Rudolf II
(1552—1615)
   Habsburg king of Hungary and Bohemia; Holy Roman emperor from 1576. He is remembered mainly for his cultural patronage after he transferred the seat of imperial rule from Vienna to Prague in 1583. The court painters whom he supported were late representatives of the artistic style known as mannerism, and he patronized other mannerist artists who did not settle at his court, of whom the most prominent was Giovanni da Bologna. Rudolf also collected the works of earlier artists, especially Albrecht Dürer and Pieter Brueghel the Elder. He was a collector not only of paintings but also of weapons, clocks, scientific instruments, rare animals and plants, and other curiosities. His intellectual interests in-cluded Renaissance occultism, and his patronage attracted such no-torious figures as John Dee and Giordano Bruno. As a political leader, although he opposed Protestantism in general, he sought vainly to bring about a lowering of religious tension in Germany, in opposition to the aggressively anti-Protestant policies of his Habs-burg cousins in Spain and the German lands. In his final years, which were marked by mental instability and by a long and unsuccessful war with the Ottoman Turks, the rest of the Habsburg family forced him to yield the crown of Hungary to his ambitious younger brother, Matthias, who had been his political and personal rival and who eventually succeeded him as emperor and king of Bohemia. Rudolf never married and so left no heir eligible to claim his thrones.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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