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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Frederick II., Elector Palatine

< 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

FREDERICK II. (1482–1556), surnamed “the Wise,” elector palatine of the Rhine, fourth son of the elector Philip, was born on the 9th of December 1482. Of an active and adventurous temperament, he fought under the emperor Maximilian I. in 1508, and afterwards served the Habsburgs loyally in other ways. He worked to secure the election of Charles, afterwards the emperor Charles V., as the successor of Maximilian in 1519; fought in two campaigns against the Turks; and being disappointed in his hope of obtaining the hand of one of the emperor’s sisters, married in 1535 Dorothea (d. 1580), daughter of Christian II., who had been driven from the Danish throne. The Habsburgs promised their aid in securing this crown for Frederick, but, like many previous promises made to him, this came to nothing. Having spent his time in various parts of Europe, and incurred heavy debts on account of his expensive tastes, Frederick became elector palatine by the death of his brother, Louis V., in March 1544. With regard to the religious troubles of Germany, he took up at first the rôle of a mediator, but in 1545 he joined the league of Schmalkalden, and in 1546 broke definitely with the older faith. He gave a little assistance to the league in its war with Charles, but soon submitted to the emperor, accepted the Interim issued from Augsburg in May 1548, and afterwards acted in harmony with Charles. The elector died on the 26th of February 1556, and as he left no children was succeeded by his nephew, Otto Henry (1502–1559). He was a great benefactor to the university of Heidelberg.

Frederick’s life, Annales de vita et rebus gestis Friderici II. electoris palatini (Frankfort, 1624), was written by his secretary Hubert Thomas Leodius; this has been translated into German by E. von Bülow (Breslau, 1849). See also Rott, Friedrich II. von der Pfalz und die Reformation (Heidelberg, 1904).