Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian II (31 July 1527 – 12 October 1576), a member of the Austrian House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor from 1564 until his death. He was crowned King of Bohemia in Prague on 14 May 1562 and elected King of Germany (King of the Romans) on 24 November 1562. On 8 September 1563 he was crowned King of Hungary and Croatia in the Hungarian capital Pressburg (Pozsony in Hungarian; now Bratislava, Slovakia). On 25 July 1564 he succeeded his father Ferdinand I as ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.[1][2]

Maximilian's rule was shaped by the confessionalization process after the 1555 Peace of Augsburg. Though a Habsburg and a Catholic, he approached the Lutheran Imperial estates with a view to overcome the denominational schism, which ultimately failed. He also was faced with the ongoing Ottoman–Habsburg wars and rising conflicts with his Habsburg Spain cousins.

According to Fichtner, Maximilian failed to achieve his three major aims: rationalizing the government structure, unifying Christianity, and evicting the Turks from Hungary.[3]

Maximilian II
Nicolas Neufchâtel 002
Portrait by Nicolas Neufchâtel, c. 1566
Holy Roman Emperor
Archduke of Austria
Reign25 July 1564 – 12 October 1576
PredecessorFerdinand I
SuccessorRudolf II
King of Bohemia
Reign20 September 1562 – 12 October 1576
Coronation20 September 1562, Prague
PredecessorFerdinand I
SuccessorRudolf II
King of the Romans
(King of Germany)
Reign28 November 1562 – 12 October 1576
Coronation30 November 1562, Frankfurt
PredecessorFerdinand I
SuccessorRudolf II
King of Hungary and Croatia
contested by John II Sigismund (1564–70)
Reign8 September 1563 – 12 October 1576
Coronation8 September 1563, Pressburg
PredecessorFerdinand I
SuccessorRudolf II
Born31 July 1527
Vienna, Archduchy of Austria
Died12 October 1576 (aged 49)
Imperial City of Regensburg
Maria of Spain (m. 1548)
FatherFerdinand I
MotherAnna of Bohemia and Hungary
ReligionRoman Catholicism


Maximilian was born in Vienna, Austria, the eldest son of the Habsburg archduke Ferdinand I, younger brother of Emperor Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and the Jagiellonian princess Anne of Bohemia and Hungary (1503–1547). He was named after his great-grandfather, Emperor Maximilian I. At the time of his birth, his father Ferdinand succeeded his brother-in-law King Louis II in the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Kingdom of Hungary, laying the grounds for the global Habsburg Monarchy.

Jakob Seisenegger 007
Maximilian and his younger brothers Ferdinand II and John, painting by Jakob Seisenegger, 1539

Having spent his childhood years at his fathers's court in Innsbruck, Tyrol, Maximilian was educated principally in Italy. Among his teachers were humanist scholars like Kaspar Ursinus Velius and Georg Tannstetter. He also came in contact with the Lutheran teaching and early on corresponded with the Protestant prince Augustus of Saxony, suspiciously eyed by his Habsburg relatives. From the age of 17, he gained some experience of warfare during the Italian War campaign of his uncle Charles V against King Francis I of France in 1544, and also during the Schmalkaldic War. Upon Charles' victory in the 1547 Battle of Mühlberg, Maximilian put in a good word for the Schmalkaldic leaders, Elector John Frederick I of Saxony and Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, and soon began to take part in Imperial business.

Heir apparent

On 13 September 1548 Emperor Charles V married Maximilian to Charles's daughter (Maximilian's cousin) Maria of Spain in the Castile residence of Valladolid. By the marriage his uncle intended to strengthen the ties with the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs, but also to consolidate his nephew's Catholic faith. Maximilian temporarily acted as the emperor's representative in Spain, however not as stadtholder of the Habsburg Netherlands as he had hoped for. To his indignation, King Ferdinand appointed his younger brother Ferdinand II administrator in the Kingdom of Bohemia, nevertheless Maximilian's right of succession as the future king was recognised in 1549. He returned to Germany in December 1550 in order to take part in the discussion over the Imperial succession.

William Scrots 001
Archduke Maximilian, portrait by William Scrots, about 1544

Maximilian's relations with his uncle worsened, as Charles V, again embattled by rebellious Protestant princes led by Elector Maurice of Saxony, wished his son Philip II of Spain to succeed him as emperor. However, Charles' brother Ferdinand, who had already been designated as the next occupant of the imperial throne, and his son Maximilian objected to this proposal. Maximilian sought the support of the German princes such as Duke Albert V of Bavaria and even contacted Protestant leaders like Maurice of Saxony and Duke Christoph of Württemberg. At length a compromise was reached: Philip was to succeed Ferdinand, but during the former's reign Maximilian, as King of the Romans, was to govern Germany. This arrangement was not carried out, and is only important because the insistence of the emperor seriously disturbed the harmonious relations that had hitherto existed between the two branches of the Habsburg family; an illness that befell Maximilian in 1552 was attributed to poison given to him in the interests of his cousin and brother-in-law, Philip II of Spain.

The relationship between the two cousins was uneasy. While Philip had been raised a Spaniard and barely travelled out of the kingdom during his life, Maximilian identified himself as the quintessential German prince and often displayed a strong dislike of Spaniards, whom he considered as intolerant and arrogant.[4] While his cousin was reserved and shy, Maximilian was outgoing and charismatic. His adherence to humanism and religious tolerance put him at odds with Philip who was more committed to the defence of the Catholic faith.[5] Also, he was considered a promising commander, while Philip disliked war and only once personally commanded an army. Nonetheless, the two remained committed to the unity of their dynasty.

Stallburg - Vienna

In 1551 Maximilian attended the Council of Trent and the next year took up his residence at Hofburg Palace in Vienna, celebrated by a triumphal return into the city with a large entourage including the elephant Suleiman. While his father Ferdinand concluded the 1552 Treaty of Passau with the Protestant estates and finally reached the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, Maximilian was engaged mainly in the government of the Austrian hereditary lands and in defending them against Ottoman incursions. In Vienna, he had his Hofburg residence extended with the Renaissance Stallburg wing, the site of the later Spanish Riding School, and also ordered the construction of Neugebäude Palace in Simmering. The court held close ties to the University of Vienna and employed scholars like the botanist Carolus Clusius and the diplomat Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. Maximilian's library curated by Hugo Blotius later became the nucleus of the Austrian National Library. He implemented the Roman School of composition with his court orchestra, however, his plans to win Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina as Kapellmeister foundered on financial reasons. In the 1550s, Vienna had more than 50,000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in Central Europe with Prague and before Nuremberg (40,000 inhabitants).

The religious views of the future King of Bohemia had always been somewhat uncertain, and he had probably learned something of Lutheranism in his youth; but his amicable relations with several Protestant princes, which began about the time of the discussion over the succession, were probably due more to political than to religious considerations. However, in Vienna he became very intimate with Sebastian Pfauser, a court preacher influenced by Heinrich Bullinger with strong leanings towards Lutheranism, and his religious attitude caused some uneasiness to his father. Fears were freely expressed that he would definitely leave the Catholic Church, and when his father Ferdinand became emperor in 1558 he was prepared to assure Pope Paul IV that his son should not succeed him if he took this step. Eventually Maximilian remained nominally an adherent of the older faith, although his views were tinged with Lutheranism until the end of his life. After several refusals he consented in 1560 to the banishment of Pfauser, and began again to attend the Masses of the Catholic Church.


In November 1562 Maximilian was chosen King of the Romans, or German king, by the electoral college at Frankfurt, where he was crowned a few days later, after assuring the Catholic electors of his fidelity to their faith, and promising the Protestant electors that he would publicly accept the confession of Augsburg when he became emperor. He also took the usual oath to protect the Church, and his election was afterwards confirmed by the papacy. He was the first King of the Romans not to be crowned in Aachen. In September 1563 he was crowned King of Hungary by the Archbishop of Esztergom, Nicolaus Olahus, and on his father's death, in July 1564, he succeeded to the empire and to the kingdoms of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia.

The new emperor had already shown that he believed in the necessity for a thorough reform of the Church. He was unable, however, to obtain the consent of Pope Pius IV to the marriage of the clergy, and in 1568 the concession of communion in both kinds to the laity was withdrawn. On his part Maximilian granted religious liberty to the Lutheran nobles and knights in Austria, and refused to allow the publication of the decrees of the council of Trent. Amidst general expectations on the part of the Protestants he met his first summoned Diet of Augsburg in March 1566. He refused to accede to the demands of the Lutheran princes; on the other hand, although the increase of sectarianism was discussed, no decisive steps were taken to suppress it, and the only result of the meeting was a grant of assistance for the war with the Turks, which had just been renewed. Maximilian would gather a large army and march to fight the Ottomans, but neither the Habsburgs nor the Ottomans would achieve much of anything from this conflict. The Ottomans would besiege and conquer Szigetvár in 1566, but their sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, would die of old age during the siege. With neither side winning a decisive engagement, Maximilian's ambassadors Antun Vrančić and Christoph Teuffenbach would meet with the Ottoman Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha in Adrianople to negotiate a truce in 1568. The terms of the Treaty of Adrianople required the Emperor to recognise Ottoman suzerainty over Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia.

Maximilian II of Austria (1527-1576), by Sofonisba Anguissola
Maximilian II (Sofonisba Anguissola, circa 1580)

Meanwhile, the relations between Maximilian and Philip of Spain had improved; and the emperor's increasingly cautious and moderate attitude in religious matters was doubtless because the death of Philip's son, Don Carlos, had opened the way for the succession of Maximilian, or of one of his sons, to the Spanish throne. Evidence of this friendly feeling was given in 1570, when the emperor's daughter, Anna, became the fourth wife of Philip; but Maximilian was unable to moderate the harsh proceedings of the Spanish king against the revolting inhabitants of the Netherlands. In 1570 the emperor met the diet of Speyer and asked for aid to place his eastern borders in a state of defence, and also for power to repress the disorder caused by troops in the service of foreign powers passing through Germany. He proposed that his consent should be necessary before any soldiers for foreign service were recruited in the empire; but the estates were unwilling to strengthen the imperial authority, the Protestant princes regarded the suggestion as an attempt to prevent them from assisting their co-religionists in France and the Netherlands, and nothing was done in this direction, although some assistance was voted for the defense of Austria. The religious demands of the Protestants were still unsatisfied, while the policy of toleration had failed to give peace to Austria. Maximilian's power was very limited; it was inability rather than unwillingness that prevented him from yielding to the entreaties of Pope Pius V to join in an attack on the Turks both before and after the victory of Lepanto in 1571; and he remained inert while the authority of the empire in north-eastern Europe was threatened.

In 1575, Maximilian was elected by the part of Polish and Lithuanian magnates to be the King of Poland in opposition to Stephan IV Bathory, but he did not manage to become widely accepted there and was forced to leave Poland.

Maximilian died on 12 October 1576 in Regensburg while preparing to invade Poland. On his deathbed he refused to receive the last sacraments of the Church. He is buried in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

By his wife Maria he had a family of nine sons and six daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Rudolf, who had been chosen king of the Romans in October 1575. Another of his sons, Matthias, also became emperor; three others, Ernest, Albert and Maximilian, took some part in the government of the Habsburg territories or of the Netherlands, and a daughter, Elizabeth, married Charles IX of France.

Religious policies

Maximilian's policies of religious neutrality and peace in the Empire afforded its Roman Catholics and Protestants a breathing-space after the first struggles of the Reformation. His reign also saw the high point of Protestantism in Austria and Bohemia and unlike his successors, Maximilian did not try to suppress it.

He disappointed the German Protestant princes by his refusal to invest Lutheran administrators of prince-bishoprics with their imperial fiefs. Yet on a personal basis he granted freedom of worship to the Protestant nobility and worked for reform in the Roman Catholic Church, including the right of priests to marry. This failed because of Spanish opposition.

Maximilian II was a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Marriage and children

Giuseppe Arcimboldi 003
Maximilian II with his family by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

On 13 September 1548, Maximilian married his first cousin Maria of Spain, daughter of Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. Despite Maria's commitment to Habsburg Spain and her strong Catholic manners, the marriage was a happy one. The couple had sixteen children:

Official style

Maximilian II, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King in Germany, of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, etc. Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Luxemburg, Württemberg, the Upper and Lower Silesia, Prince of Swabia, Margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgau, Moravia, the Upper and Lower Lusatia, Princely Count of Habsburg, Tyrol, Ferrette, Kyburg, Gorizia, Landgrave of Alsace, Lord of the Wendish March, Pordenone and Salins, etc. etc.

See also


  1. ^ Maximilian II. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica Retrieved 20 May 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  2. ^ Paula Sutter Fichtner, Historical dictionary of Austria ( 2009)
  3. ^ Paula Sutter Fichtner, Emperor Maximilian II (2001)
  4. ^ Spain under Philip II, Perez
  5. ^ History of the Habsburg Empire, Jean Bérenger
  6. ^ a b c d Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Joanna" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ a b c d Priebatsch, Felix (1908), "Wladislaw II.", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 54, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 688–696
  8. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Philipp I. der Schöne von Oesterreich" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 112 – via Wikisource.
  9. ^ a b c Boureau, Alain (1995). The Lord's First Night: The Myth of the Droit de Cuissage. Translated by Cochrane, Lydia G. The University of Chicago Press. p. 96.
  10. ^ a b c Noubel, P., ed. (1877). Revue de l'Agenais [Review of the Agenais]. 4. Société académique d'Agen. p. 497.
  11. ^ a b Wikisource Holland, Arthur William (1911). "Maximilian I. (emperor)" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  12. ^ a b Wikisource Poupardin, René (1911). "Charles, called The Bold, duke of Burgundy" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. templatestyles stripmarker in |title= at position 86 (help)
  13. ^ a b Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ferdinand V. of Castile and Leon and II. of Aragon" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  14. ^ a b Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Isabella of Castile" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  15. ^ a b Casimir IV, King of Poland at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  16. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1860). "Habsburg, Elisabeth von Oesterreich (Königin von Polen)" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 6. p. 167 – via Wikisource.

Further reading

  • Fichtner, Paula Sutter. Emperor Maximilian II (2001)
  • Fichtner, Paula Sutter. Historical dictionary of Austria (Scarecrow Press, 2009)

External links

Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Born: 31 July 1527 Died: 12 October 1576
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ferdinand I
King in Germany and Bohemia
with Ferdinand I (1562-1564)
Succeeded by
Rudolf II
King of Hungary and Croatia
with Ferdinand I (1563-1564)
Holy Roman Emperor
Archduke of Austria

Antonio Ponzano

Antonio Ponzano, Ponzoni or Bonzone (died 1602, Munich) was an Italian Mannerist painter active in the 16th century.His birthplace is unknown - it may have been Venice, since he was influenced by the Venetian style. He was a studio assistant to Giulio Licinio in 1565 at the court of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor in Vienna. Between 1550 and 1600 a large number of Italian painters moved to the Wittelsbach ducal court. Major banking families such as the Fuggers were also major art patrons - Ponzano himself was an assistant to Friedrich Sustris between 1569 and 1573 in Augsburg, where Sustris was working for Hans Fugger. Between 1585 and 1597 Ponzano was at the court in Munich.

Some of Ponzano's 1570-1572 paintings with 'grottesche' survive in the Fugger palace in Augsburg, as well as some of his studio work for Sustris. He also assisted Sustris and Alessandro Scalzi (known as Il Paduano) on their 1580 work at Trausnitz Castle at Landshut - there Ponzano worked on the lodges in the castle, creating scenes of mythological love affairs. Sustris designed the Grottenhof at the Munich Residenz, with the shells and grotesques painted by Ponzano and the Dutchman Pieter de Witte.

Archduchess Margaret of Austria (1567–1633)

Archduchess Margaret of Austria (25 January 1567 – 5 July 1633), was a German princess member of the House of Habsburg.

She was the daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor by his wife Maria of Spain.

Archduke Ernest of Austria

Archduke Ernest of Austria (German: Ernst von Österreich; 15 June 1553 – 20 February 1595) was an Austrian prince, the son of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, and Maria of Spain.

Born in Vienna, he was educated with his brother Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, in the court of Spain. In 1573 and 1587, he was a candidate for the throne of Poland. From 1576 onwards, he was governor in the Archduchy of Austria, where he promoted the counterreformation. In 1590, he became governor of Inner Austria as regent for his young cousin Ferdinand, and from 1594 to 1595 he served as governor of the Spanish Netherlands.

He died in Brussels in 1595.

Archduke Wenceslaus of Austria

Archduke Wenceslaus of Austria (9 March 1561 – 22 September 1578), was a German prince and member of the House of Habsburg and since 1577 Grand Prior of the Order of Malta in Castile.

He was the son of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, by his wife, Maria of Spain.

Colegio Imperial de Madrid

Colegio Imperial de Madrid (also known as the Colegio Imperial de la Compañía de Jesús or El Colegio de San Pedro y San Pablo de la Compañía de Jesús en la Corte) nowadays Instituto San Isidro, was the name of a Jesuit educational institution in Madrid (Spain).Founded at the end of the 16th century, it received the title of Imperial College due to the patronage of Empress Maria, daughter of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and the wife of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor. Philip IV of Spain is considered the founder of the Reales Estudios in 1625. Subjects included theology, philosophy, geography, and the sciences.

David Ungnad von Sonnegg

David Ungnad von Sonnegg was a envoy (title) of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor (Holy Roman Empire) next to Selim II (Sublime Porte).Austrian Ambassador to Turkey

Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France

Elisabeth of Austria (5 July 1554 – 22 January 1592) was Queen of France from 1570 to 1574 as the wife of King Charles IX. A member of the House of Habsburg, she was the daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, and Maria of Spain.

Emperor Maximilian

Emperor Maximilian may refer to:

Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1459–1519)

Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor (1564–1576)

Maximilian I of Mexico, Austrian-born Emperor of Mexico (1861–1867)

Gáspár Bekes

Gáspár Bekes de Kornyát (also Gáspár de Corniath Bekes, Kornyáti Bekes Gáspár, or Kaspar Bekes, Caspar Bekesh; 1520 – 7 November 1579) was a Hungarian nobleman who fought Stephen Báthory for the throne of Transylvania after the death of John II Sigismund Zápolya in 1571. Allied with Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, and the Székelys, Bekes organized two rebellions against Báthory, but was defeated. After Báthory became King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1576, Bekes reconciled with Báthory, becoming his close adviser. Bekes also fought in the Danzig rebellion and the Livonian War.

Johan Gregor van der Schardt

Johan (or Jan) Gregor van der Schardt (Nijmegen, Netherlands, c. 1530/31 – Denmark, after 1581) was a sculptor from the Northern Renaissance.

He toured Italy in the 1560s (working in Bologna) and was in the service of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, in Vienna from 1569 to 1576, whilst also taking commissions in Nuremberg, where he specialised in painted terracotta busts, including a self-portrait of about 1573, one of the earliest such by a sculptor.After 1576 he moved to the royal court of Denmark (with a return to Nuremberg in 1579) where he is presumed to have worked during the 1580s and died in the early 1590s, perhaps at Uraniborg on 30 November 1591.

Unusually for a non-Italian artist, his work was praised by Giorgio Vasari.

List of ambassadors of Turkey to Austria

The Turkish Ambassador to Austria has his residence in Vienna.

List of consorts of Montferrat

The Marchioness and Duchesses of Montferrat were the consorts of the rulers of a territory in Piedmont south of the Po and east of Turin called Montferrat. The March of Montferrat was created by Berengar II of Italy in 950 during a redistribution of power in the northwest of his kingdom. It was originally named after and held by the Aleramici. In 1574, Montferrat was raised to a Duchy by Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor (see Duchy of Montferrat).

List of rulers of Montferrat

The Marquises and Dukes of Montferrat were the rulers of a territory in Piedmont south of the Po and east of Turin called Montferrat. The March of Montferrat was created by Berengar II of Italy in 950 during a redistribution of power in the northwest of his kingdom. It was originally named after and held by the Aleramici. In 1574, Montferrat was raised to a Duchy by Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor (see Duchy of Montferrat).

Maria of Austria

Mary or Maria of Austria may refer to:

Mary of Austria (1505-1558), Queen consort of Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia, governor of the Netherlands for her brother, Charles V

Maria of Spain (1528 - 1603), daughter of Charles V and Isabella of Portugal; wife of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor

Archduchess Maria of Austria (1531–1581), daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary

Maria Anna of Spain (1606 – 1646), Archduchess of Austria, Infanta of Spain; daughter of Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria; wife of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor

Archduchess Maria of Austria (disambiguation)

Marie Elisabeth of France

Marie Elisabeth of France (27 October 1572 – 2 April 1578), was a French princess and member of the House of Valois.

She was the only child of King Charles IX of France and Elisabeth of Austria. Her maternal grandparents were Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria of Spain, and her paternal grandparents were Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.

Maximilian II

Maximilian II may refer to:

Maximilian II of Burgundy (1514–1558)

Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor (1527–1576)

Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria (1662–1726)

Maximilian II of Bavaria (1811–1864)

Count Maximilian von Götzen-Iturbide (b. 1944), Titular Emperor of Mexico (1999–)

The Four Elements (Arcimboldo)

The Four Elements is a series of paintings by Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo in 1566 during the Renaissance. They were commissioned by Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor. The portraits display figures in profile formed by different animals or objects. Earth is represented by land animals, Air by birds, Water by marine creatures and Fire by burning wood and cannons. This series attempts to express harmony out of chaos with wild animals forming distinct faces. It also praises Maximilian, suggesting that he is a ruler who controls even the four primal elements.

The Four Seasons (Arcimboldo)

The Seasons or The Four Seasons is a set of four paintings produced in 1563, 1572 and 1573 by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. He offered the set to Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1569, accompanying The Four Elements. Each shows a profile portrait made up of fruit, vegetables and plants relating to the relevant season. The set was accompanied by a poem by Giovanni Battista Fonteo (1546-1580) explaining their allegorical meaning.

Only Winter and Summer survive from the original work - these are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The Louvre has a full set of the copies made by the painter for Maximilian to send to Augustus of Saxony - these have a floral frame not used in the original version. Spring also survives from a set copied for Philip II of Spain - it is now in the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid.

Heraldry of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Coat of Arms of Archduke Maximilian of Austria (1527–1576)
Coat of Arms of Ferdinand I and Maximilian II as Kings of the Romans
Greater Coat of Arms of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Coat of arms as Archduke of Austria
Coat of arms as King of the Romans
Coat of arms as Holy Roman Emperor
Ancestors of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
16. Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor[11]
8. Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor[8]
17. Eleanor of Portugal[11]
4. Philip I of Castile[6]
18. Charles, Duke of Burgundy[12]
9. Mary, Duchess of Burgundy[8]
19. Isabella of Bourbon[12]
2. Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
20. John II of Aragon[13]
10. Ferdinand II of Aragon[6]
21. Juana Enríquez[13]
5. Joanna I of Castile[6]
22. John II of Castile[14]
11. Isabella I of Castile[6]
23. Isabella of Portugal[14]
1. Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
24. Vladislaus II Jagiellon[15]
12. Casimir IV Jagiellon[7]
25. Sophia of Halshany[15]
6. Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary[7]
26. Albert II, King of the Romans[16]
13. Elisabeth of Austria[7]
27. Elizabeth of Luxembourg[16]
3. Anne of Bohemia and Hungary
28. John de Foix, 1st Earl of Kendal[9]
14. Gaston de Foix, Count of Candale[9]
29. Margaret de la Pole[9]
7. Anne of Foix-Candale[7]
30. Gaston IV, Count of Foix[10]
15. Catherine of Foix[10]
31. Eleanor of Navarre[10]
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