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Albert I

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ALBERT I, Duke of Austria, and after ward Emperor of Germany: b. 1248; d. 1 May 1308; son of Rudolph of Hapsburg, who had a short time before his death attempted to place the crown on the head of his son. But the electors, tired of his power and emboldened by his age and infirmities, refused his request and indefinitely postponed the election of a King of the Romans (the title of the desig nated successor of • the Emperor). After the death of Albert, who inherited only the military qualities of his father, saw his hereditary possessions, Austria and Styria, rise up in rebellion against him. He quelled by force this revolt which his avarice and sever ity had excited; but success increased his pre sumption. He wished to succeed Rudolph in all his dignities, and without for the decision of the Diet seized the insignia of the empire. This act of violence induced the elec tors to choose Adolphus of Nassau Emperor. The disturbances which had broken out against him in Switzerland, and a disease which de prived him of an eye, made him more humble. He delivered up the insignia and took the oath of allegiance to the new Emperor. Adol phus, after a reign of six years, lost the regard of all the princes of the empire, and Albert was elected to succeed him. A battle ensued near Gellheim, in which Adolphus fell by the hand of his adversary. The last barrier had fallen between Albert and the supreme power, but he'was conscious of having now an opportunity of displaying his magnanimity. He voluntarily resigned the crown conferred on him by the last election; and as he had an ticipated was re-elected. His coronation took place at Aix-la-Chapelle in August 1298, and he held his first Diet at Nuremberg with the utmost splendor.

But a new storm was gathering over him. The Pope, Boniface VIII, denied the right of the electors to deprive Adolphus of the impe rial dignity and bestow it upon one who had caused the death of the legitimate sovereign. He accordingly summoned Albert before him to ask pardon and submit to such penance as he should dictate; he forbade the princes to acknowledge him and released them from their oath of allegiance. The archbishop of Mainz from a friend became the enemy of Albert and joined the party of the Pope. On the other

hand, Albert formed an alliance with Philip le Bel of France, secured the neutrality of Sax ony and Brandenburg, and by a sudden irrup tion into the electorate of Mainz forced the archbishop not only to renounce his alliance with the Pope, but to form one with him for the five ensuing years. In April 1301 Bold face forbade all submission to Albert until he would go to Rome and repair his crimes. The next year Albert entered into negotiations with the Pope, in which he again showed the duplicity of his character. He broke his al liance with Philip, acknowledged that the West ern Empire was a grant from the Popes to the emperors, that the electors derived their right of choosing from the see of Rome and prom ised to defend with arms the rights of the Pope whenever he should demand it, against any one. As a reward Boniface excommuni cated Philip, proclaimed him to have forfeited his crown and gave the kingdom of France to Albert. Philip in revenge annoyed and per secuted the Pope.

Albert was engaged in unsuccessful wars with Holland, Zealand, Friesland, Hungary, Bohemia and Thuringia. While preparing to revenge a defeat which lie had suffered in Thuringia he received the news of the revolt of the Swiss and saw himself obliged to direct his forces thither. The revolt of Unterwalden, Schwyz and Uri had broken out 1 Jan: 1308. Albert had not only foreseen this consequence of his oppression but desired it, in order to have a pretense for subjugating Switzerland entirely to himself. A new act of injustice, however, put an end to his ambition and life. Suabia was the inheritance of John, the son of his younger 'brother Rudolph. John had repeatedly asserted his right to it, but in vain. When Albert set out for Switzerland John re newed his demand, which was contemptuously rejected by Albert. John, in revenge, con spired with his governor, Walter of Eschen bach, and three friends against the life of Al bert. The conspirators took advantage of the moment when the Emperor, on his way to Rheinfelden, was separated from his train by the river Reuss, and assassinated him.