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Kingdom of Hungary (13th – 15th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Dynastic turmoils in Hungary greatly weakened the royal power and resulted in the rise of powerful nobles at the beginning of the 13th century. Andrew II (1205-1235) was forced to issue the Golden Bull in 1222 giving nobility the right to disobey the king when acting against the law. The Golden Bull of 1222 also obliged the king to regularly convoke the diet and increased the power of nobility in the counties. Andrew’s successor Bela IV (1235-1270) tried limit the power of the magnates and to recover the lost crown-lands. However, his reign was marked by the Mongol invasion in 1241 and severe Hungarian defeat in the Battle of Mohi or Battle of the Sajo River in 1241. Bela IV fled to Dalmatia and appealed to Pope Gregory IX and to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II for assistance against the Mongols. However, none of them responded to his appeal, while Hungary was meanwhile plundered by the Mongols.

The Mongols withdrew because of dynastic crisis in the Mongolian Empire in 1241. Bela IV returned to Hungary which was totally devastated, while western portions of the kingdom were seized by Frederick of Austria. The Hungarians were defeated by Frederick but the latter was killed in the battle at the Leitha River in 1246. The male line of the House of Babenberg became extinct on Frederick’s death but Bela was defeated by Ottokar II of Bohemia in their struggle for Frederick’s inheritance – the Duchies of Austria and Styria in 1260. Bela IV managed to repulse the second Mongolian invasion one year later but the last years of his rule were marked by struggles with his son Stephen V (1246-1272). The latter was crowned junior King and entrusted the government of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia in 1246, and Transylvania in 1258. Stephen V ascended to the Hungarian throne on his father’s death but the deceased senior king entrusted his daughter Anna and his followers to Ottokar II of Bohemia. Ottokar II started a war against Stephen V but the Hungarian King decisively defeated his rival in 1271. He died suddenly in 1272 and was succeeded by his ten year old son Ladislaus IV (1272-1290). Ladislaus’ reign was marked by loss of royal power to the Hungarian magnates and lower nobility. He became very unpopular for favoring the Cumans but he was assassinated by his own Cuman favorites in 1290. Ladislaus IV without an heir to the throne and was succeeded by Andrew III (1290-1301) who the last Hungarian king from the Arpad Dynasty.

Medieval illustration of Charles Robert

Charles Robert

The Hungarian nobility elected Wenceslaus III Premyslid as King of Hungary after the extinction of the Arpad Dynasty. Wenceslaus renounced the Hungarian crown to Otto, Duke of Lower Bavaria in 1305 but the latter was imprisoned in 1307 and abdicated as King of Hungary one year later. The Hungarian throne was assumed by Charles Robert of the Angevin Dynasty as Charles I of Hungary (1308-1342). He managed to restore the royal power as well as to increase the Hungarian foreign prestige. In 1335, he concluded a mutual defense union with Poland which resulted in the victory over Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV and his ally the Habsburg Duke Albert II of Austria in 1337. Charles’ plans to unite the kingdoms of Hungary and Naples under his son Louis I disturbed Venice and the Pope that felt threatened from the eventual Hungarian supremacy on the Adriatic. One of his greatest achievements was the agreement with his ally and brother-in-law, Casimir III of Poland which foresaw the succession of Charles’ son to the Polish throne in case if Casimir III died childless. Thus Charles’ successor Louis I (1342-1382) assumed the Polish throne after Casimir’s death in 1370 but the Hungarian-Polish union fall apart after Louis’ death. His younger daughter gained Poland, while the elder daughter Mary became heiress to the Hungarian throne.

The Hungarian throne was assumed by Sigismund (1387-1439), Margrave of Brandenburg through marriage with Mary in 1387. Hungary was at that time seriously endangered by the Ottomans who invaded Hungary in 1395. Thus Sigismund concentrated on defending his kingdom against the Ottomans but he was severely defeated by Sultan Bayezid I in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396. Sigismund’s authority in Hungary reached its lowest point after the defeat at Nicopolis and he put all his efforts in securing the inheritance of Germany and Bohemia.

A portrait of Ladislaus the Posthumous

Ladislaus the Posthumous

Both Sigismund’s successors Albert II of Habsburg (1437-1439) and Wladyslaw III of Poland (1439-44) died during campaign against the Ottomans. Ladislaus the Posthumous (1440-1457) was elected King of Hungary after Wladyslaw’s death but he was under guardianship of Frederick IV who virtually held him as prisoner. Janos Hunyadi acted as his regent in Hungary until Ladislaus was freed by Ulrich of Celje, Princely Count of Celje in 1452. Ulrich of Celje acted as his guardian until 1456 when he was murdered by his rival Laszlo Hunyadi.

Ladislaus the Posthumous died in 1457 and the diet elected Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490), brother of Laszlo Hunyadi as King of Hungary. He reasserted Hungarian suzerainty over Bosnia in 1458, defeated Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in 1462 and launched a campaign against the Ottomans who remained a constant threat. Matthias got involved in the struggle for the Bohemian throne after the death of George of Podebrady in 1471. With the Peace of Olomouc in 1478 he gained shared title of King of Bohemia and forced his rival Vladislaus II of Poland to cede Silesia, Moravia, and Upper and Lower Lusatia to Hungary. Matthias Corvinus made Hungary the dominant power in south-central Europe by the end of his reign but his successor Vladislaus II (1490-1516) was not able to pursue Matthias’ policy and lost his power to the nobles.

Bohemia (13th – 15th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Bohemia was elevated into an independent kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire under Ottokar I or Otakar I (1198-1230) and the royal title became hereditary. Ottokar I was succeeded by Wenceslaus I Premyslid (1230-1253) who successfully repulsed the Mongolian attack in 1241 and suppressed the rebellion led by his son Ottokar II who was imprisoned. He arranged marriage between his first born son and heir Vladislaus with the Duke’s niece Gertrud to gain the Duchy of Austria but Vladislaus died shortly afterwards, while his widow swiftly remarried. Wenceslaus I invaded Austria, released his son Ottokar II, named him margrave of Moravia and installed him as governor of Austria.

Burial crown of Ottokar II of Bohemia on display at Prague castle

Burial crown of Ottokar II

Ottokar II married the late Duke’s sister Margaret to legitimize his position in Austria and succeeded his father Wenceslaus I as Ottokar II of Bohemia (1253-1278). He seized Styria from Hungary in 1260 and inherited Carinthia and Carniola in 1269. Bohemia reached its greatest territorial extent stretching from Silesia to the Adriatic and became the most powerful state of the Holy Roman Empire. Ottokar II joined the contest for the Imperial throne and refused to recognize his victorious rival Rudolph of Habsburg. However, he was deprived of Styria, Austria and Carinthia at the convention of the Reichstag at Frankfurt in 1274 and forced to give up all claims to Austria and the neighboring duchies two years later. Ottokar II retained only Bohemia and Moravia. He tried to recapture the lost lands but he was defeated and killed by Rudolph of Habsburg in the Battle of Durnkrut and Jedenspeigen in 1278.

Ottokar II was succeeded by his son Wenceslaus II (1278-1305). He gained the Duchy of Krakow from Premislas II but the latter retained other duchies in Poland and the royal insignia from Krakow, and was crowned King of Poland in 1295. However, Wenceslaus became the overlord of Poland after Premislas’ death in 1296 and was crowned King of Poland in 1300. Wenceslaus also assumed the Hungarian throne on behalf of his son after death of Andrew III of Hungary, the last of the Arpad dynasty in male line in 1301 but he failed to gain full support of the Hungarians. He was succeeded by his son Wenceslaus III (1305-1306) who renounced his claim to the Hungarian throne and met difficulties in Poland. He was murdered under mysterious circumstances in Olomouc, Moravia in 1306.

The Premyslid dynasty became extinct after the death of Wenceslaus III and the Bohemian throne was assumed by Henry VI of Carinthia (1306-1310). In 1310, he was deposed by John of Luxembourg (1310-1346) who assumed the Bohemian throne through marriage with Elisabeth, heiress of Wenceslaus III of Bohemia. John of Luxembourg extended Bohemian territory to upper Lusatia and Silesia and ruled part of Lombardy and Tyrol for a short period. He got involved in the Hundred Years’ War siding with France against England but he was killed in the Battle of Crecy in 1346.

A photo of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle taken by Frantisek Fridrich in 1870

Charles Bridge

John of Luxembourg was succeeded by Charles IV (1346-1378) who was elected King of Germany in 1346 and crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1355. Bohemia reached its political and cultural height during his reign. Charles IV greatly increased the power of his dynasty through skillful diplomacy, purchases, marriages and inheritance, and made Prague the political and cultural center of the Holy Roman Empire. He founded the first university in Prague and in Central Europe in 1348, expanded and rebuilt the Prague Castle, built much of the cathedral of Saint Vitus and ordered the construction of the famous Charles Bridge.

Charles IV was succeeded by his son Wenceslaus IV (1378-1419) who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1376. However, he was deposed as Holy Roman Emperor and replaced by Rupert of Wittelsbach in 1400. As King of Bohemia, Wenceslaus IV supported the religious reformer Jan Hus and his followers against the Roman Catholic Church. Hus’ execution in 1415 provoked serious unrest which resulted in the outbreak of the Hussite Wars (1420-1434) after Wenceslaus’ death in 1419.

A portrait of Prokop the Great

Prokop the Great

The Bohemian crown was claimed by Wenceslaus’ brother Sigismund, King of Hungary from 1387 and King of Germany from 1411. However, the Bohemians refused to recognize Sigismund as King of Bohemia because of his role at the Council of Constance which burned Jan Hus at the stake for heresy. Sigismund declared a war against the heretics but all his military campaigns against the Hussites led by Jan Ziska and Prokop the Great failed. He was able to assert his rights to the Bohemian throne only after the outbreak of a war between the two fractions of Hussites, the Utraquists and the Taborites in 1434. The Hussite Wars ended with the peace agreement signed at Jihlava by King Sigismund, the Hussite delegates and the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in 1436. Sigismund was finally crowned King of Bohemia but his power was little more than nominal.

Albert II of Habsburg (1437-1439) who was married with Sigismund’s daughter and heiress Elizabeth succeeded Sigismund as King of Hungary, Germany and Bohemia. He was killed in a campaign against the Ottomans at Neszmely in 1439 and was succeeded by his posthumously born son Ladislaus the Posthumous (1453-1457). The latter was crowned king of Bohemia at age of thirteen in 1453 but he died suddenly in 1457. He was succeeded by his regent George of Podebrady (1458-1471) who was the last domestic ruler of Bohemia.

George of Podebrady was succeeded by Vladislaus II who was unable to defeat his rival Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary who claimed the Bohemian throne. The conflict between the rival kings was settled with the Peace of Olomouc in 1478 allowing both Vladislaus and Matthias Corvinus to use the title King of Bohemia. Vladislaus reigned Bohemia, while Matthias gained Moravia, Silesia and the two Lusatias. Vladislaus II succeeded Matthias’ as King of Hungary on his death in 1490 and incorporated the Bohemian lands into the Kingdom of Hungary.

Kingdom of Denmark (13th – 15th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Danish territorial expansion reached its height under Valdemar II (1202-1241) who forced the king of Norway to pay him homage, gained recognition of Danish rule in northern Germany by Frederick II in return for his support against Otto IV and conquered Estonia in 1219. However, defeat in the Battle of Bornhoved in 1227 and collapse of Danish overlordship in northern Germany marked the end of Denmark as great power. The Kingdom of Denmark retained only Rugen and Estonia.

Miniature of Eric V of Denmark

Eric V “Klipping”

Three Valdemar’s sons succeeded him in turn: Eric IV (1241-1250), Abel (1250-1252) and Christopher I (1252-1259). The reign of Eric V “Klipping” (1259-1286) was marked by struggles between the king and powerful nobles which resulted in the issue of handfastening in 1282 which greatly limited the royal power, like the English Magna Carta. His successor Eric VI Menved launched a large-scale expansionist policy in northern Germany which almost caused bankrupt and provoked a dangerous rebellion in Jutland in 1313 that had to be suppressed with German military assistance. The central authority continued to decline and Eric’s successor Christopher II (1320-1326) was deposed when he tried to improve the financial state by raising taxes of nobles and clergy.

Struggle for the Danish throne that followed the deposition of Christopher II in 1326 was won by Gerhard III of Holstein who was appointed regent and guardian of his protegee Valdemar III (1326-1329). Gerhard III of Holstein was de facto ruler of Denmark but he became very unpopular and was killed in 1340. The Danish throne was assumed by Valdemar IV (1340-1375) who restored the royal authority, extended the Danish territory to its former extent and was triumphal over the powerful Hanseatic League but only for a short period. He was forced to sign the Treaty of Stralsund in 1370 which ensured the Hanseatic League a trade monopole in Scandinavia and Baltic coast.

Portrait of Margaret I, Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden

Margaret I

Valdemar IV died without a male descendant. His daughter Margaret I, Queen of Norway achieved election of her son Olav IV Haakonsson as Oluf II of Denmark (1376-1387). Margaret’s son also succeeded his father Haakon IV as Olav IV of Norway and united Norway and Denmark in a personal union. Olav IV died without an heir to the throne in 1387 and was succeeded by his mother Margaret I as Queen of Denmark and Norway. She defeated and captured the Swedish king, Albert of Mecklenburg in 1389 and added to her title Queen of Sweden. Margaret I assured the throne of Denmark, Norway and Sweden to her great-grandson Eric of Pomerania on the congress of the three Councils of the Realm at Kalmar which united the three kingdoms into the Kalmar Union under Eric of Pomerania. However, Margaret I wasde facto ruler of all three kingdoms until her death.

Eric of Pomerania or Eric VII (1412-1439) did not follow Margaret’s skillful policy of diplomacy and started a war against Holstein over South Jutland (Schleswig). Eric’s attempts to drive out the German merchants from the Baltic coast resulted in conflict with the cities of the Hanseatic League which joined Holstein against Eric. Eric VII failed to conquer South Jutland and lost the lands he had already gained. Heavy taxes and centralization of government caused an unrest which led to national and social rebellion known as the Engelbrekt rebellion in Sweden in 1434. The rebellion that was joined by the nobles resulted in the expulsion of the Danish forces from Sweden. Meanwhile arose opposition against Eric VII in Denmark leading to his deposition in 1439.

The Danish Council of the realm elected Christopher of Bavaria (1439-1448) who was also elected in Norway and Sweden. Christopher pursued Margaret’s policy of diplomacy and ruled each country through its council of the realm and its own laws. Christopher died without an heir to the throne in 1448. Christian I of Oldenburg (1448-1481) was elected in Denmark and Norway, while Sweden elected Charles Knutsson. However, his attempt to restrict the power of nobility resulted in bitter opposition and he was forced to leave Sweden. Swedish Council of the realm elected Christian I as his successor in 1457, while Denmark and Norway meanwhile signed the Treaty of Bergen which strengthened the union between both realms. Christian I was also elected Count of Holstein (in 1474 Holstein was elevated to a Duchy) when he inherited the Duchy of Schleswig to prevent an eventual division of Schleswig-Holstein. He was succeeded by John (1481-1513) whose reign was marked by the first Danish-Russian alliance against Sweden.

Swiss Confederacy or the Swiss League

27 Jul
July 27, 2012
The Federal Charter of 1291

The Federal Charter of 1291

Decline of the central power under Frederick II of Germany and chaos during the period of Interregnum forced the local communities to connect themselves against robbers, petty nobles as well as against powerful landlords who tried to extend their possessions. Thus the crisis in the Holy Roman Empire during the period of Interregnum resulted in the creation of the Old Swiss Confederacy, an alliance of the rural communes (cantons) of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden and the precursor of modern-day Switzerland in 1291. The Luxembourg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, Henry VII and his successor Charles IV appointed administrative representatives in each of the three communes and de facto recognized the Old Swiss Confederation.

The Habsburg Dynasty tried to take advantage of the political crisis and win back lost lands in southern Germany. For that reason the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden supported Louis IV of Bavaria instead of Frederick I of Austria (Habsburg) in their struggle for the German throne. Frederick’s brother Leopold I, Duke of Austria led a military campaign against the Swiss in 1315 but he was severely defeated in the Battle of Morgarten. A month later, the three cantons renewed their alliance and reached an agreement over their unification which formed the legal basis of the confederacy for the next five centuries. The most important clause of the agreement was the provision that alliances with other states will not be concluded without consent of all cantons, while each canton took an oath to defend its independence. The three cantons had been joined by the cantons of Glarus and Zug and the city states of Lucerne, Zurich and Bern by 1353 forming the Bund of Acht Orte or the alliance of the eight places.

Bern and Zurich retained a right to maintain special relations with the Habsburg House which tied to prevent the eventual rise of the Swiss Confederacy. Leopold III of Austria assembled an army against the Swiss when Lucerne invaded Habsburg lands in 1385 and captured the city of Sempach. However, the Habsburg House was defeated for the second time, while Glarus declared independence and defeated Leopold’s brother Albert III in the Battle of Nafels in 1388. The Habsburg pretensions in the Swiss Confederacy afterwards ceased. The Swiss took advantage of the tense relations between Frederick IV of Austria and Emperor Sigismund and invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415. Aargau was of great strategic importance and played an important role in the history of constitutional development of the Swiss Confederacy, while joint administration of the canton resulted in the rise of consciousness of common identity. The Pfaffenbrief signed by the members of the Swiss Confederacy in 1370 restricted the privileges of clergy, while the Sempacherbriefsigned in 1393 determined that a war can be declared only after consulting with all cantons of the Confederacy.

The relations between the cantons were not ideal. The claim of Zurich to Toggenburg resulted in a ruinous war with the other confederates between 1436 and 1446. The war was intervened by the Habsburg House which supported Zurich against Bern by sending troops that were loaned to Emperor Frederick III by Charles VII of France. However, the French commander withdrew after the clash with the confederates and the French heir to the throne Louis XI signed a peace agreement with the confederates in the name of France. Zurich reconciled with the Confederation but had to dissolve its alliance with the Habsburgs.

The Swiss Confederacy developed into an influential military power and helped Louis XI of France defeat Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The Swiss soldiers gained a reputation of near invincibility during the Burgundian Wars and their mercenary services were afterwards increasingly sought by all European great powers. The Swiss Confederacy repulsed the attack of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor at the end of the 15th century and Maximilian granted Switzerland virtual independence in 1499.

Holy Roman Empire (13th – 15th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Frederick II became the undisputed ruler of Germany after the defeat of his rival Otto IV of Brunswick in the Battle of Bouvines in 1214 and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Honorius III in 1220. In the same year, Frederick II decreed Confoederatio cum principibus ecclesiasticis giving up a number of regalia to the bishops in return for their support in the election of his son Henry as King of Germany. However, he was also forced to issue Statutum in favorem principum granting privileges to the German princes few years later. Frederick II left Germany and returned only twice after the election of his son Henry as the German King: in 1235 and in 1237 to depose his unpopular son Henry VII and replace him with his youngest son Conrad IV. Frederick II was primarily interested in the Kingdom of Sicily transforming it into a strong centralized monarchy after promulgation of the Constitutions of Melfi in 1231.

Like his father Henry IV and his grandfather Frederick I Barbarossa, Frederick II came into conflict with the papacy and the Lombard League. The delay of his departure on the Crusade resulted in an open conflict with the papacy and his excommunication. Despite being excommunicated Frederick II launched the Sixth Crusade in 1228 and returned the holy cities to Christendom for ten years, while his son Conrad was crowned King of Jerusalem. However, Frederick’s aspirations in Italy disturbed the papacy and Pope Innocent IV deposed him as emperor in 1245. Frederick managed to retain his authority in the Kingdom of Sicily until his death in 1250 but William II, Count of Holland who was elected anti-king in 1247 captured the Kingdom of Germany without any resistance because Frederick’s son and heir Conrad was primarily interested in the Kingdom of Sicily.

Conrad managed to suppress the anti-Staufen rebellion and capture Naples in 1253 but he died one year later. William II was killed by the Frisians in 1256 and Holy Roman Empire fell into political crisis known as the Interregnum which lasted until the accession of Rudolf I of Habsburg (1273-1291) in 1273. The period of Interregnum was characterized by the decline of imperial authority and power which was taken advantage by the princes who consolidated their holdings and increased their independence. The Holy Roman Empire became de facto a confederation of virtually independent princedoms.

Tomb effigy of Rudolph I of Germany

Rudolph I

Rudolf I of Habsburg established peace and order in Germany, and reconciled with Pope Gregory X who promised him imperial coronation but he died before fulfilling his promise. Rudolf was also in good relations with Gregory’s successor Pope Nicholas III but the latter did not crowned him emperor. Rudolf defeated his rival and powerful King of Bohemia, Ottokar II in the Battle of Durnkrut and Jedenspeigen in 1278 and granted the gained lands in Austria and Styria to his sons. Rudolf tried to secure the German throne to his son Albert but the Prince-Electors chosen Adolf of Nassau (1291-1298). However, the latter was deposed and replaced by Rudolph’s son Albert I, Duke of Austria (1298-1308) in 1298.

Albert I continued the territorial expansion of the Holy Roman Empire started by his father. He secured the Bohemian crown to his son Rudolph on the death of Wenceslaus III of Bohemia in 1306. However, Rudolph died suddenly in 1307 and was succeeded by son-in-law of Wenceslaus II, Henry of Carinthia. Albert I was killed by his nephew Johann Parricida in 1308 and the German throne was assumed by Henry VII (1308-1313) of the House of Luxembourg. Henry VII traveled to Rome to be crowned emperor in 1312 but he failed to restore the imperial authority in Italy. His greatest achievement was the arrangement of marriage of his son John of Luxembourg with Elisabeth, heiress of Wenceslaus III of Bohemia by which the Luxembourg Dynasty gained Bohemia.

Two kings were elected after Henry’s death in 1313: Louis IV of Bavaria and Frederick I of Austria (Habsburg). Louis IV of Bavaria (1314-1347) defeated his rival, became sole king and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1328. However, his unpopularity resulted in the election of Charles IV of Luxembourg Dynasty as anti-king in 1346. Louis IV died one year later, while Charles IV defeated the Wittelsbach candidate to the German throne. Charles IV (1346-1378) also inherited the Kingdom of Bohemia as the eldest son and heir to John the Blind in 1347.

Wall painting depicting of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles IV

Bohemia reached its political and cultural height during the reign of Charles IV. Prague gained archbishopric and first university (1348) in Central Europe. Charles IV made Prague the imperial capital and proved to be a great builder: he expanded and rebuilt the Prague Castle, built much of the cathedral of Saint Vitus and ordered the construction of one of Prague’s most famous sightseeing, the Charles Bridge. He extended his territory to the upper Palatinate of the Rhine, Lower Lusatia, part of Silesia and Margrave of Brandenburg through marriages, purchase and inheritance. Charles IV was also crowned King of Italy but he did not involve in the Italian affairs and only traveled through Italy to Rome to receive imperial coronation in 1355.

Charles IV yielded to France at the end of his rule with an aim to assure the French support in the election of his son Wenceslaus as King of Germany. In 1356, Charles IV promulgated the Golden Bull which regulated the election of the kings and stayed in force until 1806. The last years of his rule were also marked by the struggles between the princes and the cities as well as by the Western Schism. His son and heir Wenceslaus (1376-1400) was unable to reestablish order and he was deposed in 1400.

A portrait of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor

Sigismund

Sigismund (1410-1437) was elected King of Germany after Wenceslaus’ death in 1410. Sigismund was also King of Hungary through marriage to Mary, Queen of Hungary from 1387 and was in first place concentrated on resolving the Western Schism. Hungary was seriously endangered by the Ottomans after the defeat of the Christian forces in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396 but Sigismund could not expect any help in a form of a Crusade against the Ottoman Empire because of the Western Schism. For that reason Sigismund put a lot of efforts to convoke the Council of Constance (1414-1418) which ended the Western Schism but also resulted in the condemnation and execution of the Bohemian religious reformer Jan Hus. However, Sigismund did not manage to organize a Crusade against the Ottomans as he expected and had to face with the Hussite Wars (1419-1436) that broke out after the death of Wenceslaus IV. The Bohemians refused to acknowledge him as King of Bohemia because they held him responsible for the death of Jan Hus. All Sigismund’s military campaigns to suppress the Hussites failed and he had to wait for 17 years to win the Bohemian crown.

Sigismund was succeeded by Albert II of Habsburg (1438-1439) who died one year later during the campaign against the Ottomans at Neszmely, Hungary. Albert II died without a male descendant and the electors chosen his cousin, Frederick of Styria as his successor. The latter ascended to the throne as Frederic III (1440-1493) in 1440 and was crowned emperor in 1452. He tried to gain control over Hungary and Bohemia. However, he lost Austria, Carinthia, Carniola and Styria to Matthias Corvinus of Hungary in 1458 and regained them only after Matthias’ death in 1490. Frederic’s greatest achievement was arrangement of the marriage between his son Maximilian, later Maximilian I (1493-1517) and Mary, heiress of Burgundy. The marriage gained an enormous inheritance to the Habsburg Dynasty which ruled the Holy Roman Empire until its dissolution in 1806.

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