Ferdinand II, Counter-Reformation Emperor, 1578-1637
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Emperor Ferdinand II (1619-1637) stands out as a crucial figure in the Counter-Reformation in central Europe, a leading player in the Thirty Years War, the most important ruler in the consolidation of the Habsburg monarchy, and the emperor who reinvigorated the office after its decline under his two predecessors. This is the first biography of Ferdinand since a long-outdated one written in German in 1978 and the first ever in English. It looks at his reign as territorial ruler of Inner Austria from 1598 until his election as emperor and especially at the influence of his mother, the formidable Archduchess Maria, in order to understand his later policies as emperor. This book focuses on the consistency of his policies and the profound influence of religion on his policies throughout his career. It also follows the contest at court between those who favored consolidation of the Habsburg lands and those who aimed for expansion in the empire, as well as between those who favored a militant religious policy and those who advocated a moderate one.
also prevented France from aligning with the Dutch, England, and Denmark in the anti-Habsburg League of the Hague that was formed in 1626 after talks of nearly a year. The cardinal had to attend to business at home for a time. The new initiative to contain the advance of the Habsburgs now came from King Christian IV of Denmark. Christian had begun his personal rule back in 1596, won a war with his rival Gustav Adolph of Sweden for control of the Consolidation and Expansion, 1621–1628 159
1605.37 At the same time there began an extensive, determined effort at the Catholic evangelization of the population, a process that in the long run bore considerable fruit, and in which the Jesuits and Capuchins played a major role. The Jesuit university in Graz enrolled 1,200 students in 1619, with several new structures added to accommodate them.38 Ferdinand founded three Jesuit colleges in Inner Austria, in Ljubliana, Klagenfurt, and Gorizia (Görz). These and other colleges that he helped to
territory between the ruler and the representative estates who could exercise their power by withholding taxes. This contest between ruler and estates over ultimate authority or the upper hand was a feature of the growth of the state in the early modern period, and, generally, 5 6 For a list of Maria’s children, see Katrin Keller, Erzherzogin Maria von Innerösterreich (1551– 1608). Zwischen Habsburg und Wittelsbach (Vienna, 2012), 294–7. The archdukes were Maximilian Ernst, Leopold who after
siege, so they too started to retreat. Yet Ferdinand was to enjoy only a brief respite in the east. Gradually preparations were being made to take military action against the rebels in Bohemia. From late 1619 until late July 1620, Ferdinand worked hard to secure from the estates of Lower and Upper Austria formal recognition of himself as their ruler. He succeeded to a degree with the ﬁrst, but he failed with the second. Ferdinand consulted his new Jesuit confessor, Martin Becan, on the issue of
Expansion, 1621–1628 151 the Lower Austrian estates and the citizens of the city who resented their competition. During the early years of the war, the Jews provided him with valuable ﬁnancial assistance peaking with 20,000 gulden in 1623 but then nothing from 1625 to the tragic year of 1632 when he drew 15,000 from them.106 In order to ease the tension with the citizenry, in 1625 he assigned the Jews a quarter or ghetto just across the Danube that was conveniently connected to the city by a