Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor

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Rudolf II of Austria (July 18, 1552–January 20, 1612), Holy Roman Emperor as Rudolf II (1576–1612), King of Hungary and Croatia, as Rudolf (1572–1608), King of Bohemia as Rudolf II (1575–1608/1611) and Archduke of Austria as Rudolf V (1576–1608). He was a member of the House of Habsburg.

Rudolf's legacy has traditionally been viewed in three ways:[2] an ineffectual ruler whose mistakes led directly to the Thirty Years' War; a great and influential patron of Northern Mannerist art; and a devotee of occult arts and learning which helped seed the scientific revolution.



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.

Rudolf spent eight formative years, from age 11 to 19 (1563–1571), in Spain, at the court of his maternal uncle Phillip II. 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.[3] 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.[3] 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.

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