Maximilian I was the King of the Romans, the Holy Roman Emperor, the Archduke of Austria, a reformer, a warrior and a patron of arts and sciences

He was a son of the Archduke of Austria and the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. From his early childhood, he was interested both in learning and in physical exercises. His father trained him both physically and intellectually. Maximilian had a great physical force, was acquainted with the Holy Scripture, and could speak Flemish, French, English and some Latin.

In 1477, Maximilian married Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, the richest bride in Europe. As a result of this marriage, the Habsburg Family could lay claim to the Burgundian lands which caused a war with France. The Emperor conducted many wars in his lifetime – wars for Burgundian, Breton and Bavarian Succession, wars to unite Austrian lands, wars in Hungary and in Italy.

In 1486 he was crowned King of Romans (meaning King of Germany) in Aachen. From the moment of his election, Maximilian took an active part in ruling the Empire. In 1493, after the death of his father, Maximilian had all the power. He tried to carry out state reforms to unify the country. Nevertheless, being opposed by German princes, he did not manage to create united power bodies and united army. The princes even declined to finance Maximilian’s military campaigns because he started to use mercenary Landsknecht armies.

During Maximilian’s reign arts and sciences flourished in Germany, new ideas appeared in philosophy and religion and found support. In 1517, Martin Luther protested against the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, starting the Reformation.

Greatest German artists also worked during his reign. Dürer, who received a life pension from the Emperor, created his painted and engraved portraits. He adorned the Emperor’s Prayer Book with images. Maximilian had not enough money to build a real triumphal arch and he commissioned Dürer to do an engraved one. Dürer worked together with his workshop and his disciples to accomplish the order. Maximilian also dictated an autobiography that he called Weißkunig (White Knight). The text was printed with the woodcut illustrations designed in the Hans Burgkmair’s workshop.