Maximilian II (31 July 1527 – 12 October 1576) was king of Bohemia and king of the Romans (king of Germany) from 1562, king of Hungary and Croatia from 1563, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1564 until his death. He was a member of the House of Habsburg.
Born in Vienna, he was a son of his predecessor Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary (1503–1547). Anne was a daughter of King Ladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary and his wife Anne de Foix.
Educated principally in Spain, he gained some experience of warfare during the campaign of his paternal uncle Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor against France in 1544, and also during the War of the league of Schmalkalden, and soon began to take part in imperial business. Having in September 1548 married his cousin Maria, daughter of Charles V, he acted as the emperor's representative in Spain from 1548 to 1550, returning to Germany in December 1550 in order to take part in the discussion over the imperial succession.
Charles V wished his son Philip (afterwards king of Spain) to succeed him as emperor, but his brother Ferdinand, who had already been designated as the next occupant of the imperial throne, and Maximilian objected to this proposal. 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 which had hitherto existed between the two branches of the Habsburg family; an illness which befell Maximilian in 1552 was attributed to poison given to him in the interests of his cousin and brother-in-law, Philip of Spain.
About this time he took up his residence in Vienna, being engaged mainly in the government of the Austrian dominions and in defending them against the Turks. The religious views of the king of Bohemia, as Maximilian had been called since his recognition as the future ruler of that country in 1549, 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 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 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.
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