Matvey Matvey

Matvey Matvey

Austrian Archduke, Holy Roman Emperor (1612–19).
Date of Birth: 24.02.1557
Country: Austria

  1. Biography of Matthias
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Rise to Power
  4. Reign as Emperor
  5. Challenges and Legacy

Biography of Matthias

Matthias (also known as Mattias, Matfiey, or Matyáš in various languages) was born on February 24, 1557, in Vienna. He was an Austrian archduke, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1612 to 1619, and the king of Hungary from 1608 to 1618 and the king of Bohemia from 1611 to 1617. He belonged to the Habsburg dynasty and was the son of Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain, the daughter of Emperor Charles V and Infanta Isabella of Portugal.

Early Life and Education

Matthias was educated by the scholar and diplomat Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq. In 1577, he secretly traveled to the southern Netherlands, invited by the Catholic party, which was hostile towards the Spanish. In 1578, he became a stadtholder with limited powers but realized that he would not be able to gain influence in the country. In 1581, he relinquished his power.

Rise to Power

In 1593, Matthias was appointed as the regent of his brother, Emperor Rudolf II. During his time in Vienna, he became close to Melchior Klesl, who later became a cardinal and Matthias' chief advisor. When the emperor's autocratic rule led to war with the rebellious Hungarians and Turks, Matthias took it upon himself to restore peace. In 1606, a peace treaty was signed in Vienna, guaranteeing religious freedom in Hungary. However, Rudolf disagreed with Matthias' decisions, sparking a power struggle. Eventually, Matthias forced his brother to cede Austria, Hungary, and Moravia to him in 1608, and Czechia, Silesia, and Lusatia in 1611.

Reign as Emperor

Upon ascending the imperial throne, Matthias' policies were greatly influenced by Klesl, who aimed to achieve a compromise between the Catholic and Protestant factions within the empire to strengthen the state. During his conflict with Rudolf, Matthias had to make concessions to the Protestants in Austria, Moravia, and Hungary to gain their support. He also had to contend with external adversaries, such as Transylvanian Prince Gabriel Bethlen.

Challenges and Legacy

Matthias faced opposition within the Habsburg family, particularly from his brother Archduke Maximilian, who wanted to ensure the succession of the Catholic Archduke Ferdinand of Styria, later Emperor Ferdinand II. Under pressure from his family members, childless Matthias crowned Ferdinand as the king of Bohemia in 1617 and Hungary in 1618.

Attempts by the government to abolish the rights granted to the Protestants, including the "Letter of Majesty" issued by Rudolf II to the Bohemians in 1609, sparked discontent and led to the Bohemian Revolt, which marked the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. While the Czechs organized their own government and resisted with arms, the inhabitants of Silesia and Moravia joined them. Ferdinand deposed Klesl, seized power from the ailing Matthias, who soon after passed away on March 20, 1619.