did not declare their marriage within a year submitted. This did not happen, however, as this declaration was made by Archduke Ferdinand in 1516.

Maximilian also maintained friendly relations with the Russian Tsar Ivan III. and Wassili III. , but the ecclesiastical union sought by the emperor and pope did not succeed.

Death and afterlife

Austrian 50 Schilling silver coin for the 450th year of Maximilian I's death (1969)
Image of the dead of Maximilian
Emperor Maximilian's grave in Wiener Neustadt
Statue in the Army History Museum

Maximilian died on January 12, 1519 on the arduous journey from Innsbruck to the state parliament in Linz in the castle of Wels , presumably of bowel cancer. Like other kings and emperors of the Middle Ages (e.g. Sigmund von Luxemburg ) Maximilian staged his death. After having carried his coffin with him for four years, he now presented himself as an extraordinarily humble and guilty sinner and penitent. After he had received the sacraments of death ("last unction"), he presented the imperial seal and forbade addressing him with his titles. He ordered that after his death not be embalmed, but instead ordered that his body be scourged, that his hair be shorn and his teeth broken out. He had the corpse shirt and trousers brought to him shortly before death (allegedly out of shame), dressed himself and ordered that it should be placed in the coffin like this. He also ordered his body to be dressed in the robes of the Order of St. George and then sewn into a sack made of linen, damask and white silk with the addition of lime and ashes. In addition to religious considerations of penance , the methods of preserving corpses that were customary at the time also played a role in this process, which was handed down by Cuspinian . “The image of the dead that has survived ,” writes Reformation historian Thomas Kaufmann , “is a document that is shocking in its realism: a pale yellow face with deeply sunken cheeks, the toothless mouth slightly open; a half-closed eyelid reveals a twisted pupil. "

Maximilian I was, true to the will of Wels, buried in his baptistery, the St. George's Chapel of the castle in Wiener Neustadt , under the steps of the Gothic high altar at the time, like his father Friedrich III. in the regalia of the Order of St. George Knights - in such a way that priests come to stand right over his heart during mass. His heart was buried separately and buried in the sarcophagus of Mary of Burgundy in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges . Maximilian's famous tomb with numerous bronze figures , which he had commissioned during his lifetime for the St. George's Chapel in Wiener Neustadt, remained unfinished. It was not until his grandson Ferdinand I had it installed in the specially built court church in Innsbruck .

Maximilian's successor as emperor was his grandson Charles V , who grew up in the Netherlands and was the son of Philip and Johannas, who had died in 1506 . After Philip's death, Maximilian appointed his daughter Margarete , who was married to Philibert of Savoy but who was widowed at an early age, to be the guardian of his grandchildren and regent of the Netherlands .


The Habsburg Hereditary Lands, Burgundy and the Empire

For the history of Austria , Maximilian is considered to be the figure of the unification that his father Friedrich had also pursued: The division of the House of Habsburg into the Albertine and the Leopoldine line , which began with the Neuberg partition contract in 1379, completely against the intention of Rudolf the founder , took place in 1490 over. By renouncing Upper Austria in favor of his brother Ernst's grandson , known as the Iron Man , Sigmund von Tirol ensured the reunification of the Habsburg hereditary lands after Friedrich had reunited Lower Austria and Inner Austria in 1463 .

Maximilian was able to hand the empire over to his grandson Charles V in a universal monarchy .

By fifteen years' war he prevented the division of the Netherlands by its neighboring states. In the war against France he was able to secure rule in most of the countries of the Burgundian dukes, only the Duchy of Burgundy itself remained under French control.

Battle of Wenzenbach in the Codex Germanicus

With the alliance between Maximilian and the kings of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, concluded in 1494, and the resulting marriage between Archduke Philip and Archduchess Margarete with the children of the Spanish royal family and the Habsburg- Jagiellonian engagement concluded on July 22, 1515 in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna ( and later double wedding ) he laid the foundation stone for the later world renown of the House of Habsburg: his grandson Karl , Emperor Karl V, was supposed to rule over an empire in which "the sun no longer set".

At the same time, with his son Philip the Fair, the next division of the Habsburg rule began. With his son Karl, the Spanish line was established ( Casa de Austria ), while the younger son of Philip, Ferdinand , continued the Austrian line .

Emperor Maximilian's horse harness, Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York

1480 marks the first Turkish invasion of the Holy Roman Empire, specifically in Carinthia and Styria. Maximilian tried unsuccessfully to motivate the German estates to go to war against the Ottoman Empire.


Since Maximilian paid homage to a splendid lifestyle, which was also due to his social position, many conflicts in which he was involved and the legacies of previous rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, he left behind an enormous mountain of debt. The costs of his countless wars and his court keeping were not nearly covered by the current income, so that the emperor had to constantly take out new loans from his house banker Jakob Fugger . In 1501 a house was even acquired in Augsburg. Because of his 17 stays (a total of 2 years and 211 days), the French King Franz I gave him the nickname “Mayor of Augsburg”. Since Maximilian hardly kept up with his debt servicing, the Augsburg bank managed to obtain numerous privileges. But other cities also had to pay for the horrific costs. He visited the free imperial city of Memmingen, which is near Augsburg, a total of thirteen times and called it his rest and sleeping cell . As an imperial city, Augsburg had to make payments in cash and in kind on each of its visits, but Augsburg (like the other imperial cities) had already been obliged to do this under the earlier kings and emperors of the Holy Empire.

The dictation of the empty coffers ultimately also led Maximilian to marry the daughter of the Italian condottiere prince Galeazzo Maria Sforza and the Bona of Savoy , Bianca Maria Sforza , which her uncle Ludovico Sforza had initiated. Maximilian received the truly imperial dowry of 400,000 gold ducats in cash and a further 40,000 ducats in jewels. In this way Ludovico achieved his great goal of getting the Duchy of Milan as a fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire.

Art and literature

Maximilian, himself highly educated and a friend of humanism and the Renaissance , cultivated a great interest in science, literature and art and he also promoted these in the empire. He himself published poetic works that were conceived by him, partly by himself, partly by Marx Treitzsaurwein von Ehrentrei (t) z, Melchior Pfintzing and Hans Ried . The Theuerdank , largely written by his own hand, allegorizes Maximilian's courtship, the Weißkunig (unfinished), written by Marx Treitzsaurwein von Ehrentrei (t) z, reports on his deeds up to 1513. Both illustrated Hans Burgkmair the Elder , Hans Schäufelin and other artists Woodcuts . The Freydal , a third planned work for the emperor's tournaments , remained a fragmentary project in terms of text volume and the number of illustrations. The Ambras book of heroes was written on his behalf between 1504 and 1516 . His almost modern propaganda use of the woodcut medium is also evidenced by his book illustrations.

Maximilian supported humanism by implementing a concept by Konrad Celtis and in 1501 founded a Collegium poetarum et mathematicorum . This should be part of the University of Vienna and include two chairs for poetics and rhetoric as well as two for mathematics and its scientific fields of application. This institutionalization of humanism was a pioneering act.

The merit of Maximilian and his Chancellor Niclas Ziegler in creating an exemplary German spelling was valued very highly by the years that followed. The efforts towards unity were expressed in a repression of distinctly southern German trains in favor of central German ones. Thus a writing tradition soon grew in southern Germany, which was also known as 'common German' and which for a long time represented competition for the increasingly prevalent East-Central German tendency of the New High German written language development.

Maximilian is considered to be the founder of the Frauensteiner Schutzmantelmadonna in Molln , a work by Gregor Erhart . He and Bianca Maria Sforza are shown under the coat. Probably mediated by Willibald Pirckheimer , Maximilian contacted Albrecht Dürer in 1512 ; from 1515 he granted him an annual pension of 100 guilders. It is significant, however, that we do not speak of the Maximilian but of the Dürer period when looking back at art history. It would be a misunderstanding to see Maximilian as a great art-loving patron of the arts. All of his commissioned works reflect his preoccupation with family trees, heraldry or historical topics. First and foremost, it aimed to write down the memory of his person and his family for the future and forever. For this he commissioned the most important artists of his time - above all Dürer. The fact that in addition to the famous Nuremberg artist, from today's point of view, an average artist such as Innsbruck's Jörg Kölderer worked at the imperial court - first as court painter and later as court architect - testifies to the emperor's approach to art, which is often more “pragmatic” than aesthetic criteria . Complex statements could sometimes also be conveyed vividly with simple pictures and unfolded their memorable effect in connection with the texts conceived by Maximilian himself.

Feudal knight and Renaissance prince

As a patron of the arts, promoter of science, humanist, but also in his love of splendor, Maximilian presented himself as a typical renaissance ruler, and his efforts to achieve a comprehensive increase in popularity already bear all the traits of a "modern" ruler. But at the same time Maximilian stylized himself into the ideal image of the medieval knight, in accordance with the Burgundian tradition of knighthood. Maximilian's large-scale poems are not only a last, lingering memorial of a bygone era, but also partly encrypted autobiographies that, in addition to real events, also relate to plans and projects of the emperor that he was unable to carry out due to lack of money. Likewise, the emperor was consciously knitting on his own legend - the unfinished Freydal later earned him the reputation of having been the best tournament fighter of his time.

Maximilian was nicknamed The Last Knight , because he still embodied the already faded ideal of the old Burgundian chivalry. At the same time, however, he proved to be a forward-looking, modernizing ruler of the dawning modern era, so that this was also expanded to become The First Gunner .

In his choice of St. George as his patron saint, the knightly virtues are reflected, which also played an important role for Maximilian. Maximilian's considerations went as far as to become Pope himself in order to unite all secular and ecclesiastical power as the highest-ranking monarch in Christianity. The romantic word of Maximilian as the last knight meets strictly speaking, not because his self-image as a sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece and Georg order as well as an advocate of a crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the Ottomans was not a backward-looking reverie. Rather, it has to be seen against a background of political urgency from a real threat.

Many of his ambitious plans remained unfinished. But he firmly believed that the projects that he did not realize during his lifetime would be completed by his descendants. The family trees and genealogical research commissioned by him, fictitiously extended to ancient or biblical roots, to prove as old and illustrious ancestry of the Habsburg family as possible, served to legitimize them in competition with rival noble families - as rulers of the Holy Roman Empire . References to antiquity played a strong role for him, as he saw himself as the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire through the legitimate successor of ancient rulers. He was a master of an almost modern self-staging and was the first ruler to use the medium of woodcut as an innovative production technique for himself. His autobiographical book projects Freydal , Theuerdank and Weißkunig have all been illustrated with it, the monumental Ehrenpforte is the largest multi-part woodcut of the Dürer period and illustrates the possibilities of this technique. Likewise, the large-scale work of the triumphal procession , which was also reproduced with this technique in order to reach more audiences. The graphic design was done by the most important artists of the time, in addition to Dürer, especially Hans Burgkmair the Elder from Augsburg . Ä. It was not economic reasons that prompted him to resort to the apparently cheap medium of paper, but rather recognized the new possibilities of illustration for printed products. Almost any reproducibility and the uncomplicated transportability of paper are to be mentioned here. The emperor always took a lively part in the realization of his orders, gave the artists written concepts and had his orders repeatedly submitted to him for correction. This enabled him to stamp a kind of protected own product brand on the works, so to speak, and to distribute it with various media.

Consequences of the Maximilian reforms in the institutions of the empire since the early modern period ; each imaged Erzamt was with a electorship connected

Imperial domestic policy and administrative reforms

With the imperial reform of Emperor Maximilian I, a turning point in European history is demarcated; it represents the transition from the Middle Ages to the early modern period . Up to this point in time the power of the central imperial authority, the empire, had reached an administrative low point after centuries of erosion of imperial rights.

For Emperor Maximilian, his hereditary lands were those territories that he inherited as imperial prince , in contrast to the rest of Germany, of which he was the elected emperor , but which was not part of his immediate sphere of influence. Due to the inheritance of the fiefs and the Reichstag, there were restrictions there that the monarch was not subject to in his own inherited possessions.

On November 24, 1494, Maximilian convened a diet for February 2, 1495 in Worms . It then lasted from March 26th to August 7th, 1495. The Archbishop and Elector of Mainz, as Imperial Chancellor , Berthold von Henneberg , had a strong influence on the reforms decided there . At the Worms Reichstag, the other princes elected him to be the spokesman for the imperial estates . In this function he wrested the consent of the future Emperor Maximilian I from an imperial regiment. The Eternal peace was equally due to his lengthy use as the establishment of the Imperial Chamber and the "Handling peace and justice" as a contract between King and stalls.

Ultimately, there were compromises between the emperor and the imperial estates, which led to four interrelated fundamental reform laws in the imperial enactment of 1495. Since the Worms Reichstag under Maximilian, this institution became the supreme legal and constitutional institution, without a formal act of establishment or a legal basis gave. In the struggle for a more centralized or more federalistic character of the empire between the emperor and the imperial princes, the Reichstag developed into one of the guarantors for the preservation of the empire.

At this Reichstag in Worms, the foundation stone for a comprehensive reform of the Reich was laid. As regent of the Hereditary Lands, Maximilian sought to initiate a comprehensive administrative reform with a focus on the financial and judicial sector, such as the problem of the perpetual imperial state peace , the establishment of a Reich Chamber Court and the levying of the common penny as the first tax throughout the empire. For this purpose, an apparatus of state officials should be created instead of the previous functionaries who were recruited solely from the nobility and estates . For Maximilian, the administrative apparatus, as it had developed under the rule of his wife Maria of Burgundy , was a model, for example with regard to a streamlined and strictly hierarchical administration.

Maximilian intended to introduce similar measures throughout the Holy Roman Empire, designed to strengthen the authority of the emperor's institution . With this reform project, Maximilian tried to counteract the administrative, historical and cultural heterogeneity of the Reich territory and the immanent centrifugal forces derived from it. He wanted to tie the imperial princes more closely to the empire and the empire and synchronize their independent political and administrative actions. The reactions to his endeavors were expressed in greater resistance, so that his plans could only be implemented in fragments. A protracted conflict between the emperor, the imperial estates and imperial princes ensued.

One result of this imperial reform, albeit incomplete, was the introduction of new administrative institutions. The imperial territory was initially divided into six, later into ten imperial circles. The imperial circles were now the new regional administrative units entrusted with the collection of imperial taxes, the enforcement of orders from imperial organs as well as the establishment and maintenance of imperial troop contingents. However, the reform was unable to break open the complex structures of the Holy Roman Empire. The establishment of a Reich Chamber of Commerce is also associated with Maximilian. This was a judicial authority dominated by estates, which initially met at various locations in the HRR, but then became resident in Speyer for a longer period from 1527 . It was the first instance for the imperial immediate estates. It was also related to the negotiations on the Eternal Peace of the Land, as it was negotiated in the Reichstag of Worms in 1495, and which brought with it the definitive and unlimited, permanent, unconditional ban on feuds instead of the medieval right to feud . The introduction of the imperial regiment as a kind of imperial government, a corporate body of government failed because of the imperial estates.

According to Moraw (1995), the convocation of the Reichstag and the adoption of the reform intentions led to a stronger, factual recognition of the institution of the Reichstag through the political elite becoming accustomed to a politically organized gathering for months.



Pedigree of Maximilian I.
Great grandparents

Leopold III. von Habsburg (1351–1386)
⚭ 1365
Viridis Visconti (1350–1414)

Siemowit IV of Mazovia (1353 / 56–1426)
⚭ 1387
Alexandra of Lithuania (1360–1434)

John I of Portugal (1357–1433)
⚭ 1387
Philippa of Lancaster (1360–1415)

Ferdinand I of Aragón (1380–1416)
⚭ 1394
Eleonore Urraca of Castile (1374–1435)


Ernst the Iron (1377–1424)
⚭ 1412
Cimburgis of Masovia (1394 / 97–1429)

Edward I of Portugal (1391–1438)
⚭ 1428
Eleanor of Aragon (1402–1445)


Roman-German imperial crown
Friedrich III. (1415–1493)
⚭ 1452
Eleanor Helena of Portugal (1436–1467)

Roman-German imperial crown
Maximilian I (1459–1519)


Legitimate offspring

Maximilian I with his grandson Ferdinand in his arms . In the middle grandson Karl . In the background son Philipp . As well as Maximilian's wife Maria of Burgundy . (Picture by Bernhard Strigel , after 1515)
  1. ⚭ (I) 1477 Maria von Burgund (1457–1482), hereditary duchess from the House of Burgundy , daughter of Charles the Bold and Isabelle from the House of Bourbon
    1. Philip I (Castile) , "Philip the Fair" (1478–1506), King of Castile
      ⚭ 1496 Johanna , "Johanna die Wahnsinnige" (1479–1555), Queen of Castile
    2. Margaret of Austria (1480–1530) , governor of the Habsburg Netherlands
      ⚭ (I) 1497 John of Aragon and Castile (1478–1497), Prince of Asturias
      ⚭ (II) 1501 Philibert II (1480–1504), Duke of Savoy
    3. Franz (* / † 1481)
  2. ⚭ 1490 (dissolved 1491) Anna , Duchess of Brittany from the house of the Capetians , daughter of Francis II and Margaret of Foix , Princess of Navarre
  3. ⚭ (II) 1494 Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510), daughter of Duke Galeazzo Maria of Milan and Bona of Savoy

Illegitimate descendants

Maximilian is said to have fathered at least 14 illegitimate children. (Selection):

  1. George of Austria (1504–1557), Bishop of Liège
  2. Dorothea of ​​Austria ⚭ Count Johann I (East Friesland)


The Weißkunig
  • Trilogy:
    • Theuerdank : poetry with a chivalrous character, published in 1517 (mostly written by Maximilian himself)
    • The white king . A story of the deeds of Emperor Maximilian the First. First printed in 1775
    • Freydal
  • Secret hunting book
  • The fishing book. Vienna, 1506 ( fishing regulations based on a Vischordnung of his father Friedrich)
    • Edition: Michael Mayr (Ed.): The fishing book of Emperor Maximilian I Innsbruck 1901.


By the imperial resolution of Franz Joseph I on February 28, 1863 Maximilian I was added to the list of the "most famous warlords and generals of Austria worthy of perpetual emulation" , in whose honor and memory there was also a life-size statue in the general hall of that time The newly established Imperial and Royal Court Weapons Museum (today: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Wien ) was built. The statue was created in 1870 from Carrara marble by the sculptor Josef Gasser and was dedicated by Emperor Franz Joseph himself.

In the television film Maximilian - The Game of Power and Love by Andreas Prochaska , first broadcast in 2017, Maximilian was played by Jannis Niewöhner . In the documentary film Maximilian - The Bridal Train to Power (also: Love, Money and Power - Maximilian I ) by Manfred Corrine , from 2017, historians explained the background and context of the era.
In 2019, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Maximilian I, numerous exhibitions and memorial events will take place in Austria, Italy (South Tyrol), Switzerland and Germany. The exhibitions in Augsburg and Innsbruck are the most extensive and illuminate the life and work of Maximilian in the most detail. Among other things, the emperor is commemorated in Kufstein, where Maximilian gave the order to build the imperial tower in the fortress there after the conquest of Kufstein, built from 1518 to 1520 by Michael Zeller, "the Prussian".


  • 2000: The rise of an emperor: Maximilian I. From his birth to sole rule 1459–1493 , Wiener Neustadt Stadtmuseum
  • 2002: Emperor Maximilian I. Preserver and Reformer , Reich Chamber Court Museum , Wetzlar.
  • 2019: Ten exhibitions on the 500th anniversary of Maximilian I's death.
  • 2019: Emperor Maximilian I, a great Habsburg, in the Austrian National Library
  • 2019: Maximilian I, Emperor - Knight - Citizen of Augsburg
  • 2019: Exhibition "Departure into the Modern Era" in the Hofburg Innsbruck
  • 2019: Exhibition "The Emperor's Stuff" in the Innsbruck Armory
  • 2019: Special exhibition Maximilian I. "In praise and eternal memory" in Ambras Castle Innsbruck
  • 2019: Exhibition "Maximilian in Müstair - Hunting & Politics" in Switzerland
  • 2019: Exhibition "Maximilianus. The Art of the Emperor. L´arte dell´Imperatore" in South Tyrol
  • 2019: Exhibition "The Last Knight: The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

See also

Territories and dominions around 1470 in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It is the time of the reign of Friedrich III. (HRR)



  • Manfred Hollegger: Maximilian I, 1459–1519, ruler and man of a turning point. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-17-015557-1 .
  • Sabine Weiss: Maximilian I. Habsburg's fascinating emperor. Tyrolia, Innsbruck 2018.
  • Hermann Wiesflecker : Emperor Maximilian I. The Empire, Austria and Europe at the turn of the modern age. 5 volumes. Oldenbourg, Munich 1971–1986. (Standard work)
  • Hermann Wiesflecker: Maximilian I. The foundations of the Habsburg world empire . Publishing house for history and politics, Vienna / Munich 1991, ISBN 3-7028-0308-4 .

Exhibition catalogs

  • Christa Angermann among others: Maximilian I. The rise of an emperor. From his birth to sole rule 1459 - 1493. Wiener Neustadt 2000, ISBN 3-85098-248-3 .
  • Thomas Kuster, Monika Frenzel (ed.): Exhibition catalog. Maximilian I. Triumph of an emperor. A ruler with a European vision . Innsbruck 2005/2006.
  • Sabine Haag et al. (Ed.): Emperor Maximilian I. The last knight and the courtly tournament. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-7954-2842-6 .
  • Monika Frenzel, Christian Gepp, Markus Wimmer (eds.): Maximilian 1. Departure into modern times. Haymon Verlag, Innsbruck / Vienna 2019, ISBN 978-3-7099-3462-3 .
  • Katharina Kaska (ed.): Emperor Maximilian I. A great Habsburg. Residenz Verlag, Vienna 2019, ISBN 978-3-7017-3471-9 .
  • Heidrun Lange-Krach (Ed.): Maximilian I., Emperor - Knight - Citizen of Augsburg. Verlag Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-7954-3414-4 .
  • Sabine Haag, Veronika Sandbichler (ed.): Maximilian I., Ambras Castle Innsbruck. KHM Museumsverband, Vienna 2019, ISBN 978-3-99020-190-9 .

Lexicon article

Special studies

  • Sieglinde Hartmann (ed.): Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519) and the court culture of his time. Reichert, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-89500-664-7 .
  • Larry Silver: Marketing Maximilian. The Visual Ideology of a Holy Roman Emperor . Princeton, NJ / Oxford 2008.
  • Johannes Helmrath , Ursula Kocher, Andrea Sieber (Hrsg.): Maximilians Welt. Emperor Maximilian I in the field of tension between innovation and tradition (= Berlin Medieval and Early Modern Research. Volume 22). V&R unipress, Göttingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-8471-0884-9 .
  • Axel Metz: The chief of the estates. Royalty and estates in southern Germany at the time of Maximilian I (= publications of the Commission for historical regional studies in Baden-Württemberg, Series B: Research. Volume 174). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-17-020762-2 .
  • Horst Rabe: German history 1500–1600. The century of religious schism. Beck, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-406-35501-3 . (comprehensive overview)
  • Helmut Georg Koenigsberger : Prince and Estates General. Maximilian I in the Netherlands (1477–1493) (= writings of the Historical College . Lectures. Volume 12). Munich 1987 (digitized version) .

Web links

Commons : Maximilian I.  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Maximilian I.  - Sources and full texts


  1. ^ Hermann Wiesflecker: Emperor Maximilian I. The Empire, Austria and Europe at the turn of the modern era. Volume 1. Munich 1971, pp. 65f.
  2. Hermann Wiesflecker is fundamental to the life of Maximilian: Emperor Maximilian I. The Empire, Austria and Europe at the turn of the modern age. 5 volumes. Munich 1971ff., Where the sources are processed in detail.
  3. General overview, for example in Harm von Seggern: History of the Burgundian Netherlands. Stuttgart 2018.
  4. ↑ On this Sonja Dünnebeil: Commercial object heir daughter - On the negotiations about the marriage of Mary of Burgundy. In: Sonja Dünnebeil, Christine Ottner: Foreign policy action in the late Middle Ages: Actors and goals. (= Research on the imperial and papal history of the Middle Ages . Supplements to JF Böhmer, Regesta Imperii. Volume 27). Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2007, pp. 159–184.
  5. Hermann Wiesflecker: Maximilian I. The foundations of the Habsburg world empire. Vienna / Munich 1991, p. 73 ff.
  6. ^ Hermann Wiesflecker:  Maximilian I. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-428-00197-4 , pp. 458-471 ( digitized version )., P. 463.
  7. Michael Klein: Historical thinking and class criticism from an apocalyptic perspective . Hamm 2004, p. 36–39 ( [PDF; 841 kB ; accessed on January 24, 2013] Dissertation at Fernuni Hagen ).
  8. Erich Zöllner: History of Austria: from the beginnings to the present. Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, 1990, ISBN 3-486-46708-5 , p. 159.
  9. ^ Walther Haupt: Sächsische Münzkunde. Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaft, Berlin 1974, p. 167.
  10. Hermann Wiesflecker: Maximilian I . S. 378 (one volume edition).
  11. Michael Ignaz Schmidt : From Maximilian I to Karln the Fifth, Volume 10 , Gegel, Mannheim and Frankenthal 1784, p. 159, ( digitized in the Google book search)
  12. a b c Thomas Kaufmann: History of the Reformation. Frankfurt am Main 2009, p. 51.
  13. ^ Johann-Evarist Schmid : Historical catechism or the whole catechism in historically true examples for church, school and house , Hurter, Schaffhausen 1852, p. 259, ( digitized in the Google book search)
  14. grave Mayer John: illness, dying and death in the early 16th century. In: Albrecht Classen (Ed.): Religion and Health. The healing discourse in the 16th century. Berlin et al. 2011, pp. 49–78, here 69–70.
  15. ^ Christopher R. Seddon: Dissected and sewn up. Considerations for the preservation of corpses as part of courtly ceremonies of the Habsburgs. Linz 2005, special edition pp. 12–18.
  16. Richard Reifenscheid: The Habsburgs - From Rudolf I to Karl I Vienna 1994, p. 95.
  17. ^ Literature by and about Maximilian I in the catalog of the German National Library , p. 460.
  18. ^ Günter Hägele: Maximilian I. In: Stadtlexikon Augsburg. Retrieved October 25, 2018 .
  19. ^ Eva Michel and Maria Luise Sternath in: Emperor Maximilian I and the art of the Dürer period. Edited by Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Munich and others. 2012, p. 14.
  20. ^ Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer : Humanism between court and university. Georg Tannstetter (Collimitius) and his scientific environment in Vienna in the early 16th century . Vienna 1996, pp. 44-49.
  21. Angela Mohr: The Schutzmantelmadonna von Frauenstein . Verlag Ennsthaler, Steyr 1986, 2nd edition, ISBN 3-85068-132-7 , p. 27.
  22. ^ Eva Michel and Maria Luise Sternath in: Emperor Maximilian I and the art of the Dürer period. Edited by Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Munich and others. 2012, p. 16.
  23. ^ Eva Michel and Maria Luise Sternath in: Emperor Maximilian I and the art of the Dürer period. Edited by Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Munich and others. 2012, p. 16.
  24. ^ Eva Michel and Maria Luise Sternath in: Emperor Maximilian I and the art of the Dürer period. Edited by Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Munich et al. 2012, p. 17.
  25. Heinrich Lutz: The struggle for German unity and church renewal. Volume 1, Propylaen / Munich 2002, ISBN 3-548-04791-2 , p. 117.
  26. ^ Reichstag and Reich assemblies during the reign of Maximilian I (1486–1519), p. 3,
  27. Martin Mutschlechner: Maximilian I as ruler of the Habsburg hereditary lands and emperor of the empire.
  28. Thomas Kaufmann : History of the Reformation. Verlag der Weltreligionen, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 2009, ISBN 978-3-458-71024-0 , pp. 41–54.
  29. Peter Moraw: The Diet of Worms from 1495. In: Claudia Helm, Jost Hausmann (Ed.): 1495. Kaiser - Reich - Reforms. The Reichstag in Worms. Landesarchivverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz, Koblenz 1995, ISBN 3-931014-20-7 , pp. 25-37.
  30. Johann Samuelansch : Allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste. Volume 3, 1832, p. 144.Biographies from the time of Emperor Maximilian I until the death of Karl, Volume 5, 1842, p. 39.
  31. ^ Project: Cirksena family tree from the Esenser castle
  32. Johann Christoph Allmayer-Beck : The Army History Museum Vienna. The museum and its representative rooms. Kiesel Verlag, Salzburg 1981, ISBN 3-7023-0113-5 , p. 30.
  33. Premiere for Andreas Prochaska's top-cast ORF / ZDF film event “Maximilian. The game of power and love ” . OTS notification of January 31, 2017, accessed on February 1, 2017.
  34. "Love, Money and Power - Maximilian I": How to encircle France | Frankfurter Rundschau . Article dated August 19, 2017, accessed August 20, 2017.
  35. Events on "Maximilian I. (1459-1519). Province of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  36. ^ Special exhibition "Maximilian I (1459-1519), Emperor - Knight - Citizen of Augsburg". 07/01/2019 - 09/15/2019. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  37. Special exhibition "Maximilian I - Departure into the Modern Age", July 1st, 2019 - October 12th, 2019 in the Hofburg Innsbruck. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  38. ^ Themed tour "Emperor Maximilian I at the Kufstein Fortress", 23.08.2019. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  39. 1519: Tirol + Maximilian x 10, in 10 locations, from July 1st, 2019 - December 31st, 2019. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  40. ^ Special exhibition "Emperor Maximilian I. A great Habsburg" July 1st, 2019 - November 3rd, 2019, in Vienna. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  41. ^ Special exhibition "Maximilian I (1459-1519). Emperor - Knight - Citizen of Augsburg" July 1, 2019 - September 15, 2019. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  42. Special exhibition "Maximilian I - Departure into the Modern Age", July 1st, 2019 - October 12th, 2019 in the Hofburg Innsbruck. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 24, 2019 .
  43. ^ Exhibition "The Emperor's Stuff", July 1st, 2019 - November 4th, 2019, Maximilians Zeughaus in Innsbruck. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  44. Special exhibition Maximilian I. "In Praise and Eternal Memory", July 1st, 2019 - October 31st, 2019, in Ambras Castle, Innsbruck. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  45. ^ Special exhibition "Maximilian in Müstair - Hunting & Politics" July 1st, 2019 - November 3rd, 2019 in the Müstair Monastery Museum, Switzerland. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  46. Exhibition "Maximilianus. The Emperor's Art. L´arte dell´Imperatore", July 27th, 2019 - November 3rd, 2019 in Castle Tyrol. State of Tyrol, accessed on July 21, 2019 .
  47. ^ Jason Farago: At the Met, Heavy Metal on a Continental Scale . In: The New York Times . October 24, 2019, ISSN  0362-4331 ( [accessed November 17, 2019]).
predecessor Office successor
Friedrich III. Roman-German King
from 1508 Emperor
Charles V
Friedrich III. (V.) Archduke of Austria
Charles V (I.)
Wilhelm of Saxony Duke of Luxembourg
Charles V (II.)
Charles of Valois, the Bold Duke of Burgundy
(de iure uxoris)
Philip of Austria
Siegmund Count of Tyrol etc.
Charles V (I.)
Charles of Valois, the Bold Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece
Philip of Austria