Prague Minos Guide

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17. - 18. století

Leopold I

Emperor from the Habsburg dynasty
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His father’s successor was supposed to be his eldest brother Ferdinand IV, but his death opened the way for Leopold to ascend the throne. Leopold’s other two elder brothers, Philip August and Maximilian Thomas, died even before he was born. He was a strong ruler, who transformed Austria into a great power.
His father had intended for him to have a religious career, but after Ferdinand’s unexpected death in 1654, he became the future ruler. His father also wanted to secure the imperial crown for Leopold, but he was opposed by France, which wanted to restrict the influence of the Habsburg Empire.
After the death of his father, Leopold had to fight for the imperial crown, which he won in 1658, hence becoming Holy Roman Emperor. During the reign of Leopold I, the Habsburg monarchy had to face numerous outside enemies: France on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire on the other. The interior stability was also threatened by the situation

in Hungary, where the nobility rebelled on several occasions. It was supported by the Rumanian princes and the Ottoman Turks. The years 1663 and 1664 saw clashes against the Turks, and twenty years later the Ottoman troops became a threat even for Vienna.
Thanks to the European rulers, the Turks were defeated in 1683, and in the 1680’s and 1690’s the Christian armies pushed the Turks out of Hungary.
Leopold’s reign brought stable peace to the Czech lands, which could finally economically recover from the consequences of the Thirty Years War. The biggest problem was however the social situation in the countryside, where his vassals entered into conflicts against the authorities. In 1680, while Leopold was staying in Prague, Bohemia experienced the Peasants Rebellion.
The Emperor was a refined ruler, he loved arts, composed music, participated to ballets and theater. The Viennese court became a great cultural center under his rule.


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