Ti Pémiši Kšichtni
The Bohemian History

Habsburgian divorce


Rudolf (Rútolf) II.(*1551 - †1616)
As a young boy, Rudolf was sent with his brother Ernest to Aragon, half as a hostage, half as a guest of Phillip I. of Aragon and Navarra. He was exposed to emotionally cold and bigot environment, which was totaly opposite to atmosphere in Vienna. On the other side he received fair education. After death of infante don Carlos, he realised that fear is not good counsellor, he became introvert, but energic. He was also silent supporter of Protestantism as his father was. Stay in Aragon not only confused him, but repelled him. When they both came back, they were quite different from Austrian princes who remain in Vienna, especially Mathias, who was very ambitious. Rudolf was colder, reserved, more cautious and less léger and popular.

As his father wished, he became Bohemian king in 1575, Roman king in 1575 and finally after Maxmillians's death also HRE emperor in 1576. As his very first important act, he signed a treaty with Agafon, son of last Dalmatian king Tomu, and in 1588 new state was established - the Austro-Bohemo-Dalmatian Monarchy, a three-ply monarchy. Rudolf thought that Dalmatia may balance the loss of Hungary in 1527. Although Dalmatia was in difficult situation under the constant pressure from Turks, with support of RTC/Hungary king Sigismund III. Vasa, Rudolf was successfull to hold Turks on south-east during 1593-1606 in so-called 15-years war.

In year 1583 Rudolf II., after moving the imperial capital from Vienna to Prague, get married to Isabel Clara Eugenia de Aragon y Navarra (daughter of Phillip I. of Aragon; *1566 - †1633), and one year later he have had a son, Maxmillian.

He decided in 1609 to well-prepare his son for role of ruler and so young Maxmillian became Margrave of Moravia. He was inspired by first Přemyslids and by king Jean de Luxembourg, who put his son Wenceslau (later king Karl IV.) into position of Moravian margrave to let him learn something about the job of ruler. It started to be a tradition for first-born sons.

Rudolf's aventuristic brother Mathias started to realise his political ambitions in 1578 in so-called "Aventeur in Netherlands". After its callapse, he lived for a short time quietly in Linz. When Ernest was called to pick up the governorship of Netherlands, Mathias became, because of strong push of his mother Maria of Aragon and Navarra, governor of Upper and Lower Austria. In 1598, an open conflict between Rudolf and Mathias started. Mathias approved unconsulted tough re-catholisation of Austrian lands with Melchior Khlesl as an bishop of Vienna and his personal chancellor. His terror leads in Austria to peasant revolts during 1594-1597. Rudolf ordered many times Mathias to stop these revolts; Mathias understood it by himself - he stopped them with violent intervention lead by Croatian ban Morakšić. Rudolf knew, that Mathias will soon or later ask his throne, so he mobilised his ally - Sigismund III. Vasa. They managed to keep Mathias quiet. When in 1599 Ernest died, Rudolf's brother and last close friend.

Being now the second oldest, Mathias again hoped to dethrone Rudolf. Accusing him to be insane and irresponcible, he tried to convince High Estates in Dalmatia and Austrian lands to rebel against his brother. His aim was to force Rudolf to sign abdication in favour of him.

As a King of Bohemia, Count of Silesia and Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Rudolf deliberately reacted on the thread of Mathias and being now enough strong and to prevent possible rebellion of protestant aristocracy, he signed in 1603 so-called Privilege (Privilegium libertas exercitii religionis), seeing it as a culmination of his father's endeavours in establishment of religious freedom. Privilege ensured freedom of religion, for Protestants right to build churches, right to found schools and right to take part on University of Prague. For Jews it means, that they were already not part of regalia, but legaly equal citizens to christians in Rudolf's realm. Privilege became valid in Moravia in 1604.

So Mathias' attempts to searched for help from Bohemian, Moravian, Lusatian and Silesian Estates went void. Only Dalmatian Estates and part of catholic Austrian aristocracy supported him. After Mathias unsuccessfully attacked protestant Austrian aristocracy, he was defeated by combined forces of Rudolf, Maxmillian and head of Austrian protestants Leopold of Styria on his "March to Prague". Then he was forced to sign Vienna Treaty: Rudolf claimed Kingdom of Czech Crown Lands to secede and became independent of Austro-Dalmatian Monarchy. Mathias became in 1612, as Mathias I., Austro-Dalmatian King and Emperor of HRE, followed by his son Josef I. Bohemian Kingdom and its crown lands were still formally members of Holy Roman Empire, but its elector vote was mutus, as the Bohemian king as elector automatically approves any election.


During the Rudolphine Period, huge development of sciences and arts appeared; in 1582 the Gregorian calendar was introduced with these emperor's words: "Es ist nicht wichtig woher ist es hergestammt, sondern wie gut ist es." In 1594 the first blast-furnace was opened in Königshof beim Beraun and in 1600 professor Johannes Jessenius conducted the first anatomical autopsy in Prague. On 1615, Bohemian Estates decided to use Czech language only internally, not insisting it to be the official language.


Maxmillian (Maksimílian) III. (*1584 – †1646)
When Rudolf died, 1616, his 32 years old son become Bohemian king as Maxmillian III., he married Venedic princess Julia Vasa to tide bounds to Republic of Two Crowns. He had one son, Rudolf and four daughters. His reign was in a sign of peaceful consolidation.

Rudolf (Rútolf) III. (*1629 – †1669)
He was the last child having four sisters, he was handicapped - gravel blind. He was also frequently ill and of weak physical constitution. On the other side, he was literate and strong-willed. He, as a Margrave, fought with High Estates, which did not want him to succeed his father on throne, because of his handicaps. But he proofed himself to be a good administrator, and after entering throne he suppressed High Estates, but left rights of other Estates untouched, except of right to essemble. In 1646, 17 years old king started his career dissolving Estate Assembly, introducing Royal Court administration, preparing way for his successors to rule the kingdom with force. Later on, he re-newed the right to essemble for Estates, creating the Estate Council, but only as a complement to Royal Court. He successfully diplomatically defended status of Kingdom. He died 1669. He left two sons, Rudolf and Albrecht.


Jan Havliš, Jan van Steenbergen, Ferenc Váloczy 2003-5
jdqh@chemi.muni.cz