CHARLES VI. (1685-1740), Roman emperor, was born on Oct. 1, 1685, at Vienna. He was the second son of the emperor Leopold I. by his third marriage with Eleanore, daughter of Philip William of Neuburg, elector palatine of the Rhine. When the Spanish branch of the house of Habsburg became extinct in 1700, he was put forward as the lawful heir in opposition to Philip V., the Bourbon to whom the Spanish dominions had been left by the will of Charles II. of Spain. He was proclaimed at Vienna on Sept. 19, 1703, and made his way to Spain by the Low Countries, England and Lisbon, remaining in Spain till 1711, mostly in Catalonia, where the Habsburg party was strong. Al though he had a certain tenacity of purpose he displayed none of the qualities required in a prince who had to gain his throne by the sword (See SPANISH SUCCESSION, WAR OF). In 1708 he was married at Barcelona to Elizabeth Christina of Brunswick Wolfenbiittel (1691-1750), a Lutheran princess who was per suaded to accept Roman Catholicism. On the death of his elder brother Joseph I. on April 17, 1711, Charles inherited the heredi tary possessions of the house of Habsburg and their claims on the Empire. The death of Joseph without male issue had been foreseen, and Charles had at one time been prepared to give up Spain and the Indies on condition that he was allowed to retain Naples, Sicily and the Milanese. But when the case arose his natural obstinacy led him to declare that he would not think of surrendering any of the rights of his family. It was with great difficulty that he was persuaded to leave Spain, months after the death of his brother (on Sept. 27, 1711). Only the emphatic re fusal of the European powers to tolerate the reconstruction of the empire of Charles V. forced him to give a sullen submission to necessity. He abandoned Spain and was crowned emperor in December 171I, but for a long time he would not recognize Philip V. Charles showed an enlightened, though not always suc cessful, interest in the commercial prosperity of his subjects, but from the date of his return to Germany till his death his ruling passion was to secure his inheritance against dismemberment. As early as 1713 he had begun to prepare the "Pragmatic Sanction" which was to regulate the succession, and it became the object of his policy to obtain the recognition of his daughter Maria Theresa as his heiress. His last days were embittered by a disastrous war with Turkey, in which he lost almost all he had gained by the peace of Passarowitz. He died at Vienna on Oct. 20, 1740, and with him expired the male line of his house.
For the personal character of Charles VI. see A. von Arneth, Geschichte Maria Theresias (Vienna, . Dr. Franz Krones, R. v. Marchland, Grundriss der osterreichischen Geschichte (Vienna, 1882) , gives a very copious bibliography. See also J. Ziekursch, Die Kaiserwahl Karls VI. (1902).