Albrecht Dürer: Emperor Maximilian I, 1519

Reigns and Rulers IV

The Rise of the Habsburgs in the Early Modern Age


The early modern age saw the Habsburgs making considerable extensions to their dominions. Through war and dynastic marriages Maximilian I paved the way for the house of Habsburg to become a world power. His grandson Charles V ruled over an empire with possessions not only in Europe but also in the ‘New World’. Charles and his brother Ferdinand were the first members of a house of Habsburg that was divided into a Spanish and an Austrian line.

In this period, Habsburg politics were marked by conflicts both at home and abroad. When confronted with the Reformation and rebellions of the peasantry or the Estates, the rulers mostly reacted with violent measures. They were furthermore continually involved in wars beyond their borders, particularly with France and the rising Ottoman Empire. These wars had a defining influence upon their policies for several generations.

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