Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor

(1459-1519)
   Born in Wiener Neustadt into the Hapsburg line, Emperor Maximilian I was the son of Frederick III and Eleonora of Portugal. His marriage to Mary of Burgundy (d. 1482), daughter of Charles the Bold, in 1477 led to his obtaining the Burgundian Netherlands and his involvement in war against France over the territory. Maximilian also became involved in the Italian wars carried out by the great European powers to control the Italian independent cities, his purpose being to prevent French territorial expansion and to extend the Hapsburg dominion. His association with Ludovico Sforza during this conflict led to his marriage in 1493 to Bianca Maria Sforza, Ludovico's niece. At the time, he invested Ludovico with the Duchy of Milan to which Louis XII of France also laid claim. In 1508, he allied himself with Pope Julius II and France, forming the League of Cambrai, to curtail Venice's territorial expansion. In 1511, however, Maximilian and the pope formed the Holy League to expel Louis XII from Italy.
   Maximilian was the patron of Hans Burgkmair, who created a series of woodcuts for him, and Albrecht Dürer, whose portrait in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (1519) records the emperor's likeness. Maximilian is also included in Dürer's Rozenkranz Madonna (1505-1506; Prague; National Gallery) for the Church of San Bartolomeo, commissioned by the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the association of German merchants in Venice. There he kneels to be crowned with roses by the Virgin.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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