Skip to main content

Maximilian II 1527–1576 Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian II
Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian II held multiple thrones. He served as Holy Roman Emperor* (1564–1576), king of Bohemia (1549/1562–1576), and king of Hungary (1563–1576). Maximilian failed to achieve many of his political goals, but he had a lasting influence as a patron* of the arts.

Maximilian was a member of the Habsburgs, one of Europe's most powerful families. His father, Ferdinand I, ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1558 to 1564. Maximilian spent his early years in the Austrian city of Innsbruck, the imperial residence of the Habsburgs. Although raised as a Catholic, Maximilian probably became familiar with Protestant ideas through one of his tutors.

In 1544 Maximilian went to live at the court of his uncle, Charles V, the king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor (ruled 1519–1556). In 1548 he married the emperor's daughter Maria. Maximilian was generally expected to succeed his father as emperor, but he faced opposition from papal* circles because of his tolerant attitude toward Protestants. He considered himself a Christian and wanted to be neither Catholic nor Protestant. For a time, Maximilian's Spanish relatives also tried to block his rise to power.

Nevertheless, after the death of Ferdinand in 1564, Maximilian II became Holy Roman Emperor. He did not enjoy much success as a statesman during his reign. Despite his tolerant policies, he failed to restore unity between Catholics and Protestants. In addition, constant lack of money curbed many of his political goals.

Although Maximilian II faced many problems, he was a popular emperor who spoke German, Spanish, Czech, Italian, French, and Latin. Maximilian wanted to make Vienna a center of European intellectual life. At his court in Vienna, he created an academy of famous European scholars and scientists. The palace he built southeast of Vienna held a rare collection of non-European plants and animals. It became an important center for the study of natural science in central Europe.

A supporter of the arts, Maximilian hired many talented painters, sculptors, and architects. Some of his paintings still hang in collections in Vienna. The emperor was also a great music lover, who arranged to have musical activities of the highest order at his court.

(See alsoBohemia; Holy Roman Empire; Hungary. )

* Holy Roman Emperor

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

* patron

supporter or financial sponsor of an artist or writer

* papal

referring to the office and authority of the pope

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Maximilian II 1527–1576 Holy Roman Emperor." Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students. . 22 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Maximilian II 1527–1576 Holy Roman Emperor." Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students. . (March 22, 2019).

"Maximilian II 1527–1576 Holy Roman Emperor." Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students. . Retrieved March 22, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.