Charles II, Archduke of Austria

Charles II, Archduke of Austria
Charles II
Archduke of Inner Austria
Reign 1564–1590
Predecessor Ferdinand I
Successor Ferdinand II
Spouse Maria Anna of Bavaria
Anne, Queen of Poland
Maria Christina, Princess of Transylvania
Archduchess Catherine Renata
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Archduchess Gregoria Maximiliana
Archduchess Eleanor
Archduke Maximilian Ernest
Margaret, Queen of Spain
Leopold V, Archduke of Further Austria
Constance, Queen of Poland
Maria Magdalena, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
Charles, Bishop of Wroclaw
House Habsburg
Father Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
Born 3 June 1540
Died 10 July 1590(1590-07-10) (aged 50)
Burial Seckau

Charles II Francis of Austria (German: Karl II Franz) (3 June 1540 – 10 July 1590) was an Archduke of Austria and ruler of Inner Austria (Styria, Carniola and Carinthia) from 1564. He was a member of the House of Habsburg.



A native of Vienna, he was the third son of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anne of Bohemia and Hungary, daughter of King Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary and his wife Anne of Foix-Candale. In 1559 and again from 1564–1568 there were negotiations for a marriage between Charles and Elizabeth I of England. They dragged on until Queen Elizabeth decided that she would not marry the Archduke; religion was the main obstacle to the match,[1] apart from the Queen's character.

Unlike his brother Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles was a religious Catholic and promoted the Counter-Reformation, e.g. by inviting the Jesuits to his territory. However, in 1572, he had to make significant concessions to the Inner Austrian Estates in the Religious Pacifications of Graz, and 1578 and the Libellum of Bruck. In practice, this resulted in tolerance towards Protestantism.

As the Inner Austrian line had to bear the major burden of the wars against the Turks, the fortress of Karlstadt/Karlovac in Croatia was founded in 1579 and named after him. Charles is also remembered as a benefactor of the arts and sciences. In particular, the composer Orlando di Lasso was one of his proteges, as was the music theorist Lodovico Zacconi.

In 1580, Charles founded a stud for horses of Andalusian origin in Lipica, Slovenia, thereby playing a leading role in the creation of the Lipizzan breed. In 1585, Charles founded the University of Graz, which is named Karl-Franzens-Universität after him.

He died at Graz in 1590.

Charles' mausoleum in Seckau, in which other members of the Habsburg family are also buried, is one of the most important edifices of the early Baroque in the South-Eastern Alps. It was built from 1587 onwards by Alessandro de Verda and completed by Sebastiano Carlone by 1612.

Marriage and children

In Vienna on 26 August 1571 Charles married his niece Maria Anna of Bavaria. They had fifteen children:

  • Ferdinand (b. Judenburg, 15 July 1572 – d. Judenburg, 3 August 1572).
  • Anne (b. Graz, 16 August 1573 – d. Warsaw, 10 February 1598), married on 31 May 1592 to Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Sweden.
  • Maria Christina (b. Graz, 10 November 1574 – d. Hall in Tirol, 6 April 1621), married on 6 August 1595 to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania; they divorced in 1599.
  • Catherine Renata (b. Graz, 4 January 1576 – d. Graz, 29 June 1599).
  • Elisabeth (b. Graz, 13 March 1577 – d. Graz, 29 January 1586).
  • Ferdinand (b. Graz, 9 July 1578 – d. Vienna, 15 February 1637), Holy Roman Emperor as Ferdinand II in 1619.
  • Charles (b. Graz, 17 July 1579 – d. Graz, 17 May 1580).
  • Gregoria Maximiliana (b. Graz, 22 March 1581 – d. Graz, 20 September 1597).
  • Eleanor (b. Graz, 25 September 1582 – d. Hall in Tirol, 28 January 1620), a nun.
  • Maximilian Ernest (b. Graz, 17 November 1583 – d. Graz, 18 February 1616), Teutonic Knight.
  • Margaret (b. Graz, 25 December 1584 – d. El Escorial 3 October 1611), married on 18 April 1599 to Philip III, King of Spain.
  • Leopold (b. Graz, 9 October 1586 – d. Schwaz, 13 September 1632), Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tirol.
  • Constance (b. Graz, 24 December 1588 – d. Warsaw, 10 July 1631), married on 11 December 1605 to Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Sweden (widower of her older sister).
  • Maria Magdalena (b. Graz, 7 October 1589 – d. Padua, 1 November 1631), married on 19 October 1608 Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
  • Charles (b. posthumously Graz, 7 August 1590 – d. Madrid, 28 December 1624), Bishop of Wroclaw and Brixen (1608–24), Grand Master of the Teutonic Order (1618–24).


Arms of Charles II of Austria-Styria.[2]


  1. ^ Doran pp.73–98
  2. ^ (French) Héraldique Européenne, Toison d'Or, Philippe II, 3.


  • Doran, Susan (1996). Monarchy and Matrimony: The Courtships of Elizabeth I. Routledge. 
Charles II, Archduke of Austria
Born: 3 June 1540 Died: 10 July 1590
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ferdinand I
Archduke of Inner Austria
Succeeded by
Ferdinand II

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