Ferdinand I 1503–1564 Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia

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Ferdinand I
1503–1564
Holy Roman Emperor, king of
Hungary and Bohemia

As king of Hungary and Bohemia*, Ferdinand I played an important role in keeping Turkish invaders out of central Europe in the 1500s. He was also a generous patron* of the arts and learning. A member of the powerful Habsburg dynasty, Ferdinand was the second son of Juana, heir to the Spanish throne, and the Archduke Philip, son of emperor Maximilian I. When his older brother became Holy Roman Emperor* as Charles V, Ferdinand received Habsburg lands in Austria. This began the historic split between the German and Spanish branches of the Habsburg family.

Ferdinand married the sister of King Louis of Hungary and Bohemia. When Louis died in 1526, Ferdinand succeeded to the two thrones. His new position placed him on the front line of defense against the Ottoman Turks*, who controlled much of southeastern Europe. Ferdinand failed to recapture all of Hungary from his lifelong Ottoman opponent, SÜleyman I. However, he did succeed in preventing further Turkish expansion. Late in his life, he took over the throne of the Holy Roman Empire from his brother.

An energetic and capable ruler, Ferdinand also had a great impact on religion, the arts, and scholarship. A faithful yet flexible Catholic, he supported church reforms and was a major force behind the Council of Trent. He also played a role in the Peace of Augsburg, an agreement that allowed citizens to worship as Protestants or Catholics and brought a temporary religious calm to Germany. His court employed many talented artists and musicians, and his reforms at the University of Vienna promoted the study of classical* languages.

(See alsoAustria; Councils; Dynastic Rivalry; Ottoman Empire; Spain; Trent, Council of. )

* Bohemia

kingdom in an area of central Europe now occupied by the Czech Republic

* patron

supporter or financial sponsor of an artist or writer

* Holy Roman Emperor

ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, a political body in central Europe composed of several states that existed until 1806

* Ottoman Turks

Turkish followers of Islam who founded the Ottoman Empire in the 1300s; the empire eventually included large areas of eastern Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa

* classical

in the tradition of ancient Greece and Rome

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Ferdinand I 1503–1564 Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia

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