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Maximilian I

(1459—1519)


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(1459–1519)

King of the Romans (1486–93) Holy Roman Emperor (1493–1519). By marrying Mary, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold (1477), he added the duchy of Burgundy (which included the Netherlands) to the Habsburg lands, thus earning the enmity of France. He defeated the French at the battle of Guinegate (1479) but the Habsburg–Valois rivalry continued in the Netherlands and Italy.

In 1490 he drove out the Hungarians, who, under Matthias I (Corvinus), had seized much Austrian territory, and by the Treaty of Pressburg (1491) he was recognized as the future king of Bohemia and Hungary. After repulsing the Turks in 1493, he turned to Italy where war was waged between French and Habsburg troops until 1516. He was at a military disadvantage since the German princes refused to finance his campaigns and, despite allying with England against France, he was forced to cede Milan to France and Verona to the Venetians, and to sign the Treaty of Brussels with Francis I in 1516. He was also forced to grant the Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.

Dynastically he had great success; his son Philip's marriage to the Infanta Joanna (daughter of Ferdinand V and Isabella) united the Habsburgs and Spain, and his grandson's marriage to the daughter of the King of Bohemia and Hungary secured his inheritance to those lands. In Germany Maximilian's attempt to impose centralized rule on the princes and cities was resisted, since they were determined to remain self-governing. His achievements were in increasing Habsburg territory far beyond Germany, notably by linking it to Spain, and thus to Spain's empire in the Americas.


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