Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Overview
 
Ferdinand II a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 (1619–1637), King of Bohemia (1617–1619, 1620–1637), and King of Hungary
King of Hungary
The King of Hungary was the head of state of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1000 to 1918.The style of title "Apostolic King" was confirmed by Pope Clement XIII in 1758 and used afterwards by all the Kings of Hungary, so after this date the kings are referred to as "Apostolic King of...

 (1618–1625). His rule coincided with the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

.
He was born at Graz
Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

, the son of Charles II, Archduke of Austria
Charles II, Archduke of Austria
Charles II Francis of Austria was an Archduke of Austria and ruler of Inner Austria from 1564...

, and Maria Anna of Bavaria. He was educated by the Jesuits and later frequented the University of Ingolstadt
University of Ingolstadt
The University of Ingolstadt was founded in 1472 by Louis the Rich, the Duke of Bavaria at the time, and its first Chancellor was the Bishop of Eichstätt. It consisted of five faculties: humanities, sciences, theology, law and medicine, all of which were contained in the Hoheschule...

. After completing his studies in 1595, he acceded to his hereditary lands (where his older cousin, Archduke Maximilian III of Austria, had acted as regent between 1593 and 1595) and made a pilgrimage to Loreto
Loreto (AN)
Loreto is a hilltown and comune of the Italian province of Ancona, in the Marche. It is mostly famous as the seat of the Basilica della Santa Casa, a popular Catholic pilgrimage site.-Location:...

 and Rome.
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Encyclopedia
Ferdinand II a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 (1619–1637), King of Bohemia (1617–1619, 1620–1637), and King of Hungary
King of Hungary
The King of Hungary was the head of state of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1000 to 1918.The style of title "Apostolic King" was confirmed by Pope Clement XIII in 1758 and used afterwards by all the Kings of Hungary, so after this date the kings are referred to as "Apostolic King of...

 (1618–1625). His rule coincided with the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

.

Life

He was born at Graz
Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

, the son of Charles II, Archduke of Austria
Charles II, Archduke of Austria
Charles II Francis of Austria was an Archduke of Austria and ruler of Inner Austria from 1564...

, and Maria Anna of Bavaria. He was educated by the Jesuits and later frequented the University of Ingolstadt
University of Ingolstadt
The University of Ingolstadt was founded in 1472 by Louis the Rich, the Duke of Bavaria at the time, and its first Chancellor was the Bishop of Eichstätt. It consisted of five faculties: humanities, sciences, theology, law and medicine, all of which were contained in the Hoheschule...

. After completing his studies in 1595, he acceded to his hereditary lands (where his older cousin, Archduke Maximilian III of Austria, had acted as regent between 1593 and 1595) and made a pilgrimage to Loreto
Loreto (AN)
Loreto is a hilltown and comune of the Italian province of Ancona, in the Marche. It is mostly famous as the seat of the Basilica della Santa Casa, a popular Catholic pilgrimage site.-Location:...

 and Rome. Shortly afterwards, he began to suppress non-Catholic faith in his territories.

With the Oñate treaty
Oñate treaty
The Oñate treaty or Onate agreement of 29 July 1617 was a secret treaty between the Austrian and Spanish branches of the House of Habsburg....

, Ferdinand obtained the support of the Spanish Habsburgs in the succession of his childless cousin Matthias
Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor
Matthias of Austria was Holy Roman Emperor from 1612, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1608 and King of Bohemia from 1611...

, in exchange for concessions in Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 and Italy. In 1617, he was elected King of Bohemia by the Bohemian diet, in 1618, King of Hungary
King of Hungary
The King of Hungary was the head of state of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1000 to 1918.The style of title "Apostolic King" was confirmed by Pope Clement XIII in 1758 and used afterwards by all the Kings of Hungary, so after this date the kings are referred to as "Apostolic King of...

 by the Hungarian estates, and in 1619, Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

.

His devout Catholicism caused immediate turmoil in his non-Catholic subjects, especially in Bohemia. He did not wish to uphold the religious liberties granted by the Letter of Majesty conceded, signed by the previous emperor, Rudolph II, which had guaranteed the freedom of religion to the nobles and the inhabitants of the cities. Additionally, Ferdinand was an absolutist monarch and infringed several historical privileges of the nobles. Given the relatively great number of Protestants in the kingdom, including some of the nobles, the king's unpopularity soon caused the Bohemian Revolt. The Second Defenestration of Prague of 22 May 1618 is considered the first step of the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

.

In the following events he remained one of the staunchest backers of the Anti-Protestant Counter Reformation efforts as one of the heads of the German Catholic League. Ferdinand succeeded Matthias as Holy Roman Emperor in 1619. Supported by the Catholic League and the Kings of Spain and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, Ferdinand decided to reclaim his possession in Bohemia and to quench the rebels. On 8 November 1620 his troops, led by the Belgian general Johann Tserclaes, count of Tilly, smashed the rebels of Frederick V
Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V was Elector Palatine , and, as Frederick I , King of Bohemia ....

, who had been elected as rival King in 1618. After Frederick's flight to the Netherlands, Ferdinand ordered a massive effort to bring about conversion to Catholicism in Bohemia and Austria, causing Protestantism there to nearly disappear in the following decades, and reduced the Diet's power.

In 1625, despite the subsidies received from Spain and the Pope, Ferdinand was in a bad financial situation. In order to muster an imperial army to continue the war, he applied to Albrecht von Wallenstein
Albrecht von Wallenstein
Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein , actually von Waldstein, was a Bohemian soldier and politician, who offered his services, and an army of 30,000 to 100,000 men during the Danish period of the Thirty Years' War , to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II...

, one of the richest men in Bohemia: the latter accepted on condition that he could keep total control over the direction of the war, as well as over the booties taken during the operations. Wallenstein was able to recruit some 30,000 men (later expanded up to 100,000), with whom he was able to defeat the Protestants in Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

, Anhalt
Anhalt
Anhalt was a sovereign county in Germany, located between the Harz Mountains and the river Elbe in Middle Germany. It now forms part of the state of Saxony-Anhalt.- Dukes of Anhalt :...

 and Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. In the wake of the overwhelming Catholic military successes, in 1629 Ferdinand issued the Edict of Restitution
Edict of Restitution
The Edict of Restitution, passed eleven years into the Thirty Years' Wars on March 6, 1629 following Catholic successes at arms, was a belated attempt by Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor to impose and restore the religious and territorial situations reached in the Peace of Augsburg...

, by which all the land stripped to the Catholics after the Peace of Passau
Peace of Passau
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had won a victory against Protestantism in the Schmalkaldic War of 1547. Many Protestant princes were unhappy with the religious terms of the Augsburg Interim imposed after this victory. In January 1552, led by Maurice of Saxony, many formed an alliance with Henry II of...

 of 1552 would be returned.

His new revitalized Catholic demands caused the tottering Protestants to call in Gustavus II Adolphus, King of Sweden. Further, some of Ferdinand's Catholic allies started to complain about the excessive power gained by Wallenstein, as well as of the ruthless method he used to finance his huge army. Ferdinand replied by firing the Bohemian general in 1630. The lead of the war thenceforth was assigned to Tilly, who was however unable to stop the Swedish march from northern Germany towards Austria. Some historians directly blame Ferdinand for the large civilian loss of life in the Sack of Magdeburg
Sack of Magdeburg
The Sack of Magdeburg refers to the siege and subsequent plundering of the largely Protestant city of Magdeburg by the forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic League during the Thirty Years' War...

 in 1631: he had instructed Tilly to enforce the edict of Restitution upon the Electorate of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

, his orders causing the Belgian general to move the Catholic armies east, ultimately to Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, where they suffered their first substantial defeat at the First Battle of Breitenfeld (1631)
Battle of Breitenfeld (1631)
The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld , was fought at the crossroads villages of Breitenfeld , Podelwitz , and Seehausen , approximately five miles northwest of the walled city of Leipzig on September 17 , or September 7 The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld...

.

Tilly died in 1632. Wallenstein was recalled, being able to muster an army in only a week, and to expel the Swedes from Bohemia. In November 1632 the Catholics were defeated in the Battle of Lützen (1632)
Battle of Lützen (1632)
The Battle of Lützen was one of the most decisive battles of the Thirty Years' War. It was a Protestant victory, but cost the life of one of the most important leaders of the Protestant alliance, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, which caused the Protestant campaign to lose direction.- Prelude to the...

, but Gustavus Adolphus died. A period of minor operations followed, perhaps because of Wallenstein's ambiguous conduct, which ended with his assassination in 1634, perhaps ordered by Ferdinand himself.

Despite Wallenstein's fall, the imperial forces recaptured Regensburg
Regensburg
Regensburg is a city in Bavaria, Germany, located at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, at the northernmost bend in the Danube. To the east lies the Bavarian Forest. Regensburg is the capital of the Bavarian administrative region Upper Palatinate...

 and were victorious in the Battle of Nördlingen (1634)
Battle of Nördlingen (1634)
The Battle of Nördlingen was fought on 27 August or 6 September , 1634 during the Thirty Years' War. The Roman Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by 18,000 Spanish and Italian soldiers, won a crushing victory over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German-Protestant allies .After...

. The Swedish army was substantially weakened, and the fear that the Habsburgs' power could at that point become overwhelming in the empire triggered France, led by Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

 and Cardinal Richelieu, to enter the war on the Protestant side. (Louis's father Henry IV of France
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 had once been a Huguenot leader.) In 1635 Ferdinand signed his last important act, the Peace of Prague (1635)
Peace of Prague (1635)
The Peace of Prague of 30 May 1635 was a treaty between the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and the Electorate of Saxony representing most of the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire...

, which however did not end the war.

He died in 1637, leaving to his son Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand III was Holy Roman Emperor from 15 February 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria.-Life:...

 an empire still entangled in a war and whose fortunes seemed to be increasingly fading away.

Marriages and issue

In 1600, Ferdinand married Maria Anna of Bavaria (1574-1616), daughter of Duke William V
William V, Duke of Bavaria
William V, Duke of Bavaria , called the Pious, was Duke of Bavaria from 1579 to 1597.- Education and early life :...

 of Bavaria. They had seven children:
  • Archduchess Christine (1601-1601)
  • Archduke Charles (1603-1603)
  • Archduke John-Charles (November 1, 1605 - December 28, 1619)
  • Ferdinand III
    Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
    Ferdinand III was Holy Roman Emperor from 15 February 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria.-Life:...

     (July 13, 1608-April 2, 1657) married:
    • 1631 Infanta Maria Anna of Spain
    • 1648 Maria Leopoldine of Austria
      Maria Leopoldine of Austria
      Maria Leopoldine was Holy Roman Empress as the spouse of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor.-Biography:...

    • 1651 Eleanor Gonzaga (1630–1686)
  • Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (January 13, 1610-September 25, 1665)
  • Archduchess Cecilia Renata of Austria
    Cecilia Renata of Austria
    Archduchess Cecilia Renata of Austria was Queen of Poland as consort to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's King Władysław IV Vasa.-Biography:...

     (July 16, 1611-March 24, 1644), who married her cousin Władysław IV Vasa
    Władysław IV Vasa
    Władysław IV Vasa was a Polish and Swedish prince from the House of Vasa. He reigned as King of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 8 November 1632 to his death in 1648....

    , King of Poland.
  • Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria
    Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria
    Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria was an Austrian military commander, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1647 to 1656, and a patron of the arts.-Biography:...

     (1614–1662).


In 1622, he married Eleonore of Mantua (Gonzaga) (1598–1655), the daughter of Duke Vincenzo I of Mantua
Duchy of Mantua
The Duchy of Mantua was a duchy in Lombardy, Northern Italy, subject to the Holy Roman Empire.-History:After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Mantua was invaded by Byzantines, Longobards and Franks. In the 11th century it became a possession of Boniface of Canossa, marquis of Toscana...

 and Eleonora de' Medici
Eleonora de' Medici
Eleonora de' Medici was the eldest child of Francesco I de' Medici and Johanna of Austria. She was a family member of the famous House of Medici.-Family:...

, at Innsbruck
Innsbruck
- Main sights :- Buildings :*Golden Roof*Kaiserliche Hofburg *Hofkirche with the cenotaph of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor*Altes Landhaus...

.

Ancestors



Titles

Ferdinand II, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King in Germany, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Rama, Serbia, Galicia, Lodomeria, Cumania, Bulgaria, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Margrave of Moravia, Duke of Luxemburg, of the Higher and Lower Silesia, of Württemberg and Teck, Prince of Swabia, Count of Habsburg, Tyrol, Kyburg and Goritia, Marquess of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgovia, the Higher and Lower Lusace, Lord of the Marquisate of Slavonia, of Port Naon and Salines, etc. etc.

See also

  • Kings of Germany family tree. He was related to every other king of Germany.

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