chapter  I
45 Pages

Emperor Rudolf II: Biographical Outline and Description of his Imperial Court Chapel

Emperor Rudolf II ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1576 to 1612. His niche in history is intriguing in that greatly diverse judgements have been expressed by various commentators on the character of his reign. The evaluation of his political effectiveness as emperor is generally negative, and nineteenth-century political historiographers have viewed his reign as an anxious prelude to the Thirty Years War. 1 Rudolf inherited a magnificent empire from his father, the Emperor Maximilian II (1527-1576), who ruled from 1564 to 1576. The lands stretched from France to Poland and from the North Sea to Tuscany. Yet, by the end of his reign, Rudolf was powerless in Europe, and his brother Matthias (1557-1619) forced the archducal crown from him in 1612, at a time when Rudolf was little more than a prisoner in his own Hradschin Castle in Prague.