Rudolf II (18 July 1552 – 20 January 1612) was Holy Roman Emperor (1576–1612), King of Hungary and Croatia (as Rudolf I, 1572–1608), King of Bohemia (1575–1608/1611) and Archduke of Austria (1576–1608). He was a member of the House of Habsburg.
Rudolf's legacy has traditionally been viewed in three ways: an ineffectual ruler whose mistakes led directly to the Thirty Years' War; a great and influential patron of Northern Mannerist art; and an intellectual devotee of occult arts and learning which helped seed what would be called the scientific revolution.
Portrait by Hans von Aachen
|Reign||12 October 1576 – |
20 January 1612
|Born||18 July 1552|
|Died||20 January 1612 (aged 59)|
|Mother||Maria of Spain|
Rudolf was born in Vienna on 18 July 1552. He was the eldest son and successor of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, and King of Hungary and Croatia; his mother was Maria of Spain, a daughter of Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. He was the elder brother of Matthias who was to succeed him as king of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor.
Rudolf spent eight formative years, from age 11 to 19 (1563–1571), in Spain, at the court of his maternal uncle Philip II, together with his younger brother Ernest, future governor of the Low Countries. After his return to Vienna, his father was concerned about Rudolf's aloof and stiff manner, typical of the more conservative Spanish court, rather than the more relaxed and open Austrian court; but his Spanish mother saw in him courtliness and refinement. In the years following his return to Vienna, Rudolf was created King of Hungary (1572), King of Bohemia and King of the Romans (1575) when his father was still alive.
Rudolf would remain for the rest of his life reserved, secretive, and largely a homebody who did not like to travel or even partake in the daily affairs of state. He was more intrigued by occult learning such as astrology and alchemy, which was mainstream in the Renaissance period, and had a wide variety of personal hobbies such as horses, clocks, collecting rarities, and being a patron of the arts. He suffered from periodic bouts of "melancholy" (depression), which was common in the Habsburg line. These became worse with age, and were manifested by a withdrawal from the world and its affairs into his private interests.
Like his near-contemporary, Elizabeth I of England (who was born 19 years before he was), Rudolf dangled himself as a prize in a string of diplomatic negotiations for marriages, but never in fact married. During his periods of self-imposed isolation, Rudolf reportedly had affairs with his court chamberlain, Wolfgang von Rumpf, and a series of valets. One of these, Philip Lang, ruled him for years and was hated by those seeking favour with the emperor.
In addition, Rudolf was known to have had a succession of affairs with women, some of whom claimed to have been impregnated by him. He had several illegitimate children with his mistress Catherina Strada. Their eldest son, Don Julius Caesar d'Austria, was likely born between 1584 and 1586 and received an education and opportunities for political and social prominence from his father. In 1607, Rudolf sent Julius to live at Český Krumlov in Bohemia (in what is now the Czech Republic), a castle which Rudolf purchased from Peter Vok/Wok von Rosenberg, the last of the House of Rosenberg, after he fell into financial ruin. Julius lived at Český Krumlov when in 1608 he reportedly abused and murdered the daughter of a local barber, who had been living in the castle, and then disfigured her body. Rudolf condemned his son's act and suggested that he should be imprisoned for the rest of his life. However, Julius died in 1609 after showing signs of schizophrenia, refusing to bathe, and living in squalor; his death was apparently caused by an ulcer that ruptured.
Many artworks commissioned by Rudolf are unusually erotic. The emperor was the subject of a whispering campaign by his enemies in his family and the Catholic Church in the years before he was deposed. Sexual allegations may well have formed a part of the campaign against him.
Rudolf succeeded his father Maximiliam II on 12 October 1576. In 1583 he moved the court to Prague.
Historians have traditionally blamed Rudolf's preoccupation with the arts, occult sciences, and other personal interests as the reason for the political disasters of his reign. More recently historians have re-evaluated this view and see his patronage of the arts and occult sciences as a triumph and key part of the Renaissance, while his political failures are seen as a legitimate attempt to create a unified Christian empire, which was undermined by the realities of religious, political and intellectual disintegrations of the time.
Although raised in his uncle's Catholic court in Spain, Rudolf was tolerant of Protestantism and other religions including Judaism. He largely withdrew from Catholic observances, even in death denying last sacramental rites. He had little attachment to Protestants either, except as counter-weight to papal policies. He put his primary support behind conciliarists, irenicists and humanists. When the papacy instigated the Counter-Reformation, using agents sent to his court, Rudolf backed those who he thought were the most neutral in the debate, not taking a side or trying to effect restraint, thus leading to political chaos and threatening to provoke civil war.
His conflict with the Ottoman Empire was the final cause of his undoing. Unwilling to compromise with the Turks, and stubbornly determined that he could unify all of Christendom with a new Crusade, he started a long and indecisive war with the Turks in 1593. This war lasted till 1606, and was known as "The Long War". By 1604 his Hungarian subjects were exhausted by the war and revolted, led by Stephen Bocskay (Bocskai Uprising). In 1605 Rudolf was forced by his other family members to cede control of Hungarian affairs to his younger brother Archduke Matthias. Matthias by 1606 forged a difficult peace with the Hungarian rebels (Peace of Vienna) and the Turks (Peace of Zsitvatorok). Rudolf was angry with his brother's concessions, which he saw as giving away too much in order to further Matthias' hold on power. So Rudolf prepared to start a new war with the Turks. But Matthias rallied support from the disaffected Hungarians and forced Rudolf to cede the crowns of Hungary, Austria, and Moravia to him. At the same time, seeing a moment of royal weakness, Bohemian Protestants demanded greater religious liberty, which Rudolf granted in the Letter of Majesty in 1609. The Bohemians continued to press for further freedoms, and Rudolf used his army to repress them. The Bohemian Protestants then appealed to Matthias for help; Matthias' army then held Rudolf prisoner in his castle in Prague, until 1611, when Rudolf ceded the crown of Bohemia to his brother.
Rudolf died in 1612, nine months after he had been stripped of all effective power by his younger brother, except the empty title of Holy Roman Emperor, to which Matthias was elected five months later. In May 1618 with the event known as the Defenestration of Prague, the Protestant Bohemians, in defence of the rights granted them in the Letter of Majesty, threw imperial officials out of the window and thus the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) started.
Rudolf moved the Habsburg capital from Vienna to Prague in 1583. Rudolf loved collecting paintings, and was often reported to sit and stare in rapture at a new work for hours on end. He spared no expense in acquiring great past masterworks, such as those of Dürer and Brueghel. He was also patron to some of the best contemporary artists, who mainly produced new works in the Northern Mannerist style, such as Bartholomeus Spranger, Hans von Aachen, Giambologna, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Aegidius Sadeler, Roelant Savery, and Adrian de Vries, as well as commissioning works from Italians like Veronese. Rudolf's collections were the most impressive in the Europe of his day, and the greatest collection of Northern Mannerist art ever assembled. The adjective Rudolfine, as in "Rudolfine Mannerism" is often used in art history to describe the style of the art he patronized.
Rudolf's love of collecting went far beyond paintings and sculptures. He commissioned decorative objects of all kinds and in particular mechanical moving devices. Ceremonial swords and musical instruments, clocks, water works, astrolabes, compasses, telescopes and other scientific instruments, were all produced for him by some of the best craftsmen in Europe.
He patronized natural philosophers such as the botanist Charles de l'Ecluse, and the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler both attended his court. Tycho Brahe developed the Rudolphine Tables (finished by Kepler, after Brahe's death), the first comprehensive table of data of the movements of the planets. As mentioned before, Rudolf also attracted some of the best scientific instrument makers of the time, such as Jost Bürgi, Erasmus Habermel and Hans Christoph Schissler. They had direct contact with the court astronomers and, through the financial support of the court, they were economically independent to develop scientific instruments and manufacturing techniques.
Rudolf kept a menagerie of exotic animals, botanical gardens, and Europe's most extensive "cabinet of curiosities" (Kunstkammer) incorporating "the three kingdoms of nature and the works of man". It was housed at Prague Castle, where between 1587 and 1605 he built the northern wing to house his growing collections. A lion and a tiger were allowed to roam the castle, documented by the account books which record compensation paid to survivors of attacks, or to family members of victims.
Rudolf was even alleged by one person to have owned the Voynich manuscript, a codex whose author and purpose, as well as the language and script and posited cipher remain unidentified to this day. According to hearsay passed on in a letter written by Johannes Marcus Marci in 1665, Rudolf was said to have acquired the manuscript at some unspecified time for 600 gold ducats. No evidence in support of this single piece of hearsay has ever been discovered. The Codex Gigas was also in his possessions.
As was typical of the time, Rudolf II had a portrait painted in the studio of the renowned Alonso Sanchez Coello. Completed in 1567 by Alonso Sanchez Coello, the portrait depicted Rudolf II at the age of 15. This painting can be seen at the Lobkowicz Palace in the Rozmberk room.
By 1597, the collection occupied three rooms of the incomplete northern wing. When building was completed in 1605, the collection was moved to the dedicated Kunstkammer. Naturalia (minerals and gemstones) were arranged in a 37 cabinet display that had three vaulted chambers in front, each about 5.5 metres wide by 3 metres high and 60 metres long, connected to a main chamber 33 metres long. Large uncut gemstones were held in strong boxes.
Rudolf's Kunstkammer was not a typical "cabinet of curiosities" – a haphazard collection of unrelated specimens. Rather, the Rudolfine Kunstkammer was systematically arranged in an encyclopaedic fashion. In addition, Rudolf II employed his polyglot court physician, Anselmus Boetius de Boodt, to curate the collection. De Boodt was an avid mineral collector. He travelled widely on collecting trips to the mining regions of Germany, Bohemia and Silesia, often accompanied by his Bohemian naturalist friend, Thaddaeus Hagecius. Between 1607 and 1611, De Boodt catalogued the Kunstkammer, and in 1609 he published Gemmarum et Lapidum, one of the finest mineralogical treatises of the 17th century.
As was customary at the time, the collection was private, but friends of the Emperor, artists, and professional scholars were allowed to study it. The collection became an invaluable research tool during the flowering of 17th-century European philosophy, the "Age of Reason".
Rudolf's successors did not appreciate the collection and the Kunstkammer gradually fell into disarray. Some 50 years after its establishment, most of the collection was packed into wooden crates and moved to Vienna. The collection remaining at Prague was looted during the last year of the Thirty Years War, by Swedish troops who sacked Prague Castle on 26 July 1648, also taking the best of the paintings, many of which later passed to the Orléans Collection after the death of Christina of Sweden. In 1782, the remainder of the collection was sold piecemeal to private parties by Joseph II. One of the surviving items from the Kunstkammer is a "fine chair" looted by the Swedes in 1648 and now owned by the Earl of Radnor at Longford Castle in England; others survive in museums.
Astrology and alchemy were regarded as mainstream scientific fields in Renaissance Prague, and Rudolf was a firm devotee of both. His lifelong quest was to find the Philosopher's Stone and Rudolf spared no expense in bringing Europe's best alchemists to court, such as Edward Kelley and John Dee. Rudolf even performed his own experiments in a private alchemy laboratory. When Rudolf was a prince, Nostradamus prepared a horoscope which was dedicated to him as 'Prince and King'. In the 1590s Sendivogius was active at Rudolph's court.
Rudolf is also the ruler in many of the legends of the Golem of Prague, either because of, or simply adding to, his occult reputation.
Rudolf II, Holy Roman EmperorBorn: 18 July 1552 Died: 20 January 1612
| King of Bohemia
| King of Hungary and Croatia|
Archduke of Austria
Margrave of Moravia
| King in Germany|
| Holy Roman Emperor|
| Prince of Piombino
The imperial election of 1575 was an imperial election held to select the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. It took place in Regensburg on October 27.Bocskai uprising
The Bocskai uprising (in Hungary Bocskai's War of Independence Hungarian: Bocskai szabadságharc, Bocskai-felkelés) was a great revolt in Hungary, Transylvania and modern Slovakia, between 1604 and 1606 against Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, during the Long Turkish War. The leader of the rebels was István Bocskai, a significant Protestant Hungarian nobleman. The great Ottoman war burdened the Hungarian Kingdom and led to famine and epidemics. The armies of the Christian states also destroyed as the Ottoman and Tatar forces.
Rudolf persecuted the Protestants and the rich Hungarian noblemen were falsely accused of treason. Because of injuries István Bocskai organized the revolt and persuaded the Hungarian military units, the Hajduks, to join. Bocskai defeated the imperial forces and foreign mercenaries, and the Hungarian nobility, the Hungarian soldiers and peasants, and also the minorities went over to Bocskai's Hajduk army. Bocskai was supported by the Ottoman Empire, the Crimean Khanate, Moldavia, Transylvania and Wallachia, but prevented a possible Ottoman siege of Vienna. Bocskai was declared for the Prince of Transylvania and Hungary, but recognized the fact that the challenge of independence of Hungary is not possible against the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. Bocskai marked the political route for his supporters, namely the preservation of the independent Transylvania, which may be a base for the unification of Hungary.Dæmonomania
Daemonomania is a 2000 Modern Fantasy novel by John Crowley. It is Crowley's seventh novel, and as the third novel in Crowley's Ægypt Sequence, a sequel to Crowley's 1994 novel Love & Sleep. The novel follows protagonist Pierce Moffett as he continues his book project begun in The Solitudes about the Renaissance and Hermeticism, while dealing with a stormy relationship with his girlfriend Rosie Ryder.
Like the previous novels, the novel has four main narrative strands, one occurring in the present day generally following Pierce or Rosie Mucho in their artistic works, and two occurring in the Renaissance following the historical fictional activities of John Dee, Edward Kelley and Giordano Bruno as written by fictional novelist Fellowes Kraft. The difference is marked stylistically by dashes indicating dialogue for events that happened in the Renaissance and events in the twentieth century marked by dialogue in ordinary English quotation marks.Imperial Crown of Austria
The Imperial Crown of Austria (German: Österreichische Kaiserkrone) was made in 1602 in Prague by Jan Vermeyen as the personal crown of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, and therefore is also known as the Crown of Emperor Rudolf II (German: Rudolfskrone). The crown was used as a private crown of the Holy Roman Emperors and Kings of Hungary and Bohemia from the House of Habsburg. In 1804 it became the official crown of the newly constituted Austrian Empire. After 1867 it remained the imperial crown of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918.Kateřina Stradová
Kateřina Stradová also known as Anna Marie Stradová and Catherina Strada (1579-1629), was the mistress of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, with whom she had six children.
Kateřina Stradová was the daughter of the painter Ottavio Strada the Elder and the sister of the painter Ottavio Strada the Younger. She became the mistress of Rudolf II at about the age of fifteen. She was given the title of countess. They had six children, but only their eldest son is more known. She was given the title of countess and are described as bright and attentive, educated in Vienna, and where said to have fine and gracious features.Le Golem
Le Golem is a 1936 French monster movie filmed in Prague, Czechoslovakia and directed by Julien Duvivier.Letter of Majesty
The Letter of Majesty (1609) was a 17th-century European document, reluctantly signed by the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, granting religious tolerance to both Protestant and Catholic citizens living in the estates of Bohemia. The letter also created a Bohemian Protestant State Church, run by said estates. A similar Letter was issued for Silesia.
But in 1611, Rudolf inexplicably permitted his cousin Leopold to invade Bohemia with some 7,000 troops. A considerable Bohemian force drove Leopold back from the suburbs of Prague, and the Bohemian Estates called upon Matthias to take over the government of their kingdom.Long Turkish War
The Long Turkish War or Thirteen Years' War was an indecisive land war between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire, primarily over the Principalities of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. It was waged from 1593 to 1606 but in Europe it is sometimes called the Fifteen Years War, reckoning from the 1591–92 Turkish campaign that captured Bihać.
In the series of Ottoman wars in Europe it was the major test of force between the Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–73) and the Cretan War (1645–69). The next of the major Ottoman-Habsburg wars was the Great Turkish War of 1683-99. Overall, the conflict consisted in a great number of costly battles and sieges, but with very little result for either side.Martin Kober
Martin Kober (also Chober, Cober, Coeber, Khober, Koeber, Koebner, Polish: Marcin Kober) (ca. 1550 – before 1598) was a portrait painter and court painter to different Central European monarchs - King Stephen Báthory, Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, Queen Anna Jagiellon and King Sigismund III Vasa, active mainly in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.Michael the Brave (film)
Michael the Brave (Romanian: Mihai Viteazul) is a Romanian historic epic film, created by the film director Sergiu Nicolaescu. The film is a representation of the life of the Wallachian ruler Mihai Viteazu, and his will to unite the three Romanian principalities (Wallachia, Moldavia and the Principality of Transylvania) in one country. The film was released in 1970 in Romania, and worldwide by Columbia Pictures as The Last Crusade.Nature Studies (manuscript)
Nature Studies is an illustrated manuscript of the 16th century, which represents nature scenes. It was part of the collection of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II.Peace of Zsitvatorok
The Peace of Zsitvatorok (or Treaty of Sitvatorok) was a peace treaty which ended the Fifteen Years' War between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy on 11 November 1606. The treaty was part of a system of peace treaties which put an end to the anti-Habsburg uprising of Stephen Bocskay (1604–1606).
The treaty was negotiated between 24 October and 11 November 1606 ad Situa Torock, at the former mouth of the Žitava River (Hungarian: Zsitva), which flows into the Danube in Royal Hungary (today part of Slovakia). This location would later become the small settlement of Žitavská Tôňa (Hungarian: Zsitvatorok), a part of the municipality of Radvaň nad Dunajom (Hungarian: Dunaradvány).
The peace was signed for a term of 20 years and has been interpreted in different ways by diplomatic historians. Differences between the Ottoman Turkish and the Hungarian texts of the treaty encouraged different interpretations, e.g. the Hungarians offered 200,000 florins as a once-and-for-all tribute (instead of the annual tributes of 30,000 guldens given before the war), whereas the Ottoman text foresaw that the payment was to be repeated after three years. The treaty prohibited Ottoman looting campaigns into the territory of Royal Hungary, and stipulated that Hungarian settlements under Ottoman rule could collect taxes themselves by means of village judges. The Ottomans also acknowledged the tax-free privilege of nobles. However, the Ottomans never really complied with these terms.
The treaty was signed by Sultan Ahmed I and Archduke Matthias of Austria on behalf of the Holy Roman Empire. On 9 December, Matthias's brother the Emperor Rudolf II ratified the treaty. The Ottomans' inability to penetrate further into Habsburg territory (Royal Hungary) during the long war was one of their first geopolitical defeats. However, the Treaty stabilized conditions on the Habsburg-Ottoman frontier for half a century for the benefit of both parties. The Habsburgs would face serious domestic opposition during the following years; and the Ottomans, apart from internal rebellion, had open conflicts in other parts of their frontiers (Poland and Iran).
At Zsitvatorok, for the first time, the Ottoman sultan recognized the equality of status of the Holy Roman Emperor by titling him Padishah, which was the sultan's own title. Before this, the Holy Roman Emperor was regarded as mere kıral (king) of Vienna in Ottoman diplomacy. The next European ruler to be conceded this level of respect was Catherine the Great of Russia in the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca of 1774.The treaty explicitly included the Crimean Khanate, as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.Rudolphine Tables
The Rudolphine Tables (Latin: Tabulae Rudolphinae) consist of a star catalogue and planetary tables published by Johannes Kepler in 1627, using some observational data collected by Tycho Brahe (1546–1601). The tables are named as "Rudolphine" in memory of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor.Svatby pana Voka
Svatby pana Voka is a 1970 Czechoslovak comedy film directed by Karel Steklý.The Emperor and the Golem
The Emperor and the Golem (Czech: Císařův pekař a pekařův císař - "Emperor's baker and baker's emperor" literally) is a two-part Czechoslovakian historical fantasy comedy film produced in 1951. The film shares parts of the plot with the 1936 French film, Le Golem, directed by Julien Duvivier, filmed in Prague and co-written by Jan Werich (this film's star and co-author) and Jiří Voskovec. It was originally directed by Jiří Krejčík, but after disputes with the leading actor Jan Werich, Krejčík was replaced by Martin Frič. In addition to the two-part version, a 112-minute-long one-part international version was prepared, with most propaganda flavoured scenes cut out (e.g., songs). The film was filmed in color (not common for Czechoslovak films in that period) because of the international release.
The film is set during the reign of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor. It is one of the best known films with Jan Werich (performing a dual role of Emperor and baker).Treaty of Vienna (1606)
The Treaty of Vienna (also known as the Peace of Vienna) was signed on 23 June 1606 between Stephen Bocskay, a Hungarian noble, and Archduke Rudolph. Based on the terms of the treaty, all constitutional and religious rights and privileges were granted to the Hungarians in both Transylvania and Royal Hungary. In Sopron, for instance, the agreement recognized the autocracy of Hungarian Lutherans; in Transylvania, the Calvinists gained religious tolerance. The accord also recognized Bocskay as the Prince of Transylvania and guaranteed the right of Transylvanians to elect their own independent princes in the future.
Due to its importance for the Calvinists in Hungary and Transylvania, the first sentences of the treaty and its signing are depicted on the Reformation Wall in Geneva, a monument that honours important figures of the Protestant Reformation, next to the statue of Stephen Bocskay.
Since Stephen Bocskay had sought the support of the Ottoman Empire, the Treaty of Vienna was followed by the Peace of Zsitvatorok between Sultan Ahmed I and Archduke Matthias of Austria (11 November 1606).Venus and Mars (Veronese)
Venus and Mars is an Italian Renaissance painting by Paolo Veronese.
The painting was commissioned by Emperor Rudolph and was one of three mythological and love-themed works commissioned by the artist. The other two are at the Frick Collection in New York: The Allegory of Virtue and Performance and Allegory of the Source of Wisdom and Power. It deals with the romantic love of the Roman goddess of love Venus and the god of war Mars, as described in the Ovid's Metamorphoses.Vertumnus (painting)
Vertumnus is a painting by Mannerist painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo produced in Milan c. 1590–1591. The painting is Arcimboldo's most famous work and is a portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II re-imagined as Vertumnus, the Roman god of metamorphoses in nature and life. The fruits and vegetables symbolize the abundance of the Golden Age that has returned under the Emperor's rule.The painting is part of the collection at Skokloster Castle in Sweden.
|Ancestors of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Holy Roman Empire|
|East Francia within the|
Carolingian Empire (843–911)
|East Francia (911–962)|
|Kingdom of Germany within the|
Holy Roman Empire (962–1806)
|Confederation of the Rhine (1806–1813)|
|German Confederation (1815–1848)|
|German Empire (1848/1849)|
|German Confederation (1850–1866)|
|North German Confederation (1867–1871)|
|German Empire (1871–1918)|
|House of Árpád|
|House of Přemysl|
|House of Wittelsbach|
|Capetian House of Anjou|
|House of Luxembourg|
|House of Habsburg|
|House of Jagiellon|
|House of Hunyadi|
|House of Jagiellon|
|House of Zápolya|
|House of Habsburg|
|House of Habsburg-Lorraine|
Debatable or disputed rulers are in italics.