Prague Minos Guide

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16. - 17. century

Rudolf II

Eccentric Emperor of the Habsburg dynasty
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Description

Rudolf II was educated together with his brother Ernest at the narrow-minded catholic court of Spain. He received an excellent education at the court of Filip II, but it also gave Rudolf tendencies to support anti-reformist religious powers. Right from the beginning of his reign, Rudolf interfered in the conflicts and battles in the Netherlands, while facing pressure from the Ottoman Empire in Transylvania and Hungary.
Rudolf was extremely suspicious and his paranoia was deepened by fits of melancholy. Getting older he even started suffering from seizures of dementia, which were most probably schizophrenia, a condition to which he had a family predisposition (Filip II, Charles V and Joanna the Mad were all affected by the same disease, as was Rudolf’s illegitimate son don Julius Caesar). The full affect of the disease appeared in 1581, when Rudolf suffered severe medical complications, to the point when the family counsel started discussing

the question of his succession.
Rudolf progressively stepped away from public life and his relatives started usurping more and more of his powers. Rudolf was eventually forced to relinquish all his titles except the title of King of Bohemia to his brother Matthias. He reacted by publishing his Letter of Majesty, which guaranteed religious freedom to the Czech Estates, but it didn’t have too great an impact following the invasion of the Passau army of Leopold, the king’s cousin. Rudolf was left with nothing but the court of Prague, where he soon died.
Rudolf was renowned for his fondness of arts, but also for his support to occultists, alchemists and various therapies. During his reign, a great number of personalities visited Prague, among which we should mention the astronomer Tycho Brahe and the occultists and alchemists John Dee and Edward Talbot, called Master Kelley. He is connected to the legend of the Golem and the Rabbi Löw.

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