Monday, August 6, 2012

June 28, 1519 – Frederick the Wise Elected Holy Roman Emperor

After the death of Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in January of 1519, many of his titles went directly by inheritance to his Habsburg grandson Charles V. The title emperor, however, would be given by decision of the seven elector-princes of the Germans, Albert of Mainz; Richard von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads of Trier; Hermann of Wied of Cologne; Frederick III of Saxony; Joachim I of Brandenburg; Louis V, Elector Palatine; and Louis II Jagiellon, King of Bohemia. Charles was most obvious choice as brother-in-law to Louis of Bohemia, but others were nervous about too much power being placed in one man's hands. Along with his grandfather's titles, Charles had also recently inherited the title “King of Spain”, which he ruled alongside his mother, Joanna the Mad of Castile.

Francis I of France also wished to hold the powerful title, rejoining lands that had all once been Carolingian. Francis and Charles were bitter rivals since a French victory at the Battle of Marignano the year before brought the twenty-one-year-old Francis to the forefront of European politics. The two began a bribing war for votes, which made some electors all the more nervous.

The suggestion of eliminating outside influence arose, and Frederick II of Saxony (called "the Wise") was offered the election.  The task would be monumental and place him at the forefront of politics among much wealthier and more powerful figures, but Frederick determined it to be the right path and agreed.  To the dismay of Francis and Charles both, Frederick was elected.

Problems quickly arose in the empire. The knights of Rhineland rebelled, using Protestant rhetoric to rally their people against the growing "new money" as Feudalism began to break down.  Frederick met with the knights and created the Diet of the Germans to address issues.  The Diet was proven successful as the communistic Peasants' War was put down and undercut by expanding religious freedom to the growing factions of Protestants.  Germany became a powerful center to the new Europe, but would eventually be torn apart into its smaller kingdoms due to religious strife.

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