Charles II
Portrait of Archduke Charles II, by Bartolomé González y Serrano
Archduke of Inner Austria
Reign25 July 1564 – 10 July 1590
PredecessorFerdinand I
SuccessorFerdinand III
Born3 June 1540
Vienna, Archduchy of Austria
Died10 July 1590(1590-07-10) (aged 50)
Graz, Duchy of Styria
Seckau, Austria
(m. 1571)
FatherFerdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherAnna of Bohemia and Hungary
ReligionCatholic Church
Gisants of Charles II Francis of Austria and his wife, Maria Anna of Bavaria, on the cenotaph of "Habsburg mausoleum", Seckau Abbey

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


Seckau Abbey, "Habsburg mausoleum", cenotaph

A native of Vienna, he was the third son of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, and of Anne of Bohemia and Hungary, daughter of King Vladislaus II of Hungary and his wife, Anne of Foix-Candale. In 1559 and again from 1564 to 1568, there were negotiations for a marriage between Charles and Elizabeth I of England. Emperor Ferdinand I expected Elizabeth to promise in the proposed marriage treaty that Charles, as her widower, would succeed her if she died childless. The negotiations dragged on until Elizabeth decided that she would not marry the Archduke since he was a Catholic.[1]

In 1563, Charles was also a suitor of Mary, Queen of Scots, with her uncle Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine, advising her to marry Charles to obtain assistance in governing Scotland. Mary disagreed, as did Charles's older brother Maximilian.

Unlike his brother, Emperor Maximilian II, Charles was a religious Catholic and promoted the Counter-Reformation, such as 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 in the 1578 Libellum of Bruck. In practice, that resulted in tolerance towards Protestantism.

As the Inner Austrian line had to bear the major burden of the wars against the Ottoman Empire, the fortress of Karlovac, in Croatia, was founded in 1579 to protect against invasions by the Ottoman Empire and it was 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 protégés, as was the music theorist Lodovico Zacconi.

In 1573, Charles founded the Akademisches Gymnasium in Graz, the oldest secondary school in Styria. In 1580, Charles founded a stud for horses of Andalusian origin in Lipica, Slovenia and thus played 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's mausoleum, in Seckau Abbey 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 was completed by Sebastiano Carlone by 1612.

Marriage and children


On 26 August 1571, Charles married his niece Maria Anna of Bavaria in Vienna. They had 15 children, 12 of whom lived to adulthood:

Name Picture Birth Death Notes
Archduke Ferdinand Judenburg, 15 July 1572 Judenburg, 3 August 1572 Died in infancy.
Archduchess Anna Graz, 16 August 1573 Warsaw, 10 February 1598 Married on 31 May 1592 to Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Sweden.
Archduchess Maria Christina Graz, 10 November 1574 Hall in Tirol, Tyrol, 6 April 1621 Married on 6 August 1595 to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania; they divorced in 1599.
Archduchess Catherine Renata Graz, 4 January 1576 Graz, 29 June 1599 Died unmarried.
Archduchess Elisabeth Graz, 13 March 1577 Graz, 29 January 1586 Died in childhood.
Archduke Ferdinand Graz, 9 July 1578 Vienna, 15 February 1637 Holy Roman Emperor as Ferdinand II in 1619.
Archduke Charles Graz, 17 July 1579 Graz, 17 May 1580 Died in infancy.
Archduchess Gregoria Maximiliana Graz, 22 March 1581 Graz, 20 September 1597 Died unmarried.
Archduchess Eleanor Graz, 25 September 1582 Hall in Tirol, Tyrol, 28 January 1620 Died unmarried.
Archduke Maximilian Ernest Graz, 17 November 1583 Graz, 18 February 1616 Teutonic Knight.
Archduchess Margaret Graz, 25 December 1584 El Escorial, 3 October 1611 Married on 18 April 1599 to Philip III, King of Spain.
Archduke Leopold Graz, 9 October 1586 Schwaz, 13 September 1632 Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tirol under the name Leopold V.
Archduchess Constance Graz, 24 December 1588 Warsaw, 10 July 1631 Married on 11 December 1605 to Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (widower of her older sister).
Archduchess Maria Magdalena Graz, 7 October 1589 Passau, 1 November 1631 Married on 19 October 1608 Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Archduke Charles Graz, 7 August 1590 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]

Male-line family tree



  1. ^ Doran pp.73–98
  2. ^ (in French) Héraldique Européenne Archived 2011-02-22 at the Wayback Machine, Toison d'Or, Philippe II, 3.
  3. ^ a b c d Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Joanna" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ a b c d Priebatsch, Felix (1908), "Wladislaw II.", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (in German), vol. 54, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 688–696
  5. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Philipp I. der Schöne von Oesterreich" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). Vol. 7. p. 112 – via Wikisource.
  6. ^ Boureau, Alain (1995). The Lord's First Night: The Myth of the Droit de Cuissage. Translated by Cochrane, Lydia G. The University of Chicago Press. p. 96.
  7. ^ Noubel, P., ed. (1877). Revue de l'Agenais [Review of the Agenais]. Vol. 4. Société académique d'Agen. p. 497.


Charles II, Archduke of Austria House of HabsburgBorn: 3 June 1540 Died: 10 July 1590 Regnal titles Preceded byFerdinand I Archduke of Inner Austria 1564–1590 Succeeded byFerdinand II