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16. - 17. století

Matthias II

Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia
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Matthias was the son of Emperor Maximilian II and the younger brother of the renowned Rudolf II.
Ever since his childhood, Matthias suffered from the fact that he was his father’s younger son. He was very ambitious and his elder brother stood in the way. As a young man he became governor of the Austrian Netherlands and in 1594 he was appointed proconsul of Austria by Rudolf, but it wasn’t enough for the ambitious Matthias. His position grew in power proportionally to the worsening of his brother’s mental health. In 1606, Matthias was elected head of the family on a secret meeting of the family members. Two years later and with the support of the Estates he gained control over Austria, Hungary and Moravia. Rudolf tried to regain power with the assault of the Passau army, but unsuccessfully. As a result, he lost

the Bohemian throne, on which he was replaced by Matthias.
Great expectations were pinned on the latter, but they appeared to be unfounded. Matthias was a weak ruler, who would loose all self-confidence in a crisis. And there were many of these during his reign. At the beginning of his rule he transferred the Empire’s residence from Prague to Vienna, defining the role of both cities for many centuries to come. The growing religious tension in Bohemia gradually intensified and Matthias failed to deal with the situation. It was left to his successor, Ferdinand II, a member of the Styria branch of the Habsburg family, who had been chosen for lack of children on Matthias’ side. Ferdinand implemented a radically different approach, but this is a different story. Matthias died in 1619 with de facto no power left.


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