Austria History – Maximilian of Austria and the Foundation of the Habsburg Empire

By | January 7, 2022

According to localcollegeexplorer, tt was not long before the general situation turned around. A series of lucky events gave Austria a new breath; on the contrary, by making the Habsburgs a European power, he gave them rank among the highest political forces of that age. The death of Mattia Corvino (1490) not only allowed Frederick III and his son Maximilian to return to the lands of Austria, which he had previously occupied, but also reopened the way for the Hapsburg hopes of an Austro-Hungarian union. By then, the intent could not be achieved, as the Hungarian states raised Vladislaus of Bohemia to the throne, thus renewing the personal union between Bohemia and Hungary; and Maximilian had to recognize him in the Peace of Presburg (1491), albeit with new assurances of a future succession of the Habsburgs in Hungary. But the disappearance of that powerful personality that it had been Mattia Corvinus, he diminished the strength of Hungary in every way and gave Austria and its sovereigns greater freedom of maneuver. Maximilian then managed to reunite all the German hereditary lands in his hands: in 1490 his uncle Sigismund of Tyrol gave up the government of this country in his favor. His struggles with Nicolò di Cusa, bishop of Bressanone, known for his marked reformist tendencies, had led to serious religious disputes in the Tyrol, further aggravated by the archduke’s bad governance, which ended in a real financial disaster. A large part of the territories of earlier Austria had to be pledged! First, Maximilian re-established sovereign authority in the Tyrol; and then that administrative order originated which he later extended to all his lands.

But events of far greater importance had taken place and were about to take place, which would have given the Habsburgs and Austria a completely new position. The marriage of Archduke Maximilian of Austria, son of Frederick III, with Maria of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold, celebrated in August 1477, made the showy Burgundian inheritance pass into the hands of the House of Austria: that is, nominally, a state that from the Vosges (Burgundy and Franche-Comté) reached as far as the North Sea (Flanders and the Netherlands). Nominally, it has been said: because, in effect, the war broke out between Maximilian and Louis XI, king of France, who tried to assert his rights over Burgundy. The peace of Arras (1482) attributed to him the Artois and Franche-Comté. But despite this, despite the difficult internal situation in Flanders, in which the cities revolted, reaching the point of imprisoning the archduke, the marriage with the heiress of the house of Burgundy represented a great success for the Habsburgs, and, with this, an increase in power of the their hereditary state, Austria. It is true that a centuries-old cause of discord was also created between the Habsburgs and France. Nor did the successes of the Habsburg marriage policy in that period stop here. Maximilian, who became emperor in 1493, married his son Philip the Fair in 1496 with Giovanna, daughter and sole heir of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. In the Vienna diet (July and August 1515), he concluded the marriages of his nephews Ferdinand and Maria, sons of Philip, who died in 1506, with the children of King Vladislao, Luigi and Anna. Thus, the ancient Habsburg aspiration to unite the kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary with the lands of Austria was also about to come true. You could really repeat the You, felix Austria, cloud. Three successive marriage combinations were about to give the Habsburgs dominance on the European continent, Austria as a vital center in European history itself. And beyond that, it would still be necessary to mention a series of minor acquisitions that Maximilian’s very restless policy had managed to achieve, especially towards Italy. Thus, to the county of Tyrol, he added the regions of Kitzbu̇hel, Kufstein and Rattenberg, ceded by Bavaria; and, when the counts of Gorizia died, he bought the county of Gorizia and the adjoining Friulian fiefdoms from the church of Aquileia. In this way he widened the border line towards the Venetian Republic; but it also increased the occasions of frequent disputes with the Republic, since the borders were never precisely defined.

The reunion of the hereditary provinces in the hand of Maximilian required a radical reform of the entire internal administration, which in turn had to provide the means to continue the far-sighted policy of the emperor and to break the autonomy of the states, which had proved nefarious under the reign of his father, Frederick III. The internal administration had to pass from their hands to those of salaried officials, practiced in law. Maximilian developed ancient institutions that already existed in Tyrol, drawing inspiration from the advanced administrative system of Burgundy. First of all, in Tyrol, in 1490, he established a supreme administrative office, the so-called “Regiment”, made up of about 20 councilors. Three years later, he did the same in the archduchies of Austria and Styria, Niederösterreichische Länder. The administration of finances was, in 1491, entrusted to a general treasurer. Then, in 1496, a collegiate General Treasury or Raitkammer was established in Innsbruckfor the inherited countries, and a “stately room”, with authority also over the finances of the Empire. In 1498, the courtly council was created, as an organ of the foreign policy of the Empire and of the Austrian lands (and the two chancelleries of the Court and of the Empire arose), and as the supreme court. However, all these institutions were provisional and subject to change. In the field of military administration, although Maximilian was particularly interested in the artillery weapon, a supreme command was not yet created during his reign. A supreme military command arose only in 1556, as a courtly war council, by the work of Ferdinand I, nephew of Maximilian. The state legal unity of the Austrian lands appeared for the first time in 1518 at the general diet of Innsbruck.

Austria History - Maximilian of Austria and the Foundation of the Habsburg Empire