Brass medal Rudolph II Exhibition standard
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia, was the oldest son of emperor and king Maximilian II and his cousin Maria of Spain. A series of dynastic marriages of the Habsburgs allowed them to gain control over Burgundy, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia and Hungary. They then focused on keeping these countries through mutual marriages between members of the Spanish and Austrian family branches. The consequences of these marriage bonds soon became obvious and showed in various degenerative disorders. Rudolf II is the best known ruling member of the family affected by this family disposition. He was brought up in Spain; although he never married and remained without an heir, he had several children out of wedlock. Neglecting his royal duties he gradually isolated himself from the court life and took a profound interest in occult sciences, arts and collecting. Thanks to his decision to live in the Prague castle, Bohemia and Prague was – for the last time in its history – a cultural and political hub of central Europe. His younger and very ambitious brother Matthias deprived him gradually of power in all hereditary lands of the Habsburgs. Rudolf II died on 20 January 1612 in his residence in the Prague castle where he is also buried.