The extent and diversity of the Hapsburg territories were a liability as well as an asset, making the imperial title the essential bond of unity. At the beginning of his reign Maximilian attempted to modernize the cumbersome imperial administration, but his reform program fell victim not only to his dynastic aspirations but also to the competition between the princes and the emperor for ultimate power. Maximilian was forced in 1500 to adhere temporarily to a council of regency (see Reichsregiment), although he eventually dispensed with this restriction. Nevertheless the Diet of Worms (1495) established a supreme court of justice to adjudicate disputes among princes and to apply Roman law throughout the empire; levied a general property tax to defray military costs; and issued a ban on private warfare. The limited constitutional reforms proved inadequate, however, to cope with future problems, least of all with the political, social, and religious upheaval of the Reformation.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.