Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria

Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria
Maximilian II Emanuel
Maximilian II Emanuel (portrait by Joseph Vivien)
Elector of Bavaria
Reign 16791726
Predecessor Ferdinand Maria
Successor Charles Albert
Spouse Maria Antonia of Austria
Theresa Kunegunda Sobieska
Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, Prince of Asturias
Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor
Clemens August
Johann Theodor
House House of Wittelsbach
Father Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria
Mother Henriette Adelaide of Savoy
Born July 11, 1662(1662-07-11)
Died February 26, 1726(1726-02-26) (aged 63)

Maximilian II (July 11, 1662 - February 26, 1726), also known as Max Emanuel or Maximilian Emanuel,[1] was a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and an elector (Kurfürst) of the Holy Roman Empire. He was also the last Governor of the Spanish Netherlands and duke of Luxembourg. An able soldier, his ambition led to conflicts that limited his ultimate dynastic achievements.

He was born in Munich to Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy (d.1676). His maternal grandparents were Victor Amadeus I of Savoy and Christine Marie of France. Christine Marie was the second daughter of Henry IV of France and his second wife Marie de' Medici.


Wars against the Ottoman Empire and France

Maximilian inherited the elector's mantle while still a minor in 1679 and remained under his uncle Maximilian Philipp Hieronymus's regency until 1680. By 1683 he was already embarked on a military career, fighting in the defense of Vienna against the attempt of the Ottoman Empire to extend their possessions further into Europe. He returned to court for long enough to marry Maria Antonia, daughter of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor and Margaret Theresa of Spain, on 15 July 1685 in Vienna, Austria. This marriage was very unhappy since the couple disliked each other, but it was successful in producing a desired heir for both Bavaria and the Spanish monarchy.

Maximilian Emanuel's fame was assured when, in 1688, he led the capture of Belgrade from the Turks, with the full support of Serbian insurgents under the command of Jovan Monasterlija. In the War of the Grand Alliance he again fought on the Habsburgs' side, protected the Rhine frontier, and, being the Emperor's son-in-law and the husband of the King of Spain's niece, was appointed governor of the Spanish Netherlands in late 1691.

Governor of the Spanish Netherlands

His Netherlands adventure catalyzed Maximilian Emanuel's dynastic ambitions. One year after his appointment as governor, Maria Antonia died in Vienna, after having given birth to a son, Joseph Ferdinand, who became the rightful heir to the Spanish monarchy until his death. An alternative avenue for Maximilian Emanuel's ambition was offered by his 12 January 1694, marriage to Theresa Kunegunda Sobieska, the death of whose father, the elected King of Poland John III Sobieski, two years later, offered a potential avenue of influence in Polish affairs.

However, he concentrated his interests in Western Europe and making his sons by Theresa Kunegunda Sobieska, Charles Albert and Clemens August, the principal outlets for his ambitions.

The unsuccessful siege and bombardment of Brussels in 1695 during the Nine Years' War by French troops and the resulting fire during Max Emanuel's rule were together the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels.

War of the Spanish Succession

Family tree

In 1699 Maximilian Emanuel's first son Joseph Ferdinand, appointed heir of the Spanish crown, had died.

By the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701, he had developed a plan for the Wittelsbachs to supplant the Habsburgs as Holy Roman Emperors. Allying himself with the French against the Habsburgs, his campaign against Tyrol in 1703 did not have success and his plans were then frustrated by the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. In the ensuing evacuation of his court to the Netherlands, Maximilian Emanuel's family became separated and his sons were held prisoners for several years in Austria, Klemens August being brought up by Jesuits. Bavaria was partitioned between Austria and the elector palatine, the Wittelsbach John William, leading to bloody uprisings of the people against the Austrian imperial troops.

Maximilian Emanuel was again forced to flee the Netherlands after the Battle of Ramillies (23 May 1706) and found refuge at the French court in Versailles where his late sister Maria Anna Victoria (1660–1690) had been the wife of Le Grand Dauphin. In 1712 Luxembourg and Namur were ceded to Maximilian Emaunel by his French allies. The war was finally ended in 1713 in the Treaty of Utrecht which restored Maximilian Emanuel. Only in 1715 was the family re-united in Munich.

Final years in Bavaria

Max Emanuel by Giuseppe Volpini (1720)

Back in Bavaria, Maximilian Emanuel put much energy on his building projects to balance the failure of his political ambitions. It was bitter for him to witness the royal elevation of the German princes Augustus II the Strong (1697), Frederick I of Prussia (1701) and George I of Hanover (1714) while his own political dreams could not be realized.

Maximilian Emanuel then supported the new wars of the Habsburg against the Turks with Bavarian auxiliary forces (1717).

In 1724 he created a union of all lines of the Wittelsbach dynasty to increase the influence of his House. The Wittelsbach prince-electors Max Emanuel, his son Clemens August of Cologne, Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine and Franz Ludwig of Trier had at that time four votes at their disposal for the next imperial election. The crown of the Holy Roman Empire was aspired either for Max Emanuel or his son Charles Albert. Already in 1722 Charles Albert had been married to the Habsburg princess Maria Amalia of Austria.

Maximilian Emanuel founded in 1726 the Royal Order of Saint George for the Defense of the Immaculate Conception, a dynastic Order of the Royal House of Bavaria.

Maximilian Emanuel is buried in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche in Munich.

Cultural legacy

Schleissheim, New Palace

During his entire reign Maximilian II Emanuel patronized the arts. As Governor of the Spanish Netherlands he acquired numerous Dutch and Flemish paintings for the Wittelsbach collection.

The first half of Max Emanuel's reign was still dominated by his parent's Italian court artists, like Enrico Zuccalli and Giovanni Antonio Viscardi. With the appointment of Joseph Effner serving as chief architect of the court and the young François de Cuvilliés as his assistant, the French influence significantly increased and Max Emanuel's return in 1715 marked the origin of the era of Bavarian rococo.

The Nymphenburg Palace was enlarged, the Dachau Palace redesigned and the new Schleissheim Palace was constructed during his reign. These palaces were connected with a network of canals as Max Emanuel became acquainted with in the Netherlands. The Fürstenried Palace was built for Max Emanuel as a hunting lodge.


Maximilian II Emanuel's ancestors in three generations
Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria Father:
Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria
Paternal Grandfather:
Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandfather:
William V, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Renata of Lorraine
Paternal Grandmother:
Maria Anna of Austria
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Maria Anna of Bavaria
Henriette Adelaide of Savoy
Maternal Grandfather:
Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Catherine Michelle of Spain
Maternal Grandmother:
Christine Marie of France
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Henry IV of France
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Marie de' Medici


First marriage with Maria Antonia of Austria, daughter of Emperor Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor:

Second marriage with Theresa Kunegunda Sobieska of Poland, daughter of John III Sobieski:

  • Stillborn child (1695)
  • Maria Anna Karoline (1696–1750), since 1720 a nun
  • Charles Albert (1697–1745), elector of Bavaria, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, ∞ 1722 Maria Amalia Josepha Anna of Austria (1701–1756)
  • Philipp Moritz Maria (1698–1719), elected bishop of Paderborn and Münster
  • Ferdinand Maria Innocenz (1699–1738), imperial general
  • Clemens August (1700–1761), Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Prince Archbishop of Cologne, Bishop of Regensburg, Paderborn, Osnabrück, Hildesheim and Münster
  • Wilhelm (1701–1704)
  • Alois Johann Adolf (1702–1705)
  • Johann Theodor (1703–1763), Cardinal, Prince bishop of Regensburg, Freising and Liege
  • Maximilian Emanuel Thomas (1704–1709)

He had an illegitimate child with his mistress French Agnes Françoise Louchier;

  • Emmanuel François Joseph, Count of Bavaria (1695–1747) had two children with Maria Josepha Karolina von Hohenfels; also had an affair with Louise Anne de Bourbon, grand daughter of Madame de Montespan.


  • Ludwig Hüttl: Max Emanuel. Der Blaue Kurfürst 1679-1726. Eine politische Biographie. Munich: Süddeutscher Verlag, 1976. ISBN 3-7991-5863-4 (German)
  • Christian Probst: Lieber bayrisch sterben. Der bayrische Volksaufstand der Jahre 1705 und 1706. Munich: Süddeutscher Verlag, 1978. ISBN 3-7991-5970-3 (German)
  • Marcus Junkelmann: Kurfürst Max Emanuel von Bayern als Feldherr. Munich: Herbert Utz Verlag, 2000. ISBN 3-89675-731-8 (German)


  1. ^ Spencer, Charles. Blenheim: Battle for Europe. Phoenix (2005). ISBN 0-304-36704-4
Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria
Born: 11 July 1662 Died: 26 February 1726
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ferdinand Maria
Elector of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Charles Albert
Preceded by
Philip V & VII
Duke of Luxembourg
Marquis of Namur

Succeeded by
Charles V & IV
Political offices
Preceded by
Francisco Antonio de Agurto,
Marquis of Castañaga
Governor of the Spanish Netherlands
British and Dutch military occupation
Title next held by
Prince Eugene of Savoy
as governor of the Austrian Netherlands

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