Germany History: Late Middle Ages Part II

By | October 29, 2021

After his victory over Ottokar II near Dürnkrut on the Marchfeld (August 25, 1278), he acquired his house in the duchies of Austria, Styria and Carniola (1282) and thus shifted the focus of Habsburg power from the west to the east. However, Rudolf neither achieved the imperial coronation in Rome nor the enforcement of the election of his sons as a king. Instead, Adolf von Nassau was elected after his death(1292–98), a relatively insignificant territorial lord from the Middle Rhine region, who tried in vain to build up a house power by acquiring Thuringia and Meißen and thus to the tutelage of his electoral voters, v. a. the Archbishops of Cologne and Mainz. Rather, these operated his deposition and the election of Albrechtof Austria, the son of Rudolf von Habsburg, as king. He won the battle for the throne in the Battle of Göllheim (July 2nd, 1298), in which Adolf was killed.

Albrecht I (1298–1308) succeeded in asserting himself against the elector; However, when he was preparing to take up the domestic power policy of his predecessors in Central Germany, he was murdered by his nephew Johann Parricida due to a personally felt loss of honor. After Albrecht’s death, the electors elected Heinrich VII from Luxembourg . In 1310 he acquired the crown of Bohemia for his son Johann and tried to restore imperial power in Italy.

In the following election, the Habsburg Frederick the Beautiful (1314–30) and the Wittelsbacher Ludwig (IV.), The Bavarian (1314–47), faced each other as kings; The latter won on September 28, 1322 at Mühldorf over FriedrichLudwig acquired the Mark Brandenburg (1323), Tyrol (1342) and Holland (1346) for his house. When he also intervened in Italy from 1323, he aroused the resistance of Pope John XXII, who came from France who wanted to make the election of a king dependent on papal approval and declared Louis excommunicated and deposed in a heretic trial.

However, this succeeded in persuading the electors to deny the pope any right to elect a king in a wisdom in 1338 (Kurverein von Rhense).

After Ludwig’s death, Charles IV (1346 / 47-78) from Luxembourg, who had already been supported by the Pope as an anti -king in 1346, was generally recognized. In addition to numerous smaller acquisitions, he won the Mark Brandenburg (1373) for his house. Although Karl had been crowned King of Burgundy in Arles in 1365, he finally left Arelat (excluding French-speaking Switzerland and Savoy) to the French sphere of influence. Charles IV’s younger son Siegmund (Sigismund; 1410–37), who was named after the older son Wenzel in 1410(1378–1400) and Ruprecht von der Pfalz (1400–10) was elected king, was able to provide the German (Roman) kingship once again with a political leadership role in Europe through the settlement of the church split at the Council of Constance (1414–18). But his futile efforts to overthrow the Hussites in his hereditary kingdom of Bohemia revealed at the same time the limits of monarchical creative power.

Rise of the Habsburgs, imperial reform

Since the election of Siegmund’s son-in-law Albrecht II (1438/39) as king, the Roman crown remained with the House of Habsburg, although the electoral rights of the electors continued to exist. Albrecht’s successor, Friedrich III. (1440–93), by taking sides in favor of the papacy made a decisive contribution to the fact that it was able to assert itself against the council ideas represented at the councils of Constance and Basel. The conclusion of the Vienna Concordat (February 17, 1448) brought Friedrich not only financial advantages but also important rights over the churches in the interests of his domestic power policy. Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click

The extensive conformity of interests with the papacy not only led to the coronation of emperors in Rome (1452), but also enabled Frederick to pursue a purposeful personnel policy when filling the imperial churches. Paired with a tough fiscal policy, it should help to strengthen the royal rule in the empire and improve the bleak financial situation. After numerous humiliating defeats, Frederick managed to assert himself not only against his adversaries in the empire and in his hereditary countries, but also against the powerful foreign policy opponents (Burgundy, Bohemia, Hungary). He was able to record the greatest success in the context of his domestic power policy when he married his son and successor – without surrendering imperial rights Maximilian I (1493–1519) with Maria von Burgund, daughter of the powerful Duke Charles the Bold, reached (1477). With this, the rich Burgundian inheritance (with the exception of the French Duchy of Burgundy) fell to Habsburg (1482).

In view of the numerous uncertainties (feuds, increasing defenselessness against external threats) the call for an imperial reform rose ever louder since 1430. This movement led, under the Elector of Mainz, Berthold von Henneberg, to a general ban on feuds (eternal land peace), to the establishment of the Imperial Court of Justice (1495) and to the division of the empire into initially six and then from 1512 ten imperial districts, as well as enforcement measures against peace breakers to ensure the enforcement of the judgments of the Reich Chamber of Commerce (1500, 1512, confirmed and modified in the Augsburg Religious Peace of 1555).

Germany History - Late Middle Ages 2