1552-1598 1618-1648

Bavaria, 1598-1618

Duke Wilhelm V. died in 1598 and was succeeded by his son Maximilian I. (1598-1651). Duke Maximilian had been educated by Jesuits, had studied for three years at the University of Ingolstadt. He took over a country of an estimated 1 million inhabitants, agriculture the dominant sector of the economy. Salt was the second most important export article; salt mining and trade was a ducal monopoly. Maximilian implemented the financial reform his father in 1593 had planned. Restriction of expenses of the ducal household and administration, the collection of taxes on the sale of beer, wine, salt, regular extra taxes approved by the diet, an early mercantilistic policy encouraging production resulted in a consolidation of state finances. On the eve of the 30 Years' War, Bavaria, in regard to state finances, was a model country, creditworthy. The Bavarian diets since 1577 were poorly frequented (a third of the delegates did not attend); the Duke pursued a policy of calling the diet only if it was unavoidable; he called the first diet for 1605.
Religious tension within the Holy Roman Empire mounted, and Duke Maximilian invested in the military. In 1608, Bavaria occupied and annexed the hitherto free Imperial and Lutheran city of Donauwörth. The action caused the protestant princes and cities to found the Protestant Union (1608); Bavaria concluded an alliance with the Austrian and Hungarian Estates; in 1609 Bavaria became the leading force in the newly founded (Catholic) Holy League, an alliance formed against the Protestant Union.
In 1616 Duke Maximilian introduced a new Bavarian Landrecht (law code).
In 1610 the Bavarian army consisted of 15,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry. On the eve of the 30 Years' War, Bavaria was prepared for a military confrontation.

Bavarian History, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 edition
Michael Henker, Bayern im Zeitalter von Reformation und Gegenreformation (16./17. Jahrhundert) (Bavaria in the Era of Reformation and Counterreformation), in : Politische Geschichte Bayerns (Political History of Bavaria), posted by HDBG, in German
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder (History of the German Territories), Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, in German
Andreas Kraus, Geschichte Bayerns von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (History of Bavaria, from the origins to the present day), München : Beck (1983) 2nd edition 1988, in German

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First posted on November 6th 2003, last revised on November 11th 2004

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