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Ferdinand II, Counter-Reformation Emperor, 1578–1637


  • Date Published: March 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107674400

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About the Authors
  • Emperor Ferdinand II (1619–37) stands out as a crucial figure in the Counter-Reformation in central Europe, a leading player in the Thirty Years War, the most important ruler in the consolidation of the Habsburg monarchy, and the emperor who reinvigorated the office after its decline under his two predecessors. This is the first biography since a long-outdated one written in German in 1978, and the first ever in English. It looks at his reign as territorial ruler of Inner Austria from 1598 until his election as emperor and especially at the influence of his mother, the formidable Archduchess Maria, in order to understand his later policies as emperor. This book focuses on the consistency of his policies and the profound influence of religion throughout his career, and follows the contest at court between those who favored consolidation of the Habsburg lands and those who aimed for expansion in the empire.

    • The first biography in English of one of the major rulers of the seventeenth century
    • Examines the relationship between religion and politics during the complicated period of the Counter-Reformation and the Thirty Years War
    • Argues that Ferdinand II was the most significant ruler in the consolidation of the Habsburg monarchy in central Europe
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Robert Bireley is a leading authority on Counter-Reformation Catholicism and the author of many previous books, including a study of William Lamormaini, Ferdinand II's Jesuit confessor. Bireley's grasp of the religious politics and international diplomacy of this period in Central European history is unrivaled. His judgments on Ferdinand's actions are sensitive and generally sympathetic, but not uncritical … Bireley's carefully documented analysis has many strengths. One of them lies in his appreciation of the differences among European Catholics in this period.' Paul Monod, America: The National Catholic Review

    '… a solid contribution that will orient future research. Nurtured by many years of research in a whole range of archives, Bireley's study excels when analyzing the process of imperial decision-making.' Luc Duerloo, The American Historical Review

    'In this well-written biography, Robert Bireley ably retells Ferdinand's story: his efforts shoring up the family, prosecuting a war, and reviving Catholicism's flagging fortunes. Bireley's Ferdinand II, Counter-Reformation Emperor, 1578–1637 is the culmination of a long and prolific career dedicated primarily to the study of early-modern religion and politics.' Howard Louthan, The Catholic Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107674400
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus. 2 maps 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Boyhood and youth, 1578–98
    2. Early years in Inner Austria, 1598–1608
    3. Toward the succession, 1608–18
    4. The Bohemian Rebellion, 1618–21
    5. Consolidation and expansion, 1621–8
    6. Overreach, 1627–30
    7. Setback, 1631–2
    8. Recovery, 1632–4
    9. Settlement and death, 1635–7

  • Author

    Robert Bireley, Loyola University, Chicago
    Robert Bireley is Professor of History Emeritus at Loyola University, Chicago. He has served as president of the American Catholic Historical Association and on the editorial boards of the Catholic Historical Review and the Renaissance Quarterly. Bireley has been a prolific author in the field of European religious history, with a special interest in the Reformation, Roman Catholicism, and Jesuit history. His books include Politics and Religion in the Age of the Counterreformation: Emperor Ferdinand II, William Lamormaini, S. J., and the Formation of Imperial Policy (1981); The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450–1700: A Reassessment of the Counterreformation (1999); and The Jesuits and the Thirty Years War: Kings, Courts, and Confessors (Cambridge, 2003). He is the recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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