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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

And he sought to isolate Albert of Habsburg


The Habsburg family.

Rudolph had all the sympathies and prejudices of the noble class, and the supreme object of his life was not to increase the power of the state but to add to the greatness of his own family, a policy which was perhaps justified by the condition of the German kingdom, the ruler of which had practically no strength save that which he derived from his hereditary lands. In this he was very successful. Four years after the fall of Ottakar he obtained from the princes a tardy and reluctant assent to the granting of Austria, Styria and Carniola to his own sons, Rudolph and Albert. In 1286 Carinthia was given to Meinhard, count of Tirol, on condition that when his male line became extinct it should pass to the Habsburgs. Thus Rudolph made himself memorable as the real founder of the house of Habsburg.

Adolph of Nassau.

It was in vain that Rudolph sought to obtain the succession to the crown for one of his sons; the electors would not take a step which might endanger their own rights, and nearly a year after the king's death in July 1291 they chose Adolph, count of Nassau, and not Rudolph's surviving son Albert, as their sovereign. Adolph, an insignificant prince, having been obliged to reward his supporters richly, wished to follow the lines laid down by his predecessor and to secure an extensive territory for his family. Meissen, which he claimed as a vacant

fief of the Empire, and Thuringia, which he bought from the landgrave Albert II., seemed to offer a favourable field for this undertaking, and he spent a large part of his short reign in a futile attempt to carry out his plan. In his foreign policy Adolph allied himself with Edward I. of England against Philip IV. of France, but after declaring war on France in August 1294 he did nothing to assist his ally. At home he relieved the cities of some of their burdens and upheld them in the quarrel about the _Pfahlburger_; and he sought to isolate Albert of Habsburg, who was treating with Philip of France. But many of the princes were disgusted with him and, led by Albert of Habsburg, Gerhard, archbishop of Mainz, and Wenceslaus II., king of Bohemia, they decided to overthrow him, and at Mainz in June 1298 he was declared deposed. He resisted the sentence, but Albert, who had been chosen his successor, marched against him, and in July 1298, at Gollheim near Worms, Adolph was defeated and killed.

Albert I.

After Adolph's death Albert was again chosen German king, and was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle in August 1298. Like his father Rudolph, the new king made it the principal object of his reign to increase the power of his house, but he failed in his attempts to add Bohemia and Thuringia to the hereditary lands of the Habsburgs, and he was equally unsuccessful in his endeavour to seize the countries of Holland and Zealand as vacant fiefs of the Empire. In other directions, however, he was more fortunate. He recovered some of the lost crown lands and sought to abolish new and unauthorized tolls on the Rhine; he encouraged the towns and took measures to repress private wars; he befriended the serfs and protected the persecuted Jews. For a time Albert allied himself with Philip IV. of France against Pope Boniface VIII., who had refused to recognize him as king, but in 1303 he made peace with the pope, a step which enabled him to turn his attention to Bohemia and Thuringia. The greatest danger which he had to face during his reign came from a league which was formed against him in 1300 by the four Rhenish electors--the three archbishops and the count palatine of the Rhine--who disliked his foreign policy and resented his action with regard to the tolls. Albert, however, supported by the towns, was victorious; and the revolting electors soon made their peace.


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