Maximilian I, 1573–1651, elector and duke of Bavaria

Maximilian I, 1573–1651, elector (1623–51) and duke (1597–1651) of Bavaria, one of the outstanding figures of the Thirty Years War and an ardent supporter of the Counter Reformation. His occupation (1607) of Donauwörth, a Protestant stronghold then under the imperial ban, aroused Protestant indignation and spurred the formation (1608) of the Protestant Union. To oppose this, Maximilian founded (1609) the Catholic League. Until 1619 he tried to maintain a moderate course in the great quarrel within the empire. Then, in return for concessions, he brought the army of the League to the support of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II against Frederick the Winter King. Frederick, who was elector of the Palatinate, headed the Protestant Union; he had been elected king of Bohemia to replace Ferdinand. In 1620, Maximilian entered Upper Austria and, after the victory of the commander of the Catholic League, Tilly, at the White Mt., entered Prague. Maximilian then conquered the Palatinate, and in 1623 the emperor transferred Frederick's electoral vote and the Upper Palatinate to Maximilian. In 1628, Maximilian was given the Rhenish Palatinate in return for Upper Austria, which he had been holding. Maximilian protested against the ascendancy of the imperial commander Albrecht von Wallenstein and secured his dismissal (1630). Later in the war, Bavaria was ravaged by Swedish and French forces, and Maximilian was forced to conclude the truce of Ulm and to renounce his alliance with the emperor; however, he soon broke the truce. By the Peace of Westphalia (1648), Maximilian retained the electorate and the Upper Palatinate.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: German History: Biographies